Near Llyn Ogwen is the breathtakingly beautiful Cwm Idwal, an amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion. Visiting Cwm Idwal for the first time is an awe inspiring experience. Llyn Idwal at the base of the valley is surrounded by giants of high peaks, towering crags and menacingly dark screes.
For the serious hillwalkers, hikers and mountaineers, 'Y Garn' (947m / 3100 ft), 'Glyder Fawr' (1000m / 3279 ft) and nearby 'Tryfan' (918m / 3010 ft) are a magnet.
It is also said that the lake 'Llyn Idwal' takes its name from Idwal, the son of the 12th century prince Owain Gwynedd. He was said to be a beautiful scholarly boy who did not have the makings of a warrior. He was drowned in the the lake by his jealous uncle Nefydd, and that is why to this day no bird flies over the lake.
in 1954 Cwm Idwal became the first National Nature Reserve in Wales. This was in recognition of its geological importance and historical connection with Charles Darwin. The rocks of Cwm Idwal were formed over 400 million years ago, when North Wales was mostly underwater.
Charles Darwin visited Cwm Idwal in 1831, following sightings of large boulders containing marine seashell fossils. He concluded that the boulders must have been deep inside an ancient ocean before being catapulted to the surface by volcanic forces. Darwin's observations at Cwm Idwal formed his famous (but controversial at the time) publication, The Origin of Species.
Easy footpath from Llyn Ogwen to Llyn Idwal:
You can park your car in the National Trust car park near Llyn Ogwen at Pont Pen-y-benglog (LL57 3LZ). Is this the most picturesque car park in Snowdon? You know, it may well be! The short walk to Llyn Ogwen is well worth the effort, especially on sunny days when the sun's rays are reflecting on the surface of the Llyn. It's quite a show.
There is a small snack-bar near the car park which sells hot drinks, cakes and biscuits. On a cold, icy or rainy day, having a warm cup of coffee when you get back to your car is a godsend.
A stone paved footpath takes you gently up and away from the car park towards Llyn Idwal. The footpath is quite good although on wet days it can get a bit slippery. Be prepared for ice on the ground even when there is none to be seen near the car park. As you approach Llyn Idwal you are surrounded by stunning scenery and the neck-tilting views are a sight to behold.
You can walk around the lake (Llyn Idwal) following the well-defined stone paved footpath. This is easy and fairly safe for all the family to enjoy. If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can extend your walk from the far side of the lake, up to the Devil's Kitchen. However this section of the walk is not a tourist path and should not be underestimated. It is steep, uneven and you have to negotiate loose scree. Navigation on misty days can also be quite challenging. On a clear day the views on the way back towards Llyn Idwal are just magnificent.