Zip World Fforest Coaster

Fforest Coaster

Date

24 March 2019

Location

Betwys-y-coed
SH 80520 57404; 53.10040°N, 3.78598°W

Information

In March 2016 Zip World Fforest opened on the site formerly known as Tree Tops Adventure set in 120 acres of the Gwydyr Forest in Betws-y-coed. The attractions on offer included zip line and rope courses through the tree canopy, a Powerfan freefall simulator (“basejumping without a parachute”), and a giant swing. The adventure experiences on offer were augmented in May 2017 with the opening of Fforest Coaster – the UK’s only Alpine Coaster. On the first 500 metres of the track, sledges are hauled uphill, from where they then make their gravity-driven descent at speeds of up to 25 mph down the remaining 710 metres of the course.

Further Reading

Fforest Coaster (Zip World Fforest);
All posts in the Zip world series

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Garden Coffee Company

Garden Coffee Company, Betws-y-Coed

Garden Coffee Company, Betws-y-Coed

Date

10 May 2015
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 79514 56357; 53.09077°N, 3.80060°W

Information

The pavilion in Betws-y-Coed Garden Nursery, on Holyhead Road, opened in 2014 as The Tea House (Y Tŷ Te). However, the café closed owing to contractual difficulties in September 2014 but re-opened in March 2015 as The Garden Coffee Company.

Further Reading

Garden Coffee Company

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Alpine Coffee Shop

Americano

Americano

Date

19 April 2015
Location

Betws-y-coed

SH 79515 56573; 53.09271°N, 3.80066°W

Information

The Alpine Coffee Shop in Betws-y-Coed is one of a complex of three ventures owned by Jacha and Gwyn Potgieter in the former railway station building (built in 1868 by local poet, historian and civil-engineering contractor Owen Gethin Jones (1816-1883) from Penmachno). The other two businesses, which both opened in 2014, are the Alpine Apartments self-catering accommodation and the Galeri Platform, which exhibits work by Jacha, a South African born artist and environmentalist. The Alpine Coffee Shop first opened in 1973 after Gwyn’s first husband purchased the station building. The Potgieters have developed it into an ethical café, which serves fair-trade, free-range and palm-oil-free fare and caters for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets.

Further Reading

The Old Railway Station, Betws-y-Coed;
Alpine Coffee Shop

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Pont-y-Pair Falls, Betws-y-Coed

Pont-y-Pair Falls on the  Afon Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed

Pont-y-Pair Falls on the Afon Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed

Date

18 January 2015
Location

Pont-y-Pair, Betws-y-Coed

SH 79164 56733; 53.09407°N, 3.80597°W

Information

Just before the Llugwy joins its streams with the Conway, there is a remarkable bridge called Pont y Pair,* thrown across the former river in several arches, strongly based upon the solid rocks. These natural piers, high and precipitous, overhang the dashing waters which break over the craggy ledges, on the points of which the bridge is so boldly and curiously constructed. In the wintry or stormy months, the meeting and conflict of this flood of waters displays at once the most fearful and fantastic images to the eye. The falls and thunder of the torrents are truly awful; nor are the extraordinary contrasts and combinations of the surrounding scenery less in unison with the romantic character of the spot. The steep indented cliffs, grey and worn, fantastically clothed with wood, and white dwellings dotting the hill-side, exhibit, blended into one, the mingled charm of the terrific and the beautiful.

* In its passage through the village the river Llugwy meets with such obstruction amongst the rocks, that it becomes so shockingly infuriated in the conflict, as to have the appearance of a boiling caldron, from which circumstance, the bridge over it takes the name of Pont y Pair, the Caldron Bridge.

— Thomas Roscoe, Wanderings and Excursions in North Wales, 1836

—ooo000ooo—

Near Bettws y Coed is also Pont y Pair, a most singular bridge, flung over the Llugwy, consisting of four arches, placed on the rude rocks, which form most durable piers. These rocks are precipitous, and in high floods exhibit to the passenger most awful cataracts below the bridge. The scenery beyond, of rocky mountains, fringed with woods, is very striking.

— Joseph Hemingway, Panorama of the beauties, curiosities, and antiquities of North Wales, exhibited in its Mountains, Vallies, Waterfalls, Lakes, Cities and Towns, Castles and Ruins, etc. Intended as a Pocket Companion to the Tourist and Traveller, 1839

—ooo000ooo—

Pont-y-Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron) on the Afon Llugwy in Betws-y-Coed was built in the 15th century and was later enlarged. Originally used for pack horses it was also later used for a time by coaches on the London-to-Holyhead Irish mail route until Telford’s A5 road opened through the town.

Further Reading

Betws-y-Coed;
Pont-y-Pair Rock Cannon;
The Falls at Pont-y-Pair, 1803 painting by English artist Joshua Cristall (1767-1847)

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Capel Garmon Burial Chamber

Capel Garmon Burial Chamber

Capel Garmon Burial Chamber

Date

13 September 2014
Location

Capel Garmon, Conwy

SH 81814 54319; 53.07297°N, 3.76552°W

Information

Capel Garmon Burial Chamber is a Neolithic chambered cairn built during the period 2500 to 1900 BCE. This communal burial site is located in a field close to the village of Capel Garmon, 3.5 km to the south-east of Betws-y-Coed. It is an isolated example of the ‘Severn-Cotswold’ style of megalithic chamber tomb more commonly found in SW England and SE Wales. A passage leads to a central rectangular antechamber with a circular burial chamber off to each side. It would originally have been covered by a cairn some 30 m long and 15 m wide, and this in turn may have been covered by an earth mound. The current entrance directly into one of the two circular chambers was made in the 19th century when the tomb was used as a stable. The monument was excavated and restored in the 1920s.

