Grey Mare's Tail, Llanrwst

Grey Mare's Tail, Llanrwst

::"For the Grey Mare's Tail in Scotland, see Grey Mare's Tail."

The Grey Mare's Tail is a waterfall on the very edge of the Snowdonia National Park near Gwydir Castle in the county of Conwy, north Wales. It lies just off the B5106 between the town of Llanrwst and the large village of Trefriw. The origins of the name are unknown, other than being descriptive, and its Welsh name, "Rhaeadr y Parc Mawr" "(Parc Mawr waterfall)" is rarely used. This name derives from the fact that the falls are fed by a large stream which has its source in the Gwydir Forest, and flows through the old Parc Mine, about a mile to the south-east. Despite the name, it actually comprises two falls, the water being split by a rock at the top. Below the falls is a shallow plunge pool, and on leaving the wood the waters flow under the road to eventually join the river Conwy.

The wooland area in which the falls lie is known as Coed Felin Blwm "(Lead Mill Wood)", and the remains of mill buildings can be seen near the falls. Felin Blwm lead mill (a name now taken by the adjacent house) was originally erected by the Gwydir Estate to crush ore from Parc Mine in the Gwydir Forest and it is possible that this is the mill listed in surviving 18th century Estate accounts. ["Walks in the Conwy Valley", C. Draper, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2002] A later decline in lead mining saw the mill converted to a sawmill.

Both lead and wood from this site was transported down the river Conwy from Trefriw.

The waters of the falls are not especially pure because of the minerals (not just lead) which are in the rocks of the Gwydir Forest.

When Sir John Wynn was laying out the ornamental gardens at Gwydir Castle in the 1590s, he took a spur of water from above the falls, channelling it along the hillside in a leat. Collected in a header tank, from here the water was of sufficient pressure to feed the fountain in the gardens. ["Castles in the Air", Judy Corbett, Ebury Press, 2004]

In her book "Castles in the Air", the current owner of Gwydir Castle describes the waterfall thus -

No need to improve on the imagery of the Grey Mare's Tail. Suffice it to say, the cascade of water fell from a high point to a low point in a secluded little dell not far from the castle, like a grey mare's tail. They spray from it was bracing even in summer. It had the feel of water that lived most of its life under ground.

The area around the falls is now a nature reserve, owned by the Forestry Commission, as is much of the adjacent Gwydir Forest. There is a tiny signed car park at the gate, but otherwise the existence of the falls is not signed at all, and remains unknown to many who pass by. The falls can also be reached from above, from the lane up to the hamlet of Llanrhychwyn.


External Sites

* [ A walk taking in the falls]
* [ Another walk taking in the falls]

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