Cynfal Falls

Waterfall near Beddgelert by cfc192710

  • Location: Llan Ffestiniog - SH 701419
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Description of this walk: A round trip walk through some of Snowdonia's most dramatic landscapes.

This walk is dramatic in all weathers but at its very best after rain has filled the cataracts. You'll need waterproofs in wet weather and need to be careful when walking on the slippery stone steps and bridge across the river.

The start of the walk

Start the walk from the village centre outside the church and Pengwern Arms. The A470 runs right through the village which lies just south of the famous slate town of Blaneau Ffestiniog.

From the pub head up the main road, passing the village school and turn right before the railway bridge. Ducking past slate fences along a trail that leads you in and out of a local farm, the path soon opens up onto rolling hills behind the village.

Head down through the fields and follow the sign posted route which clings to the valley slopes. Here, parts of the walk overlook a steep slide to the river but it shouldn't prove too difficult for inexperienced walkers.

You'll see some spectacular mountain views but the real treat begins when you cross the grazing fields and pasture to the Cynfal forest.

Tall tales

As well as myths and legends, the walk had some more modern tales to tell. Twm Elias, the walking guide on this walk recounted a few stories.

One famous tree marks the spot where a local farmer was murdered on his way back from the market.

His heel marks are said to be branded into the tree from where he put his back against it whilst defending himself against his attackers.

Another tale tells of how Huw Llwyd tricked the Devil into trying to smoke his gun.

There was a mighty bang... the devil pulled the barrel from his mouth and said: "Huw Llwyd - This is wonderful stuff! I'm going to adopt it as my very own. This is why tobacco is aptly named 'the Devil's weed'.

Mist and mosses

The walk through the woodlands to the dramatic Cynfal Falls or Rhaeadr Cynfal is stunning and only a stone's throw from the village of Llan Ffestiniog. It's a great walk to do in late Autumn when the leaves are changing colour.

There's a magical feel to this place, especially on a misty October morning so it's easy to imagine how the legendary exorcist and mystic Huw Llwyd cast a spell over his local congregation.

This is a unique environment and many of the plants here can only survive where these ancient trees lock in the moisture-laden atmosphere of the river gorge.

Luscious green mosses thrive in the moist air and carpet the river banks and trees.

Huw Llwyd's Pulpit

The sound of the river thundering its way through the gorge is amazing but it is also a very peaceful walk with only the odd stray hoot from the Blaenau Ffestiniog train to interrupt the birdsong and waterfalls cascading their way down the valley.

This gorge is a magical place that will not let you forget its dramatic waterfalls - Rhaeadr Ddu, Rhaeadr Cynfal, and 'Huw Llwyd's Pulpit', which is a strange rock pillar in the river.

Huw Llwyd used to baptise people in the river and from his 'Pulpit' - cast out their demons and hurl them to oblivion, below.

This walk first appeared on Radio Wales, Weatherman Walking, series 1 in 2002.


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Derek Brockway

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Photos taken on location during Weatherman Walking.

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