A day in Barmouth

My ride up to Gwynedd on the Cambrian Coast train line

The north west coast of Wales is lined with towns and villages tucked into rolling fields and hills. Some have their own beach to brag about, others are nestled within nature, having just as much to offer.

One town has a little bit of both to show off and, on a sunny day, there are few places you’d rather be.

Barmouth, or Abermaw in Welsh, hugs the coastline on the north side of the Mawddach Estuary. A bustling town, it is connected to the rest of the county to the south by a Grade II listed single-track wooden railway viaduct that dates back to the 1850s.

Coming along the coast on the train, the buildings of Barmouth can be seen from way across the other side of the estuary. The bridge connects both sides for train and pedestrians, on a pleasant day it really does make for a good walk.

Barmouth Bridge which brings train passengers and pedestrians over the Mawddach Estuary from the south

From Aberystwyth, a day return costs less than £15. The timings of the trains means that you may be waiting an hour for the second of the two trains, but a tip is to ignore the Trainline suggestion to get off at Dyfi Junction. The best option is to stay on until Machynlleth and pop into town for a coffee whilst you wait.

Barmouth Station has a good, central location just a stone’s throw from the beach. Let’s start with the beach, as I did upon arrival.

Stretching from along the estuary and around the coast onto the Irish Sea, it is one of the bigger of the Gwynedd beaches. The proximity to shops, cafes and bars means that pretty much anywhere on the beach is within a good walk of the town.

On my visit, the beach was busy but the size meant that it was easy to find a spot. The sun and cool breeze made it feel like a place you could spend hours. If it wasn’t for the looming threat of sunburn, an affliction I’d had my fair share of whilst camping in Tenby the weekend before, I might have stayed in the dunes and nodded off.

Wern Mynach, home of Barmouth & Dyffryn FC

Moving north on the streets, adjacent to the beach, and you come to the Wern Mynach woodland space. A peaceful part of the town, it feels a world away from the business of the beach.

Located next to the park is the home of Barmouth & Dyffryn FC. The pitch is looking superb as the club gears up for the new season. With the woodland in the background, it is surely up there as one of the most scenic football grounds in Wales. Ground hopping football fans might be recommended to catch a match when the 2021–22 campaign gets under way.

The busyness of a Saturday afternoon during half term was not lost on me or, I doubt, anyone in Barmouth. It is, however, relatively easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the beach and the streets.

Up on the hill above the town is a church that dates back to the late 20th century. It has a dominant presence as it overlooks the town, but getting up to it through a narrow late and sharp corner is rewarded with a great view of the town, the beach and across the estuary towards Fairbourne to the south.

Views of Barmouth from St John’s church

I took my time by the church, partially for the view but mainly to recover from the climb up the hill which, on a warm day, was tough.

Back down on the streets, the Saturday afternoon buzz was in full swing. I headed back out of the town and towards the bridge.

Guarding the bridge is a ‘troll’ which demands money to cross. He was, however, feeling generous on my visit. I was able to pass twice without needing to part with any money; others may not be so fortunate.

Being a seaside town, Barmouth has plenty of fish and chip shops. It wouldn’t be a day at the beach without tucking into some.

The cafe I turned to is at the front of the train station, making it easy to get to the front of the queue and to get a seat on the return journey back to Aberystwyth.

All in all, Barmouth is a top place and a gem of a place to visit. If you need a stay-cation location, you wouldn’t go far wrong.

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. Passionate writing about politics, culture, sport, society and more