Tags: Activities, Adventure, Brecon Beacons, Caernarfon, Caerphilly Castle, castle, family, Instagram, Lake Vyrnwy, landscape, Legendary, National Park, photography, Portmeirion, Smallest city, Snowdonia, St David's, Wales, Walking, Walks, Year of Legends
There are many reasons to visit Wales, the land of song, scenery and (occasionally) sunshine. But whatever the weather the Welsh landscape is a wonder to behold. Here are just seven wonders of Wales that everyone should visit.
The rugged beauty of Snowdonia National Park, in northwest Wales, brings to mind the landscape of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings. The focal point of the region is Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the British Isles south of the Scottish Highlands. This dreamy photo illustrates why Snowdonia is such a beautiful place to visit both in summer and winter.
2. St David’s Cathedral
This majestic cathedral is located in St Davids, Britain’s smallest city. Not only is the area beautiful, it also holds a rich history. So highly regarded was the area as a holy place, even William the Conqueror visited St Davids to pray.
3. Brecon Beacons
Located in South Wales, this beautiful mountain range and National Park is not only visited by people seeking out stunning views, it is also used for a range of different activities, from mountain climbing to military training.
4. Caerphilly Castle
This medieval castle is located in the town of Caerphilly in south Wales. Constructed in the 13th century it has witnessed many battles over the centuries but is still remarkably well preserved today. As well as a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue it has even been a filming location for the popular British television show Doctor Who.
5. Lake Vyrnwy
This beautiful reservoir in Powys, Mid Wales was built in the 1880s. Its stone-built dam was the first of its kind in the world. Today, tourists visit this stunning place partly because of its award-winning sculpture trail, which started in 1995. It is also popular for a range of recreational activities, including sailing, rock climbing, cycling, walking, horse riding and hiking. It also used to be the home to the tallest tree in the UK until storms took its toll. Now another tree in the same area has taken the title of being the tallest tree in Wales.
6. Caernarfon Castle
This is another medieval fortress located in Caernarfon, in Gwynedd, northwest Wales. This World Heritage Site has a rich history. Created by King Edward I, it is considered one of the most impressive castles in Wales. Sitting on the shores of the Menai Strait with views across to Anglesey, visitors to Caernarfon will never short of things to see.
This is a well-known tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. Designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1900s it is an Italian style village. Many writers and television producers have been inspired by this stunning town, and it provided the backdrop for the classic 1960s series The Prisoner.
These are just seven of Wales’ wonders, but there are many, many more to be found across the length and breadth of this beautiful country. Why not visit and discover a few for yourself?
It’s often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but whether you’re a man or a woman there’s something special about cooking a meal for a special someone.
So, this Valentine’s Day, why not try one of our romantic recipes, guaranteed to warm your heart and fill your stomach!
Baked Organic Golden Cenarth
You’ve heard of baked Camembert, and who doesn’t love gooey cheese, but why not try the Welsh version?
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
1 organic Golden Cenarth cheese, plastic cover removed
A loaf of sourdough or ciabatta
A tablespoon of olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Place the cheese in its wooden packaging on a baking tray, secured with string to prevent leakages.
Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese begins to bubble. Meanwhile slice and lightly toast the bread under the grill.
To add something extra to the dish, serve with a roasted whole bulb of garlic or some red onion chutney.
Rack of Welsh lamb with a herb crust served with bubble and squeak, shallots and a red wine jus
You can’t have a list of Welsh recipes without including delicious lamb. This recipe sounds a lot, but it’s surprisingly easy and bound to impress.
Serves: 4 (or two with plenty of leftovers)
Prep: 40 min
Cook: 45 mins
1 double rack of lamb ‘French’ trimmed – fat removed and bones cleaned (your butcher will do this if you ask nicely)
A tablespoon Welsh grain mustard
25g (1oz) fresh dried breadcrumbs
Chopped fresh herbs
Half a pint of lamb stock
1 glass of full-bodied red wine
6 potatoes for mashing – King Edwards are ideal
6 leaves of Savoy cabbage
1 small onion
12 small shallots
Knob of Welsh butter
Dash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs of rosemary to garnish
Make mash by boiling peeled and chopped potatoes for 20 minutes, drain and mash until light and fluffy.
