Discover The Coastal Way
Snowdonia National Park
The Coastal Way runs the entire length of Cardigan Bay, from Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula to St. Davids in Pembrokeshire. It’s an epic coastal journey through two National Parks, a protected Heritage Coast and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way you’ll encounter an unmistakably Welsh landscape of sandy beaches, pretty harbour villages, sublime estuaries, hidden coves and mighty castles.
Snowdonia National Park might be famed for it’s high and rugged mountains but it’s also home to some of the best beaches in North Wales and if you are very lucky you might even spot a few dolphins that are regular visitors to Cardigan Bay.
There's so much to explore along The Coastal Way - here's a four day plan to help you discover your own journey.
Prepare for a great time
Take the time to prepare for your camping trip. Have the correct clothing for the season and warm bedding, with plenty of food with a few local delicacies this will be a fabulous experience. Take all that you will need, and plan to spend some time sightseeing and enjoying the nature that you will find to be all around you when you camp in Snowdonia.
Distance: 18 miIes (from Snowdonia Classic Campers to Merthyr Farm, Harlech)
Travel Time: 40 minutes
Collect your camper and head south towards the historic town of Harlech. Though small, Harlech has plenty to offer – it’s medieval castle, a spectacular un-spoilt three mile stretch of golden beach, the stunning Royal St David’s links golf course, several cafes, restaurants and a fantastic ice cream shop.
Provisions: If you need to stock up your campervan then stop off en-route to Merthyr Farm in Porthmadog where amongst other shops there is a Tesco.
Things to do
Renowned for being one of the cleanest beaches in Snowdonia, Harlech’s 4 miles of sandy beach has something for every beach lover and is probably one of the most photographed strips of sand in the world. The beach is surrounded by sand dunes and beautiful countryside. In the distance, the mountains of Snowdonia are ever present, as well as Harlech Castle, which overlooks the beach. The beach can be accessed from numerous points, but the one recommended is from the car park access.
Where to Stay
Stay at: Merthyr Farm Campsite, Harlech, LL46 2TP
Merthyr Farm is a small, friendly, family run and family orientated campsite, with basic but well cared for facilities, in a quiet, peaceful location with outstanding panoramic views and spectacular sunsets. Harlech is just a couple of miles away if you choose to walk but be prepared for a steep walk on your return.
The proprietors are Bryn and Lizzie Roberts, enquiries:
- Email: email@example.com
- Tel: 01776 780897
- Open: May to September
Distance: 22 miIes (from Merthyr Farm to Graig Wen, Dolgellau)
Travel Time: 45 minutes
Meander down the coast towards Barmouth, or Abermaw or even Y Bermo as it is known in Welsh, and then to the stunning Mawddach Estuary, where the mountains just tumble into the sea.
Things to do
Explore the spectacular Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the English King, Edward I in the the late 13th Century to keep a watchful eye over Snowdonia. It was one of the most formidable of his ‘iron ring’ of fortresses designed to contain the Welsh in their mountain fastness.
Llanfair Slate Caverns
Llanfair Slate Caverns is a unique and quirky slate mine, comprises of nine man-made caverns created over 100 years ago by candle light. A self-guided torchlight tour takes you down a Jacobs ladder into a labyrinth of under ground caverns. When you emerge back into daylight you will be greeted with fabulous views looking over Cardigan Bay and Shell Island.
Shells, are what Shell Iland is famous for! After the winter storms and high tides, in spring it is almost impossible to avoid treading on them. More than 200 different varieties of shells can be found washed up on the three magnificent bathing beaches.
Shell Island is a private campsite but if you’re not camping day visitors are welcome to enjoy the sand dunes, beaches, and campsite facilities. Technically it’s not an island, as it’s reached by causeway except at high tide, so check their website for the best times to arrive and depart.
Barmouth is southern Snowdonia’s most popular seaside resort with breathtaking views of Cardigan Bay and the picturesque harbour. The town’s beach, is west facing with a mixture of sand and some fine shingle and is ideal for bathing and watersports.
There are traditional donkey rides, swing boats and amusement arcades. Or for something a bit more adventurous why not try Stand Up Paddle boarding in the beautiful surroundings of the Mawddach Estuary.
A one hour taster session from SUP Barmouth is £25 per person.
If you are feeling a little more energentic then the Panorama Walk guarantees awe inspiring views of this beautiful part of the world. The first part of the walk up to the Panorama viewpoint with it’s stunning views of the Mawddach estuary, the Cader Idris range and Cardigan Bay is easy and suitable for young families. You can cut the walk short at this point but if you’re up for a challenge then continue along this circular walk where sections are steep but you will exchange views of the Mawddach for those of the Ardudwy coast and the Llŷn Peninsula. Check out our Panorama Walk, Barmouth guide for more details.
