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Two riverside holiday cottages on the edge of Snowdonia that are perfect for large gatherings.

Situated in a former slate works and quay overlooking the beautiful Dyfi Estuary, Smugglers Cove Boatyard has been offering moorings and acting as a hub for local sailors for years. But these days it's much more than just a boatyard, with camping pitches in the best spots along the riverbank, a glamping boat on the foreshore and four-star self-catering holiday accommodation in two almost adjacent properties – Chapel House and Quarry Cottage – which are rented together as a single holiday let. With room for 14–18 people in 7 bedrooms (as well as the ability to book the camping pitches and The Boy John glamping boat for even more guests), it's an ideal venue for family reunions, parties, celebrations and get-togethers.

Both properties were fully renovated by local architects and are furnished in a comfy rustic style that is cosy rather than posh. Five-bedroom Chapel House, the larger of the two properties, has three bedrooms downstairs, one with a four-poster, one a twin and another with bunk-beds. There are also two double bedrooms upstairs and a total of two toilets, two shower rooms and a family bathroom. The large open-plan area on the ground floor has a big sitting room, a communal dining table that can fit everyone, even at full capacity, and a well-equipped kitchen with a gas-fired hob, electric oven, American-style fridge, dishwasher and microwave. There's gas-powered central heating and also a wood-burning stove for cosy nights in, a Freesat flatscreen TV and a DVD player, a CD player and free wifi; and one of the sofas opens up as a sofa bed for additional guests. 

Quarry Cottage, has a similar layout and facilities but just two bedrooms, plus a small double sofa bed. It also has a small, secluded garden, while Chapel House has a patio area with bench tables & BBQ. Dogs too are welcome, and it couldn't be more ideal; they even have an outdoor tap and drinking bowls for thirsty hounds and dirty paws.

One of the nice things about Smugglers Cove is the access it gives to the rocky foreshore and the river. You can launch your own boat or canoe or just enjoy the private beach, from which you can swim or just watch the boats bobbing about. The RSPB Ynys-hir nature reserve on the opposite shore is worth rowing across to, or you can stride out into the hills behind on numerous footpaths; Snowdonia National Park and the ridges that crinkle towards the north east are a short drive away – as is Cadair Idris, Wales' second most popular mountain for walkers, after Snowdon. There's also Aberdyfi beach at the far end of the estuary, which is a wonderful expanse of golden sand and dunes. All in all Smugglers Cove is the perfect place for a celebration or just a few days away from the daily grind. 

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The Owner Says

Camping and glamping in a working boatyard with an exceptional location on the Dyfi estuary.

This small, friendly boatyard on the Dyfi estuary, is located at an old slate works and quay in the Snowdonia National Park.

The boatyard is run by John Wassell and Geoff Hill, the day to day management of the yard is done by boat builder Giles Thaxton.

We have established a small, slightly eccentric, sustainable resource to be used by those interested in the outdoors.

We have a slipway and boat hoist, moorings & hard standing for smaller boats, toilets, showers, camping and holiday cottages.

Located 3 miles upriver from Aberdyfi bar and on the A493

The Boy John - a boat on the land.
A love nest for two or tiny venue for camping groups: a former Scottish fishing boat pulled up onto the shore and converted into a quirky space.
If you are looking for a romantic weekend away with a difference, the Boy John experience will be memorable!
The Boy John is 40’ long and 13’ wide, with good standing headroom. The main space has a kitchen/bar area with 2 ring gas hob; a piano and a wood burning stove, with seating along the sides for 12 people. The space is lit with fairy lights and spot lights, using solar generated electricity. Beyond, the stern cabin has a double bed, and is lined with boards that follow the lines of the hull, which gives it a real nautical feel. Upstairs the wheelhouse is glazed and you can sit outside on deck enjoying amazing views of the estuary.
If you have booked our cottages or camping pitches, the Boy John can provide a warm dry space for your group on the foreshore. She has been used for music gigs, films, storytelling and party space.

Our favourite spot

Tents, families, groups, dogs – yes. Campervans, caravans and motorhomes – no.

The local area

Aberdyfi is 3 miles away. It's a charming, colourful little fishing village with a few good eateries and a big sandy beach. The drive takes less than 5 minutes but if the tide is a long way out you can walk, for around an hour, along the sands. It's a 10 minute drive to Machynlleth, a larger market town with independent shops along the high street, and a little further on the same road is the Centre for Alternative Technology (01654 705950), an interesting place to visit if you've been taken in by the eco-conscious camping. Smugglers Cove looks across the water to RSPB Ynys-hir (01654 700222), the location for much of the BBC's Springwatch series and the Dyfi Osprey Project (01654 781414), nearby, is particularly interesting. It is one of only two breeding locations for Ospreys in the UK with a walkway and hide for observing. Of course, by far the two biggest things here are heading into vast Snowdonia National Park (01766 770274) to walk, hike, bike and explore or to go boating on the estury directly from the boatyard. If you need a little tution try Dyfi Yacht Club (01654 767607) in Aberdyfi where there is sailing, kayaking, kitesurfing and more.

Best local places to eat and drink

Forage the trees around the camping pitches or get out your fishing rod and try to reel in your own dinner. If you're after something a little more speedy then the local village of Aberdyfi has a range of good eateries specialising in Welsh cuisine, fish and seafood – The Dovey Inn (01654 767332) is probably the most pub-like of them all. Machynlleth is the best place to go for a proper food shop, though, with a supermarket as well as a wider restaurant selection.

Why stay with us?

There are toilets and showers in an ablutions building near the car parking area. Firewood is available for sale (by the bag or wheelbarrow load) and small campfires are permitted in the three fireplaces. Pitches have outstanding sea views (partly because they are practically in the sea!) and, when the tide is out, there is a beach. There is no vehicle access to the camping pitches, however the site provides a wheelbarrow for carrying your kit and it's only a 100m walk. The Boy John, a converted fishing vessel, is available for groups to use as a communal space or as glamping accommodation. It features a sleeping cabin, piano, log-burning stove, furniture and storage, and access to the top deck to enjoy the views.

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