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Set on the coastline of Snowdonia National Park, Shell Island is the biggest campsite in the UK. The site which spans over 450 acres, is less than 30 minutes north from the popular seaside town of Barmouth, making it the perfect destination for a summer holiday.


The welcoming entrance sign to Shell Island. Seagulls can be seen flying in the background.
The welcoming entrance sign to Shell Island

Shell island accepts, both tents and campervan's with prices starting from just £9.00 per person per night off season. While it's not the cheapest campsite for families, it has much to offer that other sites cannot compete with.


So what makes Shell Island unique? Not only is it one of the largest campsites in Europe, the island is based in a fantastic location just a stones-throw from the beach. Lucky campers may even find themselves in a pitch overlooking the sea, though these spots are often the first to be snapped up. 


It's also a tidal island meaning at certain times Shell Island is inaccessible when the tide is in. This is never for more than a few hours, though it does make for some slightly nail-biting drives when you've got minutes to cross before the waves start lapping at the road!


Looking across the beach at Shell Island. The foreground is sandy but the shore is shingle
Part of the beach that Shell Island campsite overlooks


Peeping down a sandy path to the beach. The path is lined with thin grass that grows tall and each side of the path.
One of the paths from the campsite to the beach


Facilities


Shell Island has one main shower block near the reception area, with a secondary smaller shower block beside it. The showers are free to use and always hot, though they can get incredible busy at peak times. While the showers are near reception, there are multiple toilet blocks dotted around the site, meaning you are never more than a few minutes walk from the loos. While these sites are very handy for those 3am wee's, they do not have hot water which is unfortunate.


There is also an on site shop, camp shop, tavern, restaurant and snack bar, meaning you won't go hungry if your bbq doesn't quite live up to expectations. Drinking water is also readily available across the campsite.


Standing on a sandy path looking towards the campsite. Tents and campervans can be seen across the landscape.

You really couldn't get any closer to the beach if you tried


Looking across the campsite. Tents and campervans are scattered across the land. The mountainous Snowdonia National Park can be seen in the background.
Looking out across the campsite. Snowdonia National Park can be seen in the background


Pros:


  • The campsite is located beside the sea meaning it has easy access to the beach and beautiful views in every direction.
  • It's around 20 minutes from Barmouth and around an hour from Snowdon.
  • There are multiple toilet blocks across the site, all with disabled access.
  • The showers are free to use.
  • The size of the site means you have lots of space to yourself.


Cons:


  • The shower blocks can get busy at peak times.
  • Cleanliness could be better at busy times.
  • Not all of the toilet blocks have hot water.


Bigger doesn't always mean better, and while I think this is true when it comes to some of the facilities available on Shell Island, the location of this giant campsite really cannot be beaten. Shell Island is one of those places where it's easy to fall in love with the area and many find themselves returning year after year to battle the tides and pitch up on this beautiful stretch of land.



Have you ever camped at Shell Island in Wales?


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Barmouth, UK

SHELL ISLAND WALES - THE UK'S BIGGEST CAMPSITE

If you haven't already, head over to 6 times I thought I would die while travelling part 1, to read the first 3 of my rather questionable travel tales. If you've already heard all about those feel free to keep reading for the second part of my near miss stories!


Looking out an airplane window down on a city below

Here are 3 more times I thought I would die while travelling...



That time I almost drowned on a boat trip in Bodrum


Boat trips are an absolute favourite pastime of mine. If I'm not chugging along Europe's canals, I'm drifting around various lakes and oceans, I just can't get enough of it. And so when the much younger, bargain-hunting Grace spied a day-long boat trip for £8 in the party city of Bodrum, I snatched the tour operators hand off. 


On the day of the trip, I was beyond excited. Although I didn't expect much for less than a tenner, I was determined to make the most of the tour - it was my last full day in beautiful Turkey after all! Our first stop on the trip was to a small sea side spa. It looked more like an old run-down pool to me, and we didn't stay long. The next stop was much more interesting. We pulled up in a small bay with fairly shallow, crystal clear waters and were encouraged to take a dip. Here we were surrounded by ocean wildlife and I even spotted a tiny speckled octopus! I've never been so glad to have my goggles with me because I would have missed that gem had I not been able to open my eyes once I'd swam down to the seafloor.


The third stop was where we would stay the longest. By now we had moved on to much deeper water where we were unable to see much beyond our own toes. Many of the tourists decided that this was the perfect place to jump off the boat into the sparkling sea below. Scared but willing to give anything a go I plunged into the water. I came up spluttering and mildly shaken as even though I held my nose, water still managed to rush inside. I'd also managed to descend a little further than expected and so surfacing took longer than I had hoped. 


Not content with almost drowning next to our boat I set my eyes on another challenge. I spied a beach not too far away that other guests had already started swimming to. Determined to make the most of my time, and partially to impress the non-swimming partner I was with, I set out to reach the shore. It soon became evident that my eyes had deceived me and the shingle beach was much further away than it seemed. Still as stubborn as ever I pressed on, battling waves much larger than expected and taking on yet more seawater.


