A5/Betws-y-Coed - Bangor
|Meets:||A5, A470, A4086, A4244, A55, A5|
|Route outline (key)|
We cross the river on the cast-iron Waterloo Bridge, which was built in 1815 to celebrate the famous victory over Napoleon. The sides of the bridge feature the emblems of the four countries of the newly-formed United Kingdom, plus a legend to commemorate its construction. We climb steeply as we leave the village, gaining a climbing lane for the hill. On our right, the river makes an even more dramatic descent, over the Swallow Falls. Above the falls, the gradient gradually eases, and the A5 bends right to cross the river. The old line can be followed by leaving the A5 here, to rejoin at Pont Cyfyng, a bridge two miles further upstream.
Pont Cyfyng marks the beginning of the sprawling village of Capel Curig, home of the National Mountaineering Centre at Plas y Brenin, which sits at the foot of Moel Siabod, the prominent peak to the south. We continue through, bearing right at the junction with A4086. We're climbing again, but this time we're out of the woods and there are good views southwards across the valley. The old pre-Telford line of the road lies on the other side of the river, and makes a good walk from Capel to Ogwen.
We follow the southern shore of Llyn Ogwen. At the far end, we again have the option of following the old road (long and narrow - for the enthusiast only!), or alternatively we could park here and walk up to Llyn Idwal above us to the south - of particular interest to geologists, geographers and naturalists. When we're ready to continue, we cross the outlet of Llyn Ogwen, and as the valley drops away rapidly to become the broad Nant Ffrancon, we follow a cunningly engineered line gently descending along the slopes of the eastern side until we're once again by the river. It's interesting to compare the different lines of the new and old routes here: the oldest route descends quickly on the western side of the valley, whereas the subsequent turnpike road clung to the eastern side. Telford realigned the turnpike road substantially to even out the gradient.
Before long we reach the village of Bethesda, site of the largest slate quarries in the world. We then descend through woods along the Ogwen valley, before turning sharp left and crossing the river at Halfway Bridge. Suddenly, the countryside opens out and we reach the junction with the A55. Travellers in less of a hurry than we are would now turn off to reach Holyhead as quickly as possible.