Fairbourne is a small, seaside village situated on the Southern shore of the Mawddach Estuary, opposite Barmouth (1 mile away). A steep bank of pebbles fronts the beach area, which, from mid-tide, exposes a vast amount of golden sandy beach, two miles in length, and with rock pools at either end.
The growth of Fairbourne is closely linked to the opening of the Cambrian Coast Railway, in the late nineteenth century. The railway brought affluent Victorians to the coast and seaside resorts became popular.
Arthur McDougall, chairman of the McDougall Flour Company, saw an opportunity to create a family resort in an area with little development. He planned Fairbourne to be a family-friendly resort, with hotels and rented houses. His plans included recreation grounds and public buildings on a lavish scale. To achieve his aims, Mr McDougall laid a railway, for horse-drawn trams, to haul the necessary building materials.
The Fairbourne and Barmouth Steam Railway still use the rail bed laid in 1895, by Mr McDougall, but these days the trains are hauled by steam locomotives. The narrow gauge track runs for 2 miles, from Fairbourne Station to Penrhyn Point, where a connecting ferry service takes passengers across the estuary to Barmouth.
One of the halts on the railway, formerly the Golf Halt, now boasts the contrived name of
Gorsafawddachaidraigodanheddogleddollonpenrhynareurdraethceredigion, which means.The Station on the Mawddach, with dragon\’s teeth, on the north Penrhyn drive, at the golden beach of Cardigan Bay. The dragon’s teeth referred to, being concrete defences, left over from the Second World War. The Fairbourne Golf Club, at this halt, is a nine-hole golf course, suitable for all abilities.
At nearby, Arthog, there are walks up the lower slopes of Cadair Idris, to the picturesque Arthog Falls. Hardier souls can push on to the Cregennan Lakes or climb to the peak of Cadair Idris itself.
Fairbourne is overlooked by the mountains of Cadair Idris and close to the Mawddach estuary, so makes an ideal base for exploring these areas. The village has shops for everyday requisites, cafes, restaurants and bars. A quiet resort out of season, it can get busy in the height of the summer.