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.