Bryn Derw


Remoteness, compatibility, directions and access


If you have been to the cottage before, you will know that it is really quite remote. Access is not for the faint-hearted.

We have had the cottage in the family since the 1950’s. From when my brother and I were tiny, our Mum and Dad would drive our old Ford Cortina estate up the forestry road and Sarn Helen, and park a couple of hundred yards away for the front door. We’d carry our stuff from there. We just found it exciting. Never gave it a second thought.

Over the years there have had a bunch of visitors that go to Bryn Derw regularly and (as my Dad would say) “just get on with it”. More recently we have had some new visitors that said, on booking the cottage, “getting there will be cool: we have a big, butch 4×4 that can go anywhere”. On arrival, I have received phone calls exclaiming, “but we didn’t think it would be off-road!”.

If you are really precious about your big car. If you T-Cut and wax every Sunday. If you have only dropped the kids off to school in a sparkly Range Rover and consider off-road to be a B road, then Bryn Derw isn’t for you.

If you’re prepared to…

  • park a couple of hundred yards away from the cottage, if it’s wet conditions (as the track in front of the cottage can be slippy for cars)
  • get towed by the local farmer if you do slide or get stuck (we can give you his number – he’s a wonderful man)
  • light a log burner without using fistfuls of fire lighters
  • walk in the rain
  • put a jumper on rather than turn on an extra electric heater
  • read if the tv arial blows down
  • light candles if there is a power cut
  • not have phone access in the cottage
  • be unable to check an social status
  • “get on with it”

…then Bryn Derw will probably be your bag.


Full route from Betws-y-Coed:

This link for Google Maps shows the route to take from Betws-y-Coed all the way to the front door of the cottage.

Full route broken into sections:

Part 1 – The forestry road (about a mile)

The forestry road from the A5 is fine for cars. It is a typical cinder-track road – a few standard pot-holes, nothing too dramatic; most people will be fine driving up this sort of road.

The people that visit the Landmark Trust cottages in the valley will park their cars at the end of the above section, here. Some people that visit Bryn Derw also park here because the next driving section can be quite tight. If you do park here, then you need to travel light, as the walk up to the cottage is about 20 minutes – we usually suggest that you try and fit all you need in a rucksack. Wellies or walking boots also recommended as it can get wet and muddy.

Part 2 – The Sarn Helen (about half a mile)

The turn-off the forestry road onto an old Roman road called the Sarn Helen (the last part of the journey to Bryn Derw) is narrow and you need to take it steady. It is suitable for most cars (except wide or low slung vehicles). But do drive slowly and carefully as the odd scrape has happened to over enthusiastic driver! You go through two gates (less than half a mile apart). If you have got to the second gate ok, but it’s very wet, then it might be worth thinking about parking just before the second gate. There is a patch of grass by the stream, on the right, that you can just fit on.

If the weather isn’t too bad, then once through the second gate you go up a tiny hill for about 30 meters and then take a sharp right off the Sarn Helen and it takes you kind of off-road in front of the ‘ghost village’ tumbled down cottages and then into the field where the cottage is. There is a rough track cut into the field which swings back on itself to park just beside the cottage. This section is not for the nervous driver.

The area

Bryn Derw is the perfect cottage to get away from it all. Walking and mountain biking in the immediate area are very good but for those wanting to get out and about, the main roads lead to the mountains and coastal areas very quickly. Llyn Elsi, a beautiful lake is half an hour away on foot.


The cottage has beams, low doorways and steep stairs. There are three bedrooms, (one double, one with a king sized bed) the single room (which takes two single beds) being partly open to the landing. The bathroom is on the ground floor.

The living room is spacious with a multi fuel stove (coal and wood obtainable locally) and there is a sun room which gets all the afternoon and evening sunshine. The kitchen is basic with a microwave, refrigerator and electric cooker.

Bed linen and towels are provided and beds will be made up prior to your arrival. An extra bed is available. Facilities include electric heaters, radios, tv, DVD player and many books to suit all tastes.

Dogs are welcomed, but visitors must be aware that there are sometimes sheep in the surrounding fields.


We have owned the cottage for 50 years. It was bought by my father, Brian, and worked on during school holidays by the family and any friends willing to help. We rent it out for a few weeks each year mainly because we like other people enjoying it.

Bryn Derw is rustic cottage that isn’t for everyone; it’s remote, very quiet and doesn’t have matching cutlery or crockery! All the rent is ploughed back into repairs and improvements.