Golden Days in North WalesPublished on 11 Sep 2023 by Amy Greenwood
It’s that time of year again. Our forests and woodlands are putting on their Sunday best for one last dance before winter, and there’s just enough of a nip in the air to justify a cosy night in front of the wood burner. Preferably with a glass of something warming close at hand, of course.
There are many reasons to love the autumn. The hearty food (we all need more calories in the autumn, don’t we?), the still-relatively-mild temperatures, the spectacular sunsets, and the crisp starry nights. And yes, we’re even partial to the occasional gingerbread and pumpkin spiced latte too.
But the thing that really makes our hearts sing at this time of year is the almost-overwhelming beauty of our landscapes. Our forests and woodlands are triumphant with colour, the mountain bracken gives off a joyous amber glow.
As far as we’re concerned, these are truly golden days. So as our forests and hillsides dress up in their finest, we’ve rounded-up some of the most beautiful places to enjoy the autumn in North Wales.
(By the way, if you like learning the odd word of Welsh, autumn is a good time of year to learn that ‘coed’ is Welsh for ‘wood’ or ‘forest’).
A day out at Portmeirion near Porthmadog
In the autumn Portmeirion looks extra special, thanks to its spectacular Gwyllt woodland – ten hectares of trees and ornamental shrubs, with big views over the Dwyryd Estuary towards Harlech. There are plenty of cafés and shops to look around if the weather gets feisty, and you can always warm up with hot drink in front of the enormous fireplace at the fabulously Art Deco Hotel Portmeirion.
Take a walk around Llyn Crafnant near Betws y Coed, Conwy Valley
An autumn must-do is the 2.5 mile circular walk around Llyn Crafnant, on the northern edge of the Gwydir forest, just a few miles from Betws y Coed. The single-track approach to the lake takes you through the most beautiful beech woodland. It is glorious all year round, but extra special at this time of year.
Explore Beddgelert’s forest trails
At the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, Beddgelert is a spectacular place to visit in the autumn. Its huge forest is a treasure trove of walking and cycling routes, Instagram-able photo opportunities, and abundant wildlife. Follow traffic-free waymarked trails through the forest on a bike or on foot. There are two routes; yellow (6km) and green (4km), so it is perfect for family days out.
Look out for Red Squirrels at Newborough Forest on Anglesey
You’ll find Newborough Forest on the south-west corner of Anglesey, just a short hop over the Menai Bridge from the mainland at Bangor. Newborough is a very special place – a superb pine forest with a colony of red squirrels and plenty of great autumn walking and cycling trails. The forest pines run right down to a sandy beach, and you’ll often get the most wonderful pine scent as you walk along the beach. This beach is also home to Llanddwyn Island which, in the 5th century, was apparently home to the Welsh St Valentine, Dwynwen. One for the romantics.
Coed Felenrhyd near Maentwrog, Vale of Ffestiniog
If it’s unspoilt woodland idyll you’re looking for then head this way. Coed Felenrhyd is a marvellous place to get close to nature – and away from everything else. Look out for otters playing in the Prysor River at the forest’s edge and expect waterfalls galore. Coed Felenrhyd has the rare distinction of being mentioned in the famous collection of Welsh legends, the Mabinogion, as the last resting place of Pryderi, King of Dyfed. There is one waymarked trail through the forest. Paths can be steep and tricky, so this is one for experienced walkers. Absolutely magical.
Coed Aber Artro, Llanbedr
This ancient oak woodland hugs the hillsides around the River Artro as it makes its way down to the sea close to Harlech. Home to loads of wildlife, look out for wrens and nuthatches who love the plentiful berries here in the autumn. Coed Aber Artro has some wonderful hilly trails, and it’s not too far from the Victoria Pub at Llanbedr if you fancy finishing your walk with a pint.
A family day out at Coed y Brenin near Dolgellau
A beautiful forest park, Coed y Brenin covers 9,000 acres around the Mawddach, Eden, Gain and Wen River valleys. To the west you get views across the rugged Rhinog mountains, and to the east you’ll see the extinct volcano of Rhobell Fawr. The forest has an excellent visitor centre and a shop where you can hire bikes to explore world-class mountain bike trails for all ages and abilities. There is also a café, loads of family walking trails, a play area and riverside picnic areas. A great autumn day out for the whole family.