Spotlight on Barmouth
My first ever
recollections of Barmouth are of sitting on the foreshore, measuring
the width, length and depth of pebbles, at one metre intervals - that
was lengthways and crossways across the whole beach.
not the most exciting way to spend a holiday you might think,
fascinating as that sounds my inaugural visit was part of a geography
field trip to analyse the intricate effects of the tides and waves on
the abundant mass of stone shingle.
It was all
meant to give me and my fellow sixthform classmates an in depth insight
into the physical and human geography of the area. But perhaps in
retrospect, we didn't learn all that much - well certainly not about
the most enjoyable aspects of this enchanting holiday resort on the
Cardigan Bay coastline.
the mid 80s as I remember, was a fairly quiet and unassuming town. It
had a small number of shops, some hotels and fair number of
traditional-looking buildings that flecked the hillside.
blue waters, hazy far horizon, and broad expanse of beach were perhaps
among its most impressive features. And visitors today would almost
certainly find this still to be true.
travelling here in peak season, people will often find the promenade
and shopping area, which has expanded since the 80s, awash with hordes
of people. The area has perhaps never been as popular as it has become
in the last 25 years.
shingle beach seems to have disappeared or been submerged by golden swathes
of sand that cover the extensive foreshore. And the beach is now marked
by regular sand breaks to make sure it doesn't migrate to anywhere else
and stays securely and firmly put.
Palm trees have
also been planted at regular intervals along the promenade and a series
of Victorian-style guesthouses and an assortment of souvenir, food and
gift shops all spill out onto to the wide sections of grey-white
certainly worth getting up early in the summer months to watch the sun
creep steadily over the horizon, and you'll have most of the beach, if
not all of it to yourself. A misty spectrum of crimson, purple, violet
and turquoise colours all typically radiate out across the sea and sky
as the sun climbs cheerily into view.
clear waters ebb and flow with the tide and are comparable to seashores
found on the Med. So swimming, boating or other watersports are a
massif can be seen in the distance, and local mighty mountain, the
Cader Idris and the Rhinogs provide a stunning hinterland to the area
behind the town.
There is also
a fun fair, amusement arcades and good old fashioned tea rooms, pubs
and souvenir shops - basically your typical seaside paraphernalia.
Harbour and its bridge are also among the premier landmarks in the
town, and well worth taking the time to check out and explore.
used to carry part of the Great Western Railway line all the way from
Ruabon in East Wales to Barmouth.
Passing through Bala and Dolgellau, there was a full passenger
service to this area from 1867. However, it was axed along with many
other rural and less profitable routes under the auspices of Dr
Beeching in the mid 1960s.
is a extensive walkway along side the railway track which now is used
as part of the Cambrian Railways from Shrewsbury to Pwllheli, and there
are exceptional views from here of the Mawddach Estuary and beyond.
also built in 1867 and now a grade II listed structure, leads on to the
picturesque village of Friog and also very close to the Fairbourne and
Barmouth Steam Railway. This narrow gauge leisure line is ideal for
families with youngsters and provides an excellent diversion on a day
also try walking five miles upstream across the Mawddach Estuary to the
enchanting hamlet of Penmaenpool. The George III pub in these here
parts is well worth visiting for a light lunch or refreshing round of
Just to add,
Barmouth Harbour is normally home to a wide range of sailing and
fishing boats that are more often than not moored in an irregular
fashion in the shallower reaches of the bay.
And this part
of the town is definitely the place to head for if you're keen to spend
some time on the water. There are several boat hire services stationed
here, and Barmouth Boat Trips (07775 671 204) or Emily's Ferry and
River Trips (07765 502404) would be well worth trying out. People can
also take a ferry all the way to the nearest village across the River
Mawddach, which also just happens to be Fairbourne again.
actually began life as a port and shipbuilding town in the 18th
century. It was famous for its woollen exports, derived largely from the
farms around Dolgellau, in addition to its trade in slate, oak timber
and bark and paving stones.
ship was said to have foundered off the coast of Barmouth in the early
18th century (1709), and cannons, three anchors, a bronze bell dating
from 1677, and slabs of marble were recovered from the wreckage in the
late 70s (1978). They all now take pride of place at Barmouth's small
maritime museum, Ty Gwyn which can be found on the street known simply
as the Quay. Dubbed the Bronze Bell shipwreck exhibition, the displays
chart the highlights of much of the salvage operation.
old town is situated largely in the hills and slopes that arise from
behind the beach and coastal area. And people could try the Panorama
Walk, please see our walk's section, which takes in some of this
One of the
most famous sections of the old town is the Rock where local reknowned
philanthropist Mrs Fanny Talbot built a number of cottages.
her friend, author and critic, John Ruskin, she donated the buildings
to his Guild of St George, which was developed primarily to offer
affordable accommodation to people in rural communities.
was a pioneer of social welfare reform in Victorian times, was also a
keen advocate of bringing education to the masses. Again, following his
lead, Mrs Talbot also donated £400 so that Barmouth's first public
library could be built.
One of the
most famous residents at the Rock cottages was actually a relation of
Mrs Talbot's through marriage. Her son had gone to study fine arts in
Paris, and had eventually wed the daugther of one philosopher and
writer, Auguste Guyard.
