Three circular pub walks for a cold winter’s day

Pub walks are a favourite way to spend our free time, especially during more bracing weather beyond the summer season. Enjoy exercise, great scenery and good company before seeking sanctuary in a welcoming hostelry with a lovely drink or meal to finish, perhaps in front of a roaring real fire. Bliss!

North Wales provides lots of opportunities for you to enjoy your own pub walk. To help you decide where to go, we’ve picked our top three circular pub walks – perfect for a crisp autumn or winter’s day.

Aberffraw’s the Crown and the Church in the Sea

This easy, mostly flat five-mile circular takes in the breathtaking dune and coastal scenery around the historic village of Aberffraw on Anglesey’s west coast. It’s hard to believe that in the Middle Ages this tiny, windswept settlement was the capital of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. To reach Aberffraw is an enjoyable 40-minute drive from the mainland bridges, passing sleepy villages with mountain and coastal views on the horizon. The walk uses a section of the Wales Coast Path.

Starting in Aberffraw at the free public car park, cross the old humpbacked bridge and follow the coastal path signs. The walk follows the coastal path along low cliffs to the church of St Cwyfan, known as the Church in the Sea. St Cwyfan stands on the walled island of Cribinau, and is easily reached across a rocky beach away from high tides.

From here, retrace your steps to the lane you passed as you reached Porth Cwyfan bay to complete the circular route back to Aberffraw. All the while you will enjoy great coastal views off the west coast of Anglesey with Snowdonia’s mountains in the distance to the south. In Aberffraw, pop into The Crown for a bite to eat and an opportunity to sample some local Welsh ales. There’s a nice beer garden too, if the weather’s good.

Visit The Crown’s website here.

Dolwyddelan Castle and Y Gwydyr

This circular walk links the riverside village of Dolwyddelan deep in Snowdonia’s Lledr valley to Dolwyddelan Castle. You’ll walk through forests and open country (wet and muddy in places in winter, so wear your walking boots). At the end, rest your feet at Y Gwydyr pub, a warm and welcoming place with food and ales.

Park the car for free at the railway station car park, signposted off the main A470 through the village. Turn left onto the road, left over the bridge and immediate left again. Then turn right onto a gravel forest track. At the fork bear right and continue down towards the river, cross the footbridge to a picnic area, then turn left along a lane. Turn right by a derelict house and follow the waymarked path steeply up the hillside, crossing a track as you climb.

At the edge of the forest cross a stile and follow the waymarked path across the moorland, before a second stile marks your descent. Turn right at a junction, bear right past a ruin and cross another stile before bearing left at a waymarker and through a gate by another ruin. Bear right on the path down a long field and follow the path downhill to a farmyard. Go through the gates, turn left in front of the farmhouse (Bertheos) and follow the path down to the main road. Cross the main road and turn right and after a few metres, turn left over a stile and follow the lane over the old bridge. Take the stile on the left and follow the path up the hillside, following the waymarker posts. This can be wet in winter. Go through a gate and turn right along the lane.

At some farm buildings, where the road bears left, turn right onto a track. Go through a gate and continue ahead over a stile/gate. Where the track forks continue ahead rather than following the more obvious track left. Go through two more gates, and over a stile. Continue ahead on the clear path, descending downhill towards the castle. Take some time to explore the castle ruins before continuing ahead to join a concrete path. Go through a gate and continue down the track to reach the A470. Turn left along the road and walk carefully back into Dolwyddelan, conveniently arriving at Y Gwydyr pub on the left. Your car is just a few yards away from here, so this is a great time for a pub stop!

Visit Y Gwydyr’s Facebook page

Cwellyn Arms and Cwm Pennant

This walk makes use of the newly created Slate Trail, a grand 83-mile route that makes use of old tramways and routes associated with Snowdonia’s slate industry. Start from the mountain village of Rhyd Ddu (park in the pay-and-display car park for the Rhyd Ddu path up Snowdon) but instead of looking to Snowdon’s peak, turn your head the other way to the hills between the Nantlle Ridge and Moel Hebog, and a mountain pass into remote Cwm Pennant. This is where you’re heading! After a good walk you’ll be rewarded with refreshment at Cwellyn Arms down in the village. So let’s go!

Cross the road and follow the newly made Slate Trail path which follows an old tramway across low ground to the north of Llyn y Gader lake. Cross a footbridge and then leave the path by turning right to follow a path back to the B4418 Nantlle road. At the road, take an immediate left and follow the well-marked path. Turn left after the second style (if you keep straight on you’ll climb onto the Nantle Ridge) and stay on this path, into Beddgelert Forest, until you reach a T-junction. Turn right and in a few yards is a sign pointing left for Dolbenmaen. Take this turning and follow the path uphill into the bwlch (pass) and onto an old railway track at the side of a disused reservoir, with Cwm Pennant coming into view ahead of you.

Back-track a little and take a path on your right that leads you through Bwlch Cwm-trwsgl and returns you downhill again into Beddgelert Forest. Follow this path until you reach an obvious junction with the Slate Trail near Hafod Ruffyd farm, close to the Welsh Highland Railway. Turn left and follow this lovely trail – well signposted – along the shores of Llyn y Gader and back to Rhyd Ddu village.

Carefully follow the main road down into the village where you’ll find Cwellyn Arms on your left, serving food and ales. Its lounges boast welcoming real fires in the winter and they are dog-friendly too.

Visit the Cwellyn Arms website here.

