Harlech’s steep hills and winding lanes provide plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. It is also the scene of one of the legends of the Mabinogion, ‘Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr’. The tale tells of the rescue of Branwen by her brother, the giant Bendigeidfran. These Celtic legends were passed down by storytellers through the ages and were finally recorded on manuscripts by monks in the 13th Century.
A classic Edward 1 medieval fortification, the dramatic cliff top perched Harlech Castle was taken in 1404 after a long siege by the Welsh ruler Owain Glyndŵr. It was again used as a stronghold during the Wars of the Roses, where the longest siege in British history is said to have inspired the famous song "Men of Harlech". Finally surrendered in 1647, the castle still keeps a watchful eye over the Irish sea.
This breathtaking sweeping stretch of coast is part of an extensive sand dune system that sweeps from the Mawddach estuary along the shore of Cardigan Bay north to Morfa Bychan. Designated a National Nature Reserve, Morfa Harlech’s magnificent beaches and mountain scenery provides a stunning backdrop for hikers, kite surfers and sand-castle builders.
Eating and drinking in Snowdonia
The sea and mountain air is sure to get your appetite going and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to reward yourself after your explorations. The area’s diverse landscape yields a great variety of local produce. Succulent lamb and beef, cheeses and seafood put Snowdonia firmly on the food map and the award winning Purple Moose brewery in nearby Porthmadog has ensured its place on the real ale map too.
If you fancy a pint or a spot of lunch during your walk, dog friendly Y branwen has a good selection of local beers, local food and has vegan options. Right next to the castle is Caffi Castell. It's perfect for a quick bite to eat or coffee and cake to sustain you on your walk. Evening meal wise, Castle Cottage Restaurant, overlooking Harlech Castle, offers a fine dining experience. Their award-winning menu uses quality seasonal and local produce.
Other routes in Snowdonia
If you’re thirsty for more of a hiking challenge, the Taith Ardudwy Way is a new mid level route from Barmouth to Llandecwyn. As well as rolling meadows and morlands, walkers can enjoy sea views and opportunities to observe the area’s birds and wildlife. You can split this breathtaking route into three sections over three day walks…or in the event of blisters, use the bus or train to walk any section!
Find out about appropriate clothing and footwear as well as more info on protecting and enjoying the countryside in the Countryside Code.