Rambles with a Sketchbook Holiday In Southern Snowdonia
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Create your own artistic impressions as we walk through some of southern Snowdonia’s most inspirational landscapes. We’ll walk up to 4 miles (6.5km) each day, sketching scenes along our journey. Your sketches may be the finished result or used as a source for further painting or drawing.
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
- Tuition from our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, to ensure you get the most from your holiday
- Loan of wooden A3 art boards
- All transport to and from locations on your holiday
Located just a couple of miles away from the attractive market of Dolgellau, this town is a pleasure to explore with fascinating history surrounded in and out of the local area. Enjoy highly scenic journeys on old traditional trains through Snowdonia, or explore the area on foot.
Our bedrooms are either located in the main building or the tastefully converted coach house.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplement to upgrade to 'Better' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (better rooms from 1pm). Please join us for afternoon tea. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.
During your stay
When we go out into the lovely local countryside, we'll be walking up to 4 miles carrying our equipment as we find the very best landscapes to sketch.
Day 2 Around Dolserau Hall
Beginning locally, we will explore the rich countryside in which Dolserau Hall is situated. After a brief meeting to discuss effective approaches to sketching, we will choose our subjects from what we see on our first ramble. Beyond the hall and grounds lies rolling farmland with picturesque buildings to form a focal point, plus sheep and horses for additional subjects. Distant mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for landscape sketches. Scenery captured this way becomes personal and unforgettable.
Day 3 Penmaenpool
Travelling a short distance from the country house, today we will visit the local beauty spot of Penmaenpool. At this point the tidal water of Afon Mawddach, flanked by hills that are dotted with quaint Welsh cottages, makes an ideal view for sketching. Add to this the local boats, the toll bridge, an old railway signal box and more, we should find plenty of inspiring subjects for a range of sketches through the day. Alison will be on hand to guide you through a variety of approaches to sketching.
Day 4 Free day
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House. Our Discovery Points help you make the most out of your free day. There’s plenty of maps and a selection of the best local walking routes, as well as weather forecasts and public transport options – plus details about other places to visit.
Day 5 Castell y Bere
Venturing further afield today, the focal point will be the historic Castell y Bere. This castle is set on a flat topped rock. The access is along a minor road and is ideal for ‘rambles with a sketch book’ as it has great views of Cader Idris, one of the most popular peaks in Wales. We will practise using a viewfinder to select and compose a range of varied subjects.
Day 6 Snowdonia National Park
The pretty hamlet at the foot of Cader Idris is the start point for today’s ramble. Tyn-y-Llyn, lying in
Day 7 Barmouth
The bustling town of Barmouth is our destination today. There is so much here to see and sketch: the harbour and quayside; the estuary, spanned by distinctive bridges; the mountains that rise up from the coast. A ramble around the town, sketching as we go, will be a contrast to other days on the holiday and will complete your sketchbook with another aspect of this beautiful and popular part of Wales. The focus today will be about simplifying a busy scene as part of a composition.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast.
