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Smugglers Cove Boatyard

98%
·
60 reviews
· Gwynedd, Wales
1 acre
5 units
2 Glamping
3 Tent
Camping and rustic glamping in a working boatyard with an exceptional waterside location on the Dyfi estuary

While other vessels at Smuggler’s Cove Boatyard come and go as easily as the tide, The Boy John and Hannah are permanently landed high and dry. This pair of boats, one a former fishing trawler the other a 32-foot yacht, offer places to stay that are as quirky as it gets. But it’s not only the accommodation that recommends a stay here; the ever-changing views across the Dyfi Estuary do that too. And those are shared with three secret camping pitches tucked 100 metres along a tree-backed footpath on the water's edge.

For years it was only boatmen who enjoyed this estuary location at the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park but now campers are as welcome as the sailors. Staying here, whether in a tent or rustic landed boat, is a truly unique experience. Beyond portholes and tent flaps is a scene that changes as much within the hour as most sites do across the season. Make a morning brew over the campfire as high tide laps just beyond your toes then watch as boats and water retreat. By lunchtime it's become a private beach, the water now a narrow channel that slithers through the sands while long-legged birds wade along its edges and ospreys soar overhead.

In fact, there’s a nature reserve, RSPB Ynys-hir on the opposite shore, so it’s no wonder the birdlife is abundant. If you’ve come with a kayak or canoe, you can paddle out into the water to try and get closer to the wildlife but, to reach the reserve, you'll need to take to dry land. It's a drive of 25 minutes, past Machynlleth, the nearest town. Alternatively, explore in the other direction to find nearby Aberdyfi or, inland, for Snowdonia's mighty peaks.

The lie of the land means that settlements, rail and road all hug the coast and you’re well aware of that here. Smuggler’s Cove Boatyard is just off an A-road and, as you walk from the car park, you pass beneath the Cambrian Railway. Throughout the day, the whoosh of a train every hour or two and the sound of passing traffic blend in with the tap, tap tapping of boatbuilders and the gentle dinging of rigging on masts. Serene as the view across the estuary is, this is not a silent spot and it’s not a purpose-built glamping site. The Boy John does not have a perfect paint job, The Hannah’s cooking equipment is just what you’d get at sea. But it's all this that makes Smuggler's Cove Boatyard an authentically interesting place to stay – with views that are hard to beat.

