In the recent Easter holidays we ticked something off my 2019 travel bucket list which was to visit Snowdonia National Park. We stayed in Machynlleth which is in the Dyfi Valley at the southern tip of the park. In this blog post I will share what we did for three days with kids in Snowdonia, Wales.
You may remember me saying in this recent blog post that I was hoping to book a last minute sunny holiday abroad for a week in the Easter holidays. I had hoped so, but Ben’s work is making potentially 20% of staff redundant in May and regardless of this he wants to go self-employed making handmade rustic furniture and as a handyman in Newquay so we decided it would be better to not spend so much money on a holiday right now and to have a shorter UK break.
We booked a three night stay at a self-catering apartment which I do not want to mention or give any credit to as it was awful. I wouldn’t return to the accommodation, but I definitely would return to Snowdonia as it’s absolutely beautiful. We barely scratched the surface in three days, but we were so impressed with the places we did visit and see.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the biggest mountain which is Snowdon, but of course that means we just have to return to explore more another time!
Here’s what we got up to for three days with a four year old and a six year old in tow…
Day 1 – Hiking up Cadair Idris Mountain
As I had spent so much time looking for a holiday when we thought we were going abroad, I gave Ben the responsibility of choosing what we did each day and finding great places to explore. He did good! On day one we went to a National Nature Reserve and walked 4km up Cadair Idris which is one of the smaller mountains in Snowdonia to the south. There is a stunning lake near the top and so we went on a mission to find it!
We walked around 4km according to my iPhone Health app to reach the lake up a steep set of rocky steps past stunning waterfalls. We also stopped to rest on bridges so the kids could have a snack and drink. We also stopped for a play and exploration of some very old house ruins.
It took us two hours in total to reach the lake and it was breath taking when we did, albeit it very cold and windy up there on the day we went!
The lake looked so beautiful and there were some crazy people up there swimming in it! They must have been frozen. They were in a large group and everyone was cheering so I assume it was a dare or planned challenge! I was struggling to bend my fingers to open a Nakd bar at this point, so they must have been shivering when they got out!
The kids are four and six years old and did amazingly. This must be the furthest we’ve taken them on a walk before as Reuben has only just turned four. We walked 8km in total. It only took one hour to get back down and they actually found that harder and complained on the way down. It was quite slippy and they kept skidding down. I think they’d had enough of wind and walking by this point though!
Day 2 – Exploring historic Harlech Castle
Whilst driving around the area we had seen a train track that ran right along the edge of the coast – even where cars and people couldn’t get too. It looked like an amazing train ride, so Ben looked online to see where it went to and discovered Harlech Castle.
We looked up the train ride and a train website told us it was £68 for all of us to Harlech and back. We nearly decided not to go as this was a lot of money to us. Luckily we decided to do the train ride as it was actually only £21 for a family return train ticket! Phew!
As an added bonus we were able to get BOGOF on our adult tickets at the castle by showing our train ticket and Reuben was free!
The train ride was amazing and we got to admire the views of the coast, hills, mountains, sea and countryside for over one hour each way. We took the train from Machynlleth station to Harlech station.
As soon as we stepped off the train we saw the castle on top of a hill standing proudly! We walked up a very steep road to reach the castle. Reuben managed this fine, but Bella was not so happy to climb a very steep hill again! Luckily when we got into the castle she forgot all about this and had an amazing time!
The castle is really stunning and was built originally in the 13th century. It’s amazing to think something so old is still standing today. It was built to last with ridiculously thick walls to protect it.
To keep the kids entertained there are clues to find around the castle to discover the castles secret weapon and how it survived a year long siege without the castle inhabitants giving up of starvation.
There’s also a very knee-wobbling path to walk around at the top of the castle. Knee-wobbling as the walls are so low, around knee height so you feel like you could tumble off the edge! There is a tower to climb to see the view from the highest point of the castle too.
It’s a really stunning castle with amazing views and absolutely worth a visit. We are probably a bit bias though as we love exploring castles! I always wish I could time warp back and be invisible to see what it was like when people really were living there.
Day 3 – Climbing sand dunes and collecting seashells on Aberdovey beach
The weather was cold on the first day, drizzly on the second, but for our last day it changed drastically and was warm and sunny. It was almost t-shirt weather! Luckily this meant we could have a beach day before we ventured home.
We were only a five minute drive from Aberdovey beach which we’d driven past a couple of times and stopped at pubs/cafes to eat, so it was time to explore it properly. We’d only seen the tip of the beach and I had no idea it expanded for miles!
The beach is my ideal beach – wide, sandy and very long! Perfect for escaping from crowds of people by walking along the beach for miles. It was also sprinkled with so many seashells so the kids had fun collecting these and seeing who could find the largest one.
The beach also has sand dunes at the back so it was quite hilarious trying to climb these. Ben has a video of me and the kids trying to climb up and slipping back down constantly!
Once at the top we walked along for ages and the kids loved exploring these and playing games in the sand dunes.
Of course no beach trip is complete without chippy chips and there is one chip shop in Aberdovey so we got some chips from Shelleys of Dovey (which had a new name but I can’t quite remember it) and ate them on the beach before returning home.
Would we go back to Snowdonia?
Absolutely! It’s so huge there is loads to do and we really want to do the train ride to the summit of Mount Snowdon, so we have to return. Perhaps we’ll stay in the north next time to explore the mountains and landscapes up there.
The villages are so pretty everywhere and the landscape is absolutely stunning. I’d highly recommend it.
We had a great three day break with the best of all worlds – mountain climbing, castle exploring and a beach day. It was a great combination for us adults and kids. The kids had a great time exploring so many different places and got to have a lot of outdoors/nature time. Perfect!