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.

DAY 1

  • 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

  • Harlech Beach

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.

Harlech Beach
Harlech Beach (© Crown copyright (2006) Visit Wales, all rights reserved)

Where to Stay

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: merthyrfarm@hotmail.com
Tel: 01776 780897
Open: May to September

DAY 2

  • 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 along the stunning Mawddach Estuary.

Things to Do

  • Harlech Castle

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.

Hire a VW campervan to tour the welsh castles
Poppy by Harlech Castle
  • 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.

  • Shell Island

Shells, are what Shell Island 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

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 Paddleboarding in the beautiful surroundings of the Mawddach Estuary.

A one hour taster session from SUP Barmouth is £25 per person.

  • Panorama Walk

Check out our Camper Trails webpage for a walk that 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.

Visit Panorama View Point whilst on holiday in your VW campervan hire
My son and I enjoying the view of the Mawddach Estuary from Panorama View Point

Where to Stay

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: hello@graigwen.co.uk
Tel: 01341 250482
Open: March to December

DAY 3

  • 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 has a restaurant and seats by the water. 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.

Discover horse riding on your campervan hire holiday
Horse riding near Fairbourne (© Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales, all rights reserved)
  • The Blue Lake

Discover the Blue Lake guarded by towering crags. Only those who stumble upon the tunnel built into the hillside or abseil the cliffs can access the water, which is remarkable for its rich blue color.

A flooded slate quarry, some say the secret spot is one of the best places for wild swimming, though the water is often quite chilly and the slippery terrain makes getting in and out of the water dangerous. The lake is on private property off the A493, south of Fairbourne and you visit at your own risk.

To get there: turn right (opposite a phone box) 1/2 mile south of Fairbourne where you park. Then walk up the road until a footpath is signed off to your right, follow this footpath until it turns sharp left over a stile. At this point carry straight on onto a flat plateau area, the tunnel entrance to the lake will be on your left.

Visit the Blue Lake on your campervan hire holiday
The hidden Blue Lake, near Fairbourne

Where to Stay

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: hello@nythrobin.co.uk
Tel: 07731 783 534
Open: March to November

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The tranquil setting of Nyth Robin (© Nyth Robin)

DAY 4

  • 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.

Swap air-cooled for steam on your campervan hire holiday
The Tal y Llyn Railway
  • Aberdyfi

Aberdyfi has watersports galore – sailing, sailboarding, rowing, canoeing, fishing and boat trips. In the summer, there are yachting regattas and other water spectacles along with family entertainment on its award-winning beaches.

  • 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

This lovely campesite is situated behind the dunes of Black Rock Sands, which is great for sunset beach BBQs and a dip in the sea.

Enquiries:
Email: blackrocksandscampingpark@gmail.com
Tel: 01766 513919
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.