Slice cabbage and boil for 2 minutes, cool and squeeze dry.
Peel and finely dice onion, sauté in a small knob of butter. When cool mix the potatoes, cabbage and onion together with seasoning and form into ‘cakes’ ready to pan fry later.
Coat the trimmed racks – cut into 4 portions – with the mustard and seasoning, then cover with the herbs and breadcrumbs which have been mixed together. Place in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in a hot oven for 12 to 15 minutes for medium or 20 minutes plus for medium to well done.
While the racks are roasting reduce the red wine and stock by half, remove lamb and let rest for 2-3 minutes in a warm place, add any juices from the roasting tray to the jus and pass into another pan, adding a small knob of butter to give a shine to the jus.
While the racks are roasting, also pan fry the bubble & squeak for 2-3 minutes on each side and poach the peeled shallots in a dash of seasoned water with a small knob of butter for 8-10 minutes.
To assemble the dish place a bubble & squeak cake in the centre of the plate, carve the lamb into three cutlets and arrange around the cake with the glazed shallots, pour over the jus and garnish with the rosemary.
Pan-fried fillet of Welsh sea bass with shrimp butter and crushed potatoes with peas
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
2 sea bass fillets
50g fresh or frozen peas
500g new potatoes
1tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
2tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
50g fresh peeled shrimps
4 shrimps with shells for garnish
1tsp fresh dill finely chopped
2tbsp lemon juice
1tsp fresh parsley finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Put sea bass fillets on a plate and season with sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Boil potatoes until soft and drain. Transfer to a bowl and crush using a fork.
Boil the peas with a little sugar, salt and pepper and 1tbsp butter. Simmer until soft then drain.
Add peas to the potatoes and mix together with 2tbsp olive oil and the mint.
In a heavy based pan, melt the butter, add the shrimps, herbs and lemon juice and season to taste. Fry until cooked then set aside.
Heat a frying pan with some oil, put the fish fillets in skin side down and fry for a few minutes until the skin is brown and crispy. Turn the fish upside down and either finish under the grill or fry for a few minutes more in the pan.
Arrange the warm potatoes on a plate, put the fillet of fish on the top and finish with the butter sauce.
Garnish with the shell-on shrimps.
Bara brith bread and butter pudding
Combining two of our favourite Welsh products, this bread and butter pudding uses bara brith and contains just a splash of Penderyn whisky.
Prep: 20 mins (plus cooling time)
Cook: 50 mins
1 loaf of bara brith
100g caster sugar
1ltr of milk
1 vanilla pod
20g brown sugar
20ml Penderyn whisky
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees. Slice the Bara Brith and spread with butter, then arrange in an ovenproof dish. Splash over the whisky and leave to soak.
Whisk the eggs, caster sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside. In a saucepan boil the milk with the vanilla pod, and allow to cool. Pour the milk over the eggs and sugar and mix, and then pass this through a sieve.
Pour the liquid over the sliced bara brith until covered and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown. Serve with either ice cream or custard.
Every year on the 25th January we celebrate what is commonly known as the Welsh St Valentines Day.
St Dwynwen’s Day, or Dydd Santes Dwynwen, is a celebration of Wales’ patron saint of love. Dwynwen was a 4th Century Welsh princess who was unlucky in love.
Legend has it that Dwynwen was the prettiest of all of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s daughters. She fell in love with a local boy, Maelon, but was already betrothed to another prince. After telling Maelon the bad news, Dwynwen fled to the woods to lament her lost love and pray for help from God. An angel appeared to Dwynwen and gave her a potion to help her forget about Maelon, which turned him to ice. After seeing the effects of the potion on Maelon, Dwynwen prayed for help. Hearing her cries for help, God granted her three wishes; she chose to cure Maelon, have God look after all true lovers and for her to remain unmarried.
St Dwynwen’s day is considered as the most romantic day of the year in Wales, and is celebrated much the same as Valentines Day; cards are exchanged and (mostly) thoughtful presents are given.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the Welsh holiday, we’ve put together a few ideas to impress the significant other in your life.
