Tell someone you’re going to Aberdovey and the standard reply tends to be “Abu Dhabi? Lucky you!” It’s not so much the visitors on the hot sands of the Arabian Gulf who are fortunate, however, but those who make a beeline for this picturesque estuary village in Snowdonia, on the west coast of Wales. Whether in bright sunshine and blushing sunsets or under dishwater skies the coastline here always seems to be picture-perfect.
For walkers and dog-owners there are miles of wind-whipped, wild sand and dunes to wander (often deserted outside the peak summer months) and, directly behind the village, rolling green hills leading off towards the sky. You can try your hand at all manner of watersports. And Aberdovey itself is a creative little place, with art galleries, homeware stores, cafes, a deli and – slightly unfeasibly – a connection with Led Zeppelin, who wrote some of their songs while staying at a nearby cottage in the 1970s (including – to little surprise for walkers of said hills – Stairway to Heaven).
Easy train connections from the West Midlands mean this is classic holiday cottage territory. For a mixed generation get-together, we recommend one of the handful of cottages at the Trefeddian Hotel. A classic family-friendly retreat with a bit of old-fashioned grandeur still palpable despite extensive remodelling and renovation, it’s in a quiet position just outside the village, separated from the sand dunes by a golf course (visit off-season and you can watch its greens being dutifully nibbled by a flock of sheep). Cottage guests can use all the hotel facilities, which include a great children’s games room and swimming pool. There is a restaurant too but, if you’re staying in a cottage, you can eat in and enjoy home-cooked family meals some nights and, if you have willing grandparents in tow, leave them to babysit on others while you enjoy a meal or two out.
Aberdovey has a good range of places to eat, from a fish restaurant to pubs, a deli-café and a decent fish and chip shop, but it’s worth booking a table at the Salt Marsh Kitchen in neighbouring Tywyn (saltmarshkitchen.co.uk). This small bistro is particularly good on fish and local meat; check the specials board for adeptly cooked scallops, hake or bouillabaisse. Or, for fine dining, drive half an hour around the coast to Michelin-starred Ynyshir Hall for chef Gareth Ward’s elegant tasting menus and a sophisticated setting (ynyshirhall.co.uk). One of the Good Food Guide’s top 50 restaurants in the UK for 2016, expect stellar service and Japanese-influenced cooking (standout dishes include lamb rib with mint and soy, black garlic scampi – a sweet langoustine topped with a zingy confetti of candyfloss-pink, shaved rhubarb- and a deconstructed tiramisu).
It’s all about the shoreline here, whether you want to paint it, sail it or walk along it. If you really don’t want to step out and embrace Aberdovey’s salt-flecked air, hunker down at the Trefeddian with a Welsh afternoon tea: buttered bara brith, homemade welsh cakes and tea or coffee.
Cottage rental at the Trefeddian Hotel starts from £285 for six people for a week (trefwales.com). More info: visitsnowdonia.info
Written by: Rhiannon Batten
Photographs by: Rhiannon Batten
First published: March 2016
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