By this time it was too far to turn back and my achy limbs needed to rest. I calculated that I was now closer to the beach and I'd likely never make it back to the boat without a short break anyway. And it's not like there were any lifeguards onboard either, not on an £8 boat trip. So I continued to the beach, my legs on the verge of cramping and my lungs filling with gulps of salty water until eventually, my knees grazed the stones below. How I made it back to the boat I'll never quite know, but here I am, silly as ever and ready to make more bad decisions.  


Photo taken from the shore or Bodrum beach. Looking out across the bay at the clear waters and the boats in the distance.


That time we stayed in the scariest apartment in Budapest


On my quest for an affordable place to stay in central Budapest back in 2017, I booked what I thought was a nice little city apartment slap bang in the middle of Pest. The reviews were good, and the photos made the place look clean and modern, everything you could want right? But how wrong I was. 


On arrival, it was clear that this was just one of a string of apartments the company owned across the city. They had obviously been refurbished and furnished as cheaply as humanly possible. Cleanliness was also not a priority here as the pillows smelled less than appealing and on our first night, we were visited by a tiny cockroach. As well as all this we were plagued by a small plaque which hung on the wall stating the house rules which included things like 'no noise after 10 pm' amongst other more ridiculous rules. The apartment itself was within an old run-down pre-war building with minimal lighting and questionable health and safety standards. Looking back I'm unsure why we didn't grab our bags and make a run for it after that first night, maybe part of us thought it was actually quite funny that we'd ended up in such horrendous accommodation after a string of great hotels. It wouldn't have been so funny had we caught the black death mind!


But all this was nothing compared to the facility we had to use to even get to our dirty little room. While I'm sure the stairs were perfectly acceptable, staying on the top floor of a tall building could convince even the most nervous person to hop into a lift. And so that's what we did, or shall I say attempted to do. Once the elevator doors opened it was evident that two people and a suitcase would not fit. The floor space within the lift was barely 4-foot square, I'd never seen anything before in my life. It was clearly a slapped up homemade elevator that would never pass any kind of safety testing in the UK. I'll admit at this point it did look incredibly questionable, but not prepared to walk up several flights of stairs with a full suitcase I grabbed the bags and hopped inside to meet my partner at the top.


As soon as the machinery started going the tiny room was filled with clunks and crashes and the floor below me shook. At that moment I was convinced that this little wooden box would simply crash to the floor below with me inside it and no one would even hear me scream over the noise. Luckily I made it to the top floor and lived to tell the tale of the crazy little lift. I also used it every single time I left the apartment after that because although it was terrifying, I thought it would also be a really funny way to die. 


A close up shot of the shoes on the Danube memorial in Budapest


That time I almost froze to death while camping in Wales


When camping you really are at the mercy of the elements, I think that's part of the fun of it. Setting up your little tent, making it as comfortable as possible, and praying as hard as you can that your shelter won't be blown away in the night. There's just something so alluring about roughing it for a few nights and let's be honest, we all love getting pissed next to a roaring campfire!


I'm fairly new to camping myself, and my tiny tent isn't exactly the kind of accommodation I'd like to spend a week in, but my parents on the other hand have all the gear. Staying in their massive tent is like living it up in a 5-star resort compared to my two-man £20 festival tent. And so when they booked a few nights in Europe's biggest campsite I tagged along. It was May and it was warm. Regardless of the fairly mild temperate I still filled my section of the tent with blankets on top of blankets on top of blankets, to make sure I was extra toasty once the fire went out. I suffer from the cold at the best of times so it doesn't hurt to be a bit extra in that department. 


Fast forward a few nights and the temperate took a plummet. On this night sky was clear and the wind was howling all around us. The campsite being on the coast didn't help as we also had the freezing wind blowing in across the sea - we really had nowhere to hide. Even with my layers of blankets and my extra thick pyjamas, I felt it all. Before long I was dithering and my face was stone cold. My nose was streaming and I could not get warm no matter how hard I tried. I spent the first few hours in and out of consciousness just hoping I could stay asleep long enough to see the sun the morning. At one point I considered taking my sleeping bag up to the toilet blocks to try to survive the night in there but I was so cold I could barely move. That's when I finally got the courage to check the temperature. 4 degrees. Not cold enough to be freezing, but colder than a human should have to suffer. I decided then and there that I would die in this place, but by some miracle, myself and my family made it through the night. My sister told me she was also convinced her time was up as we thawed out over breakfast the following morning. 


Looking across the Danube at Liberty Bridge in Budapest

So those were 6 times I was sure I was going to die while travelling. And you want to know the worst bit? Those are just the few I thought were worth telling! Unfortunatly for me I'm rather clumsy and so these stories really are endless!


Please feel free to leave your own near death travel experiences in the comments below or over on Twitter!


Thanks for reading!



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Birmingham, UK

6 TIMES I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE WHILE TRAVELLING (PART 2)

I've always said I would die while travelling. Maybe I'd go down in a dramatic fireball of a plane crash, or perhaps I'd slip off a cliff in some beautiful exotic location, the possibilities really are endless. And let's be honest with my track record no one would be shocked if the worst were to happen while I'm off on my holibobs. 


