A walk to Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr)

It is a relatively easy walk to reach and view Aber Falls, popularly recognised as the most beautiful waterfall in North Wales. The walk can be made entirely on a clearly marked trackway from the start at Bont Newydd. Wheelchair access is also provided, such is the status of the falls. My walk diverts slightly on the outward walk to the falls by climbing into the conifer plantation of Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve on the east side of the valley. The return is along the good valley floor trackway.

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Statistics and Files
Start: Bont Newydd Distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) Climbing: 230 metres
Grid Ref: SH662720 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Aber Falls
Start: Bont Newydd Distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 km)
Grid Ref: SH662720 Time: 2 hours
Climbing: 230 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk:

Bont NewyddBont Newydd
Climbing through the valleyClimbing through the valley

I was lucky to find a parking space by the roadside near to Bont Newydd. It was midweek and I was early; any other time and I would have had to drive to the parking area provided for the walk which is a little further beyond the bridge. I preferred this option, it gave me a start to the walk which involved walking on a path alongside Afon Rhaeadr Fawr. I enjoyed the roughness of the path along a narrow course hemmed in by watercourse to my left and steep bank to my right. A wooden fence between me and river below kept me safe.

Moel Wnion is the hill, far rightMoel Wnion is the hill, far right
The path leading into the plantationThe path leading into the plantation

After five minutes of walking on the narrow unmade path I crossed the river by a footbridge and started my walk along the hard track which is suitable for all. Everything from wheelchair to bus could negotiate this bit of the walk and I bet they do. I did meet a couple pushing their infant child to see the waterfall which I was pleased about. I did not see any bus though which I was also pleased about. The narrow valley I had driven up from Abergwyngregyn to Bont Newydd and which I had walked on the narrow unmade path was much wider now and as a consequence wider views were unveiled. After a dull morning sun was breaking through in some places. It highlighted Moel Wnion by shining on it like a spot lamp.

Coedydd Aber PlantationCoedydd Aber Plantation
First view of DrosglFirst view of Drosgl

About third way on the walk to Aber Falls I came to a sign which offered two optional routes to Aber Falls. The one pointing left said "Rough: half an hour through the plantation". The one pointing right said "Gentle: half an hour past the visitor centre". I took the rough option, deciding to return by the gentle track. After a very short haul up the bank to my left I was walking on a high line along a field parallel to the track below. After the length of the field a gate permitted me into the plantation. Then I walked happily on a good path through the high line of plantation trees. It was not rough at all. It was fun. The walk through the plantation about a half mile long. Then I came out of the dark and into the light.

Path leading to Aber FallsPath leading to Aber Falls
Aber Falls straight aheadAber Falls straight ahead

From the plantation I followed a narrow path down the lower east slope of Llwytmor Bach to the valley floor. It was leading me directly to Aber Falls. On the descent I spotted the waterfall for the first time. I was instantly impressed and eager to get close up. I scurried down the bank as fast as I could while keeping safe. Then at the bottom I met the good path which I had left earlier and followed it through a thicket of gnarled dwarfed trees to reach the waterfall. My goal was attained.

Aber FallsAber Falls
Rhaeadr FawrRhaeadr Fawr

"WOW, this is impressive" was my immediate thought. Aber Falls, Rhaeadr Fawr is a gorgeous waterfall. Crystal clear water sheets over a sill of dark gray/ touching on black igneous rock. The practically perfect contrast of moving white on static black was entrancing. I could not take my eyes off it as the water swilled and gushed down the slithery face of the rock. I was rapt, utterly taken in by the form, the grace, the magnificence of it all. I walked up the path to its end and then edged closer still on to the rocks set beside the left hand side of the drop pool. I steadied myself to get as close as I could in order to feel the power of the waterfall. After immersing myself in the moment and trying to still time I had to draw myself back to the path. I was not done with Aber Falls though. I had seen a footbridge giving access to the far west side of the falls. I crossed it and climbed up a bank. From this right hand side I could not get to drop level but the elevated vantage point gave me another perspective and another view. Again I could not help but be impressed.

A view from Aber FallsA view from Aber Falls
Footbridge across Afon Rhaeadr FawrFootbridge across Afon Rhaeadr Fawr

Everything said of Aber Falls/ Rhaeadr Fawr was true. My friend Adam Gallimore had told me I had to see the waterfall some time before this visit. Thanks Adam, you were right to insist. I do not usually hang about on walks as I am keen to get to the next place on my explorations but I spent 20 minutes admiring Aber Falls. That is a long time for me but every second spent was worth it. I had an unforgettable experience at Aber Falls.

Sunshine breaks out on the walk backSunshine breaks out on the walk back
Beauty of North WalesBeauty of North Wales

I made my return journey by sticking with the easy track to the visitor centre. It was a pleasant walk back as the trees in the valley were entertaining to view, still in the full flush of summer leaf while beginning their darkening green stage before their blazing into Autumn colour. Rowan were full of red berries, at their most gorgeous stage. The sunshine helped of course, bringing out the full shade of colour available. Soon I reached the visitor centre and some people were enjoying refreshments in the garden area. I was tempted to join them but I had another walk planned for the afternoon. I would enjoy my lunch in Betws-y-Coed.

Afon Rhaeadr FawrAfon Rhaeadr Fawr
Path leading back to Bont NewyddPath leading back to Bont Newydd

Still I had my walk to finish and I concluded it by retracing my steps on the narrow unmade path. I crossed the little footbridge once more and climbed up to follow the path hemmed in by hill and river. It was fun once more and I bounded along back to Bont Newydd. Soon after my walk was done but the experience of it was banked. The memories of Aber Falls are as fresh today, as I write this story, as they were when I was there. I hope it stays that way.

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