With a Bank Holiday nearly upon us and only a week or two of school holidays left, there’s still time to make plans for a trip to the beach. But don’t limit your trips to the summer months. In the winter, the coast takes on a completely different feel – the wind, the waves. We love a winter beach as much as a summer one. Yesterday’s post took a look at a few of Northern Ireland’s most popular sandy spots. Today it’s time to pick a few Welsh beaches for your consideration.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
The Pembrokeshire Coast is a beach lover’s delight, with so many magnificent stretches of sand and isolated coves to discover. Barafundle Bay is not just one of the best Welsh beaches. According to Passport Magazine, this “visual overdose of beauty” is one of the best 25 beaches in the world! You may be forgiven if the bay’s stunning blue waters make you think you’ve been transported to a tropical island. It’s a bit of a walk to get there, but you’ll be glad you made the trip.
The nearest car-park is half a mile away on the cliffs, so the walk is not too terribly strenuous. Do be aware though that the only way down to the beach is via a series of steps and so pushchairs and wheelchairs will not be able to access the area. Also be sure to check the times of the tides. As with many of these little inlets, it is all too easy to find yourself cut off. Barafundle Bay has no beach facilities. Toilets, restaurants, and lodging are all available in nearby Stackpole.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower
Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins describes the view over Three Cliffs Bay as her favourite spot in Britain. She’s not alone in thinking so. This part of the Gower Peninsula offers excellent views of cliffs, sea, and sand dunes. There are several ways to make the most of the scenery. Charter helicopter tours can provide some great photo opportunities. Or you can choose to gallop across the sands on horseback. Very romantic!
The three cliffs which give the bay its name have been cut into the limestone by millions of years of crashing waves. The ruins of Pennard Castle stand as a reminder of the days when this part of the coast was fortified against Norman invasion.
The beach is not accessible by wheelchair because of the rough terrain. Swimming is not advised due to the risk of strong currents and riptides. (Remember to check those tide timetables.) Parking, toilets, and refreshments can be found at Pennard or Parkmill, both a short walk away.
Porth Iago, Gwynedd
If you find yourself walking the Welsh Coastal Path in Gwynedd, you may want to make a pitstop at Porth Iago named one of the top ten secret Welsh beaches by The Guardian. This sheltered inlet is perfect for a serene hour or two of sunbathing. It is also popular with swimmers and kayakers, but you may well find yourself the only visitor to this wonderfully secluded piece of coastline.
The car-park is located at the top of a grassy bank, with a steep path down to the sands. Dogs are welcome, but do be aware that some of the access is through private farmland and so they can only come to the area by vehicle.
Traeth yr Ora, Anglesey
Up on the northeast coast of Anglesey, Traeth yr Ora is best experienced during the low tide. At any other time, it is a long,narrow swathe of shingle and sand. But when the waters recede, they reveal a huge expanse of perfect flat sand. The beach sees more fishermen than tourists since the nearest parking is at Lligwy, which has its own beach. Few make the walk to Traeth yr Ora, but they are missing out. Enjoy the tranquility and the views across to Dulas Island and the Afon Goch estuary. Dogs are allowed
Nearby accommodations include caravan parks and holiday cottages in Lligwy.
Another beautiful hidden beach, Mwnt beach is a great place to watch dolphins, porpoises, and seals. The site is managed by the National Trust, and there is an onsite car-park, toilets, and refreshment kiosk. Dogs are not permitted during the summer months. In addition to watching the sealife (don’t forget binoculars), the area has some wonderful views and walks along the Coastal Path.
Other National Trust attractions within easy reach are Cilgerran Castle, Colby Woodland Garden, and the beach at Penbryn. There are plenty of holiday cottages nearby, as well as hotels and B&Bs in Cardigan, which is only 4.5 miles away.