The swimming mountain

Hollie Harmsworth takes a road less travelled through Eryri's 'lake district'

Hollie Harmsworth

Remote mountain lakes and a waterfall pool provide swimming spots on this swim walk in North Wales.

I’ve been swimming in Eryri for around seven years, wandering these hills and forests in search of perfect waters. So when I picked up a copy of Emma Marshall’s new book Wild Swimming Walks Eryri/Snowdonia, I was certain I would know most of the locations that would be featured. Still, there is always somewhere new to discover; that’s part of the joy (and addiction?) of wild swimming. 

As I flicked through the pages of the guidebook, eyes alert for the unknown, I wasn’t disappointed. There are still so many more waterfalls, rivers, lakes and hidden pools that await me and now I have a handy guide to help find them. As someone who can never decide if hiking or swimming is my favourite activity, it’s fantastic. Emma describes the routes in great detail, sharing her knowledge of the area, including its history and culture. I love learning about place names and how they came about and there’s some wonderful stories and insights dotted throughout the book.

One instantly stood out to me – ‘A Circular Walk in Eryri’s Lake District’. An epic hike, remote mountain lakes, and multiple swims… including a waterfall pool, yes please! This is one of the more challenging routes and does require a certain level of confidence and navigation skill. After reading the description, I cross checked the  route on my OS map and noted down a few key markers to look out for. I packed a rucksack with my lightweight swim kit and extra supplies for the long day ahead. The mountain forecast was warm, calm and cloudy – that would have to do. 

Hollie Harmsworth

The walk began in a quiet valley, hidden away from the main roads that go through the park. After walking a short distance along the country lane, the footpath into the mountains appeared and, looking up towards cloud covered tops, I began my hike. Bracken and bog would be the main themes of the day from here on, something I’m used to in Eryri. However the cool splash of water on my shins and calves from each step was a welcomed feeling, I could already tell today was going to be a hot one, even with the lack of sunshine. 

After climbing up past Llyn Llagi (Emma’s mention in the book of the lake’s silty bottom had put me off considering a swim there) I was soon high up on flatter ground with the first swim spot in my sights, Llyn yr Adar. There was a low cloud hanging over the lake and, just as I reached its shore, I watched as a flock of geese disappeared into it. Eerie. But the heat of the day was already getting to me, so I quickly changed and got straight in; the water was cool and refreshing but not freezing, I swam a short distance along the edge. It was quiet and still; the only sounds breaking the silence were made by myself and a few small fish leaping out the water.

I was soon high up on flatter ground with the first swim spot in my sights, Llyn yr Adar. There was a low cloud hanging over the lake and, just as I reached its shore, I watched as a flock of geese disappeared into it. Eerie.

Hollie Harmsworth

Once cooled, dried and changed I set off for the trio of lakes Llynnau’r Cwn. I had already decided that I probably wouldn’t be swimming here, as I’m not the fastest  hiker and I wanted to allow myself enough time to enjoy the other two swim spots on the route. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me exploring the lakes and their surrounding  landscape. From there I headed for the next lake and the main reason I wanted to do this hike. I have looked at Llyn Edno on the map many times, it is supposedly Wales’ most remote lake and as such it takes a lot of time and effort to get to it – which is  probably the main reason I had yet to make it up there. A faint path led the way over  grassy mountain terrain and a few more bogs to jump through with bunches of cotton  grass swaying gently in the breeze. The cloud was only giving me half a view of the surrounding peaks, but it was still magnificent.

Just as the route began losing height, Llyn Edno appeared exactly as Emma described. It’s a fairly large mountain lake and I took my time walking along the shore to find a good entry point. I settled on a rocky shelf and peered into the water; it was glistening in the little bit of sunlight that was breaking through the sky above. Another quick change and I eased myself in, again the water felt surprisingly mild. I swam out a little and turned to float on my back. Wild swimming doesn’t get much better than this. 

The next part of the walk took a lot more attention when it came to navigating as for the most part it was pathless, and the thick heather and large rocks needed to be carefully negotiated. I was grateful for the lone ‘Christmas tree’ markers that Emma had mentioned in the description. After wading through some thick bracken, I reached the final swim spot of the hike, a beautiful waterfall pool hidden in a gorge along Afon Llynedno, a perfect way to finish off a wonderfully wild day.


  • Wild Swimming Walks Eryri / Snowdonia by Emma Marshall is available from the OSS Shop, priced £14.99  
wild swimming walks eryri snowdonia
Hollie Harmsworth