Aberdyfi (English: Mouth of the River Dyfi), or Aberdovey (the
Anglicised spelling) is a village and community on the north side of
the estuary of the
River Dyfi in Gwynedd, on the west coast of Wales.
The village was founded around the harbour and shipbuilding industry,
but is now best known as a seaside resort with a high quality
beach. The town centre is on the river and seafront, around the
original harbour, jetty and beach but it stretches back from the coast
and up the steep hillside in the midst of typical Welsh coastal
scenery of steep green hills and sheep farms. Penhelig, with its own
railway station, is the eastern part of the town.
Aberdyfi is a popular tourist attraction, with many returning
holidaymakers, especially from the metropolitan areas of England, such
as the West Midlands, which is less than 100 miles to the east. A
relatively large proportion of houses in the village are now holiday
homes, resulting in high house prices. The town is located within the
Snowdonia National Park. In the 2011 census, 38.5% of the population
Aberdyfi ward identified themselves as Welsh (or combined).
3 Port and railway
6 Cultural References
6.1 The Bells of Aberdovey
7 Notable people associated with Aberdyfi
9 External links
Aberdyfi from across the river.
Local tradition suggests that the Romans established a track into
Aberdyfi as part of the military occupation of
Wales around AD78.
The strategic location in mid-
Wales was the site of several
conferences between north and south
Wales princes in 540, 1140, and
for the Council of
Aberdyfi in 1216. The hill in the centre of
Aberdyfi, Pen-y-Bryn, has been claimed to be the site of
fortifications in the 1150s, which were soon destroyed. The site of
Aberdyfi Castle however is usually said to be at the motte earthworks
further up the river near Glandyfi.
During the Spanish Armada of 1597, a Spanish ship, the Bear of
Amsterdam missed her objective at
Milford Haven and ended up having
entered the Dyfi estuary. She was unable to leave for 10 days because
of the wind and could not be boarded as no suitable boats were
available. An attempt to burn her was frustrated by winds and when
she did leave she ended up being captured by a waiting English fleet
off the Cornish coast.
In the 1700s, the village grew with the appearance of several of the
inns still in current use (The Dovey Hotel, Britannia and Penhelig
Arms). Copper was mined in the present Copperhill Street, and lead in
Aberdyfi, showing the harbour
An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward stretches inland
along the A494 road and includes
Pennal community. The total
population of the ward taken at the 2011 census was 1,282.
Port and railway
In the 1800s,
Aberdyfi was at its peak as a port. Major exports were
slate and oak bark. Ship building was based in seven shipyards in
Penhelig where 45 sailing ships were built between 1840 and 1880.
The railway came to
Aberdyfi in 1863 built by the
Welsh Coast Railway. The first train was ferried across the River
Dyfi, as the line to
Dovey Junction and then
Machynlleth was not
completed until 1867. Due to public demand, this section had to use a
long tunnel behind Aberdyfi, and further major earthworks and tunnels
were needed along the bank of the river. This line, which became part
of the Cambrian Railways, and later the Great Western Railway, is
A jetty was built in 1887, with railway lines connecting it with the
wharf and the main line. The
Aberdyfi & Waterford Steamship
Company imported livestock from Ireland which were then taken further
by the railway. Coal, limestone and timber were also imported.
Crowds on shore at
Aberdyfi watching the regatta circa 1885
A view of
Aberdyfi from Penhelyg Rock circa 1885
Local coastal shipping links with
Liverpool were strong, with many
Aberdyfi men sailing on international voyages from Liverpool. The S.S.
Dora was one of the last ships trading between
Aberdyfi and Liverpool
and was scuttled, with no loss of life, by a German submarine in
The jetty and wharf continued in commercial use for coal until 1959.
After prolonged negotiations, redevelopments from 1968–1971,
including rebuilding the jetty, led to their present use mainly for
recreational purposes. Some local fishing still occurs.
The first ever
Outward Bound centre was opened in
Aberdyfi in 1941.
Many of their activities involve the river, boats and jetty.
