Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tyn Y Simmde - a heavenly Welsh Holiday cottage

We've booked many holidays with Under The Thatch over the past few years and stayed in some incredible properties.  They never disappoint.

But there's only one place we've been back to more than once and that's Tyn Y Simmde (or Gwel y Mynydd as it can be found on the website) in the heart of the Coed Y Brenin forest in Snowdonia.  I booked to go back there for February half term way before Christmas, and because I screwed up on the booking (I totally forgot I'd only paid a deposit and not the full amount) when I got an email on Boxing Day to say my booking had been cancelled, I actually cried.  Real tears. That's how much I was looking forward to going back.

But fear not, Under The Thatch were brilliant (even on Boxing Day!) and sorted my error out and reinstated my booking.

This place truly is a piece of heaven.  A totally secluded, traditional stone cottage set within the Coed Y Brenin forest park.  You could easily spend a whole week here and not see another soul if that's what you wanted.

Tyn Y Simmde Coed Y Brenin Holiday Cottage

Tyn Y Simmde Coed Y Brenin Holiday Cottage
Spot the cottage in the centre of the picture - not a soul in sight!

Living in a town and being surrounded by neighbours left, right, front and back, the biggest luxury for me is privacy.  You can stand and look out from the door and literally not see another house for as far as the eye can see.  At night, you can spot a few lights from properties way over in the distance across the valley, but that's about it.  Set back, away from the road (if you can call it a road, compared to roads at home it's more of a track), not even the postman will come up to your cottage while you stay.  You can go to sleep with the curtains wide open and wake up to the glorious sunrise and the mist rolling in off the mountains.  Or you can lay in bed and gaze at the millions of twinkling stars that are free to dance in the sky with no light pollution.

At night you'll find absolute silence, apart from the gentle babbling of the stream which provides fresh mountain spring water to the property and maybe the strange, distinctive 'coughing' noise of the deer.

During the day the only noise you might hear is the occasional RAF planes practising spectacular exercises overhead.

As a family it's great to have so much space and freedom, not having to worry about how much noise the kids might be making - although if they pipe down you'll be treated to frequent visits from the woodland birds to the garden feeders including the woodpecker who appears daily.  You may also catch a glimpse of a deer or two venturing down from the forest.

Woodpecker on bird feeder

There are numerous woodland walks to follow straight from the front door, and folders of maps and instructions provided in the house will guide you to the best sights.  You can walk from the cottage to abandoned gold mines (this area used to be highly productive and the royal wedding rings for Prince William and Kate and Charles and Diana came from these parts).  You can head out from the cottage to spectacular natural waterfalls, secret fairy-tale woodland dells and the plunge pool, or scramble up from the forest path on Moel Hafodewen about 1.5 miles from the house to the secret pool and take a dip if you're feeling brave (it's so remote a certain someone managed a skinny dip but I'll spare you the photos!).  Coed Y Brenin is also the mountain biking mecca with tracks for all abilities right up to the black run known as as The Beast.



Moel Hafodewen Lake

If you drive towards Dolgellau then I thoroughly recommend the Precipice Walk. It will give you spectacular views and photo opportunities with very little effort!  It's not nearly as scary as it sounds, we did it with our 6 year old and our dog and it was fine, although we were chasing round to beat the sunset - I don't recommend you set off less than 2 hours before dusk!

Precipice Walk, Snowdonia View of River Mawddach and Estuary

Dolgellau is the nearest town and it's about 10 minutes drive away.  Here you'll find plenty of amenities including banks, cafes, shops, chemists, butchers, bakers and a reasonable sized Euro Spar supermarket.  You should definitely pop into Robert's tea rooms while your there.  A stunning former ironmonger's, they have retained lots of the original shop fittings and display a myriad of teas and coffees on the wooden pigeon hole shelving behind the counter.  Try to get a seat in the old cash office if you can or up at the high bench which still has the brass measuring ruler and the stock drawers below.  They offer a wide menu of drinks, cakes as well as breakfasts and lunch - fabulous gluten free cake too.  Just don't do what my Old Man did and accidentally order a 'full English' - you might get lynched!

The Tafarn Y Gadar tapas bar in Dolgellau is also well worth a visit if you don't fancy cooking.  It's a relaxed, informal restaurant with great service, delicious food and really friendly staff.  We've been a couple of times including on Valentine's evening and had great meals.

For adventurous hikers staying at Tyn Y Simmde you're not far from the magnificent Cadir Idris and of course Snowdon itself is within easy drive.

There are beautiful beaches within 30 minute drive - the beach at Barmouth is more traditional seaside with cafes, slot machines and bucket and spade shops, or you could start at Fairbourne which is less populated, just over the harbour and take the little ferry boat across.

Harlech is a little further away and we've always found to be pretty empty at half terms and you can enjoy miles of uninterrupted sands and shell collecting under the gaze of Harlech castle. 

A little further again, but still only around an hour's drive you'll find Portmadog and Criccieth.  They are all worth a visit.

