Newest Review: ... of small boats here. it's a lovely place to sit; we sat on a bench here eating our fish and chips (from the chip shop across the road).... more
A Little Spot of Heaven
Member Name: merv
Date: 23/11/01, updated on 23/11/01 (379 review reads)
Advantages: Heavenly, Stunning Scenery, Idyllic
Disadvantages: Probably not so nice if its raining
The weather’s always beautiful, the sea and the sky are contrasting shades of blue and the scenery is absolutely stunning. Each visit I come away feeling totally at peace with the world and wondering why we don’t go there more often. Vowing to return the following week or month, the moment passes and like life, another year sweeps by before we pay this little spot of heaven another visit.
Barmouth is a busy seaside resort with a bustling atmosphere, found on the west coast of North Wales at the south west corner of the Snowdonia National Park, which in my, perhaps biased opinion, is the most beautiful of the country’s national parks. It lies on the mouth of the river Mawddach, in an idyllic situation between the spectacular southern Snowdon mountains and the sea.
The town itself is steeped in history with close connections to both the shipping and slate industries and is noted for its steep steps and slate-roofed cottages hanging on the side of a mountain. It has no shopping mall (yet!) and few of the national chain stores, yet there are lots of individual shops selling a range of local products and locally produced goods, ideal for gifts. It also has a variety of pubs and hotels providing food at reasonable prices.
Local history can be discovered at the medieval tower house Ty Gwyn which dates back to Tudor times. The Sailor's Institute and the RNLI Museum also have details on Barmouth's historic maritime past.
But from a personal point of view, its not the town that makes Barmouth special, it’s the beach, the sea and the scenery and I would challenge anyone to find a nicer spot when
the sun’s shining.
The harbour is absolutely beautiful, comparable to those quaint little fishing villages that people drewl about in Italy and Spain, and an evening walk across the spectacular Barmouth bridge which spans the river is inspiringly romantic. It offers excellent sailing facilities and is the starting point of the annual "Three Peaks Yacht Race" from Barmouth to Fort William, also music lovers are catered for with the patchwork festival in June and the arts festival in September.
The beach which holds a European Blue Flag award is magnificent, its large and perfect for sunbathing with sand comparable to Cornwall’s best, ideal for games and also surfers, depending on the swells and time of year. Children and families love the beach yet its size means those wanting to get away and relax in peace and quite can do so easily. The sand dunes by the harbour add another dimension, with a little spur, ideal for fishing, watching the world go by or taking in the scenery, which can only be described as vast.
My favourite part of Barmouth is the Mawddach estuary on the approach to the town. It is an area of immense beauty and offers visitors a range of walks to suit the determined and the casual stroller. It is a haven for bird spotters and those wishing to get away from it all and offers great picture taking opportunities, especially at sundown. About two or three years ago together with a group of friends from the school where my wife works, I cycled to Barmouth from Dolgellau a town about 12 miles down the estuary. We followed a purpose built cycle path alongside the Mawddach, with the north face of Cader Idris on our left, the river on our right teeming with wildlife and the glorious mountains on the other side of the estuary sweeping down to the river. Absolutely fantastic, it was a gorgeous day, blue sky, sunny, warm, dry, good company, exhilarating exercise and an ever so pleasant pub half way between the tw
o towns, which provided a compulsory stop in the journey. Believe me it was something straight off the holiday programme – you couldn’t have planned it better.
Another of my favourites is the Panorama walk, a series of terraced paths overlooking the estuary, which rises just east of the town from a path on the north side of the Dollgellau road. These cliffs provide incredible views of the estuary, the beach and the mountains, which appear to stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. The National Trust acquired their first land at Dinas Oleu above Barmouth. The area abounds with walks to suit enthusiasts and ramblers alike and it is no surprise that Barmouth was a favourite with the work of the poets Wordsworth and Ruskin.
Barmouth is also the home of the Fairbourne and Barmouth Railway track which was originally laid in 1895, by Mr. Arthur McDougall of ‘McDougalls’s Flour’ fame. It was built to transport building materials for the construction of Fairbourne village. Since then his horse-drawn trams have been replaced by steam engines and in 1985 the 15" gauge track was converted to 12¼". The line is 2 miles long and runs between Fairbourne Station and Penrhyn Point, site of the Pullman Pavilion Restaurant, where passengers can embark on the Ferry to Barmouth. This in itself is yet another wonderful day out.
If you do decide to visit Barmouth after reading this review I’ve been told by someone at work about the Bae Abermaw, formerly the Panorama Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in the Barmouth area. The hotel is now under new ownership and new management, and over the past year has been completely restored, in part through a generous grant from the Wales Tourist Board.
Apparently the dining room overlooks Cardigan Bay and Barmouth Harbour and has been restored to its original materials, polished wood floor, Welsh stone fireplace, with French doors leading out to the gar
den. The foods supposed to be excellent, particularly the Sunday Brunch buffet, which combines the best of Welsh traditional breakfast fare, traditional grill, and light drinks which you can enjoy over the Sunday papers and follow up with a walk along the Estuary and/or a nap by the fire. Sounds great!
One word of warning – the weather’s always been fine for me but as lovely as Wales is, it’s a totally different picture when its pouring with rain, still lets not be pessimistic, pay Barmouth a visit and see if you agree with me.