Imagine a classic Welsh seaside town, with promenade, endless flat sandy beach, Atlantic surf and, of course, a little steam train – and you’ve got Tywyn.
The town’s name derives from the Welsh for seashore, and Tywyn’s beach does not disappoint. Five miles of pristine flat sand combined with the Atlantic swells make this one of the best surfing locations on the Welsh coast and it’s a popular location for all kinds of watersports.
Tywyn would not be complete without a railway – and here you’ll find the Talyllyn Railway, one of the Great Little Trains of Wales and the first to be preserved as a heritage railway. In 1952 Reverend Wilbert Awdry became a volunteer guard on the railway and his experiences were the inspiration for his books called ‘The Railway Series’ – now better known as ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’!
The 55 minute journey travels for seven miles through the spectacular scenery of the Fathew Valley in sight of Cadair Idris, an iconic mountain of Wales, and place of legends. See the website for the railway for full details at www.talyllyn.co.uk
Along the route, the train stops at 5 stations, all of which link to waymarked forest trails, including the beautiful Dolgoch Falls where there are three trails to the three levels of falls. Alternatively, alight from the train at Nant Gwernol, a rocky river gorge above the Talyllyn Valley and walk the four mile Quarryman’s Trail around the quarry, or if you prefer a less demanding route, then the picturesque Cascade Trail is a one mile circular route following the river with views of forest and falls.
From either walk you can return to the final railway station at Abergynolwyn, where there is a small visitor centre and a pub which is of course called The Railway Tavern!
Back in Tywyn, the Norman church of St Cadfan’s, open daily from 8.00am until 5.30pm, is well worth a visit. Here you can see The Cadfan Stone, dating from the 9th century which has inscribed upon it the earliest known example of written Welsh. Nearby is The Prayer Sundial, dating from the 8th or 9th century and which would once have stood in the churchyard marking the time for prayer by means of a peg in the hole in the top marking the position of the sun. After the installation of a church clock the sundial was moved to a nearby village where it was used as a milepost. It has now been returned to St Cadfan’s church. Look out too for the 14th century effigies of the ‘Crying Knight and the ‘Unnamed Priest’!
For evening entertainment why not try the Magic Lantern Cinema. Although it now boasts state of the art equipment, there have been films shown in this building, once the town’s Assembly Rooms, since the year 1900. There are more than films here though, live theatre, and concerts are streamed here too on a regular basis. For evening meals Tywyn also has some excellent restaurants to choose from – the Salt Marsh Kitchen and Proper Gander are both popular.