Activities
Biking
Boating
Fishing
Hiking
Natural features
Beach
River, stream, or creek
Coastal
Available pitches
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Gwynedd, Wales, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
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Hosted by Smugglers C.Joined in November 2015
98%
46 Ratings · 60 reviews
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Lucky P.recommends
November 29, 2022
The Boy John camping boat
Unique and magical stay
We had the most magical time at the beautiful Boy John at Smugglers Cove :) We made use of the top deck with our morning coffees, and also watching the stars at night. We loved the cosy log burner, the showers were super warm too! It was my most favourite place I've ever stayed - we will definitely be back in the summer! Thanks so much Sophie x
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Fiona H.recommends
November 7, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
The view was absolutely beautiful from the Hannah and we really enjoyed our stay.
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Nicole D.recommends
November 7, 2022
Angell - Estuary view pitch
The views are stunning. Really lovely host . Really clean showers and toilets . Lovely dark skies at night. Just a lovely ,lovely place to stay. Would of come back in November but unfortunately the camping is closed. But definitely going to be coming back to this little gem of a place. It's my little escape haven.
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Margaret B.recommends
September 24, 2022
Dulas - Estuary view pitch
It was very rustic , simple and natural not maybe for everyone but I loved every minute of the peaceful setting I will be back
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Tim W.recommends
September 19, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
Peace and quiet.
So quiet, enjoyed the peace away from a noisy factory environment. Hannah was OK, just needs a spruce up a little but the log burner was excellent and soon got really warm in the evening. Toilet and shower block was kept clean though being a compost toilet, you need a strong stomach but only downside to the stay.
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Nicole D.recommends
September 11, 2022
Angell - Estuary view pitch
Camping
Just spent 6 nights at smugglers cove , cannot fault the place at all. Good facilities, lovely people and brilliant camping spot. Are definitely planning a visit again soon. Hidden gem .
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Mark B.recommends
September 5, 2022
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
V good
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Leanne T.recommends
September 4, 2022
Angell - Estuary view pitch
Great views
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Lisa P.recommends
September 2, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
Awesome beach boat
Really loved staying here and being on the beach. Such a quiet and beautiful place. The boat (Hannah) is just lovely. A super good stay!
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Ben A.recommends
August 29, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
nice, quiet campsite in a beautiful, picturesque location right on the waters edge. great facilities, well maintained and clean. boats were very cosy and charming. there was a friendly, plump black cat on site also. highly recommended.
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Steve A.recommends
August 16, 2022
Angell - Estuary view pitch
This campsite is so beautiful and peaceful. You site down with your coffee and a book and half an hour later you realise your coffee's gone cold and you haven't even opened your book, all you've been doing is looking at the view and the birds. And then the children wake up and the peace goes, but there's sandbanks to play on and a river to play in.
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Kirsten W.recommends
August 11, 2022
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
4 night camp with kids
We had the most amazing 4 nights at Smugglers Cove. It was the perfect antidote to a busy life watching the beautiful estuary. There is so much for kids to explore. The facilities are really excellent, the only things that would make it even better would be a small freezer for ice packs and warm water in the washing up area. Otherwise the showers and toilets are excellent and kept very clean and the location is perfect for visiting near by beaches and mountains.
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Hal W.recommends
August 10, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
Camp amazing
We loved it and so did our dogs. Highly recommend it very relaxing amazing location can’t wait to go back. 😁
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Linda B.recommends
July 28, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
For me, Smugglers Cove is heaven.... camping or glamping, I've loved every stay
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Kristel M.recommends
July 25, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
We stayed in the Hannah and absolutely loved it. Beautiful view, relaxed atmosphere.
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Emma H.recommends
July 5, 2022
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
wonderful campsite :)
the campsite was absolutely perfect. If i ever find myself needing to go camping again I will absolutely go here! There are 3 pitches on a hill next to what is basically a private beach, pitches are big and somewhat sheltered by trees, and the beach and view is lovely. My friends and I (age 17/18) found the actual town of Aberdovey pretty boring but it wasn’t an issue as we were able to stay at the site the whole time and go on the beach. The town is less than a 10 minute drive away, and a one minute walk down the coast on the campsite itself leads to a small and still private cove (only accessible from the campsite) which was very peaceful. If the weather was nice we would’ve been able to spend the entire time on the beach, and we got a takeaway and ate on the rocks facing the sea. I couldn’t recommend this campsite enough, the location was absolutely stunning. (please be careful of jellyfish though we saw about 10 every time we went close to the sea)
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Linda B.recommends
June 30, 2022
The Hannah camping yacht
We love Smugglers so much we've visited 5 times in a few months
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Oliver B.recommends
June 28, 2022
The Boy John camping boat
Two families in both boats!
We were two families (four adults, plus five kids, in total) and rented both the Boy John and the Hannah. All the kids slept in the Hannah, where the only problem is they got it too hot with the stove, but otherwise it was perfect; and all the adults stayed in the Boy John -- two in the wheelhouse, and two in the bedroom downstairs. I don't think this would have worked in the winter, since the wheelhouse isn't insulated, but it was perfect in June. The kids messed about in the water and on the sandflats (when the tide was out), the dog looked at the water for hours on the end, and the adults drank wine and chatted. It was lovely. Occasionally, a train went past. It felt like we were in a slightly different world.
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Megan M.recommends
June 24, 2022
Dulas - Estuary view pitch
Best first camping experience!
Great amount of space with a nice amount of privacy either side (we stayed on the Dulas pitch) the amenities were great with compost toilets as well as a normal toilet near the car park with showers. Really peaceful.
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Mikmoreton ?.recommends
June 16, 2022
Dulas - Estuary view pitch
Stunning location.
I was lucky enough to be the only person camping on any of the 3 pitches for 4 days. To have the entire view of the estuary to myself for this period of time was an absolute gift and something I will never forget. Great site with good facilities. Wildlife and scenery beyond compare. Look out for the robins!
