Mountain lakes and disused mines - Hiking around Llyn Geirionydd and Llyn Crafnant

Snowdonia is a wild and rugged national park in the heart of North Wales, most famous for its mountains, including Snowdon and Tryfan. The peaks attract hikers from all over the World, but Snowdonia's mountain lakes and disused mines, which are equally as awesome, are often overlooked. We decided to explore a couple of the lakes when our friends came to stay, so took out our OS map, found a free car park and created our own circular walk. 

Starting at Llyn Geirionydd, near Trefriw, we followed the blue footprint signs up into the forest. The trail started with a wide track and then turned off up a steep narrow path into the woodlands. Blackberries lined the path, giving us ample snacking opportunities as we hiked uphill. The trees closed in on us and we found ourselves surrounded by tall pines with dark green moss hanging from their branches. The forest was so dense that most of the sunlight was blocked, creating an eerie sense of being swallowed up by the vegetation. It felt as though we were in Middle Earth, or the Forbidden Forest (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter references for those of you who don't know!). As the path wound round further, we realised we were coming out of the forest towards Llyn Crafnant.

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There's a lovely little cafe in a white cottage by the side of Llyn Crafnant, which serves freshly made sandwiches, soup, jacket potatoes and cakes. We ate our sandwiches on picnic benches by the lake and watched the chickens wander about. They also had a beautiful ginger tabby cat, but he wasn't so friendly. 

After a long lunch break, we were starting to get a little chilly, so got moving again, following the blue footprint signs to the LLyn Crafnant car park. We were hoping the signs would take us on a circular walk back to where we started, but alas, they did not. Instead, we found another trail, which looked to be going in the right direction, so followed this. After about 5 mins of walking, we noticed a tiny dark hole in the undergrowth. It looked like a cave, so we ventured in to take a peek, expecting to be stopped by a gate. There was no gate, so we continued in, taking our phones out as torches. The cave was in fact a tunnel, which led us into a large cavern. The space had once been a mine, but had now been taken over by climbers, who had left bolts across the ceiling. It was really cool being able to wander around and explore without being led by a tour guide, but it's important to remember that these disused mines have not been maintained or inspected since closing decades ago, so caution should be taken when entering them. 

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Rather than crawling back through the tunnel, we exited the mine through the main entrance, which took us back out to the path, a little further up the hill. The trail continued past the ruins of a building, which was probably once part of the mine and skirted around the mountainside, giving fantastic views over the valley. We continued hiking until we came across an open area covered in ferns. We had been expecting to return to Llyn Geirionydd, but as we rounded the corner there was still no sign of the first lake. Out came our OS map to check we were on track; we confirmed we were still heading in the right direction and carried on. Around another couple of corners, we eventually saw the lake. Our car was parked on the opposite side so we hiked back round, after taking a lot of photos, and got back to the car just as the rain started to come down. All feeling tired from a long hike, we made our way home for a lovely cup of tea before our friends had to drive back home to London. We were all really impressed with the scenery and made plans to go for another long hike when they visit us next.

Chris and I have since realised that a similar hike is mapped out in the AA's 50 Walks in Snowdonia book, which you can find here. We've just bought ourselves a copy and hope to complete all 50 walks within the next few years. Have you discovered any cool disused mines in Snowdonia that you'd recommend visiting? Or do you prefer to stick to the lakes? We'd love to hear from you; leave a comment below!

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