Tywyn is a small seaside town on the Cambrian coast, popular with families seeking resort facilities and easy access to beautiful scenery. Its main offering is the fine stretch of sand and pebble beach facing west into Cardigan Bay and stretching along the coast for 4 miles towards the Dyfi Estuary, ideal for beach and water sport activities. Tywyn means seashore in Welsh, an apt description for this long stretch of dune-backed strand.
The older part of town stands a little inland from the more modern seaside frontage and was probably one of the first settlements founded by St Cadfan in the 7th century. Within the church is St Cadfan’s stone, as tall as a man and believed to bear the oldest known Welsh inscription, dating around 650AD. Parts of the church itself date from Norman times and there are 14th century effigies, though the main structure is 19th century.
Talyllyn Railway, one of The Great Little Trains of Wales, is the other big draw to Tywyn. Its steam trains haul passengers, at a sedate pace, on narrow gauge track, 7 miles up the river valley to Nant Gwernol, near Abergynolwyn, where there are extensive forest walks. En route the views are exceptional and a popular stop is at Dolgoch, where there is an impressive viaduct and a pleasant walk can be made to view a series of waterfalls.
Talyllyn Railway was originally used to haul slate from the quarries near Abergynolwyn to Tywyn, where the cargo would have been transferred to the main line railway for further distribution. The line was in commercial use from 1865-1946 and became the worlds first preserved railway in 1950. The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, at the Tywyn terminus, has an extensive collection of railway memorabilia
The early 13th century Castell Y Bere, not far from Abergynolwyn, is a Welsh castle built of stone in a lavish style for Llywelyn the Great. Although now largely in ruins, the castle’s dramatic situation, atop a rocky crag, with marvellous views and its importance in history as the last Welsh stronghold to be defeated by the English, makes this site a must-do excursion. Nearby is the760 ft Craig Yr Aderyn, Birds Rock, a striking landscape feature which, although 4miles from the coast, is the breeding place for a colony of cormorants. Watch out too for other rare birds such as Choughs, Red Kites and Peregrine Falcons. Also nearby, the village of Llanfihangel-Y-Pennant, famous for being the home in 1800, of 16 year old Mary Jones, who walked to Bala, a 50mile round trip to buy a bible. Her determination inspired Thomas Charles to form the British and Foreign Bible Society. There is a monument to Mary Jones and a plaque attached to the remains of her house further up the village. The local church, St Michael, is worth exploring not only for the Mary Jones exhibits, but also for a fabulous 3D cloth map of the valley, 14ft long.
A little further up the valley from Abergynolwyn, is Tal-Y-Llyn Lake at the base of the mountain Cadair Idris, a beautiful spot for a picnic, bird spotting or fishing. On the south shore is 15th century St Mary’s Church, an interesting example of a Welsh parish church, with unusual decoration.
Dominating the area is the imposing ‘Chair of Idris’, Cadair Idris 2930ft, a popular destination for hill-walkers. One of the most popular access points for the ascent being Minffordd, just north of Tal-Y-Llyn Lake, where a 6mile return trek will enthral the walking enthusiast.
Just north of Tywyn lies the saltwater lagoon Broadwater, a lovely expanse of water noted for bird-watching, fishing, canoeing and its stunning views towards Bird Rock and Cadair Idris. Broadwater makes a worthy spot to take a stroll and a picnic.
Tywyn then has all the ingredients for a varied visitor experience. It has miles of golden beach, shopping facilities, The Talyllyn Railway, Snowdonia on its doorstep, invigorating walks, fascinating history, a modern leisure centre and easy access to some of the most beautiful scenery in Wales.