Things to do in BarmouthPublished on 9 Jun 2022 by Gwion Llwyd
Once you find a holiday gem like Barmouth you wonder why it took you so long. This place is a stunner: it sits at the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary and is nestled into wooded gorse slopes with a Snowdonia mountain backdrop. One of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Wales, it’s easy to see why the town has attracted devoted holiday visitors since the mid-18th century. The town’s sandy Blue Flag beach stretches for two miles and is perfect for picnics, swimming, paddling and surfing. Head for the Mawddach Trail footpath for easy-to-access walking and cycling, and if you like a little more ‘wild’ on your the nearby Rhinog mountains offer some of the most spectacular walking landscapes in the UK.
Here’s a selection of our favourite things to do in Barmouth.
WALKS AND HIKES
See ancient history on the Egryn Trail
Explore the prehistoric history of Barmouth at Egryn – a fantastic location with breath-taking views across Cardigan Bay to the Llŷn Peninsula and out to the Irish Sea. The extensive archaeological remains found here span 5,500 years and include ancient standing stones, an Iron Age hill fort, and a Bronze Age hut circle. It’s an outstanding place to fill your lungs with fresh air and let your imagination wander. 3 miles from Barmouth.
Explore the nature reserve and ancient woodlands at Coed garth Gell
Nestled in the spectacular Mawddach Valley, Coed Garth Gell is a woodland and heathland nature reserve which is internationally important for the rare mosses, liverworts and lichens which grow amongst the ancient oaks. Pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and lesser horseshoe bats all call this wonderful place home. 6 miles from Barmouth.
Explore the Cregennan Lakes
You’ll find the National Trust maintained Cregennan Lakes across the Mawddach Estuary from Barmouth, on the northern slopes of Cader ldris. These beautiful natural lakes sit some 800 ft. above sea level and are a beautiful place for a picnic and walk. Fabulous views back to Barmouth and across Cardigan Bay. Walk as far as the Pared y Cefn Hir Iron Age hillfort to enjoy more spectacular panoramic views over the mountains and the Mawddach Estuary. 12 miles from Barmouth.
Climb Cader Idris from the Minffordd Path
Barmouth is just a short distance from one of Snowdonia’s most iconic peaks – Cader Idris. Its name translates as Idris’s Chair, and it is a reference to the mythical giant who once used the mountain as his throne. There are numerous stories and legends associated with the mountain and Idris: think giants, curses, warriors and supposedly impossible tasks. Frankly, the stories can get confusing. One message is very clear though: it is said that anyone who sleeps on the slopes of Cader Idris will awaken either as a madman, a poet or, possibly, never wake again. Our advice is enjoy the mountain by day, but do your shut-eye in one of our lovely Barmouth holiday cottages, just to be on the safe side. Be aware that some of the routes up this mountain – the highest peak in southern Snowdonia – can be treacherous. We recommend following the Minffordd Path, which is short – around 3 miles to the peak – though fairly steep. 12 miles from Barmouth.
Explore The Rugged Rhinogs
The Rhinogs is a chain of low mountains which stands at the south western edge of Snowdonia, close to Dolgellau. One of the most rugged upland landscapes in Britain, it is a beautiful, tranquil place. The hills are notoriously quiet and uncrossed by any road. Most of the vegetation management is done by sheep and a population of wild goats. Yes, you might see a few remote farmsteads, and now and then you might walk along the remains of old drovers’ routes, but it’s quite possible to spend a whole day here without seeing another human soul. 15 miles from Barmouth.
Conquer Yr Wyddfa – Snowdon
It’s a bucket list favourite for anyone visiting North Wales – do you fancy climbing Wales’s highest summit on your next trip here? Dolgellau is a 45 minute drive from the start point of one of the best routes up Yr Wyddfa – or Snowdon, the Rhyd Ddu Path (pronounced ‘rheed-thee’). This is one of the quieter ways up the great mountain, and offers some of the best views. Plan ahead by downloading the Snowdon Walks app, which covers the six main routes up, with detailed maps and a live progress tracker. You can read more about how to prepare for a walk up Snowdon, here. 28 miles from Barmouth.
Other local walking ideas
For some more walking inspiration, you might be interested in these websites: Mud and Routes is a great information resource for walking in the area. Simply enter where you would like to walk and it will give you some tried and tested routes. Geocaching is popular in this neck of the woods and if you love a treasure hunt, then this is a great way to while away an afternoon, especially if you’re trying to keep the kids amused too.
