WATKINS PATH WATERFALL: Ultimate guide + top tips for visiting!

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WATKINS PATH WATERFALL: Ultimate guide + top tips for visiting!

The Watkin Path is known as one of the most scenic routes up to the summit of Snowdon. It offers stunning panoramic views and picturesque landscapes whilst hiking through lush woodlands and rugged terrain. But it’s the beautiful Watkins Path Waterfall that makes this route extra special! Here’s your complete guide to the Watkins Path Waterfall – where to find it, how far up the trail it is, what to take, where to park and more!


Where is the Watkin Path?

The Watkin Path is one of the main routes to the summit of Snowdon. The path starts from the Nant Gwynant Valley in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales near the village of Beddgelert, which is located in the southern part of Snowdonia.

Start of the Watkin Path with the stone sign next to stone steps leading to the path covered with lots of trees in the background

Why is it called the Watkin Path?

The Watkin Path is named after Sir Edward Watkin, a prominent Victorian railway entrepreneur and politician.

Sir Edward Watkin was a key figure in the development of railways in the UK during the 19th century. He had a vision of creating a rail network that would connect London to various destinations, including North Wales.

In pursuit of this vision, Sir Edward Watkin played a significant role in the construction of the Festiniog Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway, both of which are narrow-gauge railways in North Wales.

He also envisioned a grand project known as the “Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway,” which aimed to connect Manchester and London with a railway that would pass through the scenic Snowdonia region of North Wales.

As part of this railway development, Sir Edward Watkin sponsored the construction of the Watkin Path in the late 19th century. The path served as an access route for visitors and tourists to reach Snowdon’s summit and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

The path was built to facilitate tourism and encourage people to visit the region and ultimately benefiting his railway ventures!

Today, the Watkin Path remains a popular hiking route to the summit of Snowdon, and its name continues to pay tribute to Sir Edward Watkin’s contributions to the development of railways and tourism in North Wales during the Victorian era.

Mel stood by the Watkin Path Waterfall with her arms up wearing hiking clothes and green boots with her arms outstretched

How do I get to the Watkin Path?

If you live within a couple of hours of Snowdonia National Park and have a car, I would recommend driving up and down in a day (that’s if you don’t want to make a weekend out of the trip).

If you live more than a couple of hours’ drive away, I would advise staying somewhere local the night before. It just means you don’t have to get up too early or worry about traffic or potential blockers on the morning of your visit.

If you don’t have a car, you’ll definitely need to stay the night before. Even commuting from nearby Bangor where the nearest train station is, takes around an hour on the bus to reach nearby Llanberis.

When I visited Snowdon to hike the Watkin Path I stayed in Llanberis and got a taxi to the start of the trail which cost £30. We then descended via the Llanberis Path and walked the five minutes back to the hotel.

I shared the taxi with friends so it made more sense to pay for a taxi as when split between us it was only £10 each.

Top tip: I wouldn’t recommend getting a bus from Llanberis to the start of the Watkin Path as you’ll need to take two buses and it takes so long! I’d just budget for the cost of the taxi and split it.

Mel taking a selfie swimming in the Watkin Path Waterfall pool wearing a red bikini with the trees and hills of Snowdon in the background

Where can I stay near the Watkin Path?

Most of the places you can stay that are closest to the start of the Watkin Path are holiday rental apartments that require you to stay for a longer length of time.

As you’re likely only looking to stay for a night or two in order to visit the Watkins Path Waterfall I recommend the following:

  • Red Dragon Holidays – based in the Nantgwynant Valley at the base of Snowdon, Red Dragon Holidays offers different types of accommodation from traditional Stone Cottages to Camping Pods. They’re also the closest to the start of the Watkin Path at only 300 metres.
  • Royal Victoria Hotel – based in Llanberis, opposite the train station to the summit of Snowdon. This lovely classic Victorian hotel is one of the best yet affordable places to stay in Llanberis. It offers spacious and comfortable rooms with ensuites and free breakfast. It was from here I took a 15 minute taxi to the start of the Watkin Path. I particularly loved having a drink in their beautiful garden overlooking the mountains!
  • Dol Perris – based in the centre of Llanberis, this guesthouse has a mountain view from every window! It’s also only 15 minutes drive from the start of the Watkin Path.
  • YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass – based at the foot of Snowdon, this hostel is the perfect base for climbing holidays, walking trips and outdoor adventures. Offering private rooms with ensuites as well as shared rooms with bunks. The hostel faces Snowdon’s Pyg Track in Pen-y-Pass and is only 15 minutes drive from the start of the Watkin Path.

Top tip: I recommend booking your accommodation as far in advance as you can as hotels and hostels book up so quickly during the height of the hiking season. Some popular options are booked up even months ahead of time.

Watkin Path Waterfall surrounded by green shrubs and falling in a shallow greenish pool

What is the name of the Watkin Path waterfall?

The Watkins Path Waterfall is called the Gladstone Rock Waterfall. It’s named after William Gladstone, a British Prime Minister who was a supporter of the National Trust, which helps preserve and maintain the path.

Up close view of the Watkin Path Waterfall from the top of the mountain flowing heavily into a deep green pool of water amongst jagged rocks

How far up on the Watkins Path is the waterfall?

The Gladstone Rock Waterfall is only 1 km from the start of the Watkin Path.

It’s one of the early highlights of the trail, providing a scenic and refreshing start to your hike as you make your way towards the summit of Snowdon.

I reached it at a leisurely pace in around 30 minutes.

