Bounding through the buttercups in Wales

 Sioned Bannister lists her top ten favourite doggy days out along the Wales Coast Path.

OUR CANINE COMPANIONS love nothing more than a bracing walk and a good day out. With this list of ten top dog-friendly hotspots along the Welsh coast, there’s no need to leave your four-legged friend behind.

1: Nefyn Beach, Llŷn Peninsula, Gwynedd

Set into the wild coastline of the Llŷn Peninsula are some of Wales’ finest beaches, which means plenty of wide, sandy spaces that dogs will love to explore. The beaches at Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn are some of the most well known along the peninsula and are a great space for dogs to chase balls, frisbees and sticks and even splash about in the shallow bay. There are lots of lovely cliff top paths for extra sniffs and smells, and not to mention stunning views for human walkers!

Porth Nefyn beach and Morfa Nefyn (Porthdinllaen) beach are accessible from the A497. Neither have dog restrictions.

While you’re here……Why not try a walk along the beach at Porth Nefyn?

2: The Dingle Local Nature Reserve, Anglesey

There are 25 acres of stunning woodland, river banks and gorges for our four legged friends to explore at the Dingle in Anglesey. For two legged visitors there are nature trails, sculptures and a poetry trail by a local poet. A large part of the nature reserve is made up beautiful oak, ash and wild cherry trees, and the whole area is a haven for wild flowers like bluebells and daffodils, not to mention a healthy wild bird population. Dogs welcome in all areas.

The Dingle Nature Reserve, Llangefni, Anglesey. LL77 7QD www.anglesey.gov.uk

While you’re here……Enjoy a walk at beautiful Llanddwyn beach and forest.

Stretching for four miles along the western coast Harlech is one of Wales’ most spacious beaches, which means it’s perfect for old fashioned fun like kite flying.

3: The Groes Inn, Conwy

After a long winter walk there’s nothing better than a cosy pub for a welcome drink and a hearty lunch, especially one that welcomes four legged guests as warmly as the ones on two legs. The Groes near Conwy is a traditional coaching inn that has been open to travellers since the 16th century, and although it’s been vastly expanded and extended since then, the historic period features like wooden beamed ceilings, narrow corridors, rambling rooms and secret nooks. Meals available in the bar and restaurant (dogs welcomed in the bar areas) and some of the hotel rooms are dog-friendly too if you’d like to make a doggy weekend of it.

The Groes Inn, Tyn y Groes, Conwy, North Wales. LL32 8TN 01492 650545 www.groesinn.com

Food served 12:00 until 14:00 and 18:30 to 21:00 daily

While you’re here……Visit Thomas Telford’s masterpiece, the stunning Conwy Suspension Bridge and then enjoy a leg stretch along the banks of the Conwy river estuary.

4: Cilgerran Castle,

The haunting ruins of Cligerran castle sit handsomely overlooking the plains of the River Teifi and the Cardigan countryside beyond. The ruins are quiet and peaceful today, which belies its chequered history – the site passed between the English lords and the Welsh rebels for almost a hundred years. But, by the early 13th century, William Marshal the earl of Pembroke had recaptured the lands and the fortified site and built the imposing brick castle in an attempt to control the rebels. Dogs, as well as their human owners, can appreciate the fabulous views and the dramatic ruins, while re-living the area’s more turbulent times.

Cilgerran Castle, Cilgerran, SA43 2SF. 01239 621339 www.cadw.wales.gov.uk

Adults £3.50; Children/OAP £2.65; Family £10.50

Dogs welcome but must be on leads.

While you’re here….. Why not try our nearby walk at Poppit Sands, near Cardigan. Dogs will love the long sandy beaches and coast paths.

5: Black Rock Beach, Porthmadog, Gwynedd

Our four legged friends will absolutely love the two mile stretch of beach at Morfa Bychan, known as Black Rock Sands (thanks to the dark and brooding cliffs at its western end). It’s been a popular film location – it featured in a music video by British band Supergrass and in a film version of Macbeth. It was also the backdrop for the Manic Street Preachers album cover “This is my truth tell me yours”. It might not be the weather to get out the deck-chair and beach towel, but a bracing walk along the beach is a great way to blow away the winter cob-webs and tire out the dog!

Black Rock beach is accessible from the village of Morfa Bychan near Porthmadog (postcode LL49 9YA). Dog control restrictions apply to some sections of the beach during summer months (May to September). Take care around the exit/entry roads as cars are permitted on the beach.

