Located by Llanberis, Llyn Padarn is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. Carved out by glaciers pouring down the valley from the high peaks of the Glyderau and Snowdon mountain ranges, at its western end is one of the best sunrise locations in Snowdonia.
In the 13th century Llywelyn the Great built Dolbadarn Castle on a small hilltop with views north west over Llyn Padarn towards the coast and south east into the high mountains.
How To Get Here
Brynrefail is 3 miles west of Llanberis. From Llanberis go north west for 2.5 miles towards Caernarfon on the A4086 to reach the right turn to the A4244 (signposted Bangor A5/A55). Continue for 180 metres then turn right. Continue for 120m until the road turns sharply left. There is limited roadside parking before the bridge.
- Parking Lat/Long: 53.138340, -4.155171
- Parking Postcode: LL55 4EE
- OS map co-ordinate: SH 559 623
- Map: OS Explorer Map OL17 (1:25 000) Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa
From the Electric Mountain Visitors Centre in Llanberis, follow the A4086 heading west for 0.25 miles to the town’s lakeshore parking or 0.5 miles to a right turning (unsigned) onto Ystad Ddiwydiannol Y Glyn. Continue for 250 metres to reach the Padarn Country Park parking area on the right.
- Parking Lat/Long: 53.118731, -4.121397
- Parking Postcode: LL55 4UR
- OS map co-ordinate: SH 581 600
Dolbadarn Castle is just 400 metres from the main Snowdon Mountain Railway station in Llanberis. From in front of the railway station go 60m back towards the town on the A4086, turn right signposted Padarn Country Park/First Hydro Power Station. Continue 250 metres to the large car park on the left.
- OS map co-ordinate: SH 586 597
What To Shoot and Viewpoints
Viewpoint 1 – Brynrefail
Great views can be had from the bridge itself using the reeds below for foreground. Still conditions turn the lake into a mirror with the mountains and sky perfectly reflected. With a longer lens you can get closer to the mountains, the hills and trees on either side creating
a natural frame. Continue across the bridge turning right and following the wall to a small gap where you can access the lake shore below the bridge. At the water’s edge use the reed bed as foreground, try to avoid damaging the reeds by trampling. From here you are looking down the entire 2 mile length of Llyn Padarn with the Glyderau on the left and Snowdon to the right, your eye drawn into the frame by the notch of the Llanberis Pass.
Look behind you at the arched bridge, the reeds and bridge catch the morning sun and here are often swans swimming about.
Viewpoint 2 – South Lakeshore
The outlook from the Llanberis lakeshore town parking and the car park at Padarn Country Park give similar views but from a different perspective. The town parking is closer to the hills and typically has the pleasure boat ‘Snowdon Star’ moored in front. This is a great place for a panorama, especially on a still day with great reflections. Dolbadarn Castle sits nicely in the middle distance with the mountains behind. At the Padarn Country Park lakeshore there is more foreground potential with trees and rocks. Look out for the very distinctive lone tree near the parking area.
Viewpoint 3 – Dolbadarn Castle
Directly opposite the entrance to the car park is a way marked path, crossing the river by a narrow footbridge, the castle is just 150 metres beyond. The 13th century castle is perfectly positioned for shots towards the Llanberis Pass and surrounding mountains. From within the grounds you will need a wide angle lens to capture the castle and some foreground. The north west corner gives most scope for this. The forest tracks to the right of the approach path give different angle views with the quarries of Dinorwic behind.
Brynrefail is roadside shooting from the bridge. Access to the lakeshore involves uneven ground which is often very wet, wellington boots recommended.
South Lakeshore is very close to the parking area and is accessible for those with limited mobility along the full length, wheelchair users will only find access suitable at the eastern most point behind the “Village Car Park”.
Dolbadarn Castle requires a short walk of 5 -10 minutes along a good but uneven and occasionally rocky footpath. There is no wheelchair access to the castle.