The Cambrian Coast is alive with history, on every corner and in every direction you look. Travelling on the Cambrian Railway means you’ll have easy and hassle-free access to some of the UK’s most interesting and important sites.
Travelling from north to south along the railway line, here are some of the top historic sites along the route that you shouldn’t miss on your next trip.
Penarth Fawr Medieval House
Nearest stop: Pwllheli
Penarth Fawr is an incredibly important and rare example of what life was like for the gentry in Wales during the 15th century. While most of the houses and buildings of the time were constructed from wood and have since been destroyed, Penarth Fawr’s stone structure has ensured it’s stood the test of time. The house is held up by an amazing truss system, and entry is free – so do take the time to have a nosy at some of Wales’s most beautiful old architecture.
Nearest stop: Criccieth
The coastal Criccieth Castle sits on a lofty perch overlooking Criccieth town and Cardigan Bay, and enjoys a fascinating and storied history to boot. The castle was originally build by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great), and was completed by his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last). The castle was then taken over by English king Edward I, before being reduced to ruins by the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr in 1404. Prepare for high winds, and take a walk along the walls – the views here really are breathtaking and worth the visit alone.
Nearest stop: Harlech
Another historic Welsh castle, Harlech is just as striking and impressive as Criccieth. Built for Edward I by architect Master James of St George, the castle’s incredible concentric wall system makes it a fantastic example of the military architecture of the time. There are lots of other unique defensive attributes to discover around Harlech, too; from the ‘Way from the Sea’ path up the rock face to the daunting towers that flank the castle walls. Today, head into the castle via the floating foot bridge and marvel at this monumental stone fortress.
Dyffryn Ardudwy Burial Chamber
Nearest stop: Dyffryn Ardudwy
A unique site, the Dyffryn Ardudwy burial chamber actually consists of two tombs, built generations apart. Overlooking the curve of Cardigan Bay, the Stone Age (or Neolithic) burial site makes for an atmospheric visit. The smaller tomb was the first to be built, and was covered by a round cairn. A few generations later it was joined by a larger tomb, to the east of the first. Both tombs were once covered with cairns, but are now open and wonderfully preserved.
Nearest stop: Barmouth
Founded in 1198 by Mareddud ap Cynan, Cymer Abbey is a lasting testament to the Cistercian monks’ influence on Welsh life, religion and culture. Cymer Abbey enjoys a beautifully scenic location on the Mawddach Estuary, and makes for lovely photographs. The quite substantial and impressive ruins of the church still stand today and are well worth a wander round.
Castell y Bere
Nearest stop: Tywyn
Surrounded by dramatic craggy rocks and rolling Welsh hills, Castell y Bere is a fantastic day trip. Construction is believed to have begun on the castle in 1221 by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, and was designed to protect his priceless cattle herd. The castle is wonderfully wild and spectacularly remote, stretching along the eastern side of the Dysynni Valley. Among many striking features, Castell y Bere’s entrance is particularly noteworthy for being seriously advanced for its time – a series of ditches protect twin gate towers, each with its own drawbridge.
Nearest stop: Machynlleth
Step back in time and discover what life was like in rural Wales during the Industrial Revolution. Dyfi Furnace was built around 1755, and is one of the best-preserved sites of this kind anywhere in the UK. Powered by charcoal and the raw power of the River Einion, the furnace was used to smelt iron ore. Though only in use for around half a century, the waterwheel and furnace now stand as a monument of technological advances in the 18th century.
Nearest stop: Welshpool
Come rain or shine, Powis Castle is a superb day out on the Cambrian Coast. The medieval castle is a living shrine to history and contains many historic artefacts from across the globe, including the UK’s largest private collection of items from India and the Far East in The Clive Museum. Outdoors, the castle’s gardens are breathtaking year-round; from outstanding yew terraces to the Italianate arrangements. Whether you visit for crisp and clear winter vistas or the glorious colours of summer, you won’t be disappointed.
Plan your journey across the Cambrian Coast’s historic wonders aboard the Cambrian Coast Line for a stress-free and easily-navigated adventure. Book your tickets here.