Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve, near Betws-y-coed

What's here


Cwm Idwal lies in the Ogwen Valley at the northern end of the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

The National Trust, the Eryri National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales work together to manage Cwm Idwal.

Cwm Idwal visitor centre is situated adjacent to the Ogwen Centre car park.

There is a circular walk route around Cwm Idwal lake - see the information board in the car park. 

Cwm Idwal visitor centre and the Ogwen Centre car park are operated by the Eryri National Park Authority.


What to see on the National Nature Reserve

Visitors can see the most graphic evidence of how this landscape was created at Cwm Idwal.

The folds and faults are the direct result of the tumultuous forces which pushed up these mountains 450 million years ago.

The much more recent Ice Age sculpted and gouged their cliffs and ridges, as well as the great amphitheatre of Cwm Idwal itself. 

On all sides you can see the legacy of the huge glacier that once filled this space - the hanging valleys of Cwm Cneifion and Cwm Clyd, the massive, polished boulders, the moraine at the lip of Llyn Idwal, the huge scree slopes and, most remarkably of all, the jagged rock formations on the summit plateau of the Glyderau.

On the ledges, beyond the reach of the feral goats, there are a host of rare arctic alpine plants, including the moss campion, Snowdon lily, alpine lady’s mantle and purple saxifrage.

Seasonal highlights

During the year, the landscape changes at Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve.

Depending on when you visit, you are likely to see different wildlife, too.

  • In the spring, the rare Snowdon lily and other montane plants come into flower.
  • Migrant birds such as the ring ouzel and wheatear make Cwm Idwal their home during the summer.
  • Autumn brings shorter days and a range of heathland colours.
  • In the colder months of late winter through to early spring, flowering purple saxifrage brightens up the winter landscape.

Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park

Cwm Idwal is in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Eryri is the largest National Park in Wales and is home to picturesque towns and villages and the highest mountain in Wales.

It is looked after by the Eryri National Park Authority.

For more information about visiting Eryri go to the Eryri National Park Authority website.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

In 1954, Cwm Idwal became the first National Nature Reserve in Wales.

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.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Other places in North West Wales

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