BLOG: our stay on the banks of the Mawddach estuary

When we were asked if we would like to stay at Coes Faen Spa Lodge in June we jumped at the chance! Nestled on the banks of the Mawddach Estuary in Barmouth (a seaside town proud of its tag line “where the mountains meet the sea”), this pocket of Snowdonia is simply breathtaking and it was such an absolute pleasure to see it from a tourist’s perspective for once with our mini break. 

The location is impressive with views of the Cadair Idris mountain range, the extensive Mawddach tidal estuary (home to the Outdoor swimming Society’s annual ‘Hurly Burly’ swim event)  and the statuesque Barmouth bridge stretching out across the sea. The location is an adventurer's dream with mountain bike trails, bridleways ( you can even bring your own horse), spectacular walks even if you just followed the extensive 30 acres of beautiful woodland gardens with secret viewing points, and hidden water features. But we were there for one reason and that was to hunt down some impressive wild swim spots!

We checked in to the Talgarreg room complete with cedar hot tub! (more on that later) and headed inland to the village of Ganllywd. Nestled in an ancient woodland forest is the impressive Rhaeadr Ddu (black waterfall) consisting of two waterfalls cascading over 60ft. This site was popular with victorians and there is a national trust circular walk that takes you through this magical forest.  After a bracing dip we jumped back in the car and headed back to the Spa lodge to warm up and sample the Italian meets Wales dining experience!

There are six rooms at the lodge each boasting a different spa experience. The owner’s ethos is to bring the relaxation spa experience to you in the comfort of your own room without the need to travel to and from the treatment. The Hafan room has a wooden bath built by a boat builder, Borth room has its own steam room and our room Talgarreg had its own outdoor cedar hot tub! We are used to cold water dips but there was something magical about being submersed in hot bubbling water as the cool outdoor air tingles on your exposed skin. Watching the stars and moon from here (with a drink in hand) is priceless!

We then headed down to dinner with an impressive menu and an array of italian fine wines we were spoilt for choice! We indulged in steak farmed from just down the road and locally caught sea bass. After dinner we went into the snug to complete our perfect stay with some delicious gins on offer. Our favourite had to be the spiced seaweed gin. 

In the morning ( and after a lovely rain harvested shower) we dined on the made to order full breakfast before heading out to swim the impressive Mawddach estuary. This swim is not for the faint hearted and is home to the Hurly Burly 10k race. The estuary is tidal and we swam on an incoming tide upstream from Barmouth under the impressive railway bridge down to the George pub in Penmaenpool. Only experienced outdoor swimmers with a knowledge of the tides and area should tackle this swim. This is a bracing sea swim and with an incoming spring tide you get a wonderful tidal assisted swim.

As if that wasn’t enough swim action for one day, we then nipped to one of the most iconic mountains in Wales, Cader Idris, for a dip in it’s chilly but impressive Llyn Cau. The mountain ranges in South Snowdonia are quieter than the centre of the park and we highly recommend them.  Not forgetting the amazingly rugged Rhinogs just a short drive north from Coes Faen. 

So with swim spots on the doorstep, the famous Mawddach Estuary, mountains, beaches and endless outdoor activities, Coes Faen is right up there as a spot to do it all.  Not only that but one of the reasons we wanted to stay is that is it sustainable in every way possible. Something close to our hearts. The lighting, the rooftop solar panels right through to the hand picked materials used to create the perfectly crafted environment have been carefully selected to have less environmental impact.  And boy has it paid off! They even flush their toilets with rain water.

So if you fancy a dash of luxury surrounded by epic views, days filled with fresh air and thrilling outdoor fun, followed by deep relaxation and escape, then Coes Faen is the place to stay.

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Our top 3 Coes Faen wild swims…

Rhaeddaer Ddu & Coed Ganllwyd: 

This is a great walk up past the River Gamlan to the magnificent Rhaeadr Ddu waterfalls. Nestled in ancient celtic rainforests you have the magical Rhaeddaer waterfall.

Arthog Waterfalls

A circular walk from Arthog will lead you to this beautiful plunge pool waterfall. Perfect to cool off after a long walk.

Mawddach Estuary

Home to the Outdoor Swimming societies Hurly Burly swim. You can swim 10K from Barmouth harbour right up to the Penmaenpool hotel on a good spring tide. This swim is not for the faint hearted and should not be attempted without boat support and knowledge of the local tides and channels.

Meg Pugh