The Cambrian Railway Line merges into the coast and is one of the most scenic routes in Britain – 120 miles of gorgeous vistas. The area’s charms are not limited to fabulous views though. If you’re visiting the region, each of the stops offers something different, from historic buildings to amazing places to grab lunch, so make sure you get off the train and enjoy. Today in our ‘Mind the Gap’ series, we’re looking at Barmouth, and all the great features it has to offer.
Barmouth is where the mountains meet the sea, and it has enthralled visitors for over 150 years who visit to thoroughly chill out and rediscover themselves. This small town looks out onto Cardigan Bay, in the southern part of Snowdonia. The sunsets are amazing and the great outdoors provide brilliant walking and cycling routes, paddleboarding, kayaking, and of course, paddling!
If you prefer a more peaceful pace, spend a day browsing the independent shops (stopping intermittently for tea and cake), and sit on the harbour watching the boats to the sound of the gulls.
Barmouth Railway Viaduct, or Barmouth Bridge, as it’s more commonly known, was originally a timber viaduct built in 1867 to carry the Cambrian Railways coast line over the Mawddach Estuary. At 243 metres (800 ft) long, it was the longest timber estuarine bridge in the UK. The bridge is extremely photogenic and makes a great image, but the views of the mountains to the sea from this vantage point are spectacular too.
If you’re keen to see as much of the area as possible, we recommend picking up sections of the Mawddach trail, which is a 9-mile trail between Barmouth and Dolgellau. On a short rail stopover, the full route may not be feasible, but you can follow sections up the glittering Mawddach estuary to experience the wildlife and natural environment of the area. You can start the trail by crossing the Barmouth Bridge, and because it runs parallel to a disused railway line, you can follow as much or as little of it as you like without worrying about straying from the path.
The Last Inn is a beautiful, historical harbour-side inn right on Barmouth’s waterfront where locals and visitors mingle or simply enjoy a quiet pint after a day of exploring. It is one of Wales’ most famous pubs and has traditional inglenooks and ship’s beams. There is a unique natural spring waterfall and well feature and the famous historical mural of the harbours by-gone days to its more modern times – a really quirky find!
There is an exceptional and varied choice of real ales from all around the United Kingdom, complemented by a large range of high-quality wines and premium spirits. If you’re very content to sit at the pub all day, it also serves a selection of lunchtime and evening meals everyday all year round. If you’re exploring Barmouth in the evening, The Last Inn is the place to be, with live music on several nights a week.
It is difficult to think of sleepy Barmouth as a hub of military significant, but it once likely played its part in political intrigues that ultimately put Henry Tudor on the throne of England. It started with Tŷ Gwyn, a house that still stands today.
Tŷ Gwyn (meaning “White House”) is highly important late medieval hall of historic and literary significance based right on Barmouth harbour that is a must-visit for those interested in history. It dates back to the 15th century, when likely aided preparations for Henry Tudor to take the throne in 1485.
15th-century bard Tudur Penllyn wrote that Tŷ Gwyn half stood in the waves. His patron, local landowner Gruffudd Fychan, is said to have built Tŷ Gwyn as a safe house where, during the Wars of the Roses, exiled Lancastrians could land by boat or depart safely. Today, the building is now home to a Davy Jones’ Locker nautically-themed restaurant and a maritime museum where you can learn about various shipwrecks that have happened in the local waters.
We couldn’t highlight Barmouth’s virtues without making reference to its beach. Barmouth has one of the most quaint beaches in the area, a quintessential British seaside spot with five miles of sandy beach to enjoy. Kids will love the donkey rides, paddling, building sandcastles and burying themselves in the sand. Dogs are welcome here, which is a big bonus.
Visiting Barmouth is best in the summer, because there’s a traditional funfair throughout the summer right on the beach, full of rides that the kiddies will love after a day playing in the sun. If you don’t enjoy sunbathing, amusement arcades and shops along the shoreline will liven up a leisurely stroll.
Are you and your pooch looking for a scenic stop after a beautiful beach walk in Barmouth? The Bath House right on the beach is the place! Dogs are always welcome into the conservatory and on the terrace outside with plenty of fresh water and plenty of belly rubs on offer!
In the early 19th century, The Bath House offered seaweed baths to holiday makers within the building and also ran a series of ‘bathing machines’ erected in the sands as restorative therapies; the perfect tonic to the smog and toil of inner city life. Today, it’s a thriving coffee shop and ice-cream parlour with friendly staff, homemade, tasty food and an enormous range of ice-creams.
Our favourite thing to order here are the (extremely) filling foot-long hot dogs, and because they’re licensed, they’re fantastic to wash down with a beer. You’ll want to sit here all day. It is a superb setting with views over the estuary stretching out into open water. In the sunshine, it’s absolutely glorious.
“With a fine sea view in front, the mountains behind, the glorious estuary running eight miles inland, and Cadair Idris within compass of a day’s walk, Barmouth can always hold its own against any rival.”
These are the words of William Wordsworth who visited Barmouth in the 1800s, and it would be fair to say that today’s visitors wouldn’t disagree with him! So what are you waiting for? Plan your visit now!
Plan your journey across the Cambrian Coast’s historic wonders aboard the Cambrian Coast Line for a stress-free and easily-navigated adventure. Book your tickets here.