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

North Wales in a weekend: coast

For such a small region North Wales boasts some of the finest coastal and country landscapes in Wales. In fact, it’s such a diverse area, you’d be hard pressed to do it justice in just a couple fo days!  That’s what inspired us to start this ‘North Wales in a Weekend’ blog series. So far we’ve helped lots of visitor enjoy weekends chock full of culture, adventure, history and the Great Outdoors with easy to follow itineraries over two days. We think it’s a great way of seeing the ‘best bits’ of North Wales in bitesize chunks, plus it leaves you with plenty more excuses for you to come back, stay with us at the Royal Victoria Hotel and see some more!

This time, we’re hightailing it for the coast. Even though the hotel is situated at the foot of Snowdon, it’s just short drive away from the attractions of the North Wales coast. So to give you a taste of coastal life, we’re introducing you to two of our most iconic beaches: one, a quintessential day at the beach; the other, a gateway to romance and legend.

Saturday – Llandudno ‘Queen of Welsh Resorts’

Forty minutes drive from the hotel along the A55 coast road is the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno. Many people visit Llandudno to enjoy a nostalgic stroll down memory lane or to share the magic of childhood holidays with their own kids. Llandudno’s North Shore is an historic beach with all the amenities you’d expect from a seaside hot spot. The promenade is vast and strolling along it affords fabulous views across the bay. Set back from the promenade is Llandudno’s main shopping area, Mostyn Street, with a great selection of bars, cafes and restaurants serving everything from Welsh afternoon tea to fish and chips.

At the far end of the promenade, tucked at the foot of the Great Orme, you will find Llandudno’s famous pier. Complete with amusement arcades, retail kiosks and stalls selling 99s and hot, fresh doughnuts, the pier is a fabulous relic of a bygone era. Running parallel to the pier is the road leading up to Happy Valley, a stunning botanical garden cut into the Orme. With meandering trails and lots of seating to enjoy the views, you can while away hours in this always-sheltered and peaceful spot.

If you want to get your adrenaline pumping a little more, pleasure speedboat rides are available from a jetty under the pier that will take you zooming along the bay and past some fantastic coves around the Orme.

One of Llandudno’s best-kept secrets is West Shore, a quieter beach at the opposite end of the town. There is bucket-and-spade fun aplenty at North Shore but we suggest heading to West Shore for sandcastle building and paddling. This beach is more sandy and less crowded. If you don’t fancy the walk to get there, there’s a charming land train that runs between the beaches on a loop throughout the day. It’s a hit with the kids and adults alike.

If you’re keen to explore both beaches, we recommend North Shore early in the day when there’s plenty to keep you occupied but the crowds are fewer, then heading to West Shore late afternoon for arguably one of the best sunsets in North Wales.

North Wales coast

Sunday – Newborough Beach

After a fabulous Welsh breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be ready for a leisurely stroll and there’s no better beach than Newborough on Anglesey for a bracing walk and a good dose of Welsh culture.

Newborough Beach is famous as the home of Welsh patron saint of love, Santes Dwynwen. To the right, and cut off at high tide, there’s an enchanting headland where Dwynwen is said to have lived. Follow the beach to Llanddwyn Island and explore where the sixth century Welsh princess-turned-hermit lived out her days. There’s the remains of a church, an atmospheric Celtic cross and a row of fishermen’s cottages, which recently featured on the BBC Wales reality show, the 1900 Island.

This gorgeous sandy beach travels from the bottom of the Menai Strait to Llanddwyn Island. A range of activities take place out on the sand, including horse riding, walking, watersports and beach-combing. This beach is really secluded and is therefore a great pick when the weather misbehaves but you still want to explore, as there are coves aplenty and sheltered dunes providing a breathtaking backdrop.

Behind the beach, Newborough Forest is a fantastic spot to explore with trails for walking, cycling and horse riding. The way-marked trails of the forest range in difficulty, so you can choose one to suit your ability. Those interested in the natural world will have plenty to keep them busy, too. Between the trees, you’ll glimpse views of the through the Cefni Estuary and beyond. In winter, the saltmarsh bordering the forest is great for hen harriers, merlins and other birds of prey. This habitat, as well as the adjacent mudflats, provides important wintering grounds for wading birds and wildfowl and the woodland is home to the world’s largest colony of ravens – so don’t expect a quiet walk! The elusive red squirrel also makes its home here, and Newborough is well-known as one of their strongholds.

Please bear in mind that part of Newborough’s charm is its isolation – there are very few amenities nearby, so it’s a good idea to take along a picnic if you’re planning to spend the day here. Pop to the hotel reception the night before your trip and we’ll prepare a packed lunch for you to take!

Images courtesy: Llandudno Pier from above by Gary Beale, 2017. Llanddwyn Island, Crown Copyright Visit Wales 2019.