Harlech and Barmouth, in the Cardigan Bay area of Snowdonia, are popular with visitors because theyre so packed with things to do. Here are some suggestions for your next visit.
Theres a lot going on in the Cardigan Bay area of Snowdonia if you are interested in history.
The biggest, boldest and most popular historical attraction in the area is of course Harlech Castle, the surprising monument to medieval warfare on a cliff that was once laid by the Irish Sea (the shape of the coast has long changed, so the cliff is inward now).
Even from the Middle Ages there is another castle (one Welsh one time; Harlech Castle was the work of the English King Edward I). Castell y Bere is all ruins now, but this one mighty stronghold Llywelyn the Great and his descendants still suck the atmosphere. What's more, there is no entry fee, so if you're on a tight budget Castell y Bere should be the top of your list.
To get back in time is Bryn Cader Faner, one of Britain's most hauntingly beautiful Bronze Age sites. Cairn is only eight meters wide and under a meter in height, but what's really going on is the fifteen slopes that lean outward, which loosely resembles a crown. Going to Bryn Cader Fans are considered quite challenging, so make sure you are well prepared when visiting (good walks, suitable clothes and a map and compass).
Barmouth's berth is home to a collection of historic buildings collectively called On the Quay at Barmouth. Theres Ty Crwn (a 19th century lock-up for ne-do-well wells); Ty Gwyn (future hiding place Henry VII during the war of the Roses); Sailors Institute (complete with Victorian reading room); and the RNLI Museum, where you can see Barmouth lifeboat and learn about its crew and equipment.
In the gun
If you want to work with your disability during your visit, there are two remarkable golf courses in Harlech and Barmouth.
The first one is at Fairbourne, across the Mawddach Estuary from Barmouth (while in the area, you might like to check out the Fairbourne Steam Railway).
The other is quite famous: Royal St Davids Golf Club at Harlech. One of the finest traditional links courses in the world, Royal St Davids is featured in many top golf courses lists, including being at the top of the National Club Golfers Top 100 Affordable Courses list.
Go on the wild side
There are so many great places for a walk around the Cardigan Bay area in Snowdonia, it's hard to know where to start. But start somewhere we must, so how is the coast?
The coast of this part of Snowdonia is amazing. The beaches at Harlech and Barmouth are amazing, ranging from stunning, dormant dunes (Harlech) to the kind of traditional seaside resort any family would like to spend a day at (Barmouth). Anyway, the beaches are big, with plenty of space for everyone - so go!
Inland, the Rhinogydd mountains are wild, rugged and challenging - Wales's last true wilderness, says some. Again, make sure you are well prepared - visit the Walk Eryri website for routes and tips. The old Cwm Bychan and Cwm Nantcol driveways are also excellent for hikers, and the Taith Ardudwy Way - a 24 mile road from Barmouth to Llandecwyn - allows you to explore Ardudwys's medieval administrative area. This route will treat you to some of Wales's best coasts and mountain views and an opportunity to take in prehistoric sites and do some wildlife. What else can you ask from a country migration?
Brass on the water
Whether you want an organized shipping trip or prefer to be at the wheel of your own ship, Cardigan Bay is the place to be.
Barmouth Harbor is a great place to start if you are in the mood for an organized boat trip. Barmouth Boat Trips takes bookings for both fishing and entertainment trips; Dolphin watching trips are also very popular.
Want more hands-on? Theres surfing at Harlech, Aberdyfi, Tywyn and on Fairbourne, where the west side of the beach is exposed to strong winds making it a great spot for windsurfing and sailing as well.
There is no company like showbusiness
It's not just about old history and rugged outdoors - Harlech and Barmouth have both big little theaters too, so there are plenty of cultures to get their talons in.
Theatr Harlech offers an eclectic mix of events, from movies and games to exhibitions and workshops. Over at Barmouth, Theatr and Ddraig hosts all kinds of events including concerts, dances, exhibitions and movie screens.
If you are in the Cardigan Bay area of Snowdonia, one thing for sure: you will never be short on things to do and see!