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Sarah K.recommends
June 9, 2022
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
Camping with the most amazing view
I loved the location of the pitches on the estuary, it was beautiful and tucked away and very peaceful. Can't wait to come back.
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Hannah P.recommends
June 9, 2022
Dulas - Estuary view pitch
Easy to find and access. Amazing views and scenery! Hidden gem of a campsite!
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Roz L.
April 26, 2022
We stayed for 3 nights and what can I say ......... if you love peaceful calm camping or glamping then this is the place!!! We stayed on Boy John and it was perfect 🥰 . It had everything you need to be cosy and comfortable, running water, electric with cute tilly lamps hanging from roof and a beautiful log burner which was needed at nights. Although the bottom bedroom is small, the bed is comfortable and we had perfect nights sleep every night, there is also the option to sleep in the wheel room above as the bench pulls out into a bed. The setting is stunning with beautiful views. The nights sky is perfect and you can use the binoculars to gaze at the sky whilst you listen to the sea 🌊 ✨️. We even managed to speak to the owner and stay an extra night. And the pooch was more then happy 😊. The closest town is five minutes drive away and a bigger town is only 10 minutes away with plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops. Already planning our next stay.
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Eloise ?.
February 13, 2022
Although the view was amazing and the boat was a quirky experience, we struggled to stay here comfortably for 2 nights. There is no insulation with gaps to the outside letting the cold air in and the lighter provided for the fire was broken. We brought our own heater and the gaps in the walls meant we couldn’t keep warm for long. Dust and cobwebs everywhere. The bedroom wasn’t as shown in the photos and full of cobwebs. Cutlery and utensils weren’t very clean and electricity doesn’t work in half of the boat e.g. ‘Bedroom’ and upstairs room. Could be an amazing space if refurbished
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Olivia J.recommends
November 23, 2021
The Boy John camping boat
Such an incredible place - the view from the boatyard across the estuary is stunning, you couldn't ask to wake up to better. The boat itself is beautiful - definitely rustic so don't expect everything to be pristine - but we absolutely loved it. So cozy around the log burner in the evenings, and sitting up in the captains cabin in the morning with panoramic views is brilliant. Will definitively be back, and telling everyone i know about this spot! So magical!
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Na ?.recommends
September 20, 2021
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
This is the third time I have stayed on the boy John. I absolutely love it’s rustic charm. The boat is so cosy and the views are stunning. Wood was provided for the log burner and it was clean and tidy. The new shower and toilet block is great. We’ve already booked to come back here at Christmas! Don’t come here expecting a sterile Glamping unit! Probably more suited to old hippies like us! Love it!
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Samantha D.recommends
September 19, 2021
The Boy John camping boat
Once we were there as you go under the bridge the john boy was just there..it was the most amazing sight..ok it is old but it just fits in with rustic, secluded boat on the edge of an ever changing estuary view.. It was an anniversary suprise for my husband and his face said it all..wood burner inside fire pit outside..absolutely brilliant..we are going to go again...we also had fantastic hot weather but any weather would be welcome as sitting in the wheelhouse was spectacular...please go you wont regret it...
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Linda B.recommends
September 18, 2021
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
We have stayed on several echo, greener and cool camping sites and this knocks spots off all the others. If you are looking for a wild camp experience, close to nature with little foot print, then this is one of the best. We can't wait to go back. Just 3 pitches, estuary, wading birds, otters etc for company.
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Hannah S.recommends
September 18, 2021
The Hannah camping yacht
We had a great time staying on The Hannah. The boatyard is intimate, peaceful and in a beautiful location made all the better by the sunny weather. The boat is small but was clean and equipped with the essentials you could need and some welcome extras too (hairdryer, toaster and record player!). Comfy beds and we were pleasantly surprised by the showers - nice and hot! The fire pit and outdoor area were perfect for mealtimes overlooking the estuary sunsets. Cons: The toilets are compost toilets, something to be aware of if that's not your thing. Heavy rain meant a little bit of leakage in the boat one night but nothing major and probably easily fixed.
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Sam M.doesn't recommend
September 6, 2021
The Boy John camping boat
To start the area where the boat is is stunning! The boat its self was dirty,there was still food stuck on the gas hob,there was someone else's socks left in the bedroom. There were loads of spiders that crawled on you😬 we booked for 3nights but only stayed for 1night it was that bad.
From the host
An unique spot on the stunning mid Wales coast... ...offering group accommodation, camping and glamping in a working boatyard with an exceptional location. This small, friendly boatyard on the Dyfi estuary, is located at an old slate works and quay in the Snowdonia National Park. The boatyard is run by Geoff, Ben, John & Liz with the boats moved and launched by boat builder Giles Thaxton. We have established a small, slightly eccentric, sustainable resource to be used by those interested in the outdoors. We have a slipway and boat hoist, moorings & hard standing for smaller boats, our own stretch of estuary foreshore, toilets, showers, washing up facilities, camping, glamping boats and holiday cottages. Located 3 miles upriver from Aberdyfi and on the A493. Camping - Along a coastal footpath, a hundred meters from the boatyard, three individual camping pitches on the Dyfi’s banks, tucked beneath the tree line and separated by greenery, provide the ultimate waterside location. The Boy John - a converted beached boat that offers either a communal area for campers or quirky basic glamping accommodation...depending on your individual requirements, with outstanding views across the Dyfi estuary. Hannah - our newest boat, converted in 2021, an intimate, sympathetically repurposed wooden dream sits on the water's edge alongside The Boy John, perfect basic glamping accommodation for the sea leg-less sailor. Cottages - a unique self catering holiday cottage complex accommodating 14 people (18 using both available sofa beds). Ideal for family reunions, celebrations, special occasions and get togethers. The property consists of two closely adjacent buildings, Chapel House with five bedrooms & Quarry Cottage with two bedrooms. The properties are only available to rent together as a single holiday let. Boatyard - a small resource with slipway, moorings, winter storage and lifting, repair services etc. Located very near to Aberdyfi, the location is ideal for easy access to the numerous activities, attractions and beautiful surroundings of Snowdonia National Park, north and mid Wales. Please be aware Smuggler's Cove Boatyard is a working boatyard and therefore there will possibly be some noise such as clanking rigging and people working on their boats. Also it can get pretty windy and wild on the foreshore during stormy weather, and you are very close to the water, which can be exhilarating but is just something else to be aware of!
Nearby attractions

