Gwydir Castle stands beside an old road connecting the market town of Llanrwst with the village of Betws-y-Coed in the lush Conwy Valley. It’s a peaceful place – but it hasn’t always been that way.


Back in the late 15th century, this lawless, wasted land was occupied by bandits. But it was soon brought under control by Meredith ap Ieuan – leading regional supporter of King Henry VII – and his bowmen. Meredith and his men rebuilt the castle around 1490 and it became the ancestral home of the powerful Wynn dynasty. Towards the end of the Tudor period, Meredith’s great grandson Sir John Wynn was the most powerful landowner in north Wales.

Gwydir Castle
Lush gardens and grounds surround Gwydir Castle ©Alamy

Entry to the castle is through the courtyard and, opposite the gate, Meredith ap Ieuan’s Solar Tower stands fronted by a storeyed porch added by Sir John Wynn. Inside is an immense three-metre wide fireplace and, along the passageway, you’ll find the Lower Hall with its impressive Tudor beams and portrait of the baronet.
Stairways climb to the Hall of Meredith, where a chimney breast contained a hidden priest hole, while the Great Chamber was used as the reception room during the Elizabethan era. Off to the side of the passageway is the Ghost Room, said to be haunted by a murdered maid.

The gardens, now home to several peacocks, were used to grow quinces and citrus fruits in the Elizabethan period.

Explore a Tudor mansion and its former estate on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales with our easy walking route of Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst, Conwy.

Portrait of beautiful peacock with feathers out
Glimpse the incandescence of peacock feathers in Gwydir's gardens ©Getty

There’s lots more to explore too – try this pretty amble from Llanrwst to Llyn y Parc.

Gwydir Castle walk

5.3 miles/8.5km | 3 hours | moderate

1. Deliver by river

From the town of Llanrwst, cross the bridge over the splashing waters of the River Conwy and bear left along the waterside path.

After passing the football pitch, you’ll see a wide wall stretching across the field from Gwydir Castle. This marks the site of an Elizabethan quay that led down to the riverbank. It was here that small ships and barges would have delivered wine, tobacco and other goods. There are large stone slabs down by the water that mark where the quay once stood.

Llanrwst is a small town and community on the A470 road and the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, Wales. The growth of the town in the 13th century was considerably aided by an edict by Edward I of England, who built Conwy Castle, prohibiting any Welshman from trading within 10 miles (16 km) of that town. Llanrwst, located some 13 miles (21 km) from Conwy, was therefore strategically placed to benefit from this.
Llanrwst Bridge and Tu-Hwnt-I'r Bont tearooms beside the River Conwy ©Getty

Cross two stiles, the second on your right, and walk up the field to the road. Turn right and soon after go left at a sign for Gwydyr Forest Park. (If you are yet to visit the castle, continue straight up the road to find it). After a right bend, walk uphill to a track on the left. Before taking it, look ahead to see Sir John Wynn’s old Gwydyr Uchaf summerhouse, now a Forestry Commission office. Most of the surrounding land was laid out as gardens.
2. Pleasure gardens

Go left around the barrier to meet another track. After a footpath on the left and before a track on the right, you’ll arrive at the site of a Tudor bowling green, part of Gwydir’s historic pleasure gardens. Sir John Wynn brought his guests here to admire the glorious views over his estate. With a picnic table and bench overlooking Llanrwst, it is a great place to take a break.

The walk follows the track ahead through an area of felled woodland, with wide vistas across the Conwy Valley. The way eventually emerges on to a forest track. Ignore the two trails on the right and go left downhill, looking out for a path on the right just before reaching the Llyn y Parc dam.

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3. Weaving ways

At the dam, either take the trail beside the lake or retrace your steps a few yards to the path seen earlier. They join up and weave in and out of the trees at varying distances from the water’s edge. After passing the end of the lake, the path bears sharply to the right to join a forest track. Turn left to meet a fork, and then veer left downhill through a former lead and zinc mining area.

Follow the track to a lane and turn right, soon joining the B5106. Here, turn right for another chance to visit the splendid Gwydir Castle, or continue straight on along the pavement to return to Llanrwst.


Gwydir Castle map

Gwydir Castle walking route and map

Gwydir Castle map


Dorothy Hamilton
Dorothy HamiltonFreelance writer

Dorothy Hamilton is a freelance writer who has been writing about exploring the countryside for over twenty years.