Circular walk from Beddgelert

Circular walk from Beddgelert

This is a beautiful, enjoyable and not too strenious (well moderate) circular walk from Beddgelert. The walk goes along the exciting Pass of Aberglaslyn, then up the hill overlooking Beddgelert, before droping down sharply to the lake Llyn Dinas, and finally making it’s way back to Beddgelert, via the Sygun Copper Mine.

This walk gives an excellent taster to Snowdonia – part scenic gorge walk, part upland boggy moorland with glimpses of Wales’ mining heritage and with beautiful views across the valley to the mountains around Beddgelert. It is perfect to escape from the tourist trap of Beddgelert, or if you want to avoid the higher mountainous areas (due to weather or fatique!)

Circular walk from Beddgelert

Date various
Length 5.9 miles
Time Taken 3.75 hours
Max Height 957 ft
Min Height 109 ft
Height Gain 1345 ft

I have done this walk about six or so times now – and I am still not bored of it. For some reason I always start from the main car park in Beddgelert (£3 for half a day or £5 for the day off the top of my head!), perhaps so I am sure of a pub at the end, but you can also start the walk from a car park near Nantmoor.


Beddgelert (meaning Gelert’s grave) is, at peak,  jammed full of  tourists – for good reason as it is picturesque, with a pretty bridge over the river Colywn, and there are plenty of pubs, cafes, and hotels. The Beddgelert tourism site claims that “Beddgelert is undoubtedly Snowdonia’s loveliest village” (something backed up by the Snowdonia Guide) – and do you know what, I would probably agree.

There is a wonderful legend relating to Beddgelert – something I was blissfully unaware of until a chatty old chap on the hilltop told me my dog was like Gelert. The legend is that Gelert was a dog, owned by Llywelyn the Great – Prince of Gwynedd, who is supposed to be buried nearby (hence Gelert’s grave). This trip was the first time I have actually visited the grave, where there is a memorial plaque:

Gelert by Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894)

‘In the thirteenth century, Llywellyn, Prince of North Wales had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert,’the faithful hound’, who was unaccountably absent. On Llywellyn’s return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to his master. The prince, alarmed, hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yelp was answered by the child’s cry. Llywellyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf, which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here.’

What a wonderful story (I can just imagine my dog doing the same), but it is of course complete rubbish. The story has Celtic origins, and was embellished by an eighteenth century innkeeper of the Goat Hotel, David Pritchard, eager to foster the tourist trade and it was he who was responsible for the grave (the actual Gelert is likely to be a Celtic Saint). The Goat Hotel is still in Beddgelert and, for the record, serves a very nice pint of Guinness!

Pass of Aberglaslyn

Pass of Aberglaslyn

Following the river downstream, you quickly leave the tourists behind. After crossing the newly rebuilt railway line, the river starts to narrow and you enter the ravine.

There are many gorgous places in Snowdonia, but this is quite possibly one of my favourites. The path starts quite sedately, but quickly becomes harder going as you have to navigate around and over rocks, along narrow ledges (there are hand holds!) and over small bridges with the waters churning just below you – it is quite spectacular!

The first time I did this walk, in 2007, it was just after the huge floods across the country. The path had been closed off previously, as the river had flooded so badly that it had even partially destroyed the bridge at Nantmoor (no mean feat) – the path had just reopened for my walk, but the river was still seething angrily down the ravine.

Hill Climb

Cwm Bychan Waterfall

At the Nantmoor bridge, the walk bears to the left, past a National Trust carpark, and starts climbing North East following a small valley and river upstream (it is marked on the map as Cwm Bychan, which means ”small valley’). As you come out of the trees, after an initial fairly steep climb – there is a lovely spot next to a small waterfall to the right – very tranquil!

The valley continues climbing steady (but not steeply) towards the top of the hill (it actually goes around the actual summit). Along the way there are various scattered remains of the hill’s mining past – this whole area has been mined since the Roman times (rather than describe them, you can see them in the video below!)

At the top, there are some great views across the valley towards Moel Hebog (another, much more strenuous, enjoyable walk!). From here a steep path winds down the hillside to the shores of Llyn Dinas. sheds some light on the origins of the name:

Llyn Dinas near Beddgelert

The lake derives its name from the nearby hillfort of Dinas Emrys, the remains of medieval and Dark Age fortifications. The fort provided shelter for the British king Vortigern, who escaped into Wales from the invading Anglo-Saxons. After the demise of Vortigern, the fort became the property of Aurelius Ambrosius, known as Emrys Wledig or the Emperor, from which the present name of the fort derives

Legend states the lake to have been the site of a battle between Owein, one of Arthur’s greatest warriors, and a giant. According to legend, Vortigern is said to have hidden the throne of Britain beneath a great stone by Llyn Dinas.

The lake is certainly very picturesque! From the lake follow the river back towards Beddgelert via the Sygun Copper Mine. I have to admit that, despite having visited the area many times over the last few years, I have never visited the Copper Mine. I would love to one day, but I always have the problem of what to do with the dog!

Whilst finishing this post (several months after starting it!) I came across this brilliant video, filmed in 2008,  showing Beddgelert and some snippets from this walk – it is well worth watching!


14 Replies to “Circular walk from Beddgelert”

  1. Hi Steph – I have uploaded the route on Social Hiking,, you can see it on an OS map and you can also download a GPX file. Essentially (from memory) – there is an obvious path following the river from Beddgelert south and (as long as you keep to the left) the path is relatively obvious to the Nantmor car park. From there heading up Grid Ddu just involves heading in the same direction (it is very obvious) – at the top there is a very obvious stony path back down to the lake, and as long as you keep the river to your right, the route is quite obvious back to Beddgelert. (and of course you should always have a map with you just in case).

  2. We discovered the walk after reaching the Glaslyn Bridge and turning left. We were advised there is a choice from the top back to Beddgelert or on to Llyn Dinas. When you get to the top there is a signpost and we took the Beddgelert track which turned out to be scree the whole way down to the Sygun mine. Next time we will try the Dinas route for an easier descent.

  3. First completed this walk in 2005. The scenery took my breath away, particularly the view of Lyn Dinas as you begin your descent down the valley. Purchased a fantastic book listing walks around Britain and Bedgelert Valley walk was the first that I attempted. It is fairly straightforward but still need to watch your footing on certain parts. Good for beginners.

  4. We’re thinking about following this route but are beginners – is there any advice from anyone regarding weather cautions, what to do if you get lost etc
    PS sorry if this seems obvious, I’m a bit of a worrier

    1. Generally speaking this is (from memory) a fairly straight forward hike, although as beginners you might be better off staying in a pub / cafe if the weather is particularly foul. The only time I would not attempt it is if the river was in spate as the path along the riverside would be dangerous. All the paths (along the river, and up and down the hill) are fairly obvious, and the area you are walking has a river one side and a road the other. This original blog post does not have a link to the route, but you can access one here:

  5. Thank you for sharing this route! We have just returned from trying it out and as you said, it is a perfect introduction to Snowdonia. We were very lucky with the weather too!

  6. Thank you for the information. We follow this walk every year, it’s one of our favourites. One question if you can help? ( I am currently writing a book and wish to include my experiences of this walk). When you reach the water wheel in front of the Sygun copper mine building, if you follow a small path to the right there is a steep walk uphill, is this classed as a mountain walk and would you happen to know the name of the mountain if it is?

  7. Thanks for your time and passion on this walk. We are going to do it tomorrow. Old school, made some note from your instructions xx Rachel and friends

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