Aberdyfi is three miles away. It's a charming, colourful little fishing village with a few good eateries and a big sandy beach. The drive takes less than five minutes but if the tide is a long way out you can walk, for around an hour, along the sands. It's a 10 minute drive to Machynlleth, a larger market town with independent shops along the high street, and a little further on the same road is the Centre for Alternative Technology (01654 705950), an interesting place to visit if you've been charmed by the eco-conscious camping. Smugglers Cove looks across the water to RSPB Ynys-hir (01654 700222), the location for much of the BBC's Springwatch series and the Dyfi Osprey Project (01654 781414), nearby, is particularly interesting. It is one of only two breeding locations for Ospreys in the UK with a walkway and hide for observing. Of course, by far the two biggest things here are heading into vast Snowdonia National Park (01766 770274) to walk, hike, bike and explore or to go boating on the estuary directly from the boatyard. If you need a little tution try Dyfi Yacht Club (01654 767607) in Aberdyfi where there is sailing, kayaking, kitesurfing and more.

Food and drink

Cook on the firepit provided or if you're after something a little more speedy then the local towns of Aberdyfi & Machynlleth have a range of good eateries specialising in Welsh cuisine, fish and seafood etc. with a great deli in each.  There is even a Michelin starred restaurant on the other side of the river!

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