While you’re here….. Why not walk all the way to the eastern end of the beach and continue to the coves and beaches of Borth-y-Gest, where you’ll find plenty more long sandy bays and rock pools to give pooch a really good run!

6: The Kings Head Inn, Gower, Swansea

Treat your best friend to an afternoon out at this fabulous doggy friendly pub in the heart of Gower. The historic building was originally three separate Welsh stone cottages that have been built together over the years. The 17th century building still boasts much of its ancient character though, and even if your dog doesn’t appreciate the wooden beams and exposed stone, he will probably love curling up in front of the cosy open fires.

Dogs are welcomed in the pub and bar, and some of the hotel rooms can also accommodate four legged friends too.

The Kings Head Inn, Llangennith, Gower, Swansea. SA3 1HX 01792 386212 www.kingsheadgower.co.uk

Food served 11:00 until 21:30 daily

While you’re here….. Why not visit Britain’s Best Beach? Rhossili Bay is just a mile away from the Kings Head Inn, and was voted the best beach in the country. There are no dog restrictions.

7: Fairbourne Railway

There’s no need to leave pooch behind for this railway trip. The Fairbourne Railway on the mid Wales coast is a two mile narrow gauge steam train that runs from Fairbourne along the coastline to the tip of the estuary, from where you can hop on a ferry service to the town of Barmouth on the opposite side. The railway was originally constructed to transport building materials, but the lucrative power of the tourist was soon realised and the service was opened to passengers in the early twentieth century.

Dogs on leads can travel on the train for a small charge.

Fairbourne Steam Railway, Beach Road, Fairbourne, Gwynedd. LL38 2EX 01341 250362 www.fairbournerailway.com

Adult £5; Children £3; OAP: £5; Dog £1

While you’re here….. One of our great walks this month is a circular route from Fairbourne. See page… for more details.

8: St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff

This fabulous open-air museum is dedicated to the history, lifestyle and culture of Welsh people and is one of Wales’ best loved museums. Although dogs aren’t allowed inside the historic buildings, there’s still plenty more for pooch to appreciate, like the grounds of St Fagans Castle, the working water mills, the nature trails and woodlands and the 100 acres of parkland that the museum sits in. The rest of the family will love going back in time to explore the way people have lived through the ages, from the roundhouses in the Celtic village to the ironworkers’ cottages.

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff. CF5 6XB 02920 573500 www.museumwales.ac.uk

Free entry. Dogs must be on a lead

While you’re here….. The grounds of Tredegar House, Caerphilly Castle and Comestone Lakes Country Park all allow dogs on leads.

9: Castlemead Hotel, Pembrokeshire

In the peaceful seaside village of Manorbier is the beautiful boutique hotel Castle Mead. It’s a former “Gentleman’s” residence, and guests can make the most of the lovely gardens and the stunning views across Manorbier Bay. There is plenty to explore in Manorbier village too – the beach is a popular spot for dogs and walkers as well as surfers, and the entire bay is overlooked by the dark and brooding castle.

Castle Mead welcomes dogs in the bar/lounge and some of the ground floor rooms.

Castlemead Hotel, Manorbier, Pembrokeshire. SA70 7TA 01834 871358 www.castlemeadhotel.com

While you’re here….. Explore the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, just a stone’s throw from Castle Mead.

10: Harlech Beach, Gwynedd

The wide sandy beach at Harlech is one of the best beaches along this stretch of Cardigan Bay. Four legged visitors will love exploring every yard of the four mile beach, along with one of the finest sand dune systems on the Welsh coast. The waters here are shallow and so are ideal for paddling pooches. And because there’s so much open space here, the beach is often quiet and peaceful – a perfect place to escape the crowds.

Harlech beach is accessible from the town of Harlech, Gwynedd (postcode approx LL46 2UH).

Dog restrictions apply to some sections of the beach during summer months (May – Sept).

While you’re here….. Walk up the steep hill towards the castle for a closer look at this impressive medieval fortress. However, dogs aren’t allowed inside the castle buildings.

Sioned Bannister

Sioned Bannister

Alf Alderson, adventure travel writer

This article first appeared in Welsh Coast magazine in the July issue 2014, and is re-published here with the author’s permission. Copyright © Sioned Bannister 2014. All rights reserved.

Sioned Bannister is a freelance outdoor writer, with a particular love for Wales and the Welsh coast. She has been a regular contributor to UK and Welsh magazines for many years. She is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and available for commissions.

Contact: sionedee@hotmail.com

Books and maps for this part of the coast