About Dolgoch Falls
Dolgoch Falls was really a series of three waterfalls all running fairly far apart from each other on the Nant Dol-goch. While the signs indicated the trail was said to be a modest one mile in length in each direction, it got surprisingly sweaty and hot on the partly cloudy day we languished on the hike given that it was steeply uphill on the way to the uppermost waterfall while the trail was pretty much sheltered from any breezes or wind since we were deep inside a gorge. The trail followed the stream almost the entire way, and in a bit of a surprise, we passed by several cave entrances where a young spelunking group who happened to be on the trail with us were donning hard hats with headlamps and exploring them. I didn’t see a formal Welsh name for the falls, but I’d imagine it could be called Rhaeadr y Dol Goch, meaning the waterfall of the red meadow (dol means meadow and coch means red) though it’s not clear to me the reasons behind the red meadow reference. By the way, according to my Welsh dictionary, nant means stream.
Julie, Tahia, and I all began from a large car park in front of a hotel and restaurant (see directions below), where we paid 2 pounds to park for four hours. After walking on the well-signed and wide trail besides the hotel, we then went through a gate where right behind it was a donation box as well as a spur path leading to the Dolgoch Train Station. Shortly after this, we then crossed beneath what appeared to be a partially concealed arched railway bridge before the trail followed the Nant Dol-goch in earnest. We then went past a branch in the trail where the right branch went across a bridge traversing the stream before continuing upstream. We decided to continue to the left of this junction, and barely 15 minutes from the start of our hike, we suddenly came upon the lowermost of the Dolgoch Falls.
This first waterfall appeared to be viewable from the other side of the stream, which we knew we could get to from that bridge we skipped earlier. But we figured we could come back to that side towards the end of the hike. In any case, this first falls was short (maybe 10m tops) but quite attractive with its two-tiered drop. Right besides this falls on our side of the stream was an eerie cave entrance. I actually took some time to go in there trying to see where it ultimately went though I didn’t bring out a torch. Still, there was enough natural dim light for me to get to the opening on the other side of this apparent tunnel, and that was when I was stopped by a locked gate. It didn’t look like there was much of a trail continuing on the other side anyways so I turned back.
Beyond the first falls, the trail then proceeded to climb steeply above the main drops of the waterfall where we opted to continue following along the Nant Dol-goch while seeing a few more smaller upper tiers of this lower falls. There was another branch of the trail that went left (further away from the stream), but that went to the Ceunant Dolgoch (cuenant meaning “ravine”), which we decided to skip. Then, we reached another branch in the trail where a bridge crossed the stream above the falls, and I was sure it would loop back down to the other side of the first bridge we saw. Again, we left this for later.
Next, the hike meandered alongside the stream while climbing gently and passing by a couple of more cave entrances. One was near a bridge, and so the bridge was named Pont yr Ogof, which I believe would translate to mean Cave Bridge. Anyways after nearly another 30 minutes of hiking beyond the first waterfall, we then reached a viewing area of the second Dolgoch Falls. This one featured a two-tiered drop (as shown at the top of this page), but during our visit, there was a lot of overgrowth conspiring to keep us from seeing as much of the waterfall as we could. The mid-day sun was also right against us so that kind of made taking photos difficult.
Right after this Middle Falls, we then continued up even more steep steps as the trail would switchback its way up to the uppermost reaches of the gorge yielding some short glimpses of the valley below. After about 10 more minutes, we then were at another bridge spanning the Nant Dol-goch (though a sign called this one bridge 4), but this time it gave us a view of the third and last of the Dolgoch Falls. This waterfall was more like a rocky cascade, and I’d argue it was a bit of an anticlimactic end. However, just beyond this bridge, there was a very peaceful picnic area where it was possible to just chill to the soothing sounds of the stream as well as the nearby waterfall. This picnic area was the end of the trail as it didn’t continue further downstream so we had to retrace our steps.
Since the hike back was mostly downhill, we would ultimately return to the middle bridge at the top of the first waterfall, then crossed it as it passed by a thin but attractive small cascade as well as present us with a couple of spur trails leading to overlooks letting us look down at the Lower Dolgoch Falls. Eventually, the trail would switchback one last time before we’d reach the base of that first waterfall on the other side of the stream, which we had coveted earlier in the hike. From this angle, the falls was tumbling more directly towards us so it looked thinner and more vertical than before. Still, it was a nice little photo spot where I took plenty of photos of Julie and Tahia smiling before the falls.
Eventually after 90 minutes on the trail, we were back at the large car park where Julie treated herself to some takeaway sandwiches at the cafe here.
We visited this waterfall as part of a long loop drive that started and ended in Conwy. Dolgoch Falls was in the far southwestern extreme of Snowdonia National Park though it could be argued that we were much closer to the Mid-Wales town of Aberystwyth than we were to the North Wales town of Conwy.
Anyhow, from Conwy, we drove south on the A470 for a little over 50 miles to the A493 in the southern part of Snowdonia National Park passing through Blaenau Ffestiniog as well as a handful of other towns. This stretch of road took us roughly 75 minutes. We then kept right onto the A487 (a pretty scenic part as it passed through a gorge) and followed this road for another 4 miles before turning left to go onto the B4405 road towards Tywyn.
Then, we followed the narrow B4405 road for the last 7.2 miles towards the well-signed car park for Dolgoch Falls on the left. This final part of the drive passed by a scenic lake called Tal Y Llyn (The Tall Lake?), which was a nice photo spot. Overall, this entire 63-mile drive took us 2 hours.
For some more context, Conwy was 27 miles (about 45 minutes drive) northeast of Caernarfon, 55 miles (over an hour drive) west of Liverpool, 83 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of Aberystwyth, 192 miles (4 hours drive) north of Cardiff, and 259 miles (4.5 hours drive) northwest of London.
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