Barmouth Bay and Bridge

Barmouth Quay

Criccieth Beach

If you visit Fairbourne then you must seek out the secret blue lake hidden away between Fairbourne and Arthog.  The purest blue water you'll ever see, this is a truly magical place.  A steep walk up a footpath off the main road with spectacular views across the bay along the way. Then carefully walk through the short tunnel, bowing your head before it opens out to reveal azure blue water in this old slate mine - so pure and clean it looks like a swimming pool. 

Fairbourne viewed from Golwen Slate Quarry

Blue Lake, Fairbourne

Swimming in Blue Lake, Fairbourne

Back to the cottage itself.  It's well equipped with everything you'll need for your stay.  The kitchen has an electric cooker, microwave, fridge freezer, coffee maker and a washing machine which is a godsend for wet and muddy clothes.

There's a small bathroom upstairs with a great shower, perfect for blowing away the cobwebs, but there's no bath.  The compensation for a small bathroom is two large bedrooms - one double and one twin.  The rooms have been switched around since we last stayed, so if you're tall watch out for the beam in the master bedroom!  The beds are deliciously comfortable with white cotton linen and traditional welsh wool throws but best of all, they each have an electric blanket - perfect if you're staying out of season, as you can slip into bed and soothe your tired muscles from long walks as you drift off to sleep in the warmth.

Tyn Y Simmde photo of bedroom

Each room has an electric radiator which is on a timer so the cottage is always cosy.  There's a gas fire in the open plan living area by the dining table for instant warmth and a real wood burner in the sitting room area.  Starter logs, kindling and firelighters are provided which should last you a few evenings. The stone walls are at least a foot thick and with modern double glazed windows we've never felt cold here.

Tyn Y Simmde photo of living room fireplace
photo credit: Tyn Y Simmde
The downstairs is open plan making it perfect for families, and the sitting area is arranged with two comfy sofas opposite each other with a large coffee table between.  Sprawl out here in the evening in front of the fire with a glass of wine and the coffee table littered with books, magazines and newspapers - heaven.

There's no TV (a plus for us) but there is a good wifi signal in the house.

The owners welcome up to two dogs - we brought Ella's bed and she settled down straight away.  If you have a dog, you can't really come to an area like this and leave them at home.  She loves it here as much as we do.

Outside there's a garden table and chairs if you fancy alfresco dining - you will not find a better view to enjoy with breakfast or lunch. There's plenty for kids to explore including the original pig sty - just don't let them climb on it as it's due some refurbishment.

Tyn Y Simmde garden



I can't recommend this place highly enough.  If you're looking for a place to unwind, switch off and get back to nature, with huge lung-fulls of fresh air, then this is the cottage for you.

What to take with you:

Walking boots and a sense of adventure.

What not to take with you:

Bedding, towels, bubble bath and the TV guide!

I recommend signing up to the Under The Thatch newsletter for special offers, discount codes and last minute deals.

Tyn Y Simmde Dolgellau Snowdonia Coed Y Brenin Forest Holiday Cottage

65 comments:

  1. oh so beautiful and cosy! Will look it up now so that we can book it for summer maybe

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    1. Make sure you leave some dates for me!

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  2. Oh this looks truly wonderful, so peaceful and relaxing

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    1. It really is! I want to stay here forever.

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  3. I can just imagine how wonderful it is to stay there, oh how I long for the tranquillity

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    1. The peace and quiet is like nothing else!

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  4. Wow this looks so beautiful and peaceful. My kind of holiday

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  5. How wonderful to be right in the middle of that forest! I've walked through it many times and I love the idea of staying there. This is my favourite holiday stomping ground so it's good to hear someone else's take on things. I love visiting the George III in Penmaenpool. A pub with fantastic views. I've not been to that lake so I know I'll be exploring that soon.

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    1. Ooh we've driven past the George III many times but never been in. Thanks for the recommendation Erica.

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  6. Stunning images! What a beautiful place! I have never hear of Under The Thatch before, will definitely be checking them out!x

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    1. They have some really unusual properties Sim, check them out. x

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  7. Don't shout at me but the first time I went to Wales was in January... I really want to explore it more and this post is making me more determined. I love your pictures too. xx

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    1. Tsk tsk Alice! Yes, go some more!

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  8. STUNNING photos - this is so my sort of break. I've been longing to go away without the kids just on my own somewhere so peaceful for a while now so I'm heading over to check out their website now.
    It looks like you had an awesome time, oh those photos *happy sigh*

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    1. Coming from you that means a lot - thank you! I can see you here, pottering about, sitting in the window seats or lounging by the fire after a big old yomp in the forest Annie!

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  9. What stunning scenery and a gorgeous cottage. We really want to visit Wales but are unsure of where to stay. Will definitely be having a look into this area.

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    1. You won't find more stunning scenery than here. We love this cottage. Check out UTT, they have lots of properties al over Wales.

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  10. One word.....WOW. What a simply stunning place. We have never been to Wales but after seeing these photos I might just have to look it up xxxx

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    1. You haven't lived if you haven't visited Wales!