If I'm not tripping down a flight of stairs and breaking bones, I'm out and about making bad decisions, so between my own clumsiness and the sheer amount of wild things that happen to me on regular basis, it's really no surprise that I've already had a few close calls. 


Looking out an airplane window on to the clouds below


So here are 6 times I thought I was going to die while travelling...



That time I was hit by a car in Amalfi


Amalfi is without a doubt one of the most beautiful seaside towns I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. The views across the town are spectacular, and the waters that lap the shore are calm and warm, it really is the perfect place for a short break. But if you've ever been to Italy I'm sure you'll know all too well that the roads are anything but paradise. Never in my life have I seen such dangerous driving on such tiny winding roads. 


Now I'm fairly used to being hit by things, I have a habit of stepping out into roads without looking after all, but this incident was far from my fault for once. As I was making my way up one of the twisting roads leading out of Amalfi I was all too aware of the cars zipping up and down, getting ever closer to myself. Ensuring I was strolling as close to the barrier as humanly possible I was fairly certain I would be safe from the speeding vehicles even though my bare legs would be sprayed with a fine layer of dust and warm air with every passing car. This imaginary safety bubble I had wrapped around myself was soon burst when I felt a hard hot chunk of plastic smash into my left arm. I'd been hit by the wing mirror of a car. Luckily I wasn't too hurt, and the only damage I came away with was a sore shoulder, nothing a little Aperol Spritz couldn't fix eh?


Looking out across the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.
Amalfi, Italy


That time I accidentally ate raw meat in Warsaw


Languages, I've always been fascinated by them but I've never been able to get my head around anything other than English. And it's not like I didn't try, I spent 5 good years of my life trying to learn German and all I've got to show for it is a GCSE certificate and the ability to order a very limited amount of food items with a very questionable accent. So when I travel, apart from using a basic translate app, I often have to rely on old fashioned good luck to survive, which brings me to my next story.


On my second day in Warsaw, I found myself walking down a huge boulevard lined with tall grey communist-era buildings. With my destination still a little while away and my stomach begging for lunch, I decided it was time to grab a snack. Being further out from the city that I would have liked, and also not wanting to lose too much time I nipped into a convenience store for a quick bite to eat.


Most food items are pretty self-explanatory, so regardless of my inability to read anything other than English I was fairly confident I had just bought a banging pack of Polish Peperami. Happy with my snack, and keen to continue on my way I soon started munching away and that's when it hit me. As soon as I bit down on my new meaty treat my mouth was filled with a spicy liquid. Unsure of what I had just chomped on I quickly I swallowed it all down. Panic ensued. Myself and my partner at the time began trying to frantically translate the packet to decipher if I had just consumed raw meat. Convinced it was too late for me, I put the porky snack away and began wondering just how severe my food poisoning would before returning to the hotel. Once back at the reception area I hysterically begged the concierge to translate what was left of the wrapper so that I could be sure just what I would be vomiting up later that evening. "Cured meat" he quickly replied. And so I did not die, this time. 



Looking across canal in Amsterdam towards tall thin wonky dutch houses.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


That time I burst a blood vessel in my eye in Amsterdam


My ability to injure myself generally knows no bounds, but apart from the occasional bruises I get while intoxicated, I usually know how I've done it. Well, when I awoke one morning in misty Amsterdam I'd done some damage I couldn't account for. While I was likely drinking fairly heavily the night before I'd not gone too wild, and so as I started to do my makeup in the hotel room mirror I was shocked to see blood within my eyeball. The small drop of blood, which had pooled on the white of my left eye, was alarming but as it was so tiny I didn't panic. That was until I was eating breakfast and my partner at the time noticed that the blood had spread, and quite quickly too.


Sure that I was bleeding out through my eyeball I desperately scanned google for an English speaking doctor in central Amsterdam. By this time the majority of my eye was now covered in a deep shade of red and I could feel the liquid oozing underneath the surface. Having no luck with my search I approached the hotel receptionist who looked just as concerned as I. He quickly discovered a private doctor a few streets away and so off we went, into the cold of the morning to find out if I would live to see another day.


It wasn't long before we found ourselves in the home of a friendly Dutch Doctor who was all too casual about my terminal condition. He quickly checked me over and assured me I wasn't going to die, though the bleed would likely get worse before it got better, fantastic. And so I left the Doctors house reassured and slightly proud that he initially thought I was Norwegian, so I must have looked hot that day. My holiday photos were ruined, but at least I didn't have internal bleeding.


Pizza and beer on a table in front of the blue mediterranean sea.

Lunch with a view in Amalfi


So what have I learned from this? 1. I panic VERY easily 2. I bother hotel receptionists way too much with my medical concerns. And 3. One day I will probably die while travelling...


Don't forget to come back to read part two of the times I thought I would die while travelling! Yes, there are MORE stories!!


And please feel free to leave your own little travel mishaps in the comments below! I love hearing about your stories too!


Thanks for reading!



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Birmingham, UK

6 TIMES I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE WHILE TRAVELLING (PART 1)

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