October 2012 / April 2014
Snowdonia National Park
Distance: 3 miles Time: 1.5 hours Type: Round trip
Llyn Idwal is possibly my favourite place in the UK: a beautiful clear lake nestled in a horseshore valley at the foot of the jagged, ice-sculpted peaks of Cwm Idwal. Waterfalls stream down the hillside into the lake, boulders lie scattered across the landscape and the gentle Y Garn looms in the distance: a wild and rugged spot, a hike around Idwal offers a real sense of isolation and old-earth, weathered beauty.
The track around the lake leaves from the car park by Llyn Ogwen and is paved for the initial part. The path gently rises as it passes streams and boulders before reaching the lake shore. You can circle Llyn Idwal in either direction: both times I have walked clockwise, which feels the natural thing to do for some reason.
After following the lake shore for a while, the path begins to climb. At various points you may spot climbers on the steep rock faces. The views over the lake and across to Y Garn get better as you gain height. At times, it's possible to reach even higher ground by leaving the path. You also pass a number of waterfalls and streams tumbling from the hillsides.
From the south-west corner the path begins decending on its return to the lake. Just before it meets the shore at the north end of the lake there are some really fantastic views across the water. There is also a small beach and some long grass: a nice spot to take in the scenery if the weather holds up.
The path completes the loop a short distance further when it reaches the north-east corner, from where you follow the same starting section back to the car park.
A map of the route can be found here: