One place I’ve been desperate to explore more of this year is Wales. And with this magnificent country being just three hours drive away from home, I have no excuse for not visiting more often! Last month we packed up our car and headed out on the road for a long weekend away. Setting off on a jaw dropping drive through deep tree lined valleys, winding mountain roads and quaint villages to Dolgellau, a picturesque Welsh village in Gwynedd, northwest Wales and home to our weekend escape The Toll House Dolgellau.
The Toll House was built in the 18th century for the purpose of guarding the approach into town. Dolgellau is a small, yet beautiful market town located in the heart of Snowdonia at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain range. The town offers a good selection of shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes and even two bakeries which produce fresh goods daily. Dolgellau is also home to over 200 listed buildings, and from what I have been told this is the highest concentration in the whole of Wales, and you should know by now, I absolutely love old listed buildings! I quickly came to realise that this was the perfect village to base ourselves to explore the Welsh countryside.
We checked ourselves in using the lockbox and were welcomed with a loaf of artisan bread, fresh local eggs and butter, and a note from owner Sandie welcoming us into her home. There was also a basket on the dinner table, next to a beautiful bouquet of daffodils, which propped up a note from Dewi the Welsh Dragon, inviting little Heidi on a treasure hunt.
“Hello Heidi! I’m Dewi, the Welsh Dragon. I hope you enjoy your time in Dolgellau, the town famous for it’s gold. I’ve left you some magical treats to find, the best place to look is somewhere cold…”
Needless to say, Heidi was ecstatic! It was the best welcome to a property she has ever had and such a good idea from Sandie. I shared the whole treasure hunt over on my Instagram stories and in one person’s words Heidi ‘broke the internet’ with her cuteness. They are saved in the February folder in my highlights reel if you wanted to take a peek and to explore the cottage with me.
First things first, (after the treasure hunt of course) we kick off our shoes, relishing the under floor heating on this cold February night and crack open a bottle of local Welsh cider and curl up together on the cosy sofa, popping some tunes on the jukebox speaker nestled in the inglenook fireplace in the background. We quite happily spend the evening cosied up together. On our drive in to Dolgellau we picked up some local produce so after spending some time relaxing, we head to the kitchen to rustle up some dinner, a simple pasta. We settle down at the table to indulge, listening to the wind and rain gale outside before retiring to our beautifully styled rooms for the night.
Come morning, we wake to the calmness of this small village with sunshine streaming through the windows, illuminating the grey stone walls of the bedroom. We are so relaxed that we struggle to roll out of bed, but we manage to shuffle down to breakfast and Peter whipped up a sumptuous feast of local offerings, starting with toast lathered in locally made butter and topped with a good helping of scrambled eggs.
The Toll House is beautifully styled, Sandie did a perfect job and thought of all the details. There’s stylish art prints on the walls, plush cushions and throws on the sofa and quirky features dotted around. As for the essentials, there’s a fully kitted kitchen with everything you need to rustle up a good meal, three bedrooms, wifi, SmartTV and Netflix so you can binge-watch your favourite series in an evening, underfloor heating and an outdoor terrace area which would be the ideal spot to while away an evening in the summer months. In the garden at the back of the house there is a fresh water spring which has been there as long back as any of the locals can remember. One such, a 102 year old lady, recalled that when she was in her youth that her mother would send her here every Sunday to collect their water. What a story!
Following a couple of days at this wonderful stone cottage and exploring this corner of Wales, we return home fully relaxed, souls satisfied. Toll House, I will gladly come and stay again.
Getting There: I would highly suggest driving as this is the most direct option. If you don’t have a car, you can hire one for very reasonable prices from here. From London it is a 4h drive to Dolgellau – plug the postcode LL40 1RY into your sat nav for directions. There isn’t parking directly outside the cottage but you can park freely on the road just a short walk away as you head down the hill continuing on from the Toll House. Alternatively you can catch a train from London Euston, changing at Birmingham New Street and disembarking at Machynllyth where you will need to catch the T2 bus to Dolgellau.
Best Places To Visit: Betwys-y-Coed, Beddgelert and Portmeirion are all unmissable in my opinion. There is also the wonderful 15th century tea rooms, Tu Hwnt I’r Bont in Llanwrst which are nothing short of spectacular in the autumn when the ivy which coats the exterior turns a magnificent shade of red as though ablaze. I didn’t get chance to fit in a visit to Harlech and Harlech Castle but both come highly recommended by my parents who visit Wales regularly as it is one of their favourite places in the world.
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We stayed as guests of The Toll House Dolgellau. Although I was kindly gifted this stay, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
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