Tags: Activities, Adventure, Black Mountains, Caerphilly Castle, Instagram, Landscapes, Llyn y Fan Fach, Mwnt, Penarth Pier, photography, scenic, South Wales, Wales, Walking, Welsh coast, Welsh photographers, Welsh Rarebits
We may be biased but Wales truly has some of the most stunning views, picturesque places and fantastic areas of interest in the UK. There really is something for everyone to visit and stay in Wales. If you can’t get to explore Wales’ beauty in person, the next best way is through pictures. Ranging from professional Welsh photographers with a large fan base, to up-and-coming Instagrammers that offer a glimpse into everyday life in Wales, we’ve selected a handful of our favourite Instagram accounts that show the country in all its glory and are all definitely worth a follow.
Understated yet spectacular shots from Chris Buxton who is based in Wales. These images are sure to take your breath away and make you want to visit all the beautiful places Chris photographs, for example Llyn y Fan Fach (right), a lake in South Wales.
Focusing on people, nature and landscapes, this Instagram account gives an insight into life in the Rhondda Valleys. Susanne Smith captures this area of Wales beautifully.
Award-winning photographer Finn Beales is based in the Black Mountains of Wales. Although he posts photos of all his travels, Finn’s posts of his home landscape are truly captivating.
On Instagram Katie Jones showcases clear and bright photography of some of the top destinations to visit in south Wales, including Penarth Pier (image 1) and Caerphilly Castle (image 2).
Will Bendall shows off his skills by picturing secret spots across Wales. Take Mwnt Beach in Cardigan Bay for example (image 2), possibly one of the most beautiful places to visit on West Wales’ Coast.
Who wouldn’t want to see gorgeous pictures of Wales’ scenery featuring a loveable little beagle? Heddwyn James explores beautiful Wales alongside little pal Megan, such as Dunraven Bay (image 1) and Dunraven Castle Gardens (image 2).
Steve Dimmick captures family life in Wales in all its glory, focusing on days out with his family in places such as Coed Y Nant Parc (image 1) and the Taff Trail (image 2) in Cardiff.
Specialising in stunning sunset and beach photography, Nadya Candy is based in Ogmore-by-Sea, Vale of Glamorgan; we definitely want to stay here! #sunsetstodiefor
Wedding photographer Owen Warrell offers a sweet glimpse into everyday life in Pembrokeshire. Little Haven Beach in Pembrokeshire is a must-visit (image 1).
Giddy Gavin, based in Harlech, adds shots of colour to his posts to bring out the charm of Wales. One of our favourites is his little vintage car in front of Snowdonia (image 2), an ideal place to visit to get the full Wales experience.
To visit these locations yourself, check out our places to stay
We bring you the most useful (yet stylish) bags and jackets from Melin Tregwynt for Your Mini Break in Wales.
When going on a weekend break it can sometimes be a little stressful packing. From what type of bag to take with you that fits all your essentials in, to trying to find the perfect outfit that keeps you warm yet remains fashionable, there are lots of tough choices to make. Our friends at Melin Tregwynt woolen mill offer a range of bags to make your weekend break stress-free, along with a range of jackets and accessories to keep you cosy when exploring Wales’ beautiful scenery. All of the bags and jackets are ideal for travelling light yet stylishly for weekend-length breaks.
The Weekender offers plenty of room for all of your belongings. It has matching leather handles, a carry strap and internal zip pocket. This is the ideal size for a mini-break in the stunning countryside of Wales.
This classic zipped handbag is fully lined and long enough to fit over the shoulder. Featuring two internal leather pockets and a leather base for protection, this is the perfect size to accompany you to the local pub while discovering Wales’ fabulous food and drink.
Spacious and satchel-style, this shoulder bag made for the office is roomy enough for a laptop and all your office essentials. The laptop bag has a leather base, leaving you with no worries about how many important files you may need to take away with you on a working weekend in Wales.
Ideal for an evening stroll along the picturesque Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire, this clutch can be used in a larger handbag or on its own as a versatile little clutch bag or purse. Using the wrist strap in coordinating leather adds elegance to any outfit.
