Unwind in the Welsh valleys


THERE’S something relaxing and refreshing about a weekend away in the countryside. Somewhere to breathe in the fresh clean air surrounded by beautiful, green scenery everywhere you look, and to get away from the every day hectic life.

So with a desire for long walks and picnics and a road trip down windy country lanes, the Welsh valleys beckoned.

No weekend away in Wales is complete without a castle visit, after all there is so many to choose from. And as we entered into the country of dragons and daffodils we stopped at Raglan Castle.

Raglan Castle

The ruins were on a well kept site and helped you imagine how grand the building would have been many centuries ago. Climbing up what would have once been the watch tower, it offered beautiful views over the countryside, the farms and our route into the beyond.

The road to Camarthenshire

Out of here we had the option of following the sat nav through a mundane dual carriageway route into Camarthenshire or going for a more scenic route that would only work out 10/15 minutes longer. Naturally we chose the second option and headed down the A40 through the Brecon Beacon National Park taking in some breathtaking views.

Around every corner was another picturesque view. We passed vast fields and mountains and miles of country lanes, driving through the remote villages with caravan parks, B&Bs and pubs a plenty.

Stopping at one of the pubs situated right on the edge of the road – The Kestrel Inn – we sat alone in the beer garden overlooking the Welsh hills and couldn’t have found a better, more scenic view to enjoy a pint.

I’m a big fan of country pubs. Their remoteness, their quirkiness, the smell of freshly cooked chips and their choice of local ales. They are often at the heart of a community and give a representation of an area, making them an ideal place to get a flavour of what the locals are like.

Where to stay

Glangwili Mansion, Llanllawddog, Camarthenshire

As we headed closer the lanes got narrower and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. With space for only one car I did worry what might happen if another car came in the opposite direction but very few people clearly used these roads. Apart from a large flock of sheep coming towards us one evening, we passed nothing else on these roads.

We were truly in the midst of rural remoteness.

The B&B stood grand at the bottom of a long driveway. It’s painted bright white exterior striking against the backdrop of the green hills and masses of trees of Brechfa Forest.

Glangwilli Mansion

We were greeted by the owners George and Linda Reid who had restored this run-down house into the award-winning accommodation it is now. With just three bedrooms this was personal service at its best but with the luxury of a hotel room. It felt as though we had been welcomed into someone else’s home as a visitor rather than a paying customer.

A blissful lake within five minutes walk from the front door was the perfect setting for an evening picnic after a long day of driving. Apart from a few birds and the loud mooing of cows in the distance, there was no-one to be seen or heard for miles.

During our short stay, proud Scotsman George regaled us with tales of his life in Dundee before moving to Wales 15 years ago. He was friendly and jolly in the mornings serving us our choice of breakfast and was helpful offering us maps, advice on walks nearby and even booking us a table for dinner at the nearby Forest Arms pub in Brechfa.

This was like no other B&B I had stayed in before.

Coastal walks and country pubs

Armed with a map of a picturesque walk within a few minutes drive of the B&B we headed to Llansteffan, which covers part of the 800 mile Wales Coastal Path.

The route around the estuary here was just over three miles and easy to follow, taking in some of the coast before heading further inland. We passed fields full of cows, dodging their muck as we walked by, and headed for another castle ruin standing at the top of a hill in the distance.

Llansteffan estuary
Llansteffan estuary

With our legs aching from walking up and down hills, sweating and parched it was time for some snacks and a beer pit stop as we found another town pub with a beer garden set in the middle of the hills around us.

This, for me, was the perfect way to spend a weekend away. It was the ideal way to recharge my batteries, in the middle of the countryside, the sun beaming down on my face and with great company.

The only problem is the weekend went by too fast and before long we were heading on the four hour journey back home with our bellies full of food and our souls feeling refreshed and cleansed.

But there was one problem….an entire weekend had been spent in Wales and not a single Welsh cake had been eaten! Absolute disaster!

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