Last weekend we visited Barmouth in North Wales for the Paddlesports Festival. A fun water-inspired festival which is held yearly in Barmouth. Next weekend (7th and 8th July 2018) Barmouth is hosting it’s very first Food Festival as well as the Kite Festival when the skies will be filled with every kite imaginable.
There were raft races on the harbour to watch and at one point people were throwing flour at the rafts. There was a party atmosphere along the harbour with the road closed to traffic and a few stalls from the RNLI and Mountain Rescue showing what they do and helping to warn children how to stay safe.
Cambrian Beach Guardians were there with a mermaid and dolphin made out of rubbish which had been collected from the beach to show the importance of picking up your rubbish and not leaving it to blow into the sea. Plastic pollution is a huge problem and has a major impact on marine life and our oceans which in turn has an impact on us.
There was also some have-a-go sessions for people to have a go at something which they might not have tried before. My dad enjoyed having a go on the Celtic longboats but hubby was feeling a bit too tender to have a go on a kayak.
As for the children, we only had three with us. Ruby had had low lights in her hair the day before, ready for her Year 6 Leavers Prom so she didn’t want to get her hair wet. But Rhian (8) couldn’t wait to have a go at stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Barmouth. Because of the heat, she chose not to wear a wetsuit, which was a relief as I hate trying to get them into them! She had a wonderful time paddleboarding and even managed to stand up a little, although she did find it easier on her knees.
Because Reese is only 4, she was a little too young to go out on a board on her own. Luckily for her, Russ, one of the instructors from SUP Barmouth, took her for a ride on his big board. She loved it and can’t wait till she’s big enough to do it on her own. She’s a proper little water babe is our Reese!
Whilst waiting for the girls to have their turn, Gwen the Staffie enjoyed splashing in the water. She was a bit embarrassing though with the noises she was making and people were saying she was singing! More like crying cos the girls had gone too far as they were playing in the water as well. She’s very protective of the girls is Gwen.
Barmouth is a lovely little seaside town on the North West Wales coast. It has a beautiful sandy beach with some dune areas. There are plenty of things to see and do such as Stand-up Paddleboarding with Kirsty, Matt and Russ of SUP Barmouth. All equipment is provided and they give full instructions. You might even get to see the impressive Barmouth Bridge Viaduct from an unusual vantage point.
Most of the beach is dog-friendly, although there is a small section where dogs are not allowed. This is where you’ll find the lovely Barmouth Donkeys, as well as a pirate ship, bouncy castle or trampolines. Or you might want to hire deckchairs from opposite the RNLI Lifeboat station
At the Barmouth Lifeboat station, there are two lifeboats. The inshore lifeboat is named Craig Steadman and was replaced last year. Named after a member of the Holyhead lifeboat team who sadly lost his life in a motorbike crash, his family raised money to have a lifeboat named after him. The all-weather lifeboat is the Mersey Class Moira Barrie (before that was the Princess of Wales) which will be replaced in 2020 by a new Shannon lifeboat. There is a gift shop at the station which has an observation deck, where you can see the large lifeboat. If you visit on an open day, you get to go up close with the lifeboats. You might even see them launch or recover from the beach.
There’s plenty to see around Barmouth, maybe find Dum Dum the Moai head which is hidden amongst the dunes. Or find one of the Barmouth Rocks, rocks that have been decorated and hidden around the town for people to find, photograph and rehide.
If you’re really lucky, you might even get to see some of the Bottlenose dolphins which inhabit Cardigan Bay of which Barmouth is part. We actually saw some from the distance as we drove out of Barmouth towards Harlech that day which was incredible! There’s also a dolphin statue and fountain in the harbour.
Places to visit include the Round House, or Ty Crwn in Welsh, which is the old prison where drunken sailors would be placed to sober up. There’s the Shipwreck museum in Ty Gwyn above the Davy Jones Locker or the Last Haul marble statue which was carved out of marble from the shipwreck.
You also have the funfair and arcades, a market on a Thursday or Sunday and for the little ones, there’s the soft play centre Bendigedig which means Excellent in Welsh.
No visit to Barmouth is complete without a walk over the impressive Barmouth Bridge which celebrated it’s 150th birthday last year. This impressive Grade II listed bridge is one of the longest wooden trestle viaducts in the UK. It carries a single track railway line which forms part of the impressive Cambrian Coast Railway. This railway line is often voted one of the best in the UK, if not the World. It is an impressive line and features two castles, one wooden viaduct, an avalanche shelter and not one but five of the Great Little Trains of Wales lines. The bridge also has a footpath which allows you to walk the bridge. For the walkers amongst you, you can follow a stretch of the old railway line to Dolgellau, along the Mawddach Trail. The Mawddach Trail featured on one episode of Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks and is an impressive, popular and scenic walk. The footpath also forms part of the Wales Coast Path from Barmouth to Fairbourne.
At Fairbourne, you can catch the Fairbourne miniature railway and then a ferry boat across the harbour and back to Barmouth. If you combine this with a walk across Barmouth Bridge it makes a fun round trip.
Fairbourne also hides an impressive secret. Known as Blue Lake and hidden in the quarry, this walk gives fantastic views of Barmouth as well as a deep lake which has formed in an old abandoned quarry. Access is via a tunnel complete with old train tracks.
Barmouth also has several amazing walks. You can walk to the peak and have your picture taken at the flag whilst you take in the views. There’s the French Man’s grave or even Dinas Oleu which was the first piece of land given to the National Trust by Fanny Talbot in 1895.
If you’re feeling adventures you can head to Dolgellau and climb Cader Idris, which means Giant’s Chair and the second most popular mountain to climb after Snowdon.
One of my favourite things about Barmouth is that there aren’t any chain shops. You won’t find a MacDonalds, Starbucks or anything similar. What you will find is unique shops ran by people who live and work in the town and take a pride in both the town and the community and selling unique and special gifts.
My favourite store has to be Pieces for Places. A few years ago they refurbished an old chapel to a really high standard and are well known for their amazing items that they sell. To give you an idea, they have an interactive tour you can take. Of course being Pieces from Places, who are also known for the two spoof John Lewis Christmas ads (check them out on youtube) they gave their interactive tour a little bit of a twist!
Barmouth is one of our favourite places to visit and we thoroughly recommend it.