Over the years, Ben and I would snatch hasty visits to the North Wales coast to see our family and empty our lungs of grimey city air. We would feel soothed after a trot along the beach at Llanbedrog (we stayed at the house on the left in this picture before moving to new york) or Aberdesach; we’d drift into heavy sleep, agreeing that if us nomads ever returned to the UK from our travels, we would try to live here.
Last year, rather unexpectedly, we found ourselves needing to set up home somewhere new and our hearts were urging us to head for North Wales. Maybe we were experiencing ‘hiraeth’; a nostalgia for a home that we hadn’t yet created. Whatever the reason, we felt the pull.
It’s this same indescribable pull that I feel every time I walk along the beach - y traeth in Welsh. Sinking into the sand, feeling humbled by crashing waves or slowing down to watch the tiniest of sea creatures - whatever the pace, I am at my happiest.
I know that I am not alone in my deep love for this coastline, so I asked my favourite North Wales thalassophiles about the beaches in the area which have captured their hearts (and keep reading to the end for a special treat).
Myfanwy Gloster, Glosters Pottery, Porthmadog
Borth y Gest is our favourite beach. We get ice cream from the cafe on the way, or have a BBQ at the far beach. We’ve had many an evening spent with friends and family there. Borth y Gest really does have one of the most beautiful beaches, and we take it for granted until we go away! It’s really great on a blustery day too - it blows the cobwebs away!
Follow Glosters on Instagram @glostersporthmadog
(sweet story: Myfanwy bought a little By Alice Wood keyring for her pooch to wear on his walks where she could stash away change for ice cream!)
Callie Jones, Artist, Clynnogfawr
Like Myfanwy, we love the third beach at Morfa Bychan. That’s where my Powder House illustration was created. We also love Porthor or Whistling Sands on the Llyn, with it’s squeaky sand, apparently due to the shape of the sand particles. It is a beautiful beach with lovely walks, and the cafe is great too.
Follow Callie on Instagram @calliejonesillustrator and read more about her work in the new issue of Jwrnal magazine, a collaborative effort from over 40 makers and creatives from Wales. It’s about discovery, storytelling and conversation.
Marcia Edwards, Mamws Interiors, Pentrefelin
My favourite beach has to be Criccieth. The kids love nothing more than grabbing a jar of cockles for their post-paddle snacks! I love nothing more than sitting on the beach and watching the world go by. No two days are ever the same and I never tire of the beautiful view. We love to head to the estuary along the coastal path too. It’s our favourite spot for picnics and fishing. Whatever the weather, wherever the beach, it’s the best for self-care.
Follow Marcia’s online interiors store on Instagram @mamwsinteriors.
Jennifer Hanlon, Lotti & Wren, Caernarfon
Growing up on Anglesey, I still have a soft spot for Rhosneigr, especially in the winter. Sometimes, the unplanned visits are the best. I like picking up the kids from school, going straight to Dinas Dinlle, climbing the hill so we can see down the Llyn and so my son can recreate battles in the old Army huts. We love late evening swims, looking up at the mountains with sandy chips for dinner.
Jennifer’s fun Instagram is @lottiandwren and pop in to her shop next time you are in Caernarfon.
Kayte Ferris, Simple & Season, Dolgellau
Harlech beach is what made me fall in love with North Wales - white sands as far as the eye can see. I’m also a fan of Fairbourne as it’s less busy than Barmouth (out of season you will be the only one there), with great views of the Llyn peninsula. plus it has a sandbank which means the shallow water is really warm even at the end of September. Porthdinllaen is also one of the best!
Elle Winsor Grime, The Artful Event Co., Morfa Nefyn
For me, my favourite beach has got to be Morfa Nefyn and Porthdinllaen…what can be better than a pub on a beach? A winters walk, along a Sunday, along from Morfa with lunch at the Ty Coch pub (my usual is a giant baked Camembert and a Bloody Mary) is the best. If you are lucky, you will catch the musicians playing sea shanties as you sit by the fire. Then you must head on round the headland to see the seals past lifeboat bay, back along the golf course. It’s bliss! I have done it all my life and every day those views change.
I do have a soft spot for Porth Ceriad too. It’s tough to get to generally quiet and years ago I saw dolphins really close to the shore whilst I was swimming - magical! We are truly spoilt with beaches. Living in Rock in Cornwall for 10 years was fabulous, but here we have the mountains - thats what makes our beaches so special in this corner of the world! I am so happy to be a full-time resident, finally!
I love pretty much any beach. I suffer quite badly with seasonal affective disorder, and I find in the winter the light by the sea is always nicer and can lift my heavy mood. To me, a walk along the coast is the ultimate and best self-care in the world
Elle’s spectacular home, The House on the Corner at Morfa, is available as an airbnb rental and you can follow the story at @thehouseonthecornermorfa on Instagram. Callie Jones has created a beautiful linocut of this view - click here to see the greeting card that we sell in the paper goods collection.
Rebecca Eyre, Ivy, Pip & Rose, Criccieth
I have to say that my favourite beach is my local at Criccieth. I walk past the busy section, past Dylan’s, towards Porthmadog. Morfa Bychan is another favourite.
Rebecca’s floristry work is shared on her Instagram @ivypipandrose where the most gorgeous dog in the world, Ted the cockapoo, sometimes makes an appearance!
A SPECIAL TREAT…
I haven’t made a fuss of it, but September marks the one year anniversary for Firain! To say thank you for reading this post and for supporting this small business throughout the year, I would like to send you a 120ml candle of your choice when you spend over £30 before November 1st (whilst stocks last!). Just write in the comments box the name of the candle you’d like. This offer is available to UK customers only. Lighting a candle when you come in from the beach walk is a wonderful autumnal treat!
With love, Jo x
ps - we love stocking the wonderful Wild Swimming book written by Flora Jamieson and illustrated by Gemma Koomen…this is my favourite quote from the book:
“Climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go bare foot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along.”
Robert J. Hastings
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