Images courtesy: St Cwyfan’s Church crown copyright Visit Wales, 2019. Dolwyddelan Castle by Jeff Buck [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]. Cwm Pennant by © Copyright David White and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Windswept walks: North Wales beaches with pubs

Lots of the glossy travel brochures and Instagram campaigns will showcase blue-skied North Wales as the ultimate summer staycation but we’d encourage you to broaden your horizons and consider visiting when the weather takes a turn. During autumn and winter it’s just as beautiful here, but in a different way. Crisp, Welsh autumn days are, in our view, some of the best – particularly if you enjoy peace and quiet. Save for local dog-walkers, our beaches are often empty from late-September onward, allowing you to fully appreciate the seasonal ambience.

When it’s cold or rainy, a cosy pub is a welcoming sight. It provides respite from the elements and gives you time to relax after a long walk. We’ve selected four beaches with great walks and great pubs, all within an hour’s drive of the hotel, that are perfect for immersing yourself in the changing seasons.

Nefyn Beach – Y Bryncynan

Morfa Nefyn is an attractive seaside village with harbour, museum and graceful crescent of sand leading to picturesque Porthdinllaen – exactly the type of beach you’d expect to find on a British postcard.

Recently, the Llŷn Maritime Museum reopened, which is a great draw for this beach. For walkers, the village is an ideal base midway along Llŷn’s north coast path. Nefyn Beach is pretty secluded, but the few who visit do so for its clear blue waters along with views of the distant three peaks of the Rival Mountains (Yr Eifl) to the east. It’s predominantly a sandy beach with a number of picturesque, whitewashed cottages huddled towards the western end of the bay.

The Bryncynan Inn is located at the main crossroads at Morfa Nefyn. It’s a friendly, family-run country pub, much loved by the locals and visitors in equal measure. Here, after a bracing walk, you can settle down close to its roaring log fire. The pub has a great reputation for delicious pub-grub, which is served all day, everyday, and an excellent selection of cask beers and wines. The pub really lends itself to a family visit, too: there is a children’s play area (complete with a pirate ship!) that will keep kids entertained as the grown-ups relax.

Conwy Morfa – The Mulberry

Conwy Morfa beach is a large sandy bay, which at low tide forms part of the extensive sandy beaches and mussel banks of Conwy Bay. It is a wide expanse of marshy sand backed by a layer of shingle and grassy dunes in the foothills of Mynydd y Dref (Conwy Mountain). It’s just a short drive from the picturesque town of Conwy on the southern side of the River Conwy. It’s quiet, and the perfect spot to kick back after a morning exploring the medieval mysteries of Conwy Castle.

With a distinctly nautical feel, the Mulberry occupies a purpose built, light and airy space. Enjoy the warmth of the fire, sit out on the decked terrace or just grab a chair and enjoy the view from inside, there are options aplenty here. The menu has something for everyone, with particular emphasis on seafood, sharing platters and the Mulberry’s famous pizza planks. The drinks range is just as varied, with a rotating range of cask ales alongside world lagers, carefully selected local craft beers, award-winning wines, and hand-picked premium spirits.

Llanbedrog – Aqua Beach Bar

Llanbedrog is a hidden gem near Pwllheli on the way to Abersoch, and is a ward of the National Trust. Many of the beaches on the Llŷn Peninsula are perfect pit stops, but we’d recommend making more time for Llanbedrog, as there is lots to enjoy here.

If you’re seeking a traditional family beach experience, there’s a sandy shore and the water is shallow enough to enjoy a paddle (we know that some of you are even keen to dip your toes as we approach winter!). There are oystercatchers and curlews among the wildlife, and, of course, Llanbedrog’s famous beach huts to snap for the ‘Gram!

When it’s time for a bite to eat, Aqua Beach Bar has perhaps the best location on the list – sitting right on the beach with a sheltered terrace and snug indoor restaurant that’s modern, mellow and a great escape from the elements. Outside there are plenty of patio heaters and blankets, so you’ll be comfortable whatever the weather. The views from the terrace are spectacular so sit out if you can! When hunger strikes, Aqua Beach beach bar provides the perfect continental dining experience with a relaxed vibe and a fantastic selection of drinks to choose from.

Rhos on Sea – Rhos Fynach

Winner of the prestigious Blue Flag award, Rhos-on-Sea beach (or Colwyn Bay beach for the sat nav!) is great for swimming, watersports, fishing, cycling and walking. The expansive, sandy beach starts in Rhos-on-Sea at the harbour wall, where a tranquil scene of bobbing boats and a diminutive shingle beach entice you to explore.

The Rhos Fynach, started life in the twelfth century as a monastery for the monks of Maenan Abbey in the Conwy Valley. Over the years the Fynach played a pivotal role in local events and politics but fell into disrepair in the early twentieth century. Beautifully-restored in the 1990s, the building is one of the most popular pubs in the area – not only does it look the part but it occupies a great spot too.

Of course, the Fynach has the ubiquitous log fire, essential for warming you up after a cold day on the beach. With lots of cosy nooks and crannies to settle down in and a wealth of olde-worlde charm (not to mention a great food and drinks menu) you might not want to go back out in the cold!

There is no shortage of great pubs in North Wales, and there are plenty more of them waterside, but we certainly recommend these four as a great starting point; they’ve got a great atmosphere, great views and great grub. What are you waiting for? Bundle up and get exploring!

Image courtesy: Jeff Buck / Beach Huts on Llanbedrog Beach / CC BY-SA 2.0