MOUNTAIN BIKING AND CYCLING
The Mawddach Trail
Forming part of Lôn Las Cymru (National Cycle Network Route 8) which runs from Holyhead to Cardiff, the Mawddach Trail is one of the most scenic railway paths in the country, running along the spectacular and atmospheric Mawddach Estuary below the foothills of Cader Idris, for just shy of 10 miles. Join it from the centre of Barmouth, and follow the iconic railway bridge over the mouth of the Mawddach estuary into Dolgellau. Expect stunning views across to Diffwys and the Rhinog mountains, and up the estuary to Y Garn and the Arans. Pick up the trail from the centre of town.
Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin is the UK’s first and largest dedicated mountain bike trail centre. Hire bikes from the visitor centre (or bring your own) to explore miles of world-class mountain bike trails, with waymarked routes to suit all abilities. There is also a café, plenty of family walking trails, a nice play area and some gorgeous spots for a riverside picnic. 16 miles from Barmouth.
Set in the stunning slate mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and with far-reaching views towards the Irish Sea, Antur Stiniog offers 14 fantastic gravity fed trails for all shades of rider from novice to world cup racer. The downhill trails are graded from green to black. Antur Stiniog includes a mountain uplift service, and bikes are available to hire from the site. 25 miles from Barmouth.
Need to hire some wheels in Barmouth?
Keen to make a splash as soon as you arrive? Bala Watersports, based on the shores of Llyn Tegid, offers adventure and excitement suitable for all the family. Highly skilled instructors will ensure you have a fantastic time, whether you’re a complete beginner, have some limited experience, or are on a more advanced course. Activities include canoeing, kayaking, climbing, abseiling, windsurfing, sailing, archery, camp craft, raft building, mountain biking, power boating, hill walking, gorge walking, and white water rafting. Bala Watersports offers equipment hire for all its activities. 27 miles from Barmouth.
The National Whitewater Centre
Located just a couple of miles outside Bala town centre, the National White Water Centre is a half hour drive from Dolgellau. Water is regularly released from a dam into the River Tryweryn, to create a steep, rocky and fast-flowing mountain waterway. This means that there are predictable rapids all year round, perfect for exhilarating adventures in the water. The National White Water Centre runs family rafting sessions for anyone aged 10 and over, as well as other kayaking and canyoning activities. 30 miles from Barmouth.
Take a boat trip for some dolphin spotting
Operating from Barmouth Quay, Barmouth Boat Trips offer dolphin spotting pleasure trips and fishing charters. Dolphins do not show on every trip, and it’s possible to go a week without seeing them, but the magnificent views are here all the time.
Jump on board a steam train
If ever there were a place to sit back and enjoy the nostalgic pleasure of steam, Snowdonia is it. For a real taste of the romance of our region, take a ride on one a steam heritage railway at nearby Fairbourne. Enjoy comfortable plush carriages, the nostalgic aroma of coal, and gentle chuff of the engine as your train makes its way through spectacular mountain landscapes. A day out on these railways is one of life’s great pleasures. 3 miles from Barmouth via the ferry, or 14 miles from Barmouth by car.
Visit the Church in the Sand near Llanbedr
Also worth exploring on this stretch of Welsh coast is the medieval ‘church in the sand’ of St Tanwg, near the village of Llanbedr, around 40 minutes’ drive from Dolgellau. Located in the sand dunes around 20 metres from the high tide mark, this ancient little chapel houses the grave of Welsh poet Sion Phillips, a contemporary of Shakespeare, who lived at nearby Shell Island. 8 miles from Barmouth.
Spend a day exploring Harlech
Historic Harlech is a place of guts, quirk, and rather epic, timeless beauty. The town grew up around a clifftop medieval castle, and is now recognised by UNESCO as being home to one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in the world. Sitting proud on a hillside looking out to sea, Harlech is flanked by the majestic mountains of Snowdonia to the east, with Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea to the west. Its hills and winding lanes provide plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including some great independent shops, delis, cafés and a beautiful nearby beach. Read more about Harlech on our blog about the town. 10 miles from Barmouth.
Head to the Corris Craft Centre
The Corris Craft Centre is home to a great collection of shops, attractions and activities for the whole family, including nine individual Craft Studios, which are perfect for finding a special something, inspired by, and handmade in Wales. Call by to meet the talented craftspeople, share their passion and enthusiasm as you discover their fabulous handmade Welsh designs. Also home to King Arthur’s Labyrinth (see below). 18 miles from Barmouth.
Explore King Arthur’s Labyrinth
Who could resist the idea of setting sail through the cascading veil of an underground waterfall to discover a magical place where tales from the mists of time are retold? Expect tales of dragons, giants, and the legendary King Arthur. Guided by a Dark Age Boatman, you’ll travel through immense caverns and winding tunnels, to hear ancient Welsh stories brought to life through dramatic scenes, light, and sound. King Arthur’s Labyrinth is on the same site as the Corris Craft Centre (see above). 18 miles from Barmouth.
