Harlech Castle and Dunes Walk
Start: Harlech Castle
End: Harlech Town
Distance: 6.2 miles (1O km)
Time: 3 hours
This undemanding walk starts on the limestone cliff top that is surmounted by Harlech Castle. Construction of this great fortification-now partly ruined, but no less impressive-began in 1283 after English king Edward l defeated Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. The castle was largely successful in keeping the Welsh in check, although it was captured in 1404 and held for five years by rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr.
The route takes you down to sea level across Royal St. David’s Golf Club. Here we turn right and advance northward across Morfa Harlech, one of Britain’s finest sand dune systems, which currently covers an area of 4 square miles (10 sq km) and is still growing, around one quarter of which has been afforested with Corsican pine trees.
After around 3 miles (4.8 km), the shore curves right to form the south bank of Afon Glaslyn (Glaslyn River). Stop here a while and look straight ahead across the estuary at Porthmadog, the terminus of two preserved narrow-gauge railways, the Ffestiniog and the Welsh Highland. Then turn to your right for a distant glimpse of Portmeirion, the village designed and built in the early twentieth century by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and based on Portofino, Italy, and the setting for the 1960s cult television series The Prisoner. It is possible to walk farther up the Glaslyn, but beware of the advancing water. If you’re thinking of extending the basic: itinerary, be sure to consult the local tide charts before setting off. A perfect way to end this walk is by taking a chilly dip in Cardigan Bay and then a traditional English (and, indeed, Welsh) portion of fish and chips.
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