Melin Tregwynt’s range of clasped and zipped purses are ideal for some change, credit cards and your go-to lippy. An essential for any trip you may take during your relaxing weekend away.
The following bags are still available from Melin Tregwynt but are limited in stock, so hurry if you want to get your hands on them:
A cleverly designed shoulder bag that turns into a backpack by a simple adjustment of the leather straps, this is an ideal day-to-night accessory.
Cross Body Bag
If you are looking for a smaller bag, this shoulder bag is a neat option. With a long adjustable cross body strap, the bag allows you to keep your essentials on you but not be weighted down.
With Wi-Fi now available in most hotels, a tablet is ideal to take away with you on a weekend break. This pouch will keep your tablet protected with its padded cover and leather trim.
This everyday carryall bag is made from upholstery fabric and bridle-leather trim, making it strong and sturdy for all of your needs.
From exploring Wales’ historic scenes to strolling along the coast, Melin Tregwynt has got you covered with its range of jackets and coats.
A simple sleeveless jacket in semi-plain fabric with fleece-lined mandarin collar, this will quickly become one your wardrobe favourites It is practical, easy and warm while effortlessly chic.
An understated classic jacket, in a fitted ¾ length style that finishes low hip. This is a versatile jacket that will go with pretty much anything.
A single breasted, belted and fully lined long jacket with roomy expandable pockets, shoulder reinforcements and storm collar, this is the perfect jacket to explore Wales’ varied scenery, even leaving you room for your camera and binoculars.
This draped coat with a flattering fit is ideal for a chilly stroll along any of Wales’ picturesque beaches. The generous and relaxed collar fastens with a large single wooden button. The inside has been left unlined apart from the sleeves to show off the beauty of the double cloth weave.
Melin Tregwynt also offers a range of beanie hats, scarfs and arm warmers to keep you extra toasty in the coming winter months. These are made by Robert Mackie of Scotland, inspired by Melin Tregwynt’s fabrics.
Melin Tregwynt is based in a historic woolen mill on the Pembrokeshire coast. All its bags are treated with Teflon to make them water and stain resistant, are trimmed or finished with leather and come in many different colours/patterns.
To fall in love with this traditional Welsh brand, head to the Melin Tregwynt website to explore their full range of products: www.melintregwynt.co.uk
Whatever the weather, Bonfire Night celebrations are guaranteed to brighten up even the dullest November. We have found some of the best events taking place across Wales this year along with a selection of fantastic hotels to stay in to enjoy the fun.
Sparks in the Park – Coopers Field, Cardiff, Saturday 7 November 4pm,
Cardiff Round Table’s annual event regularly attracts up to 20,000 people. This year’s event is partnered by Heart Wales and will include an amazing firework display, a huge bonfire, food, drinks and rides for everyone to enjoy. The bonfire will be lit at 6:15pm followed by the main firework display at 7pm.
It is advised to purchase tickets in advance, as the event is likely to sell out. Get your tickets here: www.ticketlineuk.com
Planning to stay in Cardiff for the fireworks? The luxurious farmhouse accommodation, Llanerch Vineyard, is located only fifteen minutes from the city centre. The hotel even has its own nature trail and cookery school if you want a break from the big city rush after the event.
Ponty Big Bang – Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd, Sunday 1 November 5pm
Held in the heart of this South Wales valleys town, the event will have an extraordinary firework display beginning at 7pm. There will be food stalls and funfair rides for all the family. Pontypridd Round Table are producing the event, with all proceeds going towards local charities and causes.
For advance tickets, visit: http://www.pontybigbang.uk
For a change of scenery, why not stay in the beautiful Grade II listed hotel, The Great House, located just half an hour from Ponty Big Bang? With a renowned restaurant serving food Monday through to Saturday, this hotel offers a deserved break from typical Bonfire Night food.
Big Bang Weekend – Saundersfoot, Friday 30 October 2pm and Saturday 31 October 1pm
This free event caters to all ages and includes a combination of Halloween and Bonfire Night-themed activities. There will be a Halloween Trick or Treat Trail for up to 250 children (who each must be accompanied by an adult) and a Spooky Bat Trail for all to enjoy throughout the village. An excellent firework display will be held on the Saturday at 8pm, including a show from the Pembrokeshire Fire Spinners.
