Enjoy a day out at Barmouth on the western shores of Snowdonia National Park in Wales.
It’s the quintessential seaside town. Barmouth, on the western edge of Snowdonia National Park, is the perfect place to eat ice cream and while away the day on blissfully sandy beaches.
But it’s also a town that demands to be explored, whether wandering the maze of cobbled streets, taking a trip on the local steam train or striking uphill to visit the birth place of the National Trust.
View of the Mawddach Estuary from the hills behind Barmouth ©Getty
Start the day by wandering the steep paths and alleyways of Old Barmouth, where grey, slate-roofed cottages jostle for position on the cramped mountainside. As you drop down into the picturesque harbour, there’s a clutch of important buildings worth investigating. Ty Gwyn is one of Barmouth’s earliest buildings, dating back to 1460, and is now home to the town’s shipwreck museum. Inside you’ll find a host of maritime treasures including artefacts from the Bronze Bell, which sank in 1709 and was discovered by the local scuba diving club in 1978.
Close by is the Ty Crwn (round house), once a jail for local felons, and the Sailors’ Institute, established to help families keep track of their menfolk, who were often signed up to crew boats on voyages that could last up to two years.
Seaside town of Barmouth on the west coast of Wales ©Getty
Tales from the sea
As you walk along the harbourside, look out for a carving by local sculptor Frank Cocksey, made from a piece of Carrara marble salvaged from the doomed Bronze Bell. Called The Last Haul, it depicts three generations of fishermen bringing in the final catch and stands as a memorial to the town’s once flourishing fishing industry.
The town also has links with another ill-fated ship, RMS Titanic. Harold Lowe grew up in Barmouth and proved to be one of the heroes of that fateful night in 1912. He was one of the only officers from the ship to return to search for survivors and his bravery is now honoured by a plaque, unveiled earlier this year.
Also close to the quayside is the Last Inn, another ancient building (allegedly 15th Century) full of original timber beams and inglenook fireplaces. It even has its own freshwater spring, formed where the mountainside makes up part of one wall, creating a well inside the pub. Needless to say, there’s great beer and fine local grub.
Barmouth town and harbour with the Mawddach Estuary beyond ©Getty
Take the train
North Wales is home to a host of idiosyncratic local railways, including the Fairbourne, a quaint narrow gauge railway that first opened in 1895. You can enjoy a round trip by catching the mainline train from Barmouth and travelling for two stops to Fairbourne station. This leg of the trip takes you over the impressive latticework of Barmouth Bridge, built in 1867. Absorb the fantastic views across the Mawddach Estuary, too, before switching to steam and chugging back along the coast to Penrhyn Point, where you can catch the ferry back to Barmouth.
Enjoy the view
Time to stretch the legs and enjoy breathtaking views from the mountains above Barmouth. There are several leaflets available from the tourist office, including one covering the Panorama Mountain Walks, which range from ½ hour to 2½ hours. All pass through Dinas Oleu (fortress of light), a gorse-covered hillside that, in 1895, became the first piece of land donated to the National Trust.
Grab an ice cream and take a seat on the prom to enjoy the setting sun. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars to hand, scan the sea for signs of porpoises, or even one of Cardigan Bay’s famous bottlenose dolphins. Look out for dark dorsal fins breaking the surface or a splash of white water.
The sun setting over the sea from Barmouth Bay, Snowdonia National Park ©Getty
How to Get There
Barmouth is a 2-3 hour drive from Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham with major roads across Snowdonia connecting the town to the UK’s motorway network. By rail, the town links via Shrewsbury to most major mainline stations.
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The Old Library, Station Road, Barmouth LL42 1LU
Marine Promenade, Barmouth LL42 1HW
Classic, family-run seafront hotel, with a popular bar.