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Smugglers Cove Boatyard

· Gwynedd, Gwynedd, Wales
1 acre hosted by Smugglers C.
2 glamping pitches · 3 tent pitches
Amazing views
Hipcampers say this spot has amazing views.
Best tent sites: 3rd place
Named one of the best Hipcamps to visit in 2023.
Private sites
100% of recent Hipcampers say the sites felt private.
Creature comforts
Enjoy the comforts of home at some sites—including flush toilets, showers, and a kitchen.
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.

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66 Ratings · 75 reviews
Rob D.recommends
April 18, 2024
Dulas - Estuary view pitch
Great views and location, just a shame we could not do anyhing about the weather. We were advised to pack up a day earlier by the site as a yellow weather warning was due in. Perfect spot for visitng Aberdovey. Good atmosphere with people around the boatyard. We would definitely like to return.
Matthew F.recommends
March 10, 2024
The Boy John
It was a beautiful quirky stay in a wonderful area with amazing views. The boat was comfy and the fire makes a great atmosphere.
Suzanne S.recommends
February 28, 2024
The Boy John
Absolutely LOVED it here!
Such an amazing stay. We stayed two night on the Boy John. The boat was a lot bigger than we thought. Even though the rain was torrential on one of the days, it was super cosy and we loved watching the rain through the cockpit. The sunset was just stunning. We had the shore all to ourselves which felt extra special. Will definietly be returning!!
Pixie G.recommends
October 6, 2023
Dyfi - Estuary view pitch
Amazing and we love Sophie
Had an amazing time!! We booked to go camping but it was raining very hard so we phoned ahead to see if they had any alternatives. We ended up staying in the Hannah boat! It was epic! So cosy! So much fun! Sophie looked after us and was incredible! She’s an absolute credit to the site!
Laurie L.recommends
September 9, 2023
The Hannah - camping boat
What a magical place. I came here to escape life's stresses and left feeling truly calm and happy for the first time in a long time. I love the sound and sight of the train across the estuary in the dark, the beautiful views, the lovely people and the squishy sand.
Abby P.recommends
September 8, 2023
Angell - Estuary view pitch
Stunning views, friendly relaxed and lovely private camping pitches.
Gwynedd, Gwynedd, Wales, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Smugglers C.Joined in November 2015
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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