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Cwm Idwal in Wales, United Kingdom

View of Llyn Idwal

View of Llyn Idwal.


Cwm Idwal is a National Nature Reserve near Bangor, Wales in UK. It is an amazing valley surrounded by some of the highest peaks of the Snowdonia National Park.

The nearest city is Bangor, which is approximately 25 minutes away by car along the A5. However, there is a youth hostel located right next to the starting point of the hike and public transport is available along the A5. There are toilets available at the car park area at Ogwen Cottage, also located along the A5.

Trail leading to Llyn Idwal

Trail leading to Llyn Idwal.

Cwm Idwal offers a short but very rewarding hike. This place is considered one of the most beautiful trails in the UK. Those interested in geomorphology will go crazy because the effect of glaciation in the shaping of the landscape is very evident and beautiful. This place draws not only hikers and earth scientists but also climbers, botanists and bird-watchers.

This hike is very popular because it is suitable for families with children or for those who don’t have the luxury of a whole day of hiking.

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Cwm Idwal hike on low-level trail.

The trail involves a section leading to Llyn Idwal (the lake) and its subsequent border. You have two choices once you reach approximately the far end of the lake: a) continue bordering Cwm Idwal in the low-level trail, which is a bit shorter, easier and suitable for people all ages and fitness levels and b) take the high-level route which leads to what is known as the ‘Devil's Kitchen’, which is steep and rocky and requires a bit of scrambling at points. The technical difficulty is easy for the low-level walk and moderate for the high-level one.

Oak bridge at Cwm Idwal

View of oak bridge at Cwm Idwal.

According to my smartphone's GPS, this hike is 5.00 km long. The route I recorded in this way is available for download in .gpx format. The weather forecast is available here.

Clothing and equipment

These suggestions are based on my personal experience on this trail. The selection criteria are based on quality and weight. My assumption is that this will not be your last hike on a trip and that the lighter your backpack, the more you will enjoy hiking.

Please note that I include links to sellers. You won't pay extra if you buy a product after having visited this website; however, the small commission will help keep these hiking blogs going.

Shoes/socks. Those doing the whole circular route are probably better off wearing hiking boots because of ankle protection; lightweight trail running shoe-inspired boots are a good compromise (see examples: male or female). A good quality light-weight hiking sock with extra padding is essential to avoid blisters (see examples: male or female).

Clothing. Zip-off water repellent stretch hiking trousers are a comfortable and convenient option (see examples: male or female). If the weather is warm and sunny, a thin long-sleeve base layer will help avoid getting burnt (see example: male or female). As a minimum, take a lightweight wind jacket (see examples: male or female). However, if it’s likely to be a bit cold, add a fleece (see examples: male or female) or replace the wind jacket and fleece with a lightly insulated softshell jacket (see examples: male or female). Also take waterproof gloves and a couple of Buffs (preferably a normal buff and a polar buff) to protect head and neck. If it’s likely to rain, a good (as opposed to high) quality waterproof jacket will suffice since low weight on the daypack won't cause a reasonably good jacket to leak in the shoulders (examples: male or female).

Daypack. A 20-25L daypack with good waist support is big enough for most people (see examples: male or female).

Hiking poles. If you decide to follow the high route it is best to take hiking poles.

Photographic equipment and power. An ideal hiking camera should be lightweight, have a large aperture for handling low light scenes and should have a wide angle lens with a minimum full-frame equivalent focal lens of 24 or 28 mm. If you opt for a heavy camera, there are camera straps combining neoprene and elastic to absorb the shock of movements. These straps are so comfortable that they actually make the camera’s weight seem much lower. If you want to record the track using your phone and plan to take photos with it as well, take a powerbank along to avoid running out of battery power.

Other supplies. A responsible hiker takes emergency equipment along. The bare minimum consists of a first aid kit, a headlamp capable of at least 150 lumens, a whistle, a compass (a global compass works in both hemispheres), a map and if cold temperatures are expected, an emergency blanket. Finally, protect your face and lips using sun cream lotion and chap stick.

DISCLAIMER: A.L. Montoya-Morales is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and in the Booking.com Affiliate Partner Programme, both of which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and booking.com.