We’re still in North Wales exploring the hills. Join us as we take a visit to the Aber Falls or Rhaeadr Fawr in Welsh. A name that translates superbly to “big waterfall”. Which is exactly what it is, a great big splishy splashy waterfall.
120 feet (37 m) of splishy splashy Welsh mountain water falling in fact, a natural wonder that’s been popular with visitors since Victorian times.
Located at the end of the Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve outside Bangor, the Aber Falls are part of the mighty Afon Goch’s (Red River) final journey as it tumbles down from the Carneddau mountains and makes its way to join the Menai Straits.
As a hike, it’s a gentle affair. As a waterfall, it’s pretty powerful stuff.
There are two main options for getting to the falls. An easy, no-nonsense out-and-back stroll that will take you about an hour all in all.
This is the option we went for as our legs were still aching from summiting Snowdon the day before.
Or there is option 2, the Aber Falls Circular, which I now regret we didn’t do. Don’t get me wrong, the out-and-back version was great. But for the sake of an extra hour, we could’ve seen quite a bit more of the beautiful area and I’m sure our legs could’ve handled it.
There are two small car parks for the falls, the imaginatively titled upper car park and the lower car park. I think it was £5 for the entire day. So not bank-busting.
However, if you are coming on a busy day, such as a weekend in the Summer months or school holidays, I recommend getting in early as the car parks fill up quickly.
If it is jammed then you will find a free car park back down in Abergwyngregyn village but that will add an extra 20-30 mins walk up the narrow road onto your hike time. Plus the long delays navigating the traffic to get back down there. So plan accordingly.
Nothing really, the out-and-back version we did is a short amble on mostly flat ground. It’s not a challenging path. You could do it in your flippy floppies if you are that way inclined.
There’s no food spot at the car parks, so anything you want to eat and drink you’ll have to bring with you. If I was doing the hike again, I would’ve brought a full picnic with me and set up shop at the foot of the falls for a prolonged sit.
Over the last week, we have gone hard at Snowdonia National Park. We’d climbed Snowdon not once but twice. Since then I’ve climbed up many more Snowdon routes.
Today was a Saturday and it being the weekend we thought we’d take it steady and give our calves a rest. But this is a hiking holiday so we still need to do some kind of walk. Roll up the Aber Falls.
If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning you will know of my love of hiking to waterfalls such as Sungai Pisang in Malaysia. So when I saw Aber Falls billed online as “Snowdonia’s best waterfall” I knew I had to check it out. Let’s find out!
Once you turn off the A5 at the easy-to-pronounce village of Abergwyngregyn, the little road to Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve is narrow.
It’s one of those classic single-track country lanes where if you wound down your windows you and your passenger could touch both sides of the road at once.
There are passing places but it could get pretty wild with severe congestion on busy days when multiple cars are coming in both directions.
I wouldn’t want to be driving a camper van up there. Luckily the lane was empty on our arrival.
We got to the Aber Falls car park just before 8.30 and it was just us and three other cars. But when we returned to the car around 10 am things were starting to busy up.
Like a good little hiking nerd I’d done my research and read online you needed coins for the pay and display machine. But it turns out not everything you read online is true. The machine must’ve got an upgrade as it now accepts a wide range of cards. Huzzah!
Although I’d deliberately left our accommodation the night before to track down some £1 coins I was determined now to use them. So I did. And it felt satisfying.
Just in case you like pushing chairs on your hikes.
As we arrived in the car park there was one chap already there with his dog getting ready to walk. Using my eagle eyes I noticed he had the same backpack as me so obviously I sidled over to him and with a big grin said “Nice bag!”.
To which he replied, “Uhh, thanks mate”.
Pfft, rude, I thought. And I slinked back over to Sara.
Thinking back. My mistake was probably not turning to show him my backpack, so there is a very high chance he had no idea I had the same one on. To him, it probably looked like a complete randomer just ran over to give his nice but albeit very nondescript backpack a compliment.
Anyway, I regret nothing. It’s nice to be nice.
On with the walk!
There it is, my famous backpack in all its glory crossing the Afon Anafon.
