View of Llyn Crafnant


The Llyn Crafnant Circular Walk

An easy walk with gorgeous views, the Llyn Crafnant Circular is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Snowdonia, if you don’t wish to tackle an arduous mountain hike.

Located in the Gwydir Forest Park, Llyn Crafnant is actually a reservoir but you wouldn’t know it. The pretty lake is a legacy of the lead and zinc mining industry which dominated the area between 1850 and 1919. Most of the lakes in the forest served the mines. Llyn Crafnant sits in a pretty valley where the Gwydir Forest borders the slopes of the Carneddau mountains. It takes its name from Craf, the old Welsh word for garlic and nant which means stream or valley. Afon(River) Crafnant still smells of wild garlic when the plants are in flower.

The Gwydir Forest park is managed by Natural Resources Wales which means that the signage and waymarkers are good. This walk begins from the Natural Resources Wales car park which is a short distance from the lake. There are toilets in the car park which are supposed to be open at all times but when we visited, they were locked! Other than that, we had no complaints.

Duration: 90 minutes if you stop occasionally to admire the views.

Terrain: Gravel paths and forest roads.

Llyn Crafnant

From the car park

There’s an information board at the bottom of the parking area which outlines the available trails. To the left of this board you will see the beginning of the circular walk and you should follow the yellow waymarkers throughout, not that you could get lost without them. After a short walk up the Crafnant Road, you reach the head of the lake from where there are wonderful views across the water to the Carneddau mountains (see the large image above).  After taking in the view, pass through the adjacent gate and take the gravel path through the woodland.

The steep slopes above you feature a rare type of ash woodland and there’s plenty of interesting flora to take in along the way. After a short distance you are treated to further views of the mountains at the southern end of the lake. The going is easy along the trail as the route is relatively flat and you can enjoy numerous small streams and waterfalls throughout the walk.

Llyn Crafnant

The lakeside cafe

Continue along the trail and eventually you will pass by the end of the lake where there are a few holiday cottages. The trail then takes you beyond the lake and towards the towering peaks before turning back and joining the Crafnant Road. This country lane is relatively quiet but vehicles do pass along it regularly and so dogs should be kept on leads for their own safety. Dogs are supposed to be on leads all of the way but in the first portion of the walk, we couldn’t see any reason not to let dogs roam free. As long as they are well-behaved, of course!

The second half of this walk is more undulating than the first but still represents a stroll rather than a hike. This is a popular trail and so don’t expect splendid isolation but the upside during the summer months is the lakeside cafe that you can visit if you fancy some refreshments. This is situated about two thirds of the way back to the northern head of Llyn Crafnant. You can rent a boat while you are there, if the mood takes you.

Back to the head of the lake

Follow the road until you arrive back at the head of the lake where it is worth lingering or stopping to enjoy a picnic (if you didn’t visit the cafe). You will find that during the winter months, the light changes dramatically throughout the day and transforms the view of the peaks.

This isn’t the most demanding or incredible walk in Snowdonia but it’s a great option if you can’t manage a challenging hike. However, the proximity of the car park to the lake ensures that there are always plenty of people about. During peak times, you might struggle to park and so it is worth arriving early. For the record, we think that this walk is best taken in the autumn or winter as it isn’t so busy. The gorgeous gold and copper tones of the foliage at those times of the year really add to the beauty of the location.


From the Woollen Mill, take the A487 towards Caernarfon and turn right at the roundabout in Bontnwydd towards Llanberis. Drive to and through Llanberis on the A4086 then continue until you have passed the Pen-y-Pass parking area and reach a T Junction. Turn right towards Capel Curig, drive through the village and then turn left onto the A5 towards Betws-y-Coed. When you arrive in Betwys y coed, turn left over the stone bridge onto the B5106 towards the village of Trefriw where there is a left turn which is signposted LLyn Crafnant. kKep your eyes peeled because the sign is small. Follow the country lane until you reach the free car park.