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Published October 25th 2016
Just Because You Can't Say It Doesn't Mean You Can't Visit
I'd been working in Dolgellau for a month when my friend from Scotland asked me what it was like. I quickly realised I couldn't really tell her anything about it. I drive through the town in the morning, park up at the leisure centre, wander to my office, stay there all day, and then reverse the process at 5pm. Until lately, I could direct you to the Co-Op or the Job Centre, but if you asked me where anything else was, I'd stare at you blankly until you got really unnerved and slowly backed away.
I hadn't had much of a chance to explore the town, so far, and I decided that it was time to rectify that with a series of lunch hour wanders. Turns out, it's a great little place and I've been missing out on it for weeks (not counting the other 30 odd years I lived in Scotland and didn't even know there was a Dolgellau…)
Gorgeous local church in the town
My first foray into town was a quick walk around the town, which is pretty compact, with a lovely old town square (Eldon) with a host of independent stores, charity shops, cafes, hotels and pubs. Despite the town centre being fairly small, there's certainly a lot crammed in to it, without it looking overly crowded. These are some of my favourite spots, so far:
Popty'r Dref is located on Smithfield Street and is a bakery and tea room with a lovely atmosphere and friendly staff. They're also a favourite of mine for not being scared of Scottish bank notes, which I guess they don't see all that often, but are more than happy to take. If there's one thing guaranteed to annoy a Scot, it's having their currency held up and studied as if they'd maybe printed it on a dodgy press in their back bedroom. While I'm sure some of us do, mostly we just get them from the cash line. And, contrary to popular belief, we even spend them… I do enjoy sitting at the window seats here, drinking coffee and watching the world go by. This is also the spot where I tried my first Welsh cake (paid for with aforementioned Scottish money).
Even just the smells from walking past are amazing
Y Sospan is another Café/Restaurant in the town, which I have enjoyed visiting. Like Propty'r Dref, the staff is warm and welcoming and the selection of home baking is way too tempting. In addition to good coffee and pleasant surroundings (the interior is a cosy, wooden beamed space that dates back to 1606), LT recommends their food baskets. Y Sospan is spread across two floors and located on Queen's Square.
Medi is a gorgeous gift shop, which is, quite handily, situated across the road from Dolivintage. It has a massive range of high end vintage and hand made gifts and does a beautiful line of doggie-inspired bags and scarves, which I had to stop myself from buying up. I admit to being scared to touch anything as it's all so thoughtfully laid out and I'm a bit like a bull in a china shop with my free swinging arms and tendency to knock things over. It's a lovely spot to do a bit of shopping and I noticed that it has a great supply of locally made gifts that I'd be tempted to purchase for my family in order to take a bit of Wales back to Scotland.
so. many. gifts
Sitting on Porch Marchnad in one of Dolgellau's oldest buildings is Dylanwad Bistro and Wine Merchant. It's beautifully finished (inside and out) and has a wonderfully hunger inducing menu for light bites or something more substantial. It also serves wine and olives, which I'd happily replace all my meals with. AND it has a wine shop round the corner so, basically, it's heaven.
The owners of Dylandwad recently produced a wonderful cookbook and are constantly hosting events and fabulous music evenings at their location. There's always something different going on and it really is of the quality I would expect of an Edinburgh wine bar. In saying that, it also fits perfectly in Dolgellau.
If you're not shopping, eating or drinking in Dol, there's also a number of beautiful old buildings that I've found just by aimlessly wandering around. The River Wnion flows through the market town and the whole area is in such a pretty setting, nestled in the valley.