Portmeirion Village was designed by Welsh Architect Clough Williams-Ellis in the early 20th century. The architectural equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it is an eccentric collection of Riviera-inspired houses, ornamental gardens and colour washed villas. It is also home to the 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 browse, and fabulous Italian Gelati at Caffi’r Angel. Lunch on the lawn outside the beautiful Art Deco Hotel Portmeirion is the perfect holiday treat. Read more about a day out at Portmeirion here. 19 miles from Barmouth.
Visit the Centre for Alternative Technology
Based just outside the lovely market town of Machynlleth, the Centre for Alternative Technology overlooks the big landscapes of the Snowdonia National Park. Established over 40 years ago, the centre is dedicated to teaching and sharing sustainable development. Expect hands-on displays on ‘green’ building, energy, along with organic gardens and a veggie café. 22 miles from Barmouth.
LOCAL ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES
Snowdonia Adventure Activities
This outdoor specialist is based in the nearby village of Llanbedr, a half hour drive form Dolgellau. Snowdonia Adventure Activities offers gorge walking, SUPing, canyoning, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking and rock climbing, and we reckon they’re one of the best all-round outdoor activity providers in the area. 8 miles from Barmouth.
Go sheep walking in Snowdonia
No, that is not a typo, yes, this is a thing. Take mindfulness to another level by taking an award-winning Zwartbles sheep (mega friendly black sheep breed) for a guided walk on a peaceful hill farm in the Rhinogs. Sheep Walking Snowdonia. Kids will love this. Adults will love this too. 20 miles from Barmouth.
Zip World Caverns
This underground adventure allows you to speed through the caverns of the abandoned Llechwedd slate mine on zip lines, navigating part of the course with a via ferrata, monkey bars, and a whole variety of challenging obstacles. It’s a thrilling experience! Zip World Caverns is part of the Zip World portfolio, which also boasts Europe’s largest zip zone at Blaenau, as well as the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Quarry – a site that was once home to the world’s largest slate quarry. Zip World Caverns is at the same site as Bounce Below and Llechwedd Slate Caverns (see below). 25 miles from Barmouth.
Zip World Caverns (see above) is where you’ll also find Bounce Below – a series of giant underground trampolines, strung across enormous underground chambers, with climbs, slides and various levels to navigate. Bounce Below is another thrilling and completely unique North Wales adventure. From age 7+. It’s the same site as Zip World Caverns and Llechwedd Slate Caverns (see above and below). 25 miles from Barmouth.
Discover the story of slate at Llechwedd Slate Caverns
The deep mine tour at Llechwedd Slate Caverns tells the story of the men who built an industry which roofed the world – the Welsh slate industry. Experienced from the point of view of the mine workers, the tour takes you deep underground – around 500ft. – to tell the story of the slate miners’ blood and guts, determination and resilience. It’s a fascinating insight into the culture and heritage of North Wales. It’s the same site as Bounce Below and Zip World Caverns (see above). 25 miles from Barmouth.
Barmouth’s sandy Blue Flag beach stretches for two miles and is perfect for picnics, swimming, paddling and surfing. There is traditional seaside fun along the promenade, and plenty of shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and ice cream parlours. Dog owners should be aware that Blue Flag does mean seasonal dog restrictions.
Fairbourne’s beautiful golden sands are backed by a steep bank of pebbles. They fringe a narrow finger of land that extends most of the way across the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary, with stunning views of mountains, woodlands and the sea. The west-facing side of the beach can receive strong winds, making it ideal for watersports, especially windsurfing, surfing and sailing. 3 miles from Barmouth via the ferry, or 14 miles from Barmouth by car.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are so many great places to enjoy good food and drink in and near Barmouth, we couldn’t possibly list them all here. Instead, here are some of our personal favourites. Enjoy!
The Last Inn is the oldest pub in Barmouth and has a great atmosphere – good food and regular live music.
The Tilman in Barmouth is a great place to go for drinks. They no longer offer food, but in terms of a nice place to go and have a drink, we would certainly recommend it.
The Ysgethin in Talybont is set by the river and so on a summer’s evening, it is a really beautiful place to go. Good food and plenty of space both inside and out. 4 miles from Barmouth.
The Vic in Llanbedr again is set by the river and has a great outdoor space, especially for children, including a climbing frame and undercover eating area. Great food and a good local to go and grab a beer. 7.5 miles from Barmouth.
The Ty Mawr in Llanbedr offers great food and has an extensive beer garden. It is place to go if there are any games to be watched. 7.5 miles from Barmouth.