Aberdyfi Lifeboat Station
Aberdyfi lifeboat was bought in 1837. Run by the
1853, it has taken part in many rescues, sadly sometimes with loss of
life of crew members. The current lifeboat, an Atlantic 75, is housed
in the boathouse by the jetty and is launched using a lifeboat
tractor. Currently it is averaging about 25 emergency launches each
Aberdyfi include the Welsh
Calvinistic Methodist chapel,
Presbyterian chapel, the Wesleyan
Methodist chapel, and
the Welsh Independent congregational chapel. The (Anglican) Church in
Wales is St Peter's.
Road access to
Aberdyfi is by the A493, with
Tywyn four miles to the
Machynlleth 11 miles to the east.
Aberdyfi is on the
Cambrian Coast railway line. The village of
Aberdyfi has two railway
stations, Aberdovey and Penhelig. Trains on the Cambrian Line are
operated by Arriva Trains Wales. The local bus service is operated by
Lloyds Coaches with services to Tywyn, where a connection can be made
for Dolgellau, and to Machynlleth, where connections are available to
A ferry used to operate across the Dyfi river to Ynyslas. The last
ferryman was Ellis Williams.
Popular recreational activities focus on the beach and watersports,
such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, fishing, crabbing, sailing, and
canoeing on the estuary.
Activities in Aberdyfi
A dinghy race in the Dyfi estuary
Kitesurfing on the Dyfi
The beach on a busy Bank Holiday
Yacht Club has a prominent position on the river front of
the village. It was founded in 1949 and helped develop the popularity
GP14 dinghy class. It organises races for dinghies
throughout the season on the estuary of the River Dyfi.
The Aberdovey Golf Club, founded in 1892, is a famous 18 hole links
course located near the railway station. It is world-renowned, having
been described frequently and lyrically in the press by Bernard
Darwin, the famed golf writer, who was a notable member of the club.
In 1895, it was the location of the first Welsh Golfing Union
Championship. Current members include
Ian Woosnam and Peter Baker.
Located by the
Aberdyfi Golf Club is
Aberdyfi Football club boasting
one of the best football pitches in Mid-Wales. The football team won
the Welsh Amateur Cup Competition in 1934.
Aberdyfi Rowing Club rows in the Dyfi
Cardigan Bay and
takes part in races all round the coast of
Wales and internationally.
They row 24’ long Celtic longboats, with four rowers (each with one
oar) and a cox. They have three of these traditional Welsh boats with
fixed seats and use these for races in Wales.
The Aberdovey Literary Institute, founded in 1882, is situated on the
river front. The deeds of 1923 state it was established in perpetuity
as "a non-sectarian, non-political place of recreation, education and
social intercourse including ... reading rooms, writing rooms,
library, billiard rooms, concert rooms ..."
Neuadd Dyfi is a community hall, conference centre and theatre owned
by the village for village activities. It caters for a range of local
organisations and events.
The Bells of Aberdovey
The bells of St Peter's Church can play Clychau Aberdyfi
See also: The Bells of Aberdovey (song)
Aberdyfi is closely linked to the legend of the submerged lost kingdom
Cantre'r Gwaelod (English: Lowland Hundred) beneath Cardigan Bay,
and bells which, it is said, can be heard ringing beneath the water at
the beach. The Bells of Aberdovey (in Welsh: Clychau Aberdyfi) is a
well-known song referring to this legend. This song first appeared in
the English opera Liberty Hall in 1785, written by Charles Dibdin, and
is not thought to be a traditional folk-song as Welsh words were
written by John Ceiriog Hughes, during the 19th century.
The legend and the song have inspired local cultural projects
A new chime of bells was installed in September 1936 in the tower of
St Peter's Church, which overlooks
Aberdyfi harbour. The ten bells,
tuned in the key of A flat, were specifically designed to allow the
playing of The Bells of
Aberdyfi and are played from a mechanical
carillon inside the church.
A bell installed beneath the pier rings at high tide
In 2010 an art installation was commissioned from sculptor Marcus
Vergette as a homage to The Bells of Aberdovey. The work is a bronze
time-and-tide bell suspended beneath
Aberdyfi pier which is rung by
the action of water at high tide. It was installed in July 2011 and is
one of several such bells around the United Kingdom.
