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Freya Dowson is an international documentary photographer based in Dubai.

About Freya

I guess it depends on how long you’ve been reading here, or following me on Instagram, but it’s probably not a surprise to you how much I love Wales – how beautiful I think it is, in all of it’s wild and untamed landscapes, friendly people and stunning natural beauty. I’m sorry United Kingdom, but I think Wales wins my heart.

I was on my way back from Canada with some serious post-travel blues hitting me – maybe it was the pile of work I had ahead of me and maybe I was a little reluctant to exchange my camera for my laptop just yet. Either way I thought maybe it was a good idea to jump in the car and head out of London to some wilder places – ease myself back into it, you know? I called up my friend Tania (also about to hit her own post-travel blues) and with almost zero prompting she was in for the adventure and the next day we were off!

The trouble with last minute adventures is, unless you want to sleep in your car, they kind of require some intense pre-planning. The first place I tend to look is Canopy and Stars because I know they usually have something magical going by way of accommodation, which of course they did. Staying in a slate cabin in Pwllheli, right on the coast next the the Wales Coast Path was perfect. It’s a pop-up hosted by Epic Retreats and we stayed in the Slate Cabin with a view right out across the water below the Snowdonia mountain range. 

After hours in the car from London to Pwllheli we relaxed in our cabin for a bit, just staring out at the sea, before heading out to walk part of the Wales Coast Path. There are times I become so frustrated with my camera because no photo can do certain light and colours justice, and the blues and the greens of this section of the Welsh coastline are just unbelievable – you just have to see it with your own eyes. We walked for an hour or so, looked out for what wildlife we could find and kept going until it got too dark for us to see the seagulls coming home from a day on the sea.

As we were walking back to our cabin we heard music playing from a tent close by and found other campers gathered around a band playing Welsh folk songs. The whole thing just gave me that tingly feeling you get when everything is just so magical and you couldn’t have planned it better yourself. And as much as I would like to take credit for planning such a wonderful experience, I can’t – we just booked the place last minute and stumbled into it – but that’s pretty much how all my trips to Wales have been, something wonderful always just happens.

It felt like going back in time a little, listening to that music – like it might have been years ago when there were no phones, no TVs, and just your own people to gather with and make your own entertainment. After an evening of listening to Roy Griffiths and his band Hen Fegin play dreamy folk songs about the Welsh people and the sea, we had a couple of local Welsh IPAs (Cwrw Glyndwr to be specific, it’s delicious) and went to bed only to wake up to a perfectly clear morning right in front of us at the foot of our bed.

After a quick breakfast and a strong coffee we were off again, this time with a mission. I’ve been wild swimming a few times over the years, and we decided to challenge ourselves to find somewhere amazing to go for a swim in Snowdonia National Park – after coming to terms with the idea that it might be a little cold. Have you ever experienced the complete satisfaction of going wild swimming and then warming up afterwards with a cup of tea and some warm socks? It’s one of my favourite things.

We drove into Snowdonia National Park and looked out for Watkin Path, which would take us to the spot we were looking for – a waterfall along the path up Snowdon (not too far up though, only about half an hour). We wandered down from the main path and found a secret spot to change into our swimming costumes and jump into a little pool just downstream from the waterfall. It was chilly, but it was also just perfect. It was the good kind of cold, the kind that gets your blood moving and your heart rate up and makes you feel truly alive.

After drying ourselves off (we forgot towels and only had Molly’s dog towels in the boot of my car – whoops! But at least they were clean), we headed into Beddgelert for a cup of tea and a snack before heading off again.

I can’t tell you how peaceful and how tired I was at the end of that day. We swam, pulled over every five minutes to take photos of the beautiful landscape in the fading summer light, stopped to take in every view and breathe the air that smelled of green things and the sea, got lost on purpose, talked about future trips to Wales, and laughed so hard we fell headfirst into a Welsh stream – the last one I caught on video and play again and again when I need cheering up, it still makes me laugh.

These are the moments we’ll remember when we’re older, the kind of adventures you never regret taking. Wales will always be such a huge source of inspiration to me, and I love it more and more after each visit.

Thanks for having me, Visit Wales – you helped me make some of my favourite memories.



Win an epic Camera bundle with Visit Wales!!! Visit Wales are offering one lucky person to win an this incredible piece of kit from Fujifilm, the Fuji X-T20. A stylish, powerful yet lightweight mirrorless camera with tilting LCD touchscreen with 4K video Film Simulation modes! Take your photography to the next level, and enter today Click here to enter >


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