Pale sand, clear water and an away-from-it-all atmosphere makes Barafundle one of Wales’ favourite ‘secret’ beaches. It’s best to check the tide beforehand – lowish tide is best – and not to come laden with clobber as there’s a half-mile walk from the car park, with some steep bits. Don’t worry, though, it’s totally worth it.
Climb up to this castle-on-a-crag in the Black Mountain Range, and the Carmarthenshire countryside swirls about you like a sea of green. This is a view that people have been enjoying since prehistoric times – it’s thought that an Iron Age hillfort predates the present-day ruins, which date back to the 13th century.
Romantic and remote, Llanddwyn is named after Dwynwen, a fifth century princess, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. It’s a tidal island, connected to southwestern Anglesey by a sliver of sand that’s lost beneath the waves at high tide. Together with nearby Newborough Warren, Llanddwyn is a National Nature Reserve, protected for its ancient rocks and dunes.
Whether it’s ice cream weather in the height of summer or a crisp, bright day in the depths of winter, Llandudno is always popular for a stroll, a spot of sandcastle-building and an alfresco lunch. The beaches have Blue Flag and Seaside Awards for cleanliness and water quality and there are plenty of deck chairs to lounge in.
River Llugwy, Betws-y-Coed
From the Pont y Pair car park on the west side of Betws-y-Coed, it’s just a few minutes’ easy stroll to a gorgeous riverside picnic area, shaded by trees. If you’re up for a gentle walk, follow the path along the River Llugwy. There’s a wooden walkway so wheelchair-users and families with pushchairs can enjoy this peaceful spot.
Llyn Padarn, Llanberis
To combine the fun of an old-fashioned picnic with the romance of a ride on a vintage train with glorious Snowdonia views, jump aboard the Llanberis Lake Railway. Its steam locomotives chuff past Dolbadarn Castle and alongside Llyn Padarn, stopping at Cei Llydan, where there are benches laid out on the grassy shore.
Picture perfect, this beach is unique. Where else can you relax outside a historic fishermen’s pub, digging your toes in the sand, to enjoy a pint of real ale named after a Bardsey king? After lunch, you could go snorkelling or simply watch the sand martins as they whizz overhead and dive into their burrows. Cars aren’t allowed, but approaching on foot is a treat.
So, you’ve made your way to Rhossili. Good choice – people have been drawn to this dramatic Gower beach since the Stone Age, leaving the area peppered with archaeological sites. Now all you have to do is pick your spot. You have three miles of sand to choose from. A cartwheel competition while you decide, perhaps?
Castle Hill, Tenby
Of all the places to play king of the castle in Wales, this one will charm your socks off. There’s not much left of the 13th century fort, but just look at the view! Plonk yourself down on this grassy peninsula, feel the breeze on your face and enjoy the seaside sounds floating up from the harbour to the west and the beach to the south.
If you love cool shade and wide, tranquil water, you’ll love Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir created in the late 19th century to supply the fast growing city of Liverpool. Surrounded by stunning forests, meadows and moorlands, it’s become a wildlife hotspot, home to pied flycatchers, redstarts, peregrine falcons, buzzards and bats.