Rain ahoy! Best North Wales beaches to shelter from Spring showers

Llandwyn_geograph-858108-by-Robin-DraytonWho couldn’t love Wales in the springtime? Right now the Welsh landscape is bursting into life and nowhere is it more evident than on a walk along one of North Wales’s beaches. We think a bracing beachside stroll is the perfect way to make the most of the first bright days of the new season.

But hitting a North Walian beach in Spring is not without its risks and if you’ve ever been caught off guard out on the sands, you’ll know how fast the clouds close in and the rain starts to pour!

Still, we’ve never let a bit of rain stop us and, just for you, we’ve donned wellies and raincoats and roamed the coast to find the best beaches with places to shelter when the heavens open.

1. Llanddwyn Beach (Newborough, Anglesey)

Worth a visit at any time of year, it is one of Anglesey’s – and Britain’s – most highly regarded beaches. Llanddwyn has it all: views of Snowdonia, rolling golden sand dunes, and a trail leading through the grass to the nearby Llanddwyn Island Nature Reserve.

Your port in a storm here is The Marram Grass, located at the White Lodge Campsite in Newborough. Here you’ll find a quintessentially Welsh menu, which includes local lamb served with potatoes and vegetables, and traditional fish and chips with mushy peas.

The owners admit they opened with a love of food but no five-year plan – but that was in early 2011, and this award-winning cafe’s popularity shows no sign of waning.

2. Benllech Beach (Benllech, Anglesey)

A real crowd-pleaser, Benllech Beach offers good accessibility for wheelchair users, as well as prams and pushchairs. It’s also a family favourite because of the miles of golden sand exposed when the tide rolls out.

The Bay Cafe is your refuge if the weather takes a turn for the worse, and as it’s located right on the shore – you won’t have to run far to get here! Over a cuppa and a snack, you’ll enjoy a great view across the beach to see when the sun comes out again.

3. Dinas Dinlle (Caernarfon, Gwynedd)

Dinas Dinlle is a beach of two halves, with a broad sandy foreshore and an upper shingle ridge. The sense of perspective here can be quite dizzying, as the arrow straight coastline disappears into the distance along the Llyn Peninsula. On a good day, you can also see across to Llanddwyn Island where, on a bad day, fellow beachgoers might be hiding from the rain in The Marram Grass!

Back on Dinas Dinlle, if you notice dark clouds heading your way, you’ll want to head to Bwyty Lleu, a family-friendly cafe with an impressive 52-cover capacity.

Lunch is slightly less formal than the evening service and, if you’re lucky, you can grab the sofa while the kids play in the well-stocked toy box. You can even do some rainy-day souvenir shopping in the adjoining gift shop.

4. West Shore Beach (Llandudno)

There’s something satisfying about a straightforward name and West Shore Beach is as satisfying as it gets. Whether you plan to fly a kite on the wide sands, feed the swans on the Victorian boating lake or just take a long walk, West Shore is the beach to visit. Slightly less well-known than Llandudno’s famous North Shore, it’s loved by locals wanting to avoid the crowds and visitors seeking an alternative to candyfloss and arcades.

If things get blustery, head for cover. We recommend the friendly West Shore Beach Cafe, run by family team Kevin and Alison. It’s easy to find, directly on the promenade next to the golf course, and if the rain isn’t too heavy sit out on the terrace and enjoy impressive views of the Great Orme, the Carneddau Mountains and Anglesey.

Image: Llanddwyn Beach, Anglesey © Copyright Robin Drayton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Spring in North Wales: a garden party with a difference

Bodnant Garden's Laburnum Tunnel

Bodnant Garden’s Laburnum Tunnel

We’re enjoying a wonderful and prolonged spell of pleasant weather right now in North Wales; some of us have even heard the utterance ‘spring has sprung’ out on the street and, you know what? We think they could be right!

With Easter just around the corner and the weather finally looking up there’s just one thing we want to do – get out of the office and into the great outdoors! We’re really lucky, living here, to have so much choice when it comes to spending time outside. Of course, there are the beaches, woodlands and mountains that make North Wales famous but, did you know, we’re home to some of the most beautiful formal gardens in the UK too?

