The sense of anticipation in finding Trawsdir builds as you approach Barmouth from the East (passing Bala Lake on the A494). Quite simply this is a beautiful part of the world and as the road into Barmouth wiggled its way around the mouth of the estuary in an impressively twisty fashion I could feel my camera finger twitching. Thoughtfully the powers that be have provided a lay-by at this point which affords an ideal photo opportunity.
Located close to the sea at Llanaber - just north of the outskirts of Barmouth, Trawsdir Touring Caravans & Camping is a family-run campsite that offers 70 touring pitches, plus 70 tent pitches of which 63 are offered with electric hook-up. It's worth mentioning that you'll need to ignore your sat nav system on route to this site - the site is actually a few miles north of where the sat nav thinks it is (post code mapping in rural areas has its limitations).
The pitches are spread over several touring fields, divided by attractive dry stone walls. Most are on stone chipping hardstandings and all the motorhome/caravan pitches offer electric hook-up as well as fresh water and waste water points. All the hardstanding pitches are vast and with wide tarmaced entrance roads the site will suit any size of leisure vehicle – RVs or twin-axle continental-spec caravans have no worries here. Should you wish, there are also grass pitches on offer.
To the rear of the site, the land crinkles up into a mountain range with more dry-stone walled fields forming a green patchwork of colours, while to the front is Barmouth Bay with the Lleyn Peninsula visible in the distance. The sea is just a short walk away and there's a wide sandy beach that extends for about eight miles from Barmouth all the way up to Llanber. There's so much room that you'll always be able to find your own space here - even in the height of summer. Those staying at Trawsdir can use the private beach access and parking facilities at the sister site, Caerddaniel, anytime. This is very popular as there are limited beach access points along the coast, especially for larger vehicles. Caerddaniel can be reached on foot, and is about a ten minute walk.
Whether you're looking to spend your time here creating sandy palaces and moats with your kids, or to strap your boots on and explore the Panorama Mountain Walk or the New Precipice Walk you'll find plenty of the great outdoors to explore here.
I've saved the best bit about the site until last: the toilet block and reception complex. These cost a cool half million to build and are quite special. The reception area is in a sympathetically extended old stone building and features a slate roof and oak-framed windows. Inside you'll find laid-back and friendly staff, as well as a smart shop. This offers cold drinks, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, bacon, ice cream and lollies, plus camping essentials. There are also lots of gifts to tempt you too (a monster truck for my three-year-old son caught my eye).
The toilet block is alongside the reception block and is a purpose-built unit with stone walls and an expensive-looking slate roof that has lots of architecturally exciting angles. At one end is a covered dish-washing area with lots of industrial-quality stainless steel sinks facing large windows that give a great view over the sea. At the other end of the block there's the laundry room – this underfloor-heated room has washing machines, tumble dryers and an iron and board.
Next to the laundry is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom that is roughly the size of a car garage and spotlessly clean.
The toilet and shower area is exceptionally good. Warmed by underfloor heating and with eco-friendly automatic lights, soothing music greets you as you enter the block. Cool blue laminates are offset by cream flooring and grey worktops inset with oval white sinks. Best of all, the showers are in large changing rooms with their own sinks making them ideal for families and positively lavish if you're on your own.
Thoughtful touches abound (from clever lighting to auto-flushing urinals) and even the hand dryers are high-tech Dyson Air Blades.
There's a bit of an ecological theme here, and the sympathetic way in which the site blends in with the countryside, using lots of natural materials, is impressive. Dotted about are the now-expected recycling points.
Head into Barmouth for comprehensive shopping (ranging from beach stuff to gift shops) plus various pubs and restaurants. The Royal is recommended for food, while the Wayside Inn is just a five minute walk away.
Llanaber, Barmouth, Gwynedd, Wales