Betws Y Coed

Pont-Y_Piar, Bettws y Coed

Charmingly situated among tree-clad hills at the point where the Llugwy valley meets the wider, valley of the Conway, Bettws-y-Coed claims with some justification to be “the Beauty-spot of Wales”. During the season it is besieged by visitors, for although the village consists almost entirely of hotels and apartment houses “Bettws-y-Coed” to the world at large includes also the far-famed Swallow Falls and the romantic glen of the Conway.

The name means “the Chapel (or the Sanctuary) in the Wood,”and woods and water are its characteristics, despite the heavy toll of War-time foresters on the neighbouring hill-sides. To some extent Bettws suffers from its reputation as a “show place”, for it deserves far longer than the few hours usually devoted to it. As a center for walks or motoring it is splendid ; there is first-class fishing and accommodation to suit all tasters and purses. The resident population is only about a thousand.

The site is low, 80 feet above sea-level, but it is healthy. The climate very mild, and the temperature equable. The rainfall is somewhat heavy, but the soil is light and porous, the water is quickly carried off, so that the air is kept free from fogs. The water supply and drainage are excellent.

The village has long been a favourite haunt of anglers and artists. David Cox visited it for many years, and in the entrance hall of the Royal Olak Hotel is the signboard he painted in 1847. It is now under glass and valued at something over a thousand pounds.

The Old Church, one od the oldest in Wales is now used for weddings and funerals. To reach it, turn left over the railway opposite Gwyndy Hotel, a few yards South of the Post Office. It contains the recumbent effigy of Gryffydd ap Dafydd Goch, a grandson of the last Llewelyn’s brother David. He lived in the Lledr Valley, in the fourteenth century. For the old edifice, which is dedicated to St. Michal and All Angels, there has been substituted St. Mary’s Chruch, on the main road.
Towards the Northern end of the village is the picturesque Pont-y-Pair, “the Bridge of the Cauldron”. It is sometimes attributed to Inigo Jones, the great architect of the first half of the seventeenth century, but tradition says it was designed and partly built by a native mason anmed Howel, who died about 1470, before the work was finished. The bridge is a favourite subject with artists and photographers, and always makes a pretty picture. Jagged rocks here form the bed of the river, causing a minature cataract. Just above the bridge is Fir Island, and on the left bank (the North side) are flat rocks much used as seats by visitors. Above Fir Island is the Still Pool, alongside which is a path that may be followed to the Miners’ Bridge and Swallow Falls.

At the opposite end of the village is the graceful Waterloo Bridge. Y Bont Haiarn (“The Iron Bridge”), the Welsh have always called it. As the inscription on the bridge testifies, it was built in the year in which the battle of Waterloo was fought and that circumstance owes its English name.. From the bridge the view up and down the valley is extremely picturesque.

The little red guide books are pretty awesome in tearing apart some of the knowledge about North Wales. Here, it totally de-bunks the fact that Inigo Jones built the Pont Y Piar. But, I must admit, that I love the fact that it was built by a local simply named ‘Howel’. Good times.

Betws Y Coed today is pretty much the same as it was back then. Ever so popular with tourists, and more than anything, walkers. Every shop in Betws nowadays is a walking shop of some sort. I much prefer the way the view from the bridge used to look if I’m honest. Really not a fan of the big building that’s sitting in the view now. Not so picturesque now.

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  1. Although today in betws-y-coed we have many outdoor clothing shops, a little searching around and you will find many more attractions for the day visitor, the railway museum, the tree tops activity centre, the waterfalls all go to make betws-y-coeda lively little village.

  2. Hello Colin!

    Thanks for stopping by. I totally agree, I love it at Betws y Coed, no doubt about it – so many great things are going on there, especially on the Art scene too. The lovely galleries make me visit every time I come home to see my parents, and I get most of my outdoors gear from Betws.

    I’ve yet to play around at the Tree Top Activity centre, but all my friends say it’s a great day out.

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