Welcome to Betws-y-coed. The name means prayer house in the woods. Which makes sense as this town was originally a monastery that was started sometime in the 6th century. The train station seen here, was built around 1869
But that isn’t why we are here. My Aunt had sent me a number of photos from my Grandfathers collection when she heard we were returning to Wales. This is my grandfather somewhere near Betws-y-coed. When the picture was taken, there was no geo-tags or GPS information. So we will have to do some exploring so see if we can figure out where he took it.
Sian is confident she can find the same place the picture was taken. But is tired of waiting for me to take pictures.
As mentioned, Betws-y-coed was originally a monastery in the Welsh mountains. Which naturally means that eventually a church would be built. The Church of St Marry s was constructed in 1873 and was the main reason this town existed.
The town would evolve over the years with the main focus changing from monasteries and churches to mining in the surrounding mountains. Today, the biggest draw is tourism. The town is full of restaurants, shops and mainly outdoor related activities such as biking, climbing and of course, climbing mount Snowdon (link). I think of this town as the Banff of Wales.
The town is built around the river Conwy surrounded by beautiful stone buildings and bridges. Very picturesque. I’m told in the summer the town is over-run by tourists and it is very difficult, not to mention expensive, to get accommodations here. But the good news is, if there is a river, there might be a waterfall, just like in the picture location we are looking for.
There is a waterfall! Right in town. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a false alarm. Not the same waterfall as in the picture.
While exploring the small town you can understand why it is so popular with tourists.
Wait a second, what about this sign. No, not the one that says Fatface, whatever that is. But a sign that says Y Rhaedr Ewynol (Swallow Falls). That could be worth checking out.
We arrived at Swallow Falls to learn that you have to pay to see the waterfall. This made me worry that perhaps we are at the wrong waterfall again. My Grandfather would never pay to “just see a bloody waterfall”. Perhaps the payment booth is a new addition, or my grandfather hopped the fence. We will never know for sure.
This is definitely the right spot. How cool is that? Side note: since I make the rules, this counts as the traditional summit selfie.
Thanks to my good friend Darb for making this cool photoshop of us together.
Also sent by my Aunt was this picture of my Grandfather at an aqueduct in Wales. We realized there was an aqueduct not far from the town of Betsw-y-coed so figured it would be worth a drive. To Pontcysyllte!
Wales has over 3500km of man made canals that were originally built for the transportation of goods around the country. Due to the hilly nature of the country, if you were to travel from one end to the other you would need to pass through 1500 locks to complete the journey. Today, the canals are mostly used for recreation where people explore them in the long boats pictured here, which double as your hotel each night. There are pubs all along the canals so you can get food and beer as you explore the country by longboat.
Cool bridge, but not the one in the picture. The aqueduct we are looking for is the largest one in the UK. Better keep looking around.
We eventually find the entrance to the top of the aqueduct. Normally, you can walk along this huge river in the sky but it was closed. They periodically drain the water from the bridge to inspect it for problems and we just happened to arrive when that was going on. That is also why all the long boats are parked in my previous picture. They are stuck until the bridge is reopened. If you are wondering… once the plug is pulled, it takes 3-4 hours for the entire bridge to be drained of water.
After walking and driving around for over an hour, worried we would run out of daylight, I think we are finally on the right track. This aqueduct was built in 1805 and took 10 years to build. It is both the longest and tallest aqueduct in the UK at 300 meters across and stands roughly 40 meters above the river it crosses.
I think we found the same spot. The soccer club that I assume my grandfather parked at was now abandoned. The building was falling apart and the parking lot now overgrown with weeds. We had to jump a fence in order to get to the same location. But worth it. With that accomplished, on to the next spot!

1 Comment

Teditor · May 6, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Too bad Dad (Grandad to you) is not around to read this, he would have loved it, great job!

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