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  11. Wow - that is stunning! I can understand why you burst into tears. Glad your story had a happy ending xx

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    1. I'd been looking forward to going back for so long - you can see why!

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  12. what a sunny location and some where I would love to study.

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    1. Well, I can't promise it's always sunny - we had every kind of weather possible in the week we stayed in February! But rain never stops play!

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  13. What a gorgeous looking cottage, I love it. And the surrounding area looks beautiful too - great photos, I feel like I can breathe in that fresh air and relax just looking at them!

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    1. All I want to do here is breath massive deep breaths! It's stunning and one of the few places I've been to where if you go to the beach looking inland is often more exciting than looking out to sea!

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  14. What a wonderful looking holiday destination, and such a cosy looking house too. I grew up in Wales and love to go back, just love your photo's too :)

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    1. Thank you! What a magical place to grow up in - I'm jealous!

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  15. Wow what gorgeous scenery, it looks amazing! xx

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    1. Totally. My eyes hurt from too much to look at!

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  16. I've seen you share pics from here before and it alwaya sooks a if you have a wonderful time. I've not hard of under the thach before, so thanks. Mich x

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    1. Oh yes, I get a bit snap-happy on Instagram while I'm there Michelle- you can see why!

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  17. Oh it looks like bliss. I love places where you can take the family pet too

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    1. The dog loves it there as much as we do Jen! So much for 2 and 4 legs to do!

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  18. What an amazing place its spectacular and the scenery looks beautiful.

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    1. It truly is, I could sit and look at the view all day.

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  19. Oh wow, this place looks amazing. All those beautiful trees! x

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  20. Oh wow, this place looks amazing. All those beautiful trees! x

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  21. Your passion for this place shines through and you make it sound heavenly! I want to go!

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    1. Ahh thanks Steph, I confess I'm totally in love!

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  22. What an absolutely gorgeous looking cottage - I adore Wales such a beautiful place. x

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    1. Totally agree, we have so many amazing places to visit in the UK

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  23. Oh my lordy- your photos are out of a brochure of some beautiful kind! It looks absolutely heavenly and actually very much like NZ! Without the distance! harumph

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    1. Aww thanks! Yes, I thought that looking at some of your shots - wish you were closer!

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  24. oh beautiful wales! Land of my father..literally ha! I need to visit again soon x

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    1. I didn't know you were Welsh Fritha!

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  25. Wow this looks so idyillic and rugged! I'm making a trip over the border this weekend to explore more. Definitely checking this out. x

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    1. Oh enjoy! Go visit Coed Y Brenin.

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  26. see this is my perfect family gettaway, one where i can relax in quiet not worry about spending tonsa t fares and shops and the kids get plenty fresh air with plenty area to run about with

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    1. It's absolutely perfect for kids. So much fresh air and exercise they sleep like logs!

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  27. Oh Liz don't tell everyone! It will get booked up in no time! Stayed there twice last year and yes it is heaven. Only an hour away from home for me but I can't wait to book again. And we took Titch our cat - she got her first sight of sheep and wide open spaces. She didn't want to go home and just sat in the doorway - we wanted to do the same! ;)

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    1. Oh sorry Ann! Yes I did think I should book my next couple of trips before posting, I've noticed it's getting more booked up - October half term has already gone. You're so lucky you're so close, it's a good 4 hours drive for us but so worth it. Have you been any great places I've not mentioned?

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    2. Only joking Liz! I think everyone should stay at TYS at least once in their life. Well you seem to have found most of the beautiful places around Dolgellau but if you are looking towards Porthmadoc and Criccieth I would recommend Borth y Gest just outside Porthmadoc - a fabulous seascape and beach, Cwm Nantcol and the hills above Dyffryn Ardudwy (best on a clear day when the views are spectacular) and for something completely different, Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station.... no you can't go inside but there is a great nature reserve there. One of my most vivid memories is of a school trip when I was about 14 and we did go inside! ;o)

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  28. This looks like my idea of total heaven! .. the views and that cottage would be my ideal holiday .. no wonder you cried but glad it got sorted! x

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  29. It looks like and actually piece of paradise. I would love to be secluded and alone in the peace and tranquility of it. Amazing post.

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  30. Wales is next on my list to visit, it looks stunning and so peaceful

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  31. Absolutely breathtaking, with those views I would never want to leave x

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  32. This looks like the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Am pinning for inspiration.

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  33. That sounds fanstatic and I have never heard of them so will be checking them out.

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  34. WOW - what a stunning place! So peaceful and naturally beautiful...

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  35. Absolutely stunning! We try and do a Welsh cottage stay most years - it's very underrated!

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  36. I think I've fallen in love with this place already! I grew up in Wales but have never been this far north - the closest we've been was last year, when we stayed in Dolgellau for the Machynlleth Comedy Festival. The scenery is something out of this world.

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  37. What a beauty you have found Liz, it sounds like the perfect fairy tale holiday, I need so much more time in my life just to go travelling and visit all these wonderful places and we can take Baxter too!
    Thanks so much for joining in Time Traveller, you've made me want to return to France immediately.

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