Where to Stay
Stay at: Graig Wen, Dolgellau, LL39 1YP
Graig Wen enjoys one of the best campsite locations in the whole of Wales. Set among it’s wild woodlands and meadows there are amazing views over the Mawddach Estuary and surrounding mountains. There is direct access down a steep track through the site’s meadows and woodland to the Mawddach Trail.
The proprietors are Sarah Heyworth and John McKenzie-Murdoch, enquiries:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: 01341 250482
- Open: March to December
Distance: 22 miIes (from Graig Wen to Nyth Robin, Aberdyfi)
Travel Time: 45 minutes
Follow The Coastal Way south and head south towards the picturesque coastal village of Aberdyfi. Aberdyfi sits in an idyllic spot where mountains meet the sea at the mouth of the River Dyfi. A busy sailing and watersports centre, there are scenic boat trips and a beach of perfect sand that extends for miles but swimmers must take care due to the strong currents around the estuary mouth.
Things to do
The Mawddach Trail
Surrounded by mountains, this former railway track must be must be one of the most beautiful in Wales. After operating for 100 years this section of the Great Western Railway line closed in the 1960s. Nowadays the former railway track between Morfa Mawddach, Faribourne and Dolgellau is used for walking and cycling.
The Mawddach Trail is 9 miles long with plenty of picnic spots to enjoy along the route. The trail passes through Penmaenpool where The George III hotel serves good food and has seats by the water's edge. If you prefer to explore the trail on two wheels, bikes can be hired from Dolgellau Cycles just minutes away from the trail in Dolgellau.
Bwlchgwyn Farm Pony Trekking Centre
Love horses? Spend the day before traveling south at Bwlchgwyn Farm Pony Trekking Centre, near Arthog and enjoy an up-close interaction with your favourite animals. There’s plenty you can do – from taking your first riding lesson, to trekking along the coastline on horseback, to throwing a pony party!
The farm has a campsite where every pitch has a sea view. There are a limited number of hook-ups available, so be sure to book in advance.
Where to Stay
Stay at: Nyth Robin, Aberdyfi, LL35 0RG
Nyth Robin is just outside the seaside village of Aberdyfi; it’s a small friendly site located alongside the Dyfi Estuary that’s at one with nature set within its own woodlands, lakes and streams, so there’s plenty of space to unwind. Kids enjoy exploring the ancient woodland and the short walking trails are loved by people and dogs alike!.
Nyth Robin is Welsh for robin’s nest, and so called due to the abundance of robins on site. The facilities are excellent and eco-friendly – the water is primarily heated by the sun and the toilets are compost ones (not that you’d know as they look and work just like standard toilets!)
The proprietors are Sadie and Grant, enquiries:
- Email: email@example.com
- Tel: 07731 783 534
- Open: March to November
Distance: 50 miIes (from Nyth Robin to Black Rock Sands, Porthmadog)
Travel Time: 1½ hours
For your final night it is always worth coming a little closer to our base in Pantglas. Just 20 minutes away the Morfa Bychan and it’s great expanse of golden sands is a great location.
Things to do
Tal y Llyn Railway
Discover the Worlds First preserved Railway, on a 14.5 mile round trip into southern Snowdonia. Running continuously since 1865, the Tal y Llyn Railway starts on the coast at Tywyn, snakes through the foothills of Cader Idris to Dolgoch Falls, Abergynolwyn and on to Nant Gwernol.
Centre for Alternative Technology
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is a world-renowned eco centre is a pioneering eco-centre with exciting interactive displays that demonstrate the incredible power of wind, water and sun. It has working examples of sustainable living, environmentally responsible buildings, energy conservation, organic growing and composting. CAT is a a great place for kids, with an eco-adventure playground and a programme of holiday activities which are both fun and educational.
Where to Stay
Stay at: Llech Camping & Touring Site, Llechollwyn Farmhouse Ynys, LL47 6TH
A a very quiet, small, family and dog friendly site with basic shower/toilet facilities but no electric hook-ups. The views from the site are amazing and the sunsets are out of this world. You can launch kayaks etc from the site entrance but subject to tides.
The proprietors are Heidi and Dave, enquiries:
- Tel: 01766 781082
- Open: March To November
It’s just a 20 minute drive back to Pantglas to drop your camper off for 11am on your final morning.
Don’t want to go home yet? Visit the historic town of Caernarfon with it’s medieval castle for a mooch around the shops and a cuppa in one of the many cafés.