Pitch up around Harlech for phenomenal sand dunes, mediaeval castles, surfing and rugged mountain hikes.
Harlech has some of everything that makes the North Wales outdoors so exciting to explore. The town is served by railway, features a hulking Unesco-listed castle, is flanked by seemingly unending dunes and sandy beach and has the added bait of some of Snowdonia (Eyri) National Park’s finest mountains, the mighty, rugged Rhinogydd range, nearby. Bask on the balmy shores, hike demanding long-distance trails like the Cambrian Way or slightly gentler ones like the Wales Coast Path or visit the Llyn Peninsula for more standout beaches and surfing. If you’re a Harlech-bound camper, the dunes of Morfa Harlech and Morfa Dyffryn and the grasslands behind have the best camping.
Exquisite shoreline beckons all around Harlech along the east side of Tremadog Bay, headlined by Morfa Harlech NNR’s tremendous wildlife-rich dune systems and Morfa Dyffryn’s vast sands. A skyline featuring Snowdonia’s summits and the Llyn’s sand-flanked coast edges the miles of paradisiacal beach, making for a delightful place to pitch. Try tenting up on Shell Island, north of Morfa Dyffryn, among Europe’s biggest campsites: it boasts a brilliant 300 allocated acres of camping on grass-topped dunes.
The green, low-lying Llyn Peninsula and its AONB spread invitingly west from just north of Harlech. It’s a tranquil finger of land extending some 30 miles into the sea. Many of North Wales’ best beaches are here, as is good surfing at Abersoch and Porth Neigwl. Walking is wonderful too, with the Wales Coast Path skirting the shore. Excellent campsites are scattered across the Llyn: the coast between Porthmadog and Criccieth and the southwestern tip of the peninsula are particularly good.
The Rhinogydd are fabulous Snowdonia mountains east of Harlech that constitute some of the roughest hill country south of the Scottish Highlands. Propped up by peaks such as the 2,480-foot Y Lethr, Rhinog Fawr, and Rhinog Fach, the wild ridge is traversed by the Cambrian Way. Several campsites hog the lower ground along the rivers churning off the uplands.
If you’re coast-bound, any time from April through to September can offer glorious weather, but always be prepared for the likelihood of relentless rain and strong winds. May to October offers the best hiking weather up in the mountains—this is the time when there is the least likelihood of snow cover on the trails. If you’re a surfer, November through April is the season for the big waves on the Llyn Peninsula.