The appearance of glorious sunshine over Wales saw me driving off towards Betws-y-coed for a spot of forest rambling. I stopped off for a delicious brunch at the Moel Saibod Cafe where I also planned my route up into the Gwydyr Forest. I didn’t intend for this walk to take particularly long, only 2 hours or so, and it followed a series of clear paths which would lead me to 5 separate lakes hidden in the forest, though I decided I’d have to cut across woodland at one point to reach one particular lake. Fortunately I’d heard that the Gwydyr Forest is largely open and spacious so I was certain that this wouldn’t be a problem. I also couldn’t help but overhear the discussion of the group at the table across from me as they debated over the upcoming EU referendum here in the UK. Though it wasn’t really a debate as they were merely confirming to each other how much they wanted to vote out, nevertheless its fascinating to hear the topic being discussed outside of professional debates.
After finishing my brunch I headed towards the curiously named Ugly House, almost missed my turning, and then drove up an increasingly narrowing lane towards the Ty’n Llwyn car-park. The car-pack was completely empty when I pulled up and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the Llugwy Valley alone.
I started my walking following a series of country lanes, which took me past lush farmlands, bursting with the sounds of newborn lambs, and tall woodlands. I soon caught sight of my first lake, Llyn Tynymynydd, the smallest of the lakes and really it looked like little more than a marsh, but nonetheless it was one lake to cross off my list.
It took me another half an hour to reach the largest of today’s lakes, Llyn Geirionydd, which sits at almost a mile long. In contrast to the empty car-park at Ty’n Llwyn, Lyn Geirionydd was bustling with cars and other visitors, who were making extensive use of the lake for canoeing and kayaking. This is unsurprising considering Llyn Geirionydd is very popular for water sports as its the only lake in Snowdonia which sanctions the use of powerboats and water skis. In addition we were quickly visited by one of the low flying military jets which regularly make passes over Snowdonia, all this contributed to the image of Llyn Geirionydd being a very busy place, though you probably wouldn’t be able to tell in my photos. Fortunately though I was soon off on my way, heading deeper into the Gwydwr Forest and away from the presence of humanity.
The path stretched higher into Carneddau hills and this, combined with the hot sun, made the going a little harder. I aptly avoided a few cloud of midges, which have begun to appear with the improved weather, and I made my way past mounds of discarded slag, a reminder of the area’s slate mining past. Just before I reentered the forest though, I stopped to take one last shot of Llyn Geirionydd.
Heading into the depths of the forest, I soon came across my third lake of the day, Llyn Bychan. It was lovely just to relax briefly by the lake shore, there was no wind and the only sound was the occasional splashing of fish in water. As I got up to move on, a lone heron glided across the lake, before soaring upwards and back towards Llyn Geirionydd.
I was heading into really thick forest by this time, but fortunately the track was still wide and clear, and I quickly found myself at the fourth lake, Llyn Goddionduon.
And this is where things went wrong, firstly I missed my turnoff and began heading up the wrong path, one which led me back to Llyn Geirionydd. I only realized my mistake once I’d reached the end of the forest, I briefly considered cutting down through the trees, but far from being the open and spacious forest that people have claimed the Gwydwr Forest is, I was surrounding by towering coniferous trees, which offered no easy or quick way through. So I doubled back and headed towards Llyn Goddionduon. Unfortunately the tall trees and lowering sun meant I was constantly in the shade and I was starting to feel the cold. In addition I hadn’t seen a single other person since Llyn Geirionydd and while I think experiencing isolation on a clear mountainside is an incredibly peaceful experience, being alone in a dark forest is pretty creepy.
I eventually found my turn off, and it was no surprise why I had initially missed it, the path was incredibly overgrow with weeds and spiky things. So I slowly made my way along the ‘path’, carefully stepping over the gorse and nettles while being constantly paranoid every time I heard a rustling coming from the inky blackness of the woods. At one point I heard a very strange noise that really shook me and then the path quickly dissolved all together and I was left following nothing but trampled mud, yet somehow I emerged at the side of my final lake, Llyn Bodgynydd.
It was really beautiful, and luckily I soon saw the source of that strange noise, a flock of Canadian Geese were drifting across the waters and their cries had been distorted by the trees and the distance.
Still it was a long walk, through mud and across streams, all the way around the lakeside until I found the path that would lead me back to my car.
What had been suppose to take only two hours took closer to four hours to finish, still it was worth it to see some of these beautiful and isolated lakes of Snowdonia which are so often hidden from the eyes of the occasional visitor.
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