Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Paddling in the warm sea of Barmouth Bay.

At this time of year, when many are jetting off to the sunshine of far away lands, there are many who stay at home in the UK. We are one of them, preferring to sample the delights of other countries 'away from the madding crowds'.
Yesterday, we set off to a little known corner of North Wales - Barmouth Bay. Barmouth lies on the west coast of Wales at the entrance of the Mawddach Estuary. The Afon (River)
Mawddach Estuary - map powered by Leaflet.
Mawddach flows into the sea at Dolgellau below the mountains of Snowdonia.

Starting our journey from Wrexham we headed down to the A483 and at Chirk took the A5 towards Llangollen. This is where we were first greeted by the sheer beauty and changing scenery of the North Wales mountains. Tediously following a slow-moving motor home with a car on tow for getting around once parked up, we followed it all the way to the Bala turn-off after which we eventually were able to pass when the driver thoughtfully pulled over. Passing the long length of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) we took the turning for Dolgellau. From here we were not heading to Barmouth but to the other side of the estuary and Arthog near Fairbourne.  It had been many years since we visited the area with our children, although we had ridden the roads many times on our Gold Wing motorbike ride-outs.
Passing the sign for the toll road which links the two sides of the estuary at a narrow point, we followed the direction which we had been had given. They were spending a get-away-week at a cottage near Arthog with the dogs.

Arthog and Fairbourne in Gwynedd.

The cottage - Bron Aber - more  a  bungalow really, nestled in the hillside below the Cader Idris mountain. It is  well off the beaten track but near enough to civilisation to be in easy reach of all there is to explore. We were blown away by the setting with views down the rolling hillside, the stream bubbling through the gardens which also stepped down the hillside. The cottage had everything that you could wish for. After lunch and chat on the terrace I elected to join the others into Fairbourne to walk the dogs. Passing the point where the railway crosses the estuary on its journey around the coast, we headed towards the beach. Parking up we scrambled over the stones and down the ramp to the sea which lapped quietly on the golden sand in the stiff breeze.
Kicking off my sandals, I headed towards the sea for a paddle. Surprisingly the water was warm. After the sometimes initially cold sea in hot countries, this was a real surprise. Fairbourne has a long, sandy, flat beach. One part is designated a 'no dog' area which is fair. On the other side they can bound across the sands at will. A large grey helicopter droned overhead as it hugged the shore and flew around the headland. Probably it came from the RAF base on Anglesey. Possibly on training manoeuvres. After all our exertions we decided to head back to the cottage to check on the meal in the oven and then pop across the estuary to Barmouth. My husband joined us this time. 

Barmouth.

'Yes, you can have an ice cream!', he laughingly commented before I had a chance to say anything.(We always have an ice cream on days out. It has become a tradition.)
We jogged and bumped over the wooded road which is the toll road over the esturary. Parking up by the promenade in Barmouth, we wandered around and found a delightful ice cream parlour on a more sheltered harbour-side. The delightfully named Kickerbockers Ice Cream Parlour was a cornucopia of all thinks pink and fancy. From the pink signs, multicoloured huge candy swirls just waiting for you to buy and sample, all the lights and 'false' ice cream sundae glasses on the shelf behind filled with swirls of multi-coloured ice cream, it was a step back in time. Sitting outside to lick on our ice creams, the dogs lapped up the water thoughtfully proved in special bowls marked 'Dog'. 
Later, after a wonderful day out with family and refreshed by the sea air, sunshine, and breezes, we wended our way through the lush, green roads back home.

Rosalie
xx