Further Reading

Capel Garmon Burial Chamber
(Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)
;
Capel Garmon Neolithic Chambered Long Cairn (stone-circles.org.uk)

 

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Rock Cannon, Pont-y-Pair, Betws-y-Coed

Pont-y-Pair Rock Cannon on the banks of the Afon LLugwy

Pont-y-Pair Rock Cannon on the banks of the Afon LLugwy

Date

6 September 2014
Location

Pont-y-Pair, Betws-y-Coed

SH 79122 56748; 53.09419°N, 3.80659°W

Information

The rock cannon in Betws-y-Coed was drilled into the bedrock on the banks of the Afon Llugwy by the side of Pont-y-Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron). The 15th century bridge carries the B5106 Llanwrst road over the river. It was originally built for pack horses and later enlarged. It was also used for a time by coaches on the London to Holyhead route until Telford’s A5 road opened through the town.

Further Reading

Rock Cannon — history and method of operation; Other rock-cannon posts

 

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Miners’ Bridge, Betws-y-Coed

Miners' Bridge over the Afon Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed

Miners’ Bridge over the Afon Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed

Date

6 September 2014
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 77984 56933; 53.09560°N, 3.82365°W

Information

Local miners used to cross the Afon Llugwy via a wooden ladder at this point when commuting to and from the lead mines in the Gwydyr Forest.

Further Reading

Photograph of Miners’ Bridge (Roger Fenton) c. 1855 (People’s Collection Wales);
Photograph of Miners’ Bridge (George Love Dafnis) c. 1900s (Bath in Time)

 

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St Michael’s Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

St Michael's Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

St Michael’s Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

Date

2 August 2014
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 79578 56538; 53.09241°N, 3.79971°W

Information

The Grade II* listed St Michael’s Church, dating back to the 14th century and situated on the banks of the Afon Conwy, is the oldest building in Betws-y-Coed. Three huge yew trees in its churchyard are thought to be around 1000 years old and the church stands on the site of the original ‘Betws’ (prayer house) that gave the village its name.

Thomas Telford put Betws-y-Coed on the map by including it in his mail route from London to Holyhead. The scenic village’s popularity as a tourist destination saw a marked increase once his A5 road through the village opened in the 1820s. The church subsequently became too small to serve the needs of the community and it was therefore enlarged when it was rebuilt in 1843. A further surge in the numbers of visitors came with the opening in 1868 of the LNWR railway station in the village. A second, larger church — St Mary’s — was therefore built in 1873 as a replacement.

During the 20th century the use of St Michael’s declined and by the 1990s the building had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was declared redundant in 1996, but was not de-consecrated — at least two services are still held there annually. The building is leased from the Church in Wales by the charity Friends of St Michael’s, which was founded in 1994 and which has been responsible for its restoration.

Further Reading

Friends of St Michael’s

 

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Sappers’ Bridge, Betws-y-Coed

Afon Conwy Footbridge, Betws-y-Coed

Afon Conwy Footbridge, Betws-y-Coed

Date

2 August 2014
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 79608 56528; 53.09233°N, 3.79926°W

Information

The Royal Engineers built a wooden footbridge over the Afon Conwy to link the village of Betws-y-Coed with an army camp on the opposite side of the river. The wooden bridge was washed away in a storm and was rebuilt in 1930 by Westminster-based engineers David Rowell & Co. This company, originally producing fencing and later also wrought iron and wire rope, was founded in 1855 and shut down in 1970. In the first half of the 20th century it built a number of suspension footbridges.

 

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Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls

Date

29 June 2013
Location

Betws-y-coed

SH 76486 57740; 53.10250°N, 3.84632°W

Information

The Swallow Falls (Rhaeadr Ewynnol) on the Afon Llugwy are situated in the Gwydyr Forest about 1.5 miles west of the town of Betws-y-Coed. In order to pay off its debts, the local council started charging for admission to the falls in 1913 after the second Lord Ancaster donated the attraction to the town. Turnstile receipts continued to subsidise local rates until the reorganisation of local government in 1974. The current admission charge is £1.50.

 

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Hafodlas Quarry

Nature reclaims the slab mill

Date

26 May 2012
Location

Gwydyr Forest, Betws-y-coed

SH 77933 56175; 53.08877°N, 3.82412°W

Information

Hafodlas Quarry, also variously known as Fodlas, Pentre Du and Betws-y-coed Quarry, opened in the 1850s, with operations coming to an end in 1929. Both slates and slabs were produced at the site and the large 1860s slab mill was water powered: initially by waterwheels, and later by turbines fed with water from Llyn Elsi.

Hafod Las Slate Quarry, part one (Treasure Maps);
Hafod Las Slate Quarry, part two (Treasure Maps)

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