6 great walking breaks in North Wales
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Get those fresh air feels and feeds with wonderful Welsh walks to blow away thos cobwebs.
NEWBOROUGH BEACH TO LLANDDWYN ISLAND
This is a coastal ramble to take at your own pace. Absorb the spectacular views of Snowdonia’s Mountain range and the Llyn Peninsula as you make your way along the sandy shore of Newborough Beach – it is bordered by a forest of Corsican pines inhabited by red squirrels – so well worth a look. The surroundings are just as dramatic on a chilly early spring day as they are in the height of summer, and the bay curves around to meet Llanddwyn Island, once home to Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers (this is tidal so make sure to check tide times before setting out).
Dwynwen’s story is an enchanting one, which you can discover on the information boards around the island, while the lighthouse, ruined church and cottages are also not to be missed. The magnificent views will always be the main attraction here though, and if you are lucky you may even spot some of the locals – seals and Welsh ponies.
Need to know: Start from the large Newborough Beach car park, which is clearly signposted from Newborough village – there is a £5 entrance fee, which is worth every penny as there are plenty of other walks to choose from including forest trails.
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The Marram Grass
For many food lovers, The Marram Grass needs little introduction and its reputation for skilled cooking and friendly hospitality continues to grow. The family–run restaurant is headed up by brothers Ellis and Liam Barrie, who focus on showcasing quality local ingredients. They also rear pigs at their smallholding Gardd Rhosyr, a few steps from the kitchen. What was once a humble potting shed is now a renowned destination for excellent food – select one of three menus, named Capricious, Cegin and Shebang, and prepare to be wowed by their unstuffy take on fine dining.
For luxury, Château Rhianfa is the ideal choice, with many other attractions of the area accessible nearby. This place has a romantic past – it was built in 1849 by Sir John Hay Williams, Baronet of Bodelwyddan, for his wife. Today, the hotel effortlessly blends modern comforts with a sense of history. As the name suggests, the architecture was inspired by a French château and the fairytale Grade II listed property sits in a prime location overlooking the fast flowing waters of the Menai Straits. There are 30 rooms and suites – opt for a sea view - or for total privacy you can book a cottage in the grounds. It’s a decent 45-minute drive from the end of your walk but absolutely worth it.
THE CYRAU TRAIL
Ascending through a forest of Douglas firs, the Cyrau Trail opens up to reveal sweeping panoramas of Betws-y-Coed, before winding back down into the village.
At 2.4 kilometres, the route is long enough to stretch the legs, without being too arduous and the walk is clearly signposted from Pont y Pair car park where it begins. A great option if you’re looking for a gentler pace.
Need to know: Pont y Pair car park is at the junction of the B5106 and the A5 in Betws-y-Coed over a narrow bridge.
Perfect plates to share, you’ll find traditional tapas here – think Padron peppers and slow cooked chorizo mixed in with Welsh influenced small plates – Glamorgan croquetas, Menai Mussels and Perl Wen made from local bries baked with Catalan flatbread. Love gin? You’ll be spoilt for choice with more than 40 Welsh tipples. A perfect pitstop after a bracing walk.
Bryn Tyrch Inn
Nestled in the village of Capel Curig, a few minutes away from Betws-y-Coed, this independently owned inn affectionately known as ‘The Bryn’ has 12 individually-styled bedrooms with cosy décor and splashes of cheery colour. There is lots to explore, with various trails close at hand as well as the high–octane attractions of Zip World (which boasts the world’s fastest zip line) and Surf Snowdonia. After some more energetic pursuits, unwind in the Y Bryn Bar & Bistro and sample one of the Welsh ales or gins as you absorb the impressive views of Moel Siabod.
There are numerous trails around Bala Lake, but if you are keen to take a longer walk try the scenic Bala to Llandderfel Trail, which takes about three hours and requires a decent pair of walking boots. Take in the views of the lake, the Berwyn mountains and the River Dee along the way.
If you want to go a little steadier, try the accessible circular trail around the lake instead.
Need to know: Park at Bala Lake, including at Tegid Street, Plassey Street and Llangower Station, also home of the Bala Lake Railway.
The Bison Grill at The Rhug Estate
A not to be missed place to visit, The Rhug Estate expands across a colossal 12,500 acres. At its heart lies its organic farm – also home to their farm shop. Adjacent is The Bison Grill, an all-day dining venue serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea (pre-bookings only). Head Chef Elliot Knox focuses on local and seasonal produce - think dishes like their signature wild bison burger, or specials like the Rhug venison loin with black pudding bonbons. A great pre-walk place to meet before making your way to Bala Lake.
