Beddgelert Forest, near Porthmadog
Peaceful forest in the heart of Snowdonia National...
Native woodland with a dramatic waterfall
The spectacular waterfall in Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve has been popular with visitors since Victorian times.
Known locally as Aber Falls, the Rhaeadr Fawr waterfall (which means "big waterfall" in Welsh) tumbles down from the Carneddau mountains and plunges into a deep basin in the river valley below.
Through the ages, climate, geology and human activity have all left their mark here and there is plenty to see on the way along the valley to the waterfall.
There are wide areas of open grassland and woodland, made up of oak, hazel and alder, which is home to many different birds.
The humidity near the waterfall and along the river makes ideal conditions for a variety of mosses, liverworts and ferns, and over a hundred species of lichen have been recorded here.
There are also many features of archaeological interest, including an Iron Age hillfort and the remains of several ancient round huts.
The walking trail is waymarked and starts from the car park.
There is an easier route at the start of the trail for pushchairs and power chairs – look out for the signs.
2¼ miles/3.7 kilometres (there and back), easy
Follow the yellow waymarkers onto the path along the bottom of the valley which goes through woodland and open grassland to the foot of the waterfall.
There are benches along the way.
The return route is along the same path.
Coedydd Aber is a National Nature Reserve.
National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.
There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.
During the year, the landscape changes at Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve.
Depending on when you visit, you are likely to see different wildlife, too.
Read on to find out what you could see here during the different seasons.
The resident woodland bird population swells in the spring with the arrival of migrant breeders, such as:
The ash and wych elm woodland floor has a glorious carpet of bluebells and wood anemone.
On the ffridd (the land between the valley floor and the high mountain) the hawthorn and crab-apple trees create a foam of white flowers in May.
The alder wood is carefully managed by coppicing some of the trees in rotation which leads to a dramatic burst of meadowsweet flowers in summer.
The woodland is home to a range of birds such as the great spotted woodpecker and goshawk which feed on the ground in the broadleaved woodland and the nearby coniferous forest.
Throughout summer these bird species can also be seen:
The fast flowing river provides habitat for the dipper and grey wagtail, whilst the ffridd (the land between the valley floor and the high mountain) attracts species like the tree pipit and wheatear.
Ring ouzels, ravens and flocks of choughs can sometimes be seen on the open mountain slopes and on the steep rock wall at the far end of the valley.
As the days begin to shorten, the trees get ready for winter and the valley fills with a dramatic patchwork quilt of red, orange, brown and yellow.
The spectacular waterfall, which is the main attraction for many visitors to Coedydd Aber, is particularly impressive during winter.
Many of the migrant birds leave the reserve for warmer climates but overwintering species such as the dipper and grey wagtail can still be seen throughout the colder months.
The main path from the entrance at Bont Newydd to the foot of the Rhaeadr Fawr waterfall is generally 1.5 metres wide with no steps and a gradual and continuous climb.
The path is compacted stone with some loose stones on the surface. It is approximately 2 km/1¼ miles from bridge to falls, with a height gain/climb of 100m/330ft.
Please note: there are some steeper sections and loose and exposed stones in some places.
The kissing gates have RADAR locks to open fully.
There is disabled parking in the lower car park and in the upper car park.
There are accessible toilets in the upper car park.
The car park and toilets are open at these times:
Coedydd Aber National Reserve is 7 miles east of Bangor.
Turn off the A55 at junction 13 towards the village of Abergwyngregyn. Follow the brown and white tourism signs for Aber Falls out of the village and on to a narrow minor road. The lower car park is on this road after ½ mile and the upper car park is just over the bridge.
The lower car park (near Bont Newydd bridge) has 16 parking spaces; one space is reserved for disabled visitors.
The upper cark park has 20 parking spaces and toilets.
There is a £3 parking charge at both these car parks.
Please note that these car parks can get full at weekends and in the school summer holiday.
Coedydd Aber is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 17.
The OS grid reference is SH 664 718.
The nearest train station is in Llanfairfechan (this is a request stop).
For details of public transport visit the Traveline Cymru website
Tel: 0300 065 3000
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