This walk in the Conwy Valley will be superb regardless of the weather.

Distance: 5¾ miles

Start: There is limited parking in a layby in the minor lane immediately north of its junction with the A470 where it passes over Afon Conwy, about 1 mile south of Betws-y-coed.

Grid ref: 797 546 (Ordnance Survey Explorer OL17).

The walk

1. Walk back to the A470 and turn left over the bridge (Pont yr Afanc). Immediately before the 'Fairy Glen Hotel' turn right up the driveway to 'Cwmanog Isaf' (also signed to 'Fairy Glen'). Walk up the drive passing the house on the left to a gate, where a short detour can be made on the right to one of the most famous beauty spots in the locality - Fairy Glen. A small fee is payable. Return to this point to

continue the walk.

Fairy Glen became popular and acquired its name during the Victorian period when Thomas Telford's new road allowed the nearby town of Betws-y-Coed to develop as a tourist destination. The original Welsh name - Ffos Noddyn - meaning 'deep chasm' or 'ditch', provides a more descriptive name than that of the romantic Victorians.

Continue ahead up the track for almost one mile. This was the original toll road between Betws-y-Coed and Pentrefoelas, built by the Capel Curig Turnpike Trust in the opening years of the 19th century.

Stone embankments and buttresses can still be seen higher up above the Conwy Falls but it was still very narrow and steep, making it both difficult and dangerous for coaches. It became redundant in 1815 when Thomas Telford built what is now the A5. Telford's road has remained virtually unaltered. It is still the main route through the mountains of Snowdonia and has stood the test of time, despite almost a

century of increasingly heavy motor traffic.

2. At the road bear right. Walk along the road and immediately after the 'Conwy Falls Café and Restaurant', turn right along the Penmachno road (B4406) passing over Afon Conwy by Bont Newydd ('New Bridge'). This is the point at which the river enters a mile long gorge which contains both the Conwy Falls and Fairy Glen. Take a look over the bridge - you may be surprised at how deep the gorge is here. Continue along the lane to the crossroads by Penmachno Mill.

Turn right, walk past the mill and over the old stone bridge spanning Afon Machno. To the right you will see an even older stone arch spanning the river. Known locally as 'Roman Bridge', it is probably a medieval packhorse bridge serving an old route which existed on this side of Afon Conwy.

The rivers in this area provided a major obstacle to early travellers and numerous bridges like this one would have been built to aid their passage. From here, travellers would have continued down to Afon Lledr, to pass through Betws-y-Coed and on through the mountains.

The existence of the hospice at Ysbyty Ifan a few miles to the east, indicates that pilgrims came this way en-route to Bardsey throughout the Middle Ages. The hospice was established by the 'Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem' in the closing years of the 12th century, to provide rest and refuge in what would have then been a wild and remote area.

Walk along the lane to the first forestry road on the left (about 200 yards). Turn sharp left here and follow the road uphill. Follow the rising forestry road ignoring the left turn at a fork and rising gradually for almost a mile.

After a short descent the forest road turns sharp right and continues the gradual climb for a further ½ mile or so. Ignore a sharp left here continuing ahead eventually passing a clearing, where gravel is being removed and stored.

This is just beyond the highest point and the forest road now begins to descend. As the road bends left down the hill past an aerial, fine views begin to open out along the Lledr Valley to the mountains of Snowdonia.

Continue down the forest road to a junction where an access road bears left uphill to the farm of Fedw Deg. From here you can see along

Glyn Lledr to Moel Siabod seen over a foreground of woods. Northwards, the panorama takes in the backs of the Glyderau, with the triple summits of Tryfan peeping over the shoulder of Gallt yr Ogof and the softer contours of the Carneddau further north.

Almost opposite this is a rather less obvious path, sometimes a little overgrown but still clearly in use, which drops diagonally down the hillside to the right.

Turn sharp right onto this path and follow it, ignoring paths on the either side, to the lane at the bottom of the hill. This is known as the 'path of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch' and was the original access route to the ancient house of Fedw Deg.

Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch was the great-great-grandson of Llywelyn Fawr and a distinguished local knight who fought in the French Wars of Edward III under the Black Prince. He lived at Fedw Deg until his death and is buried at St Michael's church in Betws-y-Coed, where a fine stone effigy (1380) can be seen of him in full armour. It was his descendant Dafydd, who sold the nearby Gwydir estate to the Wynn family about 1500.

3. Turn left along the lane passing a row of stone cottages and at the next junction keep ahead down the hill. Cross the bridge over Afon Lledr and turn right along the main road to return to the bridge to complete the walk.

This walk is taken from the new edition of the book Walking in the Conwy Valley by Carl Rogers and published by Mara Books (ISBN 978-0-9522409-7-6). Copies are available in local bookshops or online at: