Swimming spot: Afon Llugwy and Llynnau Mymbyr in Snowdonia
Swim guide Vivienne Rickman chooses two glorious places to swim in Snowdonia: Llynnau Mymbyr and a delicious pool in the Afon Llugwy
I’m often asked for swims that don’t involve long, strenuous walks in Eryri National Park (Snowdonia). Despite the mountains being inherently about going uphill, there are some beautiful walks and swims in the valleys that can be linked together for a lower level adventure.
The twin lakes of Llynnau Mymbyr have an iconic view of the Snowdon Massif, stretching out at the head of the Dyffryn Mymbyr (valley) and flanked by pine forest that leads to the slopes of Moel Siabod. The lakes’ exit river joins the crystal clear Afon Llugwy on its journey to the sea.
How to get to Llynnau Mymbur and Afon Llugwy
There is a car park on the A5 at Capel Curig at ‘Bryn Glo’, which makes an ideal spot to start this adventure. If travelling by public transport the Snowdon Sherpa bus, which travels around the Snowdon area, is excellent. Both the S1 and T10 stop at Pont Cyfyng, which is the bridge that crosses the Afon Llugwy, near the car park.
From Pont Cyfyng, go over the bridge and take the right turning over the cattle grid and towards the house. The path veers down to a beautiful bridge across a stream and opens out onto a field with the remnants of a tiny old house under the watchful eye of Moel Siabod. Look over to the river on the right – sometimes ponies are taking a drink at the water’s edge.
Follow the rivers and you will approach a tree with its roots clearly showing, the ground eroded from years of fun jumping from the rope swing that may or may not still be hanging from the tree.
This is a river pool not to be missed. It’s big enough to swim laps, deep enough to dive down to the depths and clear enough to see fish nibble your toes.
There is an obvious spot to make your entrance next to the tree. For some swim training, approach the water that cascades over the rocks and swim against the flow, or lie back and let it gently take you into the pool. There are some other options to swim upstream if you continue walking but non are as big as this pool.
After you have finished exploring the river pool, be sure to change into your second costume and follow the river upstream over the stile. You’ll enter a woodland reminiscent of fairy tales with leafy dark spots and slivers of light finding their way to the water’s edge.
When you get to the bridge at the old Cobdens Hotel, head up and to the left and into Coed Bryn-engan.
The track through the woods is easy to follow. Head straight on after the gate and take the lower track to pass Bryn-engan, accommodation owned by Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre. Head through the gate and the main hub of Plas y Brenin will appear along with your first glimpse of Llynnau Mymbyr.
There is an option to swim from the inviting looking slipway in front of you, but wait and continue along the path for far better mountain views.
Look out for little paths through the trees to the lake shore.
The lake is truly beautiful. Its relatively shallow depths result in frequent changes in temperature, meaning it will be icy cold in winter, fresh after wind or rain, and like a warm bath in summer sunshine.
Beware of the power of the wind in this valley. The distance across the lake may look short but the chop can be big and zap your energy on a crossing.
After your swim, follow the same track through Coed Bryn-engan. Instead of taking the path back via the gate continue left, following the track over the river to Moel Siabod Café.
You can either head back into the woods to walk the same route back to the car, or follow the A5 from here. The return bus stop is further up the road by the junction.
Safety point: beware of flashy rivers
The Afon Llugwy is prone to flashy floods, be sure to check the forecast before you go. Rainfall affects the water levels in the mountains dramatically and can also affect riverside paths. If in doubt choose a different route.
The Snowdon Sherpa bus is great for getting out and about around the mountains. Hop on the S1 or T10, which both stop in Capel Curig and Pont Cyfyng. Prices start from £1.
To arrange a guided swim in Snowdonia with Vivienne Rickman, visit viviennerickman.co.uk
This article originally featured in the August 2022 of Outdoor Swimmer. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.