Swallow Falls Betws-y-Coed
SWALLOW FALLS (RHAEADR EWYNNOL) This waterfall on the Afon Llugwy has become a familiar natural celebrity over the past 100 years and has featured on film, postcard and canvas. While its principal viewpoints are situated on the south bank of the Llugwy with the convenience of ample parking along the A5 and within the hotel car park, it is observed far more dramatically if approached on foot along the northern bank.
Here, one follows a narrow, tortuous path - part hewed out of the rock face with grey. fissured, threatening crags overhanging part of the route on the one hand and a forbidding abyss clothed with stunted trees on the other. Spectacular and dramatic, this approach path was at one time in the care of Betws-y-Coed council workmen who took pride in maintaining its condition. Unless there has been a heavy rainfall the summer months do not always present the viewer with the most exhilarating aspect of this famous waterfall - one needs a November or March flood when the water cascades over the dark, indented, weather-scarred rocks in a foaming, spewing onrush of unrestrained energy.
But whatever the season, this waterfall will attract a world-wide selection of public to view it. In 1913 the Swallow Falls was given to the Betws-y-Coed council by the second Lord Ancaster. The council were more than pleased to accept it for they had incurred a debt of £15,000 through the installation of water and electricity supplies to the village, and it was anticipated that by charging to view the waterfall at close hand, it would provide a source of income to help pay off the debt. Over the years it certainly did. Once the debt was cleared the parish retained the waterfall as a source of income until 1974 when Local Government Reorganisation reduced the status of the parish council. But what an interlude that proved to be! An interlude when Betws-y-Coed was in the enviable position of being the only parish in Wales where its residents paid the lowest rates in the country!