Festival time!

If you’ve never visited North Wales for its gardens then 2016 is definitely the year to do it. This year the region hosts the very first Festival of Gardens, taking place from Saturday 28 May to Sunday 5 June. The event is a celebration of all things horticultural and aims to enlighten and educate visitors with a packed programme of events at no less than 27 beautiful gardens, stretching from Wrexham to the Llyn Peninsula. There’s never been an event like this in North Wales and we’re really excited to visit some old favourites as well as some, as yet, undiscovered gems ourselves.

Each day of the festival sees a full schedule of activities taking place at several gardens in the region. There are almost thirty gardens taking part including some of North Wales’s most treasured gardens, such as Portmeirion and Bodnant, and some less well known, including the Centre for Alternative Technology, Pantperthog, and the Nanhoron Estate, Pwllheli.

Just a few of the events taking place:

  • Walks with the Head Gardener;
  • Music recitals;
  • Gardening and photography workshops;
  • Theatrical performances;
  • Historical re-enactments;
  • Walks with plants;
  • Children’s trails;
  • Lectures and exhibitions.

Whether you’re a keen gardener or just love a stroll in beautiful surroundings, the Festival of Gardens North Wales has something to appeal to all tastes.

If you’re visiting the region before the festival, you’re still in for a treat! Although most gardens are open all year round spring is one of the best times to see them in full, flowering splendour. To get you started on your garden journey of discovery, here are three of our all-time favourites.

Bodnant Garden – Tal-Y-Cafn, Conwy

The jewel of Welsh gardens is undoubtedly Bodnant Garden. Quietly presiding over the majestic River Conwy and spanning more than eighty acres, this National Trust site is lovingly referred to as one of the most exquisite gardens across all of Britain.

Springtime is always a hive of activity at Bodnant and this year’s no different. As well as old favourites, including snowdrops in the Old Park Meadow and the world-famous camellias, flower beds that were installed last year are just beginning to come to life. The Vanessa Bed has been redesigned by Bodnant’s student gardeners with an exciting new display and, near the Terrace, the Poppy Bed is currently awash with gorgeous Himalayan primulas.

Plas Cadnant – Menai Bridge, Anglesey

The Hidden Gardens at Plas Cadnant aren’t as secret as they used to be. Recently, the garden hit the headlines after suffering terrible damage in a winter storm but, thanks to the hard work of a dedicated team, it’s due to reopen in time for Easter.

Restoration on the gardens at Plas Cadnant has been ongoing for almost 20 years so it’s understandable how heartbreaking damage wrought by Storm Eva was to owner, Anthony Tavernor. The walled garden and valley garden were wrecked by a ‘tidal wave’ of flood water rushing down from the Snowdonia Mountain Range on Boxing Day 2015. Rare plants, beds, walls and garden ornaments were destroyed or washed away in the flood, threatening to ruin all the team had laboured to achieve over the years. Thanks to an outpouring of local and national support, rebuilding and replanting soon got underway and the gardens are once again preparing to welcome visitors.

Plas Cadnant has recently reopened. The team still have a lot to do but there’s plenty to see in the meantime. We hope you can go along and show your support for this very special North Wales garden too!

Portmeirion, Pwllheli

Used as a location for the 1967 TV series ‘The Prisoner’, Portmeirion is a great place to visit for its cult status alone! Built by architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, between 1925 and 1975 in the continental style, the village and gardens are an absolute delight and total surprise to many visitors not expecting a little piece of the Italian Riviera on the Welsh coast!

North Wales’s westerly position means our gardens benefit from the warm, moist weather brought by the Gulf Stream, making the area particularly well-suited to cultivating Mediterranean and tropical trees and plants. This is most evident at Portmeirion, which is home to a fine collection of magnolias, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias as well as an array of sub-tropical trees, including ginkgo biloba, monkey puzzles and cabbage palms.

Right now, Portmeirion’s fabulous collection of rhododendrons and magnolias are getting ready to bloom. You can enjoy the spectacle whatever the weather, with many planted around the town’s piazza, viewed from the comfort of the resort’s Caffi Glas!