The event is free but the trails will be held on a first-come-first-served basis, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
To make the most of your time on the beautiful west coast, you could stay in St Bride’s Spa and Hotel right in the heart of Saundersfoot. With a state-of-the-art spa and breathtaking views, this hotel is the perfect place to unwind after the Big Bang Weekend
Ride the Rocket Firework Train – Llangollen Railway, Denbighshire, Sunday 1 November 6:00pm
This unique experience lets you enjoy Bonfire Night in a less traditional way. The return trip from Llangollen Station to Carrog will last around two and a half hours with a stop at Glyndyfrdwy Station where the firework display will be held. The train holds a licensed bar with soft drinks also available and hot food can be purchased at Glyndyfrdwy Station on the return journey. The train is set to depart at 6pm and return at around 8:30pm.
This event is likely to sell out so make sure to book tickets in advance to secure a place.
Fancy a long-weekend getaway in Llangollen? The boutique Manorhaus Hotel is located in the centre of the town hotel. This beautiful 19th century townhouse, a ‘restaurant with rooms’ is the perfect place to stay relaxed and pampered.
Llandudno Pier Fireworks Display – Llandudno Pier, North Shore, Saturday 7 November 7:30pm
This annual event, presented by Llandudno Town Council, will see a professional fireworks display taking place on the pier at 7:30pm, complete with stunning views over Llandudno Bay. There are alternate dates in case of adverse weather conditions. The event itself is free but donations are welcome.
For more information visit: http://www.llandudno.gov.uk/events-fireworks.html
If you cannot get enough of the beautiful sea views Llandudno has to offer, why not stay in St Tudno Hotel? Located right on the seafront, this award-winning hotel offers the chance to stay beside the sea in style, as well as serving the highest quality of food and wine in their award-winning restaurant
Take your pick from Wales’ treasure trove of unique and magical wedding venues
Wales is home to some of the most enchanting venues and dramatic scenery in the world. Luxury hotel experts Welsh Rarebits have put together a list of the most bewitching destinations in which to host your very own fairytale ceremony.
Chateau Rhianfa, Anglesey
If you’re looking for a magical experience on your big day, this breathtaking establishment really is the epitome of glamorous opulence. Built in 1849 and modelled on a French Renaissance castle, the Grade II listed building boasts dramatic views over the Menai Strait and the mountains of Snowdonia. It comes complete with its own conical towers and exotic gardens, and is home to 16 unique luxury bedroom chambers for wedding guests and family.
Gliffaes Country House Hotel, Crickhowell
Escape from reality in this enchanting woodland retreat, hidden away in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. With its nineteenth century wood panelling, ornate mouldings, high ceilings and grand fireplaces, Gliffaes’ interior presents a unique collusion of classic features and modern art.
The Falcondale, Lampeter
This immaculately maintained mansion is nestled within the wild and rugged countryside of Ceredigion in Mid Wales. The Italianate-style architecture celebrates the coming together of old and new, and is complemented by beautifully manicured lawns fringed by sheltered woodland.
Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod
A true contemporary fairytale manor, The Metropole celebrates the old and embraces the new with effortless elegance. Wedding guests will be treated to a combination of classic and modern interiors, and bride and groom can recuperate after the big day in the luxurious spa.
Castell Deudraeth, Portmeirion
For something totally different, host your wedding at the stunning Castell Deudraeth, part of Portmeirion Hotel and village. The recently renovated Victorian castle is full of history and grandeur. Every part of the castle tells a story, and will leave you and your guests with memories to treasure forever.
Penmaenuchaf Hall, Dolgellau
Located in the stunning mountainous region of southern Snowdonia, and with its very own immaculate gardens overlooking the beautiful Mawddach Estuary, this is so much more than just a country house. With stunning views and beautiful interiors, this venue is truly unforgettable.
Penally Abbey, Tenby
Enjoy the best of both worlds at this remarkable venue, which combines dramatic coastal views with beautiful countryside grounds and classic features. Set in the heart of Tenby, your guests can enjoy the rich assortment of local attractions during their visit to the popular Pembrokeshire hotspot.