The children's novel, Silver on the Tree, by Susan Cooper, the final
book of The Dark is Rising, is largely set around Aberdyfi, with many
references to local landmarks.
The novel, Megan's Game by Tony Drury, published in 2012, contains
many references to Aberdyfi, surrounding areas and the legend of The
Bells of Aberdovey.
Notable people associated with Aberdyfi
John Corbett (1817–1901), industrialist, philanthropist and Liberal
James Atkin, Baron Atkin
James Atkin, Baron Atkin of Aberdovey (1867–1944),
Oliver Onions (1873–1961), Novelist
Berta Ruck (1878–1978), Romantic novelist
Marguerite Florence Laura Jarvis (1886-1964), writer of romantic
novels under many names (including Countess Barcynska), wrote the
novel "Miss Venus of Aberdovey" and lived for a while at Panteidal
Stan Hugill (1906–1992), Musician and artist, lived in Aberdyfi, and
worked at the
Outward Bound centre from 1950 to 1975
Dr Thomas Tibbott Davies FRCS (1916–2007), local GP for many
Christopher Riche Evans (1931–1979), psychologist, computer
scientist, and author
John T. Houghton
John T. Houghton (born 1931), co-chair of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change lives in Aberdyfi
Kenneth O. Morgan,
Baron Morgan of Aberdyfi, (born 1934), Historian
Simon Jenkins (born 1943), Journalist, editor, author, chairman of
the National Trust
Jimmy Page (born 1946), with
Robert Plant (born 1948), composed many
Led Zeppelin songs at nearby
David Gill (born 1957), former chief executive of Manchester United
and a vice chairman of
The Football Association
The Football Association owns a house in the
village and is a member of Aberdovey Golf Club
Tom Cave (born 1991), rally driver
Aberdyfi and The Dyfi valley from
Ynyslas Sand Dunes, April 2011
^ a b c "Neighbourhood statistics". Office for National Statistics.
Retrieved 14 May 2015.
^ "Aberdyfi.org". Retrieved 23 April 2011.
^ a b "Aberdyfi.com". Retrieved 23 April 2011.
^ a b c d e f Lewis, Hugh (1997). Aberdyfi: a chronicle through the
centuries. Aberdyfi: Author.
Aberdyfi Motte". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011.
Retrieved 24 April 2011.
^ Pickering, W (1932). Archaeologia Cambrensis, Volume 87. Cambrian
Archaeological Association. p. 392.
^ Christiansen, Rex & Miller, R.W. The Cambrian Railways, Vol. 1
David & Charles (1967)
Outward Bound International. "Archived copy". Archived from the
original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-13. . Retrieved 10
Aberdyfi Lifeboat". Retrieved 24 April 2011.
^ "The Williams Family Tree". Retrieved 24 April 2011.
Yacht Club". Archived from the original on 21 May 2011.
Retrieved 24 April 2011.
^ "Aberdovey Golf Club". Archived from the original on 30 April 2011.
Retrieved 24 April 2011.
^ "FAW Welsh Trophy - over 100 years of history". Retrieved 23 April
Aberdyfi Rowing Club". Retrieved 24 April 2011.
^ "About us". St Peter's Church website. Archived from the original on
26 April 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
^ "New bell rings as the tide rises in Aberdyfi, Gwynedd". BBC News.
12 July 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
^ "Time and Tide Bell". Marcus Vergette official website. Retrieved 3
^ "City veteran wields pen against dodgy brokers". The Telegraph. 17
May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
^ The Royal Society of Medicine Wall of Honour Archived 16 January
2014 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Scientist's climate change honour". BBC. 16 January 2006. Retrieved
28 October 2014.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aberdyfi.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Aberdyfi.
"Aberdovey". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
Aberdyfi.org Tourism website
Cantre'r Gwaelod legends site
www.geograph.co.uk : photos of
Aberdyfi and surrounding area
Snowdonia 360: Aberdovey Virtual Tour
Towns and villages
Cwm y Glo
Tal-y-bont (near Bangor)
Tal-y-bont (near Barmouth)
Castles and forts
Castell y Bere
St Tudwals Islands
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Communities of Gwynedd
Brithdir and Llanfachreth