Monsieur Guyard was certainly no ordinary man. He was perhaps France's
very own version of John Ruskin. He mixed in powerful and elite circles
and was said to be on first name terms with Napoleon III, Leo Tolstoy
and Victor Hugo.
several books including one called 'The Religion of God, of the
Universe and Humanity' where he discussed in depth his thoughts on
'fusionism' or how mankind could incorporate religion successfully into
their everyday lives.
tried to develop a commune style village in France at Frotey-Les-Vesoul
(where he actually grew up), however his new wave philosophies were
badly received by the local authorities, and after a time in prison he
fled France once and for all and decided to settle in Barmouth.
stated he lived a very happy life in the town and immersed himself in
country living. He was known for his kindness, love of animals and
passion for life's simple pleasures. On his death in 1882, he was
actually buried above the cottages, and a plaque was fixed to a wall to
mark his grave and to pay him an enduring and everlasting tribute.
it was widely thought in the February of 1944, was under siege from a
crack team of commandos on a recon mission from the German army.
Hitler it seemed had ditched Dover, Folkestone or any other south
eastern ports, and was favouring guerrilla-style warfare right in the
heart of a Welsh seaside resort.
troops stationed there, were shocked when it was discovered the
town's armoury had been broken into, and some 5000 rounds of
ammunition had been stolen in addition to three rifles. Some of the
200 marine or cadet officers in training there went up local mountain
Dinas Oleu, only to discover the 'invading Germans' were actually
three local schoolboys who had taken the weapons to shoot at wild
rabbits and tin cans.
of places to visit
wanting something in the way of a substantial walk then Barmouth Bridge
is the place to start. It spans the lower reaches of the Mawddach
Estuary and provides a link between Barmouth and the villages of
Fairbourne and Friog. The course of the River Mawddach runs close to
holiday cottage Glyn-yr-aur,and people can also easily walk along the
river bank during their stay. There is a small toll to cross the
bridge, but it's certainly worth it for the far-reaching views of
Cardigan Bay and the Cader Idris and Rhinog mountains. The bridge can
be found just a five minutes walk outside of the town.
perhaps one of the best modes of transport that there is; and Barmouth
Harbour certainly offers plenty of opportunities to sail around
ferries that sail across to Fairbourne from Barmouth from Easter
onwards each and every year. Famous visitors who have taken a Barmouth
ferry include reformer and writer, John Ruskin, naturalist Charles
Darwin, poet Percy Shelly and politician and elder statesmen William
Trips (07775 671 204) or Emily's Ferry and River Trips (07765 502404)
are two of the main boat operators in the town.
Ty Gwyn, The Quay, Barmouth
The Ty Gwyn
Museum on Barmouth's seafront perhaps is maritime exhibition
centre that punches well above its weight.
local memorabilia and ephemera, the organisation is home to the Bronze Bell
Shipwreck Exhibition which was begun in 1978. It actually showcases the
remains of a Spanish vessel that was believed to have been wrecked off
the coast of Barmouth in 1709. The ship was thought to have contained
rare and now highly valued Carrera marble from Italy, as well as a
magnificent bronze bell, cannons, anchors, ammunition and other varied
trinkets. Some of the marble, it's reported, was meant to have
been used in the refurbishment of St Paul's Cathedral in London.
and Fairboune Light Railway, Beach Road, Fairbourne
railway was actually built by the McDougal Family, they of the McDougal
flour dynasty, and its sole purpose was to transport building equipment
to Fairbourne so that the relatively small town could be developed.
If it wasn't
for the foresight and generosity of a whole host of volunteers, then
the Barmouth and Fairbourne Light Railway would never have come into
being in the later part of the 20th century. For more details and train
running times please go to the following website:
www.fairbournerailway.com or ring 01341 250362
Shop, Beach Street, Barmouth
selling its namesake favourite, the Rock Shop is certainly worth a visit.
Found on Beach Street, people can choose between the different
varieties and take away a traditional seaside souvenir.
Gallery, High Street, Barmouth (www.orielgallery.co.uk)
from local artists can be found at this gallery as well as limited
edition prints and cards.
Piece, Beach Road, Barmouth (01341 280552)
shop specialises in Welsh crafts, jewellery, watches, clocks, house
names and numbers in addition to a wide selection of leather goods.
Buddha, 1 Tyn y Coed, High Street, Barmouth
shop is home to textiles, arts and crafts, Asian food, jewellery,
instruments and ethnic clothing.
Great Outdoors, High Street, Barmouth (01341 280591)
A wide range
of outdoors clothing and gear can be found at this store in the centre
on this year at Barmouth
to Fort William Three Peaks Yacht Race
19 June 2010 Start time:
This race certainly
gives new meaning to the word challenge. Teams of three sailors and two
runners have to sail between Barmouth and Fort William. But there is a
small catch; the runners are required to scale the highest peaks in
Wales and England and Scotland as part of the journey. The peaks
concerned would be Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Many events are
also planned on the quayside before and after the yachts set off. The
winners are the ones to complete the race in the fastest time.
Sometimes there's a four day difference between the leaders and those
Barmouth Kite Festival
26 and Sundah 27 June 2010
Head down to
Barmouth on the above summer weekend to see some world class kites take
to the sky. For more details, please ring 01562 66102.
Music and Linedancer Festival
and Sunday 4 July 2010
Square, Barmouth (01341 280925)
to holiday in Nashville or a take a trip to the Grand Ol Opry this
year? Then let a large slice of Americana wend its way over to you.
Throughout the 4th of July weekend, Barmouth will be celebrating all
things country. So get out your cowboy boots, stetson and head on down
to Talbot Square.
lifeboat service relies heavily on the generosity of the public to keep
its vital service alive. This fundraising open day lets people have a
behind-the-scenes look at the local centre's operations. There will
also be games, face painting and other activities organised for
18 - Monday 27 September 2010
perennial favourite sees increasing numbers flock to Barmouth each
year. Suitable for all ages and abilities, many of the festival walks
follow trails close to our holiday cottage, Glyn-yr-aur. For
details of exact routes, times and schedules, please go to the website