There are a few things in life that you can guarantee but when visiting Wales we find three things to be always be true. You will have stunning views just about everywhere you go. Secondly it will rain. Thirdly you will have an amazing time even if you just go for the day.
We don’t have a favourite part of Wales. It changes every time we visit. But we are fast discovering that areas surrounding Snowdonia National Park are well worth the visit. Our latest trip was to Harlech. Situated on the coast this place offers a beautiful beach, a castle with stunning views and a great base to explore.
My Wales wish list was completed on the trip even though we only stayed two nights. The wish list includes; see a waterfall, see something new and find a great pub. For bonus points the place we stay has to have a wood burning fire if we stay in winter.
Harlech is a 3 hour drive from Birmingham on a fairly straightforward route (if you can ever call Welsh roads straightforward :)). Our trip was in early September. We left on a Saturday morning and arrived Saturday later afternoon. With a quick pitstop in Shrewsbury (worth a visit itself if you like quaint English towns and good food) for lunch and a stroll by the river.
After unpacking our first stop was the beach. We wanted to check it out before sunset and we were super glad we did. The beach was one of the best we have visited in the UK (Bournemouth still reigns supreme). Best of all, other than one small part, it is dog friendly. There is a car park that cost £3.00 for 4 hours (you don’t get a choice on time) but that is enough time to make the 5 minute walk to the beach, enjoy your time and get back. The sea was reachable whenever we visited so Annabelle got her fill of running in and out catching waves. Bisbee was more a fan of digging up the sand. We were fans of the safe, clean, beautiful beach we had found.
Our accommodation was a short drive away – everything is a short drive in Harlech! It was a simple Airbnb that had everything we needed to make the visit an easy one.
Once Annabelle headed to bed I decided that I needed to attempt ‘the steepest road in the world’. Driving up to Harlech we had read Google Maps wrong, the road ended there, not started. We therefore got to climb down and back up the steepest road! It lived up to it’s name and was steep. Within 10 steps heading up you have to stop and catch your breath. It is not for the unfit. Thankfully it only took 4 minutes 20 seconds!
Every road leading up to Harlech Castle is steep. Except if you head out of the town you can find a small local road that has less of an incline. I mention this because if you do visit you don’t want to take the main road up unless you are a confident driver.
On Sunday we were up and out at 9.30am to head to Nantcol Waterfalls. A 15 minute drive from Harlech the walk to the waterfalls is on private land. The land itself has a camping/glamping site set up. You have to pay for parking (£3) but the facilities available make it worth it. There are a number of trails you can take but we went for the 2 hour waterfall trail. It was well worth it. We saw plenty of waterfalls and the climb offered spectacular views from the mountains to the sea. The trails are well marked making it easy to do with a toddler.
The second Wales point I mentioned also came true and it rained. Although thankfully just for 10 minutes.
We were so impressed Annabelle walked almost the whole way up and coming down was much shorter so carrying her wasn’t an issue.
After the 3 hour adventure in the morning Annabelle had an afternoon nap while we stocked up at the local shop. When she awoke we headed up to the castle to take a look. At the time of our visit the castle was only open Wednesday – Sunday and you have to book ahead. The castle is well preserved and there are plenty of informational panels on site to explain the history and details of the structure. You can make your way up and walk the walls which offer amazing views of the surrounding area. Well worth a visit if you like history, castles and views!
That evening we stopped in a local pub for dinner before getting Annabelle back for bed.
If you want a Welsh destination with plenty to offer then Harlech is recommended – especially in summer when you can take advantage of the beach! It isn’t too far from Snowdonia National Park or other coastal villages / towns so you can you use it as a base to explore. We will definitely be back.