Llyn Elsi

After Irish week I decided it was time once more to return to Snowdonia. (warning phone photos are coming)

Betws-y-Coed is a major tourist center for exploring Snowdonia National Park. The town is surrounded by the Gwydir Forest and two rivers, the Llugwy and the Lledr, that feed into the river Conwy, which also passes through. As a result numerous brilliant waterfalls can be found closes to Betws-y-Coed, including the Swallow and the Conwy Falls. Llyn Elsi is located above the town obscured by dense forest and although it is isolated from the mountains, their peaks can still be viewed from the lakeside.

Snowy Snowdonia from the shores of Llyn Elsi

It was a late afternoon in Bangor and as my lectures had finished for the day, I decided to go out for a walk. This is honestly one the best things about living in Snowdonia with my own car, the freedom to just drive out whenever I want to and explore. I hadn’t really been to Betws-y-Coed so I decided to explore some of the local forest and walk to Llyn Elsi, which I had spied on the map, but I really didn’t know anything about the lake itself or the route I was going to take.

I began my walk at the back of St Mary’s Church, fortunately the path is wide though not always well laid out, There are many different routes that crisscross all over the Gwydir Forest and I imagine that it can be quite easy to accidentally take the wrong track. Luckily I didn’t get lost on this occasion (for once).

The Gwydir Forest

However since it was February the ground underneath me was wet and covered with frost, plus the track rose up incredibly steeply. I, thinking that this would be a simple easy stroll to the lake, had left all of my walking equipment back in the car along with my trusty walking sticks, so I was feeling pretty unprepared and was struggling up this steep hillside.

The ground rose to about 700 feet above sea level before smoothing out, keeping on the track from the church I soon found a break in the treeline and was greeted with some gorgeous views of Betws-y-Coed from above. However the sun was setting and I didn’t want to be walking back down in the dark without my torches, so I quickly carried on to the lake. I turned right at the first opportunity and then continued following the path, taking no diversions until I came to the lake.

The forest and the mountains

What I saw certainly was a surprise to me. Although there was thick snow still on the mountains, the weather had recently been rather warm and the sun had been blazing all day, so to come across Llyn Elsi almost completely frozen over was unexpected to say the least. I spent I good amount of time walking around, admiring the crystal clear frozen water, and prodding it with sticks to test its thickness.

Llyn Elsi
Llyn Elsi
The path stretches all around Llyn Elsi

I then wondered up to the memorial commemorating the constructing of the lake’s dam. Here I could make out the peaks of Snowdonia in the distance, stark white against the blue sky. From there I wondered on towards the dam, where I found a path seemingly leading to a bench based on tiny peninsular stretching further into the lake. The path here was deceptively muddy, one time I found my whole boot consumed by a hidden mud-hole, but I eventually found my way to the bench, where I sat down and admired the view for a time.

View from the monument
Llyn Elsi under the burning sun

Soon though I couldn’t help but clamber out onto some rocks, just to get a closer view of this spectacularly clear ice through which I could see straight to the bottom of the lake. It was a wonderfully quiet day, the lake-shore was empty of all people besides me and there was no wind in the air. To not even hear the sound of water lapping against the shore was oddly disconcerting, it was as if I’d suddenly lost my hearing and I had to purposely talk to reassure myself that sound still existed. Not wanting to tempt fate for any longer, I retreated back to my bench and simply basked in the sun for a little longer before heading back the way that I’d come.

My viewing bench on Lly Elsi’s shores
I venture very carefully out on to the rocks
Looking across to the unfrozen center of Llyn Elsi

Thus concludes my tale , if you enjoyed this story feel free to write in the comments, or leave a like and thanks for reading.

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  1. Hi – thank you for the comment on my post about Snowdonia places to visit! This is a lovely blog you have here, and despite being from the area I’m sure I can learn a lot about it from your posts… will have to check out Llyn Elsi! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Gwynnie that certainly means a lot to me and I really enjoyed your article :). Its always nice to see other posts about Snowdonia as I usually learn about a whole load of other places that I didn’t know existed.


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