Stunning North Wales where you could spot turtles named among UK's best

Harlech Beach, North Wales
-Credit: (Image: Reading Tom /

Families are currently about to embark on a half-term break across North Staffordshire - and will be planning day trips and getaways. North Wales has always been a favourite courtesy of its gorgeous coastline and quaint villages.

One such beach to check out is Harlech Beach in Gwynedd. Not only was it included in Conde Nast Traveller's list of the 54 beaches in the UK - along with Llanddwyn in Anglesey - it's a location where you can spot turtles. The Manchester Evening News reports how the two beaches offer completely different experiences: Llanddwyn is a picturesque island beach wrapped up in myth and legend, while Harlech appears to stretch on endlessly, and is overlooked by its own castle.

The travel publication praised Harlech Beach for its size and facilities, saying: "Harlech beach is huge enough that you'll feel completely alone, despite it being easily accessible with excellent facilities including toilets, shops and parking." Stretching on for an impressive four miles, the beach is massive so there's no danger of struggling to find space for a picnic blanket and a parasol.


Inside Meir's The Saracens Head as pub undergoes revamp | The venue on Sandon Road is now back open

READ: Map shows where '100-day cough' reported in North Staffordshire as cases surge | Stoke-on-Trent has seen the most suspected whooping cough cases in the county so far this year

Adding to the majestic setting are incredible views of the Snowdonia mountain range, which you can see in the distance. The beach itself is backed by grassy dunes, emphasising its natural beauty and unspoilt feel.

In fact the beach is very much a destination for nature lovers. During the summer months leatherback turtles migrate here to deed off the jellyfish found in the waters off the coast. So you might be lucky and spot one during your visit.

Conde Nast Traveller added: "One of the beach's major attractions is its clean golden sand, and it's been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its miles of rolling dunes." It is safe to swim in the sea here, although there is no lifeguard present and watch out for the aforementioned jellyfish.

Around a kilometre away from the beach is Harlech Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. Built as a stronghold by Edward I, it played an important role in The War of the Roses and the English Civil War.

To the south of the beach lies Shell Island, a popular camping spot where visitors flock to in the summer months. It has 300 acres of space for camping, with 800 pitches and provides a practical base to explore the surrounding area from.

But there's another reason to visit Harlech Beach as its has an intriguing secret. Buried deep beneath the sand is the wreck of a World War Two American fighter plane. Known as the 'Maid of Harlech', the exact location of the aircraft remains a mystery, but the wreck has been revealed a handful of times in the past, first in the 1970s, then in 2007 and again in 2014.

Harlech beach is around a three hour drive from Stoke-on-Trent and according to Google Map is roughly 104 miles away. There is a pay and display car park at Ffordd Glan Mor Harlech (LL46 2UG) and lots of accommodation options nearby.

Sign up to our main daily newsletter here and get all the latest news straight to your inbox for FREE