Wild Swimming Spots in North Wales

Following our previous blog about swimming spots in The Lake District, we thought we'd put together a similar list for North Wales. From large lakes and waterfalls, North Wales is truly an area of outstanding beauty. We’ve put together our favourite swimming spots so you can easily find the right place for you!

Before you read this blog, please remember that being able to enjoy these spots is a privilege- please make sure that you take all of your rubbish home with you, do not put any liquid or food in the water and do not feed the wildlife. Please also remember that a lot of these areas are peoples homes, so only park in designated parking areas, do not block any roads, driveways or gates and keep noise to a minimum. We’d also like to note that while we have no reason to believe that any of these swim spots are dangerous or particularly difficult to get to, always check the path online the morning of your trip. Sometimes, severe weather can cause issues on paths. You should never enter wild water during storms, severe weather or if water is high. A quick test to know if waters are high is if it's cloudy or you can't see the bottom. If at any point you find yourself in danger or injured call 999 who will alert the local mountain rescue.

Rhaeadr Mawddach & Pistyll Cain- Around a 30 min drive from Dolgellau- set your sat nav to Coed y Brenin Forest Park which will follow the A470 North until you reach a right turn marked as a dead end- follow this lane right till the end to reach the car park.

This stunning waterfall ends in a deep plunge pool that was once a goldmine! The freezing pool is perfect for a dip after sweating it out on the surrounding mountain bike or hiking trails. Follow the river (upstream) to reach the smaller Pistyll Cain which is very similar but may be quieter on busy days. There are clear paths to both waterfalls from the visitor centre but please be aware that some areas of the path are a little tricky so take caution. The circular walk takes under 2 hours (of course unless you stop for a dip!). Coed y Brenin Forest Park provide a range of different paths for different levels of availabilities.

Nearby Inns: George iii, Penmaenpool and The Royal Ship, Dolgellau.

(Image: Pistyll Cain)

Rhaeadr Ddu (Coed Felenrhyd)- 15 min drive from Blaenau Ffestiniog- follow the A496 South. Park in the lay by just after Maentwrong power station (note there is very limited parking here- DO NOT OBSTUCT FARMER GATES). The walking path is just the other side of the power station.

Located in a temperate rain forest also known as a Celtic rainforest of Coed Felenrhyd, as soon as you step into the forest you feel the humidity increase and the forest becomes a lush oasis. The area is packed with rare moss, fungi and lichens that have supposedly been there since the ice age. Keep climbing the hill until you hear the waterfall- follow the noise and you’ll find a pebbled beach with a waterfall over hanging. It’s a freezing plunge and a very popular gorge scrambling spot but well worth the visit.

Nearby Inns: Brondanw Arms, Llanfrothen.

(Image: Rhaeadr Ddu)

Ffos Noddun / Fairy Glen- Just 2 miles from Betws-y-Coed, follow the A470 South for 5 minutes. You'll come up to a bridge with small signs to Fairy Glen right next to Fairy Glen Hotel. Follow the lane until you reach a small, private car park. Please note there is a charge to park and enter (£1 per car, £1 per person, 50p per child).

Fairy Glen is famous for it's outstanding beauty- it truly deserves its name and looks just like something out of a fairy tale. Dogs are allowed but must be on a lead at all times. This is private land that the owners have been kind enough to open to the public with a small cost to maintain the pathways – please do not visit if you are not willing to pay. It's important to take caution here as the path is steep and can be vey slippery on wet days. There are many small pools along the river which are perfect for paddling and swimming- be careful with young children as the pools suddenly get deep.  The main pool sits at the confluence of two streams before braiding either side of an island downstream. Plenty of shallower areas for paddling and the water gets nice and warm in the sun.

(Image: Ffos Noddun)

Llyn Eiddew Bach a Fawr- Just a 15 minute drive from Harlech, park at grid reference SH629342 where there is a small lay by area with parking- please note the lane up to this point is very narrow with steep drops so take caution.

Llyn Eiddew bach is a small lake, alongside the track up to Moel Ysgyfarnogod. To reach both lakes is quite an uphill climb so be prepared for a good hike that will take 30-45 minutes. Llyn Eiddew mawr is about 300 yards to the south and is about four times the size (bach translates to small and mawr translates to big). This is a particularly beautiful spot with some great cliffs for jumping in and panoramic views of the sea and hills! It's likely you'll be alone up here so pack a picnic as you may want to spend some time to de-compress.

Nearby Inns: Victoria Inn, Llanbedr.

Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris- The top of Cadair Idris mountain, near Dolgellau. From Dolgellau follow the A487 south for 10 minutes until you reach Minffordd- turn right into Dôl Idris car park.

This is the clear, glacial lake in the crater of Cadair Idris! It’s a proper hike so only do this if you're fit. You can walk into the water from the beach or there's some low rocks to jump off of. The lake sits nice and high meaning it's exposed in the sun, so in the summer it really warms up but will be freezing in the winter months- this is a glacial lake after all. This is a 5-6 hour hike in total so make sure you plan a full day out, and bring a pack lunch as there's nothing up there!

Nearby Inns: George iii, Penmaenpool and The Royal Ship, Dolgellau.

(Image: Llyn Cau)

Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant, Beddgelert- Both lakes accessible by roadside on the A498, Plas Gwynant- drive North on the A498 for 10 minutes from Beddgelert.

These two lakes are perfect for those not wanting or able to take a long walk- they're both right on the roadside with lay-by's all around and easy gradual shores which make it easy to get in the water. Llyn Gwynant campsite also hire out boats if you fancy something a little different!

Nearby Inns: Saracens Head, Beddgelert, Tanronnen Inn, Beddgelert and Prince Llewelyn, Beddgelert.

(Image: Llyn Dinas)

Watkins path waterfall, Beddgelert - The Watkin Path itself starts from the main A498 road, a couple of miles or so outside Beddgelert. There’s a car park at the roadside between the two big lakes – Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant. The path begins on a stone staircase opposite the car park.

Watkins path is a route to Snowdon's summit - about a quarter of the way up you’ll find the falls. Once you come out of the wooded area at the beginning of the hike you'll turn the corner and find the river. Take the small path down the edge of the river (not the main path) and you'll come across the falls. Here, you'll find a series of waterfalls with large, deep, clear pools one after the other, with jumping spots as well as a gently sloping beach, plus the water is crystal clear. The walk is fairly straight forward and you'll find the falls after only about 20-30 minutes of walking.

Nearby Inns: Saracens Head, Beddgelert, Tanronnen Inn, Beddgelert and Prince Llewelyn, Beddgelert.

(Image: Watkins path Waterfall, Beddgelert)

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