In need of outdoor inspiration? At the moment many regions of the UK are facing travel restrictions but if you're lucky enough to live near one of the stunning 500 beaches around the Welsh coastline, everything you need for a good day out is right on your doorstep ... and for the rest of us, there are plenty of hidden gems to look forward to visiting once local restrictions ease. Finding a quiet beach to enjoy safely is easier than you might think, even on the busiest of Saturdays. Alistair Hare, author of The Beaches of Wales, picks ten of his favourite lesser known beaches.
Temple Bay, Vale of Glamorgan
If you want stunning views without the crowds, look no further than Temple Bay. As you walk along the coastal path from neighbouring Southerndown Beach, where the nearest parking can be found, you leave the crowds behind in favour of high cliffs. As you approach you pass the site of Dunraven Castle, a former mansion which later acted as a hospital in World War II and then a hotel. Although it was demolished in 1963, its remaining walled garden is still open to the public.
Continuing along the coastal path the wave-cut platforms of Temple Bay come into view, culminating in a dramatic view which looks out across the bay and to Nash Point beyond. A steep path leads to the beach below, where the cliffs shield you from the westerly winds and provide space to switch off and enjoy the scenery.
OS grid reference: SS 889726
Getting there: Temple Bay is about half a mile’s walk from Southerndown Beach. To reach the shore, turn right at the viewpoint and left up some steps, after which a steep path descends to the shore. This path can be cut off by the incoming tide. The next closest egress from the shore is at Wick Beach, two thirds of a mile to the east.
Merthyr Mawr, Bridgend
A short walk over from the thatched cottages of Merthyr Mawr village, this is a beach with instant charm. The extensive dune system which backs the shore is not the beach’s only attraction; the reputedly haunted Candleston Castle, allegedly once part of the lost village of Treganlaw, lies nearby. A quiet shore and inviting water make this the kind of picture-perfect bay that makes it hard to believe you are still in Wales. Whether you’re after a day packed full of sightseeing or somewhere to nestle in for hours of sunbathing, Merthyr Mawr is an ideal choice.
OS grid reference: SS 856764
Getting there: A pay & display car park is pleasantly situated next to the ruins of Candleston Castle. Reaching the beach involves a walk of half a mile to the village, and then a further walk of three quarters of a mile across the dunes of Merthyr Mawr warren. It’s thirsty work, so be sure to bring plenty of drinks on a hot day.
Ramsgrove, Gower Peninsula
Sitting at the south-western end of the Gower Peninsula, Ramsgrove is a tiny cove of limestone pebbles and rock pools. The dramatic steep-sided valley which leads to the shore provides a scenic route from the nearest parking at Pilton Green or Rhossili, and as you stroll along the coastal path you’ll encounter plenty of caves to explore. One of these, the famous Paviland Cave, housed the prehistoric remains of ‘the Red Lady of Paviland’, which was later established to be that of a young man.
Usually very quiet and not included in many guides to the Gower Peninsula, Ramsgrove is a genuine escape from the crowds.
OS grid reference: SS 428864
Getting there: Parking is at Pilton Green or Rhossili. From here public footpaths and the coastal path can be followed for about one and three quarter miles to the shore.
Tywyn Point, Carmarthenshire
Lying at the north-western end of Pembrey Sands, Tywyn Point sits within the RAF firing zone of the beach, meaning access is usually restricted to evenings and weekends. Although red flags are flown when the firing range is in use, it’s worth keeping an eye out for when you can snatch a visit. With golden sand stretching out before you, a trip here provides the perfect opportunity to stroll undisturbed, collect shells from the thousands which pepper the shore, or gaze at the shipwreck of the Paul, which ran aground in 1925.
OS grid reference: SN 357065
Getting there: The nearest parking is at Pembrey Beach, five miles away. The best way to get here is to cycle from Pembrey or walk along the shore.
Mowingword Bay, Pembrokeshire
The ultimate secret beach, Mowingword Bay is proof that sometimes the best things are the hardest to come by. High limestone cliffs jut out into the blue waters of the bay, and towards the back of the beach you’ll find cathedral-like walk-through caves – with one even having a blow-hole reaching to the top of the cliffs. This is the Welsh coastline at its most enchanting, and you’re unlikely to find anyone else here even in the height of summer.
