Isfryn is on the southern border of the Snowdonia National Park in the village of Aberangell, right in the heart of the Dyfi Valley in beautiful Mid Wales. ‘Aberangell’ translates as ‘The mouth of the Angel’ and the village is where the River Angell merges with the Dyfi.
UNESCO awarded the Dyfi Valley Biosphere Status in 2009 in recognition of the unique and wonderful combination of its environment, wildlife, people, language, history and culture.
Buying the Essentials
Your welcome pack will include some lovely things to get you started, but you can easily stock up on the essentials nearby. Five minutes’ drive away and just up the hill from the Brigands Inn is the local garage, shop and cafe. It stocks many of the essentials such as newspapers, bread, milk, a range of canned, chilled, frozen and household goods as well as confectionery. It is also licensed. If you’d like someone else to be responsible for your breakfast, they serve the full monty and a range of other foods and drinks at the adjoining cafe all day.
Keep driving for a couple of minutes straight over the roundabout at the Brigands Inn will bring you to the garden centre and farm shop at Camlan, where you can get breakfast, light meals, coffee and cake at Caffi Camlan and buy fresh, locally made bread, eggs, Welsh cheeses, charcuterie (including fantastic bacon), preserves and more.
For more substantial stocking up, Machynlleth (10 miles) has two large Co-Ops and a small Spar, plus a range of other shops including two bakeries, and the Wednesday street market is great for for fresh produce and baked goods. In the opposite direction, Dolgellau (12 miles) has a reasonably large Co-Op and a large EuroSpar as well as lots of local shops and cafes.
What to do nearby
It is the perfect area for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, with the beautiful Aran and Cambrian Mountains just down the road, and Pumlumon and Cadair Idris within easy reach. The spectacular high peaks of Northern Snowdonia are just over an hour’s drive away. The beautiful coast also offers some delightful days out. There are walks that you can take straight out of the door, or if you’d like some guidance in exploring nearby or further afield, Steve will be able to suggest walks that suit your wishes and stamina levels!
If you love bird watching, there is plenty to see in this area, with Red Kites and Buzzards frequently seen overhead and a multitude of smaller birds. The Red Kite Centre at Bwlch Nant yr Arian and The RSPB Nature Reserve of Ynys Hir are less than half an hour away and the award-winning Dyfi Osprey Project is just twenty minutes down the road. If you fancy getting away from it all try visiting Glaslyn reserve. There is a huge variety of wildlife in the area and more ideas on where and how to see it can be found at http://www.naturalmidwales.co.uk/wildlife-and-birdwatching.html.
There is a huge choice of stunning walks out of the door or a short drive away from Isfryn. Cadair Idris, at 893m, is the most well known of the local mountains, about 25 minutes’ drive away. Less well known is the Aran range, which is actually slightly taller than Cadair; an ascent of Aran Fawddwy or a traverse of the entire Aran ridge from Cwm Cywarch (about 15 minutes drive away) is a fantastic day out and has the benefit of a great pub at beginning and end (though if you walk the ridge you’ll need transport home from the village of Llanuwchllyn unless you want to take the long walk back!).
About 30 minutes North of Isfryn, the Rhinogs are a little known gem of an area with a huge number of hills and waterfalls to explore, and to the South is the Plynlimon range (or Pumlumon as we’d have it here). Snowdon itself is just over an hour away.
Directly from the cottage there are options for anything from 5-20 minute pre-dinner strolls along the lane or up Pen y Clipiau to take in some views of the Dyfi valley, half day rambles beside the local rivers or exploring abandoned slate mines, to full days out in the local hills. We’re also on the long-distance Dyfi Valley Way.
Isfryn is well supplied with walking guides for people interested in walking at all levels, and a local OS map which you’re welcome to borrow. If it would be helpful, we will be happy to spend as much time with you as you like providing suggestions.
Mountain Biking & Cycling
Mountain biking is a favourite local pastime and there are miles of forest tracks in the hills behind Aberangell that you can access from our front door. The famous Coed Y Brenin trails are within easy reach, as are the Machynlleth Bike trails. You can check out an overview of the area’s biking here. We can store your bikes in our garage and we have an outside tap so you can clean them up!
If you’d like a flatter ride, you can hire bikes from Dolgellau Cycles in Dolgellau and ride the flat Mawddach Trail to Barmouth and beyond.
And more things to do…
For keen anglers, the Dyfi is famous for its salmon, brown trout and sea trout. Day tickets and season tickets are available.
For golfers, the website 100 Best Golf Courses in the World lists the historic and scenic courses available at Llandrindod Wells, Cradoc, Welshpool, Builth Wells and Machynlleth as the best in the region. There are also championship links courses at Borth, Harlech and Aberdovey.
If rock climbing is your passion Snowdonia is possibly the best location in Britain. If you fancy giving it a try, Steve is a qualified instructor and can recommend the best places nearby.
You can combine a break in the countryside with the thrill of the alps at the Llandudno Ski and Snowboard Centre, where you can ski, snowboard, toboggan and sno-tube to your heart’s content!