Out of the car park, you first have to cross the Afon Anafon River, which isn’t the river that tumbles from the Aber Falls but another babbling brook of wonderful fresh Welsh mountain water.
There’s another route up to the falls which misses this part called the “pushchair route” so you can still get up the path even if you’re pushing a baby or just like hiking with pushchairs.
Sure there was that chap who hitchhiked around Ireland with a fridge, so maybe there is another chap who is hiking around Snowdonia with pushchairs.
Once we’d crossed the bridge zone and made it out of a pebbly area on the far side we joined a gravel path. Initially, It’s a little steep but it levels out in a short time and leaves you with a simple, pretty tame, stroll to the falls.
Now what it lacks in excitement the walk to falls makes up for with a truly beautiful setting. Just look at these pics.
Idyllic in the extreme.
Even better when the sun comes out.
The walk is peaceful and thoroughly pleasant but the main event is obviously the falls themselves. And boyo, they don’t disappoint.
There it is shining in the distance, the mighty Aber Falls.
We’d had the entire walk to ourselves so far but when we arrived at the foot of the falls themselves, the awkward bag guy was just leaving with his dog.
We shared an awkward nod and I thought of swinging around to show him the bag but in the end, I didn’t care enough. He’d already missed his chance at making a lifelong friend.
So then we had the entire waterfall to ourselves. Which was lovely. It meant I got to leap around like a child on the boulders at the foot of the falls without feeling too self-conscious.
And it also meant we got to take one of my world-famous mini worlds photos without any randomers appearing in the background.
The falls look a lot higher than this in real life.
After that, we hung around longer, watching the water fall over the rocks and contemplating life. It would have been a great place for a spot of takigyo, that’s Japanese waterfall meditation to those of you less zen than me.
I found this sweet little drone video a chap did of the falls on Youtube. It’s only 3 mins long but it shows the drama of the falls quite well, give it a quick watch.
There’s plenty of space around the waterfall where you could have bought a picnic and hung out there all day if you wanted to. If we’d had more time we would have loitered for longer enjoying the sound of rushing water but we were both starving.
We’d yet to have breakfast and I kept mistaking the rumbling from Sara’s belly for avalanches and it was freaking me out. So we headed back along the same path we had arrived by to the car.
As we headed back to the two car parks we started to pass quite a few people coming the other way. It was a Saturday, and this is the Snowdonia National Park so probably to be expected.
We were lucky to have the falls to ourselves as it was filling up now. So my big piece of advice is to get here early.
I jumped in the car and made it back out down the single-track road in one piece. Thankfully no campers were coming the other way to test my squeezing skills.
We then made a monumental decision to head into the banging town of Bangor for breakfast. We’d heard good things about Caffi Clena, and I’m so happy we made the effort. They served up probably one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in my entire life. No exaggerating. It was aces.
Now, admittedly all we’d had to eat so far was a couple of salted caramel flapjack bars, so we were ravenous little trolls, but still. I reckon this brekkie would’ve stood up in lab conditions. I’m tempted to come back again before the end of our Snowdonia holiday.
I usually take a breathtaking full-blown influencer shot of my food to share with you all, but today I was so hungry and it looked so good that I just dived right in.
As a hike, the Aber Falls out-and-back is a pretty tame hour on a gravel track. Pleasant but nothing too exciting. It’s a stroll more than anything.
As a waterfall, however, it’s great. There are a few pools you could maybe kinda dunk yourself in but there’s nowhere to swim per se. There are a nice collection of boulders to leap across at the foot of the falls and in the river that leads away. So that’s fun.
In general, it’s just an all-around lovely place to loiter.
If I was to do it again I’d have put a bit more meat on the bones and done the twice as long Aber Falls Circular Route which takes you up and over one side of the valley, and past the Iron Age Aber Valley Hut Circle.
I also would’ve built in some extra time to visit the Aber Falls Whisky Distillery located on the other side of the A5 from Abergwyngregyn village. Which has a visitor centre. And I think we all know what that means…free samples!
On that bombshell, I will take my leave. I’ve got to let my giant breakfast digest and get some rest in before we head up Snowdon again tomorrow for the Rhyd Ddu path.
Until then my dear hiker heroes, watch out for nettles and always remember to close the gate behind you!
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