Davy Jones Locker is fab – great light lunches, coffees and cakes all housed in an historic nautical themed building on the harbour. Great views of Cader Idris across the estuary.
Murrays Espresso Bar in the town centre offers a great selection of light lunches and cakes.
Ebeneezers is a fabulous and quirky dining / shopping experience. Asian inspired cuisine and shopping all under one roof… don’t miss the ceiling!
Goodies Coffee Shop on the high street does great cakes and light lunches.
The Bistro in Barmouth does great local produce and seafood, but make sure you book in advance!
Isis Pizza on the harbour is a lovely little place to go and have pizza in the evening by the sea.
The Lobster Pot again on the harbour is a favorite if you are looking for some fresh seafood. Understated with great food.
The Bank in Barmouth town centre is a more formal dining experience – lovely interiors and good food.
The Norbar just outside Barmouth is a fantastic place for all the family. Incredible setting, great food, lovely interiors and pool table. Make sure you visit here.
Nineteen 57 in Talybont offers good food in a more modern environment. 4 miles from Barmouth.
Good Luck Chinese is the Chinese.
Tony’s Takeaway in Tal y Bont is the place to head for great pizza. 4 miles from Barmouth.
The Mermaid in Barmouth hands down is where to get your fish and chips.
Knickerbocker’s Ice Cream Bar in Barmouth is the winner – shelves full of lollipops and every coloured sprinkle possible add to the charm.
THE PRACTICAL STUFF
For medical help
Dial 999 to call for an ambulance if you require urgent medical attention.
You can find your nearest urgent care health services provider by searching the NHS online directory at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/
For non-urgent medical advice dial ‘111’ to speak to an operator at the NHS telephone advice service, or visit www.111.nhs.uk
The welsh alphabet is phonetic so once you know how to say the letters, the theory is that reading the words is straightforward; you say what you see. A little time spent familiarising yourself with the alphabet will help no end when you’re trying to navigate your way around the area…
a short, as in ‘hat’, never as in ‘ball’
b as in ‘bag’. Although is there really any other way?
c always hard as in ‘cat’, never an s as in ‘precise’
ch like the ch in the Scottish word ‘loch’, but with more phlegm
d as in ‘dog’, never as in ‘djinn’
dd a buzzy ‘th’ sound, as in ‘this’. Think angry bees with a lisp
e short, as in pen
f v. This is very, very simple, and when you get really used to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
ff f. Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff as well
g always hard as in ‘get’, never a ‘j’ sound as in the last g in garage
ng as in ‘song’, where the g isn’t hard, like in ‘gig’, but a soft glottal stop made in your throat
h as in hat, always sounded and never silent
i as in ‘pin’
j accepted now because of the loan words from English that use it, like ‘garej’
l a ‘luh’ as in ‘lava’, but never an ‘ul’ sound as in ‘milk’
ll not as hard a sound to make as some would have you think. Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were going to say ‘el’, then make the ‘ell’ sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue, instead of by using your voice. You should sound like an annoyed cat
m as in ‘mithridatize’. Or as in ‘mum’, if you want to be boring
n as in ‘nanobot’
o short as in ‘hot’, not round as in ‘hotel’
p can I have a p please Bob?
ph an English f, or Welsh ff sound, as in ‘phase’
r rolled. Some people just can’t get a rolled ‘r’ – their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way. It’s a genetic thing, apparently,
similar to being able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongue’s not that prehensile. Roll if you can, don’t if you can’t
rh hr. Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled ‘r’
s always soft as in ‘sit’, never a ‘z’ sound as in ‘juxtapose’
t as in ‘top’. Can it get any simpler?
th as in ‘think’, softer and less buzzy than dd
u If you had stepped in something disgusting and made a kind of ‘eugh’ noise, the vowel ‘eu’ sound would about approximate
y ok, y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single syllable word, y is like ‘uh’, on the last syllable of a multisyllabic word it’ an‘u’ or ‘ee’, and anywhere else it’s like the unstressed, indeterminate noise of the final e in ‘garden’ or ‘letter’. Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.
How are you? Sut mae / Ti’n iawn
Good morning: Bore da
Good Afternoon: P.nawn da, prynhawn da
Good evening: Noswaith dda
Good night: Nos da
Cheers / Good Health! Iechyd da!
Do you speak welsh? Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?
How do you say…. in welsh? Beth ydy….yn Cymraeg?
Thank you: Diolch
I love you: Dw i’n dy garu di
Happy Birthday: Penblwdd Hapus
and a couple of funny ones….
Microwave: popty ping
‘Might as well’: Man a man a mwnci