Top tip: You won’t need hiking boots if you’re just hiking as far as the waterfall. However, I would recommend wearing a pair if you plan on going any further. There’s a full ‘Watkin Path kit list’ at the end of this post with things you’ll need to wear and pack if you plan to hike to the summit from the Watkins Path Waterfall.

Distant view of the Watkin Path Waterfall from near the start of the trail flowing down the mountain with heavy mist and peaks in the background with green foliage all around

What is the route to the Watkins Path Waterfall?

The waterfall is accessible via the Watkin Path and is marked on the trail.

The route is super easy to follow! It’s also a popular trail so you’ll always be around other hikers making the same journey, so it’s almost impossible to get lost!

Having said that, I always recommend downloading a map just in case. I use the AllTrails app for my hiking maps which you can access offline (see below).

Start your journey at the Watkin Path trailhead located at the end of the minor road leading through the Nant Gwynant Valley, near Beddgelert.

Follow the path through the beautiful woodlands for about 20 minutes and you’ll see the first Watkins Path Waterfall, Gladstone Rock!

Due to being so relatively close to the trailhead, it makes an early highlight of your hike. There is a viewpoint that allows you to get a good look at the falls which is marked with a sign.

All Trails map of the Watkins Path up to the summit

Can you swim in Watkin Path waterfall?

Yes, you can swim in the Watkins Path Waterfall and pools and I highly recommend you do!

The water in the waterfall pools is so crystal clear and inviting, you’ll find it hard not to go for a swim!

My visit to the Watkins Path Waterfall was actually the first time I’d ever gone wild swimming and I loved it!

I felt so refreshed and full of energy afterwards. Which is hardly surprising as cold water therapy has been proven to improve circulation, enhance your immune function and decrease stress!

I would just be mindful of the temperature of the waterfall pools and only go swimming during the summer months. Unless of course you’re an experienced cold water swimmer with all the right gear!

The water is still freezing in the summer but at least you won’t be jumping out and getting hyperthermia!

The pools are quite shallow so don’t dive or jump in and be careful getting in as the rocks are quite slippery and the terrain is uneven.

Top tip: If you’re looking to do some hiking around the Watkin Path whilst you’re visiting the waterfall, pack your swimming costume instead of wearing it. You don’t want to be wearing a wet swimming costume underneath your clothes when you’re hiking. I swear by dry bags from The Ultra Dry Adventurer Store. You could have the most soaking wet swimming costume and everything will stay completely dry in your backpack. It also comes with a waterproof pouch for your phone.

Top tip: Pack a compact microfibre quick dry towel. Microfibre towels dry three times faster than standard cotton towels so won’t stay damp and smell in your backpack. You can also use them to wrap around you when you’re stealthily changing in and out of your swimming costume!

Two girls swimming in the Watkin Path Waterfall pool with the waterfall in the background

Where do you park for the Watkins Path?

Parking for the Watkin Path can be found near the start of the trail which is located near the village of Beddgelert.

The parking area for the Watkin Path is often referred to as ‘Nant Gwynant Car Park’ or ‘Watkin Path Car Park’ and is situated at the end of the minor road leading through the Nant Gwynant Valley.

The address is: Near Pont Bethania, Caernarfon, LL55 4NQ.

Top tip: Arrive early, especially during the peak hiking season, as parking spaces can fill up quickly! Parking for the Watkins Path Waterfall is £5 for the day but make sure to have some spare cash just in case the card machine is being temperamental!

Watkin Path Waterfall from further up the Watkin Path falling over a rocky mountain path edge

What do I need to bring to visit the Watkins Path Waterfall?

I recommend you bring the following for your visit to the Watkins Path Waterfall:

  1. Swimming costume
  2. Compact microfibre quick dry towel
  3. Dry bag (a mini waterproof bag for your swimming costume which goes in your backpack)
  4. Waterproof pouch for iphone
  5. Light weight roll on suncream (this nifty suncream takes up minimal space in your backpack and is easy to apply on the go as a roll-on)
  6. Waterproof backpack
  7. Water shoes (not necessary but handy to have on to protect your feet on the slippery rocks at the side of the waterfall and in the waterfall pools)
  8. Pack lunch and plenty of water

If you plan on hiking the full Watkin Path to the summit, I recommend wearing and packing the following:

  1. Hiking boots
  2. Hiking socks
  3. Lightweight, waterproof jacket
  4. Water-resistant sports leggings and waterproof over trousers OR fleece-lined waterproof trousers (for colder weather)
  5. Nylon/ polyester t-shirt
  6. Mid-layer fleece jacket
  7. Baseball cap and bobble hat
  8. Spare clothes to change into
  9. Gloves with grip
  10. Reusable water bottle or hydration bladder
  11. First aid pouch with Compeed blister plasters
  12. Mini portable charger
  13. Spare cash
  14. A positive mindset!
View of the Watkin Path Waterfall flowing down the mountain surrounded by jagged rocks and trees on both sides

Final thoughts

I absolutely loved visiting the Watkins Path Waterfall! It’s right near the start of the trail so is easily accessible and a great place to go wild swimming. Especially if you’re a newbie wild swimmer like me!

The trail is also one of the most beautiful with lush woodlands to hike through and a picturesque view point of Snowdonia National Park from the waterfall – it’s well worth a visit!

Mel's feet in the clear waters of the waterfall pool


Enjoy bathing in the beautiful Watkins Path Waterfall friends! Don’t forget to come back and share your experience in the comments below! 😄

Quick FYI guys – this ‘Watkins Path Waterfall’ post contains affiliate links to products and tours. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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