Palé Hall Hotel
This Victorian country house has grandeur and the striking location to match – Palé Hall occupies a peaceful spot in the Dee Valley and the landscaped gardens stretch down to the banks of the river. There are 18 en-suite rooms at the hotel as well as a fine dining restaurant and ‘The Huntsman’ a new bar which offers a bistro menu.
THE LITTLE ORME
The well trodden 5.1km circular walk up the Little Orme in Llandudno is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. It starts from Llandudno Promenade climbing up to the 141-metre summit of the Orme where you are rewarded with vistas of coast and mountains. Bring your binoculars – there is a chance you may get a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins swimming in the bay.
If you are more drawn to a gentle stroll, simply walk along the promenade and out onto its famous Victorian pier.
Need to know: Llandudno Prom is your starting point – there are several car parks available in Market Street and Mostyn Street.
Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias
Bryn Williams is a chef intent on showing off premium Welsh produce and, alongside two restaurants in London he also has this elegant bistro in his native Wales. Just along the coast from Llandudno in Colwyn Bay, the space is light and welcoming with a bustling open kitchen and large windows perfect for appreciating the views over Porth Eirias beach. Seafood is the star attraction on the menu, but there are plenty of meat and vegetarian options too, as well as the popular afternoon tea served 3-4pm, Monday to Friday. Definitely worth the 15 minute drive/taxi ride from Llandudno but make sure to plan ahead – this is a place you will need to book.
Owned by The National Trust, this opulent hotel and spa has everything you need for a break from reality. Set in 200 acres of stunning private land just to the south of Llandudno, this is the place to book if you want a little extravagance and a luxurious place to rest tired feet. Choose from lavishly decorated rooms, suites and private cottages. There’s a spa too, with an indoor pool, steam room and sauna – as well as the chance to book in for hot stone massages or a facial. What a reward after a day out in the fresh air.
THE MAWDDACH TRAIL
This 15 km trail begins in Dolgellau and ends by crossing the railway bridge at the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary into Barmouth – you don’t have to walk the full length of the route, however, as you can join the trail at several car parks along the way.
You could walk from Barmouth to Dolgellau, too. The terrain is maainly flat, along a former railway line which borders the edge of the estuary and the scenery is glorious throughout the seasons.
Need to know: There is parking in Dolgellau as well as at several places along the trail if you wish to do a shorter walk.
Dylanwad Wine Bar
Those who take their wine seriously are in for a treat at this wine merchant and bar. The cellar shop stocks a range of global wines not easily found, many of them sourced from small producers. The knowledgeable staff are eager to advise and if you fancy a bite to eat with your wine, the menu has plenty to entice including soup and sharing platters.
Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel
This tranquil hideaway in Dolgellau is set in the picturesque surroundings of Snowdonia National Park, with views over The Mawddach Estuary. The charms of a classic country house hotel are combined with contemporary style across fourteen bedrooms, furnished with everything you need for that perfect, restful stay. A stroll in the sprawling gardens is undeniably appealing and in winter guests can settle by the fire in the oak-panelled drawing room. See if you can spot the family coat of arms and have a peek at the grand piano – all touches adding to the elegance.
CABLE BAY TO RHOSNEIGR
Cable Bay or Porth Trecastell is a popular beach for surfers and kayakers and it makes a great place for a walk too. The path follows a route across beaches, dunes and rocks and the walk is part of the well-known Anglesey Coastal Path. Visit Barclodiad y Gawres along the way.
This Neolithic burial chamber lies at the top of the headland above Cable Bay and it is noted for the intricately carved stones which lie in the chamber. If a walk with gorgeous scenery and lots of history to boot are your things, you’l find this route difficult to beat.
Need to know: There is a pay and display car park overlooking the beach.
The Gaerwen Arms
After a brisk walk, retiring to a pub for a couple of hours is an attractive prospect. The Gaerwen Arms has all the allure of a country inn, combined with a restaurant. The bar area has an open fire and a selection of local ales and fine wines is on offer, as well as pub food – think pie of the week, Ploughman’s and beer-battered cod with triple-cooked chips. The bar is dog-friendly and special ice cream is served for dogs too! Head through to the restaurant where local produce is king in dishes like pan-fried fillet of sea bass with Menai mussels. Don’t leave without dessert, which include their take on an Eccles Cake, filled with Mon Las cheese and served with mulled wine pears and walnut.
Sandy Mount House
Set in the seaside village of Rhosneigr, this Anglesey hotel aims to make guests feel right at home. The stylish interiors conjure up a laid-back beach house ambience which runs throughout the seven bedrooms. If you want to bring your canine pal, there are two dog–friendly rooms and the bar also welcomes dogs, meaning you can sit back and enjoy the choice of craft beers and cocktails without worrying about your prized pooch.