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
What to Bring
- Sketchbook – A4, A5 or 6-8” square (good thick cartridge paper, preferably 150gm weight)
- 2B and 4B pencils and if possible, a water-soluble graphite pencil
- Eraser/putty rubber
- Craft blade or Stanley knife for sharpening pencils
- Pens - nylon-tipped (such as Edding 1800) or nib pen with waterproof ink (cartridge or bottle), or other sketching pen of your own preference
- Bull Dog clip or large elastic bands
- Feel free to bring any other lightweight materials too, such as other pencils, crayons, pens or watercolours (eg set of Caran D’Ache Neocolour water soluble pastels, or a set of water-soluble crayons)
- Small rucksack or shoulder bag to carry items in
- Wide-brimmed hat or a plastic eye shade will eliminate glare and improve your comfort. An umbrella also provides shade, and can protect against a shower
- Cushion, garden kneeler or plastic seat pad. Alternatively you may like to bring a light folding chair or small stool
- Remember that sitting still can make you chillier than you would expect, so bring some extra layers of warm, wind-proof clothing, a hat and a thin pair of stretchy gloves
- Strong, comfortable footwear with a good tread
- You may like to bring a vacuum flask
During your stay at Dolserau Hall you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Snowdonia:
This narrow guage railway was the first in the world to be taken over and run by volunteers. The line runs from the coast at Tywyn to the former slate quarries at Nant Gwernol. Historic locomotives and carriages, some dating back to the line's opening in 1864 add to the unique atmosphere. The nearest station is at Abergynolwyn, about 25 minutes' drive from Dolserau Hall. www.talyllyn.co.uk
Great Little Trains of Wales
Snowdonia is noted for its concentration of narrow guage steam railways, all of which offer highly scenic journeys. The Ffestiniog Railway, Vale of Rheidol and the Welshpool & Llanfair railways are all within reach. You may also want to experience the newly rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway which runs from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. www.greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk
Built by King Edward I after his conquest of Wales, Harlech Castle is one of the most historically important and well preserved fortifications in the principality. Along with neighbouring castles at Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Conwy it now has World Heritage status. Around 45 minutes' drive from Dolserau Hall. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
Centre for Alternative Technology
Situated near Machynlleth, around 20 minutes' from Dolserau Hall, the Centre for Alternative Technology is at the forefront of researching and teaching sustainable living. Displays focus on green technology, energy efficiency and organic farming. www.cat.org.uk
The nearby RSPB reserves at Arthog Bog, Coed Garth Gell and Ynis-hir offer a wide variety of habitats including oak woodland, heathland and salt-marsh that attracts an equally diverse range of birds.
This quaint Italianate village was the brainchild of the architect Clough Williams-Ellis. It is also well-known as the setting for the cult 1960’s TV series The Prisoner. Portmeirion is around 35 minutes' drive from Dolserau Hall. www.portmeirion-village.com
Harlech Castle image © Crown copyright (2016) Welsh Government
Travel to Dolgellau
Our address is: Dolserau Hall, Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 2AG
The most convenient railway station is at Machynlleth. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 16 mile journey from Machynlleth railway station takes approximately 30 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £30 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Dolserau Hall Manager.
From Machynlleth take the X27 bus to Dolgellau. The 2 mile journey to Dolserau Hall from Dolgellau can be completed in a taxi. Alternatively alight at Dolgellau Little Chef, from where it is a 1 mile walk along a quiet country lane to the hotel. For bus times see www.traveline.info
From the north head to Chester then take the M53 and A55 around the south of Chester. Join the A550 then the A5104 for about 20 miles, then finally the A494 to Bala. Stay on the A494 heading towards Dolgellau. A mile after the junction for the B4416 to Brithdir, take the next turning on the left, after the campsite. Follow the country lane for ½ mile to Dolserau Hall.
From the south take the M54 and A5 to Shrewsbury. Follow the A5 around the south of Shrewsbury and join the A458 towards Welshpool. Continue on the A458 through Welshpool and after a further 27 miles turn right at a roundabout onto the A470 towards Dolgellau. As you come down a steep hill beofre Dolgellau, look out for a petrol station on the right hand side. Take the turning on the right immediately before the petrol station. Dolserau Hall is about 1 mile along this country lane on your right. Look for the HF Holidays sign.
Travelling from overseas
Birmingham Airport has the quickest onward connections to Machynlleth. Direct trains from Birmingham International station take 2 hours 35 minutes. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Manchester Airport has a better range of long-haul flights. Trains from here take around 3½ hours with changes at Crewe and Shrewsbury. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow at least 5½ hours to reach Machynlleth by train. You'll need to head to Euston station in the centre of London. Take a train from here to Birmingham, then change for the onward connection to Machynlleth. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
In each case complete your journey from Machynlleth to Dolgellau by taxi or bus (see above).
Alison is a qualified teacher and experienced artist who has worked with adult groups for many years. She paints mainly, although not exclusively, in watercolour as she appreciates the strong yet translucent quality of this medium. Alison aims to encourage the enjoyment of and satisfaction in observation, sketching and painting, taking inspiration from beautiful local scenery.