If you fancy something to get the adrenaline flowing, you could try one of the zip wires at Zip World , including the fastest in the world and the longest in Europe. If you’d like to be closer to the ground, but still feel the need for speed, how about the FForest Coaster ? A woodland adventure somewhere between roller coaster and bob sleigh! Both are very popular destinations for our guests.
For lots more adventure ideas, see Show Me Wales
For a more relaxed day
For those seeking a more chilled approach to life, the beaches in this area are beautiful. From the classic seaside towns of Aberdovey and Aberystwyth to the vast beach at Barmouth or the National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest that is Harlech beach, with its dunes overlooked by the fourteenth century castle, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and much to discover. There is an excellent guide to the beaches of Snowdonia here.
The market towns of Machynlleth and Dolgellau are both around 10 miles from Aberangell and both have much to offer. Machynlleth has a vibrant street market every Wednesday and is home to the national Museum of Modern Art, situated at Y Tabernacl and to the Owain Glyndwr Museum. Dolgellau is a quaint, stone town with the Afon Mawddach river running through it. Both have a wide range of individual shops, cafes and pubs to discover as well as having supermarkets and pharmacies.
Only a short drive away from Aberangell, you will find the Corris Craft Centre offering 8 studios of locally made craft items as well as the Dyfi Gin Distillery, a Welsh food and drink shop and a café. The site is also home to King Arthur’s Labyrinth and the highly recommended Corris Mine Explorers . Let your excellent guide Mark take you on a fascinating tour of the vast slate mine that lies inside the Corris hills. This attraction is in very high demand in the summer months, so booking well ahead is essential.
The Centre for Alternative Technology can be found less than 15 minutes’ drive away.
To watch the world go by in relaxing style, take one of the Great Little Trains of Wales , many of which are within easy reach of Isfryn. The mainline Arriva train services also have many scenic routes and can be a lovely and relaxed way to access local attractions. A mainline day return ticket from Machynlleth station up the coastline towards Pwllheli is also a great bargain (around £12 per head in March 2018). The ride is wonderful, taking in sea and mountain views. We recommend getting off for a bite to eat and a short explore at Criccieth rather than going all the way to Pwllheli, but the choice is yours. You can download a guide to exploring by train and you’ll find some in Isfryn for your use too.
If you would like to visit the summit of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, but don’t fancy the walk, the Snowdon Mountain Railway operates from May to November (weather permitting) and provides a spectacular journey with wonderful views on clear days. Booking ahead is essential, especially during the summer months.
Nearby Places to Eat and Drink
There is a variety of pubs within easy distances where you can relax and savour their very different characters. You will find sample menus for many local places to eat in Isfryn.
The nearest pub is The Brigands Inn (named after the band of red haired brigands who terrorised this area in the 1500s), just 2.5 miles down the road in the tiny hamlet of Mallwyd.
Dinas Mawddwy is 3 miles away and boasts the Red Lion (Y Llew Coch in Welsh), a proper, friendly, locals’ pub with no frills, where you can be sure of good, home cooked pub food and plenty of it!
Cemmaes is the home of the Penrhos Arms (which also does takeaway food) and at Glantwymyn, you will find the Dovey Valley Hotel with its very sociable folk music night on the first Sunday of every month.
If you fancy a trip further off the beaten track, why not visit the Tafarn Dwynant at Ceinws for a mix of pub and art gallery.
For a welcome tea break from your exploring, try the Coffi Camlan which is situated within the lovely little Camlan Garden Centre and farm shop. you’ll find it on the left just behind the little war memorial just before the village of Dinas Mawddwy. Delicious home-made cakes, breakfast and snacks, a farm shop selling local produce and some quality plants and gifts too.
In Machynlleth the Quarry Cafe in the High Street serves up vegetarian and vegan foods. The Dyfi Roastery in Maengwyn Street is a lovely coffee shop offering their own roasted coffees, cakes, light lunches and some imaginative lattes.
If you’re in Corris, call in at the lovely and friendly Idris Stores Café & Shop for delicious treats. They serve up great and constantly varying breakfasts every Saturday morning and keep serving them just until they run out. On Sunday mornings, it’s hot drinks and fresh pastries. You can also stop by for a pint at the Slaters Arms just up the street.
In Dolgellau, the best cafe is surely T H Roberts, just down from the square, opposite the Royal Ship Hotel. It’s a family business in a fantastic, listed former hardware shop with a dangerously large range of homemade cakes, wickedly big fried breakfasts and excellent coffee. If you want an alternative that includes wine, visit Dylanwad, a lovely wine merchant and eatery for light snacks, with friendly advice on offer about the great selection of wines to drink and buy. It’s in Porth Marchnad, just a stone’s throw from the main square.
For restaurant dining where local produce is used to great effect, we would recommend Number Twenty One at Machynlleth and, a little further afield at Tywyn Proper Gander. The Meirionydd in Dolgellau is another favourite.
For the ultimate end to the evening on clear nights, you don’t have to travel far out of the villages to find velvet dark skies and catch stunning views of the stars before wandering home to sink into Isfryn’s comfy beds.