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Swallow Falls Wales: A Quick Guide

Owing to its unique beauty, Swallow Falls Wales is one of the most visited waterfalls in the country. It’s definitely something you want on your list of things to do in Betws y Coed.

Swallow Falls Wales

Set against a dramatic wild landscape, it has been a popular tourist attraction since the 1930’s. And receives thousands of visits per year. It’s so pretty it has featured on many postcards, canvas and even film.

Swallow Falls Wales

But the reason the waterfall is so unusual is because the 42m cascade tumbles over boulders in multiple tiers which creates a fascinating pattern with whirlpools and mini cascades. It is said to be the highest continuous waterfall in all of Wales.

The name in Welsh is Rhaeadr Ewynnol. It is pronounced ‘HRAYE-uh-dur ew-UHN-nol’ and means foaming waterfall. Which is quite different to the English version of the name.

It’s thought that Swallow Falls is a bastardisation which arose as a result of a mishearing of the Welsh word ‘ewynnol’. It has a similar sound to ‘y wennol’ which means swallow.

More Interesting Facts

Swallow Falls Betws y Coed was actually gifted to the public in 1913 by Lord Ancaster. Which was fortunate timing as the task of installing electricity and water supplies had put the village in debt by £15,000. And so the authorities set up an entrance fee to pay back the debt.

After that had happened, the local council continued to charge for entrance to Swallow Falls. For a time they passed on the benefit to the village residents. Which resulted in them paying some of the lowest taxes in the country.

Swallow Falls North Wales is also rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of John Wynn of Gwydir. Apparently there have been sightings of the 16th century aristocrat, who by all accounts wasn’t a very nice person and is hence why his soul is stuck there.

How To Get To Swallow Falls

You’ll find Swallow Falls in the Conwy County Borough of Snowdonia National Park. Just a few miles from the charming village of Betws y Coed.

More specifically, the craggy limestone gorge through which it flows is located in Gwydyr Forest along the River Llugwy. Or Avon Llugwy, pronounced ‘av-on HTHLIG-wee’ in Welsh.

River Llugwy

The main entrance is on the A5 between Betws y Coed and Capel Curig. So you can reach it very easily by driving or public transport.

To get to Swallow Falls by bus from Betws y Coed simply hop on a bus from the Pont-y-Pair bridge and get off outside the Swallow Falls Hotel. You’ll be there in 5 minutes.

But you can also walk there. There are two walking routes starting from either side of Pont-y-Pair bridge. More on that in a bit.

Swallow Falls Parking

There are a limited number of free lay-by parking spaces along the road just outside the entrance to Swallow Falls Wales. Alternatively you can park in the pay and display car park of the Swallow Falls hotel opposite. If you make a purchase from the hotel it will be refunded.

How Much Does It Cost?

The entrance fee to Swallow Falls is £2 per adult and £1 per child. Dogs are allowed but must be on a lead. It’s an unmanned turnstile entrance so you’ll either need change or to pay by contactless card. ​​However, you can also see them for free – see next section.

waterfalls in north wales

This Betws y Coed waterfall doesn’t have any opening times. But it wouldn’t be recommended going down there in dark or bad weather. Having said that, the best time to visit Swallow Falls, North Wales, is just after a big downpour in Spring or Autumn.

Because whilst you might have better weather in Summer, water levels are much lower and your view may be somewhat obstructed by the amount of greenery growing around.

From the turnstile entrance it’s just a short flat walk on a concrete path to the first viewing point of Swallow Falls Wales. Then a few steps down to a lower viewing point. These first two viewing points are accessible for most people.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, there are steps that then go further down towards the base of the waterfall. Where you’ll be close enough to feel the spray coming off the falls.

Swallow Falls Walk

As mentioned earlier you can also access these waterfalls near Betws y Coed by walking from the village. By following one of these routes is how you can also see them for free.

Beginning at either side of Pont-y-Pair bridge, one Swallow Falls Walk will take you to the North bank and the other along the South bank of the river. The route to the North bank starts on the village side of Pont-y-Pair bridge and takes you to the paid turnstile entrance.

The alternative route starts on the opposite side of the bridge and winds through Gwydyr Forest to a couple of free viewing points on the South bank.

Swallow Falls Betws y Coed
waterfalls near Betws y Coed

As well as being free, the bonus in viewing Swallow Falls from here is that during summer you can stand right on top of the falls. However you don’t get the longer distance view as you do from the other side, so it can be difficult to appreciate the sheer size and power of the falls.

Both paths are uneven and quite steep and muddy in some places so wear appropriate footwear. There’s barely any difference distance wise, each Swallow Falls walk is just under 4km from Betws y Coed so should take you less than an hour each way.

Swallow Falls walk
Swallow Falls for free

I have heard that you can also walk to Swallow Falls from the nearby Ugly House Tearoom, so that could also be an option if you plan on visiting there too.

How Much Time To Allow?

If you are driving or arriving by bus, you’ll only need around 20-30 minutes to take in the sights at the principal North bank viewing platforms. But if you are walking from Betws y Coed, you’ll need to allow for a couple of hours extra to get you there and back.

What Facilities Are There?

Facilities wise, at either side there are just a couple of benches. There are no toilets or places to buy anything. From the road side you do however have the Swallow Falls Hotel opposite, which has a bar and a restaurant and a shop.

Betws y Coed Falls

And as mentioned there is also the popular Ugly House Tearoom less than a mile away. Just head a little further along the A5 toward Capel Curig and it will be on your right hand side.

Swallow Falls Hotel Betws y Coed

If you are looking for somewhere to stay near Betws y Coed, the Swallow Falls Hotel is a good shout. These days it’s actually a whole complex with glamping pods and camping, not just hotel rooms.

Check out photos, reviews, prices and availability here.

Alternatively we also have a guide to the best Betws y Coed Holiday Cottages and recommendations for romantic places to stay in Betws y Coed for couples.

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Swallow falls waterfall
Swallow Falls Wales viewpoint