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Top five walks in South Wales

September 25th, 2015

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Glamorgan Heritage Coastline

Less than 30 minutes from Cardiff is 14 miles of beautiful coastal path stretching from the seaside town of Porthcawl to Aberthaw. The route is home to a number of heritage sights and conservation areas, including Ogmore Castle and the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, where a thriving collection of flowers and plant life can be found.

STAY: The Great House in Bridgend

 

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Wye Valley – Abergavenny to Little Skirrid

The Wye Valley is full of forests and castles and starting in the town of Abergavenny, this 3.4 mile route will take you across Monmouthshire’s countryside with views of the Black Mountains. Once you reach the peak of Skirrid Fawr you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of southeast Wales and central England. Make sure you visit the Skirrid Mountain Inn while you’re there – said to be Wales’ oldest inn and steeped in spooky tales of legend and myth.

STAY: Llansantfraed Court

 

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Pen-y-Fan, Brecon Beacons

Just 45 minutes drive from Wales’ capital sits the highest peak in the south of Great Britain, Pen-y-Fan. Although climbing it might sound like a daunting prospect, a moderate stroll up the mountain’s wide and well-paved pathway only takes around 90 minutes from The Storey Arms car park on the A470 route towards Brecon. On a clear day, the summit views over South and Mid Wales are simply breath-taking.

STAY: Gliffaes Country House Hotel

 

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Cwm Clydach, Swansea

When you think of Swansea and the Gower, you might immediately imagine the beautiful sandy coastline, but there’s actually much to offer beyond the coast and into the surrounding unspoilt countryside. Cwm Clydach is a circular walk of nine miles in total alongside the Lower Clydach River, but visiting walkers can choose any portion of the route, all of which provides clear views of the Brecon Beacons.

STAY: Fairyhill Hotel

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Llanerch Vineyard, Hensol

Take a peaceful stroll through the vines of a working vineyard just outside Cardiff. This sheltered spot is only minutes from the M4, but the surrounding woodland blocks off all the disturbances of urban life, and offers visitors a real tranquil escape. Guests at the vineyard can try a taste of the very local wine, and enjoy top quality food at the hotel’s renowned bistro.

STAY: Llanerch Vineyard

Top 5 foraging finds in Wales and when to harvest them

September 10th, 2015

As featured on Countryfile.com 

Samphire

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This delightful, tender vegetable is hard to describe but imagine a salty combination of asparagus and green beans and you’re almost there. It grows in abundance in marshes and muddy sea flats, and is often a nourishing treat for curious grazing salt marsh lambs.

Where: The salt marshes at Portmeirion Village, North Wales

When: The summer months of June to September

How to serve it: Samphire is brilliant with fish, and is delicious served fresh with king prawns and a squeeze of lemon juice, or lightly fried in olive oil as an accompaniment to a fillet of Welsh sea bass.

STAY: Hotel Portmeirion & Castell Deudraeth is set on its own private peninsula, and overlooks sand, sea and mountain. Samphire grows in abundance on the salt marshes, and guests staying in the village can enjoy breathtaking views of Tremadog Bay.

Wild mushrooms

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Wales has the ideal climate for growing edible wild mushrooms. Chanterelles, porcinis and wood blewits are all available in late summer and early autumn, and are distinctive from each other in both appearance and flavour. However, we strongly recommend only undertaking wild mushroom foraging with an expert guide.

Where: Woodland and river banks

When: between August and November

How to serve them: Chanterelles and wood blewits are delicious simply fried in butter and served on toast with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Porcinis can be dried and rehydrated for a deep and intense flavour in risotto and pasta dishes.

STAY: The Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, mid Wales, runs half-day guided mushroom foraging tours for hotel guests and visitors. Tours are available throughout the summer and include a tasting session and preserving demonstration.

Pembrokeshire mussels

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Pembrokeshire’s mussels are small and distinctively sweet in flavour. You can forage for them on the coastline during autumn and early winter, following the famous rule of only harvesting them during the months ending in ‘R’.

Where: Solva beach in Pembrokeshire at low tide

When: best between September and December when the mussels are fully grown and full of the subtle, sweet flavour of the Irish Sea.

How to serve them: Lightly steam in butter, olive oil, and garlic, followed by a good glug of white wine and a dash of cream.

STAY: Warpool Court Hotel is located in the historical city of St. David’s, and sits just three miles along the coast from Solva in Pembrokeshire.

Seaweed

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When visiting Wales’ coastal regions, it’s only right that budding foragers should try a taste of the unique Welsh marine delicacy at its source – laver. There are numerous varieties of edible seaweed on offer, but the high iodine and iron content of laver gives it a subtle and distinctive flavour of the sea.

Where: Penclawdd, Gower Peninsula, Swansea

When: Best in September to December

How to serve it: Laverbread requires considerable cooking time before it’s ready to eat, but boiling it for 10 hours does appear to enhance its flavour. Once cooked, roll in oats and fry in bacon fat for traditional laverbread. You can also add it to soups and stews for a subtle seaside kick.

STAY: Fairyhill Hotel is located just minutes from the Gower Peninsula, where access to bays, beaches and cliffs are aplenty. Visitors can wander down to any of the intertidal beaches in the Gower and will find the purple-black laver leaves strewn over rocks.

Wild garlic

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Wild garlic grows in damp, fertile soil and therefore thrives in the Welsh climate. Follow your nose when you walk into any forest or stream bank in late spring and you will find a plethora of brilliant green leaves. Although the leaves only grow in spring, they freeze well and can be added to dishes straight from the freezer as a seasoning all year round.

Where: by the edges of streams and rivers in South and West Wales

When: between March and June

How to serve it: fresh in a salad for a garlicky hit, or fried in a little olive oil and mixed with sautéed green vegetables

STAY: Llanerch Vineyard is located just outside Cardiff on the M4. Only 15 minutes drive away is the famous Victorian masterpiece, Castell Coch and Fforest Fawr, in which you will find an abundance of wild garlic growing everywhere you turn – don’t forget to bring a pair of scissors and a bag for collecting the leaves.