Whiskey and waterfalls at Abergwyngregyn
Aber, for short, has a little buzz all of its own. It’s home of the Aber Falls distillery and you can stop by for lunch. But take care – the visitor centre may tempt you to distil your own gin in their lab sessions! Or else try the delectable Welsh rarebit at Caffi Hen Felin. You'll find it in the village’s old mill, now a community centre. Or for classic but friendly fine dining it’s a short trip to Penmaenmawr’s Village Bistro.
The coast path here is gentle, running alongside the vast expanse of the Lavan sandflats that stretch almost to Anglesey, and are a birdwatcher’s paradise. For something a little different take a detour inland. A gentle and accessible meadow walk leads you to Aber Falls, the towering waterfall that gives the distillery its name.
Tranquility and treasures at Beaumaris
Historic Beaumaris might give you the shivers. You can follow the hair-raising 19th century judicial process from the courthouse to the gaol. And look out for the church clock, cursed by an inmate on the scaffold to be forever wrong! Moated Beaumaris castle is near perfectly symmetrical, with striking views from the turrets across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia. There is peace for your soul here too. You can find deep relaxation on an afternoon’s silk painting workshop at H’artworks or slip through the alleyway into the tranquil Castle Gardens. Boats leave from the pier for a gentle cruise around Puffin Island.
It’s a steep climb south on the coast path but the views are tremendous - straight up the 140m (460ft) Allt Goch Bach on tree-tunnel back roads with glimpses back over the castle and Puffin Island beyond.
Heaps of creative energy at Caernarfon
There’s the towering drama of Caernarfon castle here for starters, but once you've explored it, head for the Galeri arts centre. It's very vibrant, and they’re involved in regenerating the harbourside with the Cei Llechi, arts and crafts workspace with markets and events. The annual Caernarfon Food Festival is an institution, and they hold events throughout the year. Even the airport has an aviation museum!
For a mellow, eight-mile circular walk, cross the swing bridge and follow the coast path south out of town. Keep an eye out for 13th century St Baglan’s Church. At Saron, head east across fields to join Lon Eifion, a walking route back to Caernarfon along a disused railway line. There’s also a stop for the plush Welsh Highland Railway here in case you’re ready for a lift.
Cosy hideaways at Borth
Borth is a friendly, arty little community, nestled behind the sea wall of the longest sandy beach in Ceredigion. There’s no shortage of characterful cafes – try out Oriel Tir a Môr for ice-cream and a cosy attic lookout. There are galleries, craft and antique shops and the train station has a very sweet volunteer-run museum! Don’t miss Libanus 1877, named for the age of the chapel they’ve tastefully converted into a restaurant, bar and boutique cinema. There’s also the Friendship Inn for a distinct chance of a locals’ singalong or the Victoria Inn for hot chocolates or Sunday roasts on the deck overlooking the beach.
And Borth beach is pretty epic! It’s golden, flat, perfect for kite sports and beginner surfing and famous for the 4500-year-old petrified tree stumps visible at low tide. The coast path heads inland here, an easy flat stroll alongside the peat bog with dramatic views of the hills either side of the estuary at the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere. Look out for rare invertebrates and carnivorous plants!
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Estuary exploring at Solva
Solva is a pretty little harbour village in a sheltered inlet. Start by exploring the inlet on foot – the coast path goes right round, past the historic limekilns. At low tide you can walk down the estuary itself, out to a secluded cove. Or head up the hill to Solva woollen mill with working looms and turning water wheel. The Raul Speek Gallery is a Caribbean tonic for the soul. You might even meet Raul himself, painting or playing Cuban jazz.
First stop for the peckish is Mamgu’s Café where they’ve really expanded what the humble Welsh cake has to offer. Then try Pointz Castle for ice-cream. Or settle into the 16th century Cambrian Inn for a stylish meal.
For a good walk, you can head south on the coast path - four winding clifftop miles to the vast sands of Newgale Beach.
Beaches and seafood at Saundersfoot
Saundersfoot beach is the star of the show here. An immense sweep of south Pembrokeshire coastline. And the town has done a good job of providing places to eat whilst revelling in the sea view. Cwlbox is street food horsebox on the slipway, serving zingy seafood with benches on the sand. Or try The Stone Crab on the harbour – beautiful views while you gorge on oysters, crabs and lobsters. Fancy going upmarket a little? Coast Saundersfoot offers fine dining with floor-to-ceiling views of the sea at Coppet Hall.
For rainy days try Periwinkle – along with hearty breakfasts and tapas in the evening, you can also paint your own pots here!
The coast path from Saundersfoot offers wheelchair/buggy/bike friendly wheeling on the Dramway Trail, including tunnels through the headlands at Coppet Hall and Wiseman’s Bridge. And what better place to end the day than in the infinity pool at the fancy St Brides Spa?
Cream tea at lively Llansteffan
When you’re finished at splendid Llansteffan castle high on the clifftop, head down to the friendly Castle Inn for some people-watching in the square, The Inn at the Sticks has music nights, or opt for a cream tea at the Llansteffan Tea Rooms, with views across the Tywi to Ferryside. And if you’re up early, Jamie’s fresh bread from the village shop doesn’t wait around!
You can follow the coast path south around the shoreline to reach Scott’s Bay with its 19th century seaside villa here. Check out St Anthony’s well as you pass – it has healing properties, they say. Turn back from here along the inland side of the castle. For a longer walk carry on along the coast path until you get to Wharley Point for views across Carmarthen Bay, all the way across to Devon.
Break for the border at Chepstow
Chepstow is on the Welsh bank of the River Wye, laid out on the valley-side, perfect for wandering amongst the Georgian townhouses and independent boutiques. There are plenty of things to do in Chepstow. One of the townhouses is the Chepstow museum, with tales of the town’s shipbuilding and wine-trading past. And visit the ancient Chepstow castle, of course!
You're at the very end (or beginning) of the Wales Coast Path here, and long-distance walkers often link it up with the Offa’s Dyke Path, that runs nearish the full length of the border. Tempt yourself with its first five miles, north to Tintern, with the spectacular 12th century Tintern Abbey as your prize, especially viewed from the limestone outcrop, the Devil’s Pulpit. Then cross the river and come back on the Welsh side, via the Wye Valley Walk and its own lookout, the Eagle’s Nest. A challenging 14 mile-walk, but unforgettable!
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