Unfortunately access to the shore is as dramatic as its scenery. You face either a paddleboard or kayak from Broad Haven South, or a 400-metre swim from neighbouring Box Bay. To add to this, access is only possible at low tide. For those wanting a bit of adventure, it’s worth the effort to get there – and once you do, you’ll find yourself wanting to return time and time again.
OS grid reference: SR 990943
Getting there: The nearest parking is at Broad Haven South, from where you face a kayak or paddleboard journey.
Traeth y Coubal, Ceredigion
Traeth y Coubal is a welcome respite for walkers and surfers alike – about a mile west of New Quay, this secluded beach is little-visited and peaceful. With no company except the commentary from the occasional boat trip passing just offshore, this is ideal for an undisturbed picnic or surf: a secret you’ll want to keep to yourself.
OS grid reference: SN 372593
Getting there: Traeth y Coubal can be reached by one of two footpaths from the nearby lane, but the closest parking is at New Quay’s Church Road (A486) car park, at grid reference SN 386599.
Cemetery Beach, Gwynedd
Cemetery Beach is an example of the long, sandy beaches typical of Gwynedd. Whether you want to take a dip the water or relax on the rolling sand dunes which back the shore, this is the kind of shore which has the hazy qualities of treasured childhood holiday memories.
OS grid reference: SN 592969
Getting there: Parking can be found on the A493, a mile and a half north-west of Aberdyfi, across the road from a cemetery. From here follow a public footpath across a railway line, golf course and finally a boardwalk to the shore.
Traeth Abermenai, Anglesey
Superbly picturesque, the Isle of Anglesey does not disappoint those seeking exquisite views, and Traeth Abermenai is testament to this. The wide bay stretches out in an expanse of flat sand, and the view across the Menai Strait from the shore encompasses Caernarvon and the mountains of Snowdonia. There is plenty of flora to be found, including marsh helleborine, marsh orchid, and glasswort. Bear in mind however that as water gushes in and out of the Menai Strait the incoming tide can flood the bay quickly.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to spend a day away from it all, or you’re a budding photographer or a keen botanist, Traeth Abermenai is bursting with hidden treats.
OS grid reference: SH 436629
Getting there: Take the south exit at the Pen-lon roundabout on the A4080 to get to the nearest car park, found at grid reference SH 432643. From here, it is a walk of about two miles across Newborough Warren. Alternative access is along the shore from the car parks at Newborough Forest – a distance of about two and a half miles.
Tan Dinas, Anglesey
Tan Dinas is one of Anglesey’s least-visited beaches. As the coastal path passes through Tan Dinas farm around 400 metres inland it is easy to miss and is often omitted from guides to the Welsh coastline. The pebbly shore is backed by dense scrub, providing a stark contrast to the blue water, and the remnants of the old Tan Dinas limestone quarry make it feel as if you are stepping through a piece of Wales’ industrial history.
OS grid reference: SH 582820
Getting there: Access is from the coastal path at Tan Dinas farm; a public footpath leads down through a field to a kissing gate on the left. Yellow marker posts indicate the route through the next field, after which a steep track descends to the beach.
Traeth yr Ora, Anglesey
Just a walk over from its more popular neighbour, Traeth Lligwy, Traeth yr Ora is undoubtedly one of Wales’ best beaches. Soft, white sand gives way to bracken-covered banks, providing views of the island of Ynys Dulas with its cylindrical tower reaching towards the sky. Originally built in the eighteenth century to provide shelter for shipwrecked seamen, now the only inhabitants you might spot there are seals.
About a mile’s walk from the nearest parking at Traeth Lligwy, this is ideal for those who want to walk through some of Wales’ picturesque scenery and be rewarded with a hidden gem at the end.
OS grid reference: SH 489887
Getting there: From the car parks at Traeth Lligwy, take the coastal path for about a mile until you reach Traeth yr Ora.
The Beaches of Wales by Alistair Hare is the first guidebook to list every beach and cove around the Welsh coastline. The book is available now to buy from bookshops, online and direct from us HERE.