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Coast & Country: award-winning beaches & mountain waterfalls
A tale of two cities: an insiders guide to Swansea & Cardiff
Chris Packham: celebrating the natural wonder of Wales
Adventure playground: mountain biking in Wales
Matthew Rhys: celebrating the life of Dylan Thomas
Plus travel and holiday information
Front cover
Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
This page
Dylan Thomass Writing Shed, The Boathouse, Laugharne
Opposite page, top to bottom
Matthew Rhys
Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
Mission Gallery, Swansea
Conwy Castle, Conwy
BikePark Wales
Welsh produce
For a tiny piece of the planet, there is rather a lot to see and do in Wales.
We like to keep ourselves entertained, with festivals, anniversary celebrations and
sporting events. You can see this reected in the natural enthusiasm of the people
of Wales. We use the country as our playground. It provides us with wonderful food
and inspires us to create great works of art and literature.
Wales is a modern, diverse country with a great heritage for everyone to enjoy;
and we look forward to sharing all these memorable experiences with you.
Visit Wales cannot guarantee the accuracy
or reliability of the information in this
publication and hereby disclaim any
responsibility for any error, omission
or misrepresentation. To the fullest
extent permitted by law all liability for
loss, disappointment, negligence or
other damage caused by reliance on
the information contained in this guide
is excluded. You are advised to check
all details and information with the
business concerned before conrming a
reservation. All rights reserved. Material in
this publication must not be reproduced
in any form without permission from the
copyright owners please contact Visit
Wales. Opinions expressed in Wales View
are not necessarily those of Visit Wales.
Wales View is published by Visit Wales,
the Tourism and Marketing division of the
Welsh Government 2014.
Visit Wales, Welsh Government, QED
Centre, Main Avenue, Treforest Industrial
Estate, Treforest, Pontypridd CF37 5YR
Managing Editors Iestyn George and
Charles Williams. Printed by Westdale Press.
Print ISBN: 978 1 4734 0418 2
Digital ISBN: 978 1 4734 0409 0
Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales
Design & photography: Visit Wales
Creative Services.
Other photography: Bodnant Welsh Food
Centre, Celtic Manor Resort, Grace Elliott,
David Frost, Getty Image, Steve Hartley/
CBMWC, Charles Hawes, Gweldd Conwy
Feast, Ian Jones, Rainy Day Films, Steve Read,
Kiran Ridley, Lee Miller Archives, S4C, Nick
Treharne, Universal Studios, Wales Screen
Commission, Wrights Independent Food
Emporium and Ynys-Hir RSPB.
Back cover quotation: from Idyll of
Unforgetfulness by Dylan Thomas
The Trustees for the copyright of
Dylan Thomas, 1929.
This publication is also available in Braille,
large-format print, and/or audio from
Visit Wales.
Printed on recycled paper
Dylan Thomas
Actor Matthew Rhys on Waless
best-known literary gure,
kicking off a year of centenary
celebrations in 2014.
Wales on lm
Visit the beauty spots that drew
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and
Dobby the House Elf to Wales.
Coast & country
BBC television presenter Chris
Packham celebrates the wildlife
of Wales, alongside your guide to
its great gardens, beaches, islands
and waterfalls.
A tale of two cities
International wheelchair athlete
and television presenter Liam Holt
explores the visitor attractions
of Cardiff and Swansea.
On the town
A celebration of the historic
market towns of Wales.
Events diary
Why not book your Welsh break
around one of the exciting events
taking place here in 2014?
The castles of Wales
An appetising guide to a selection
of the 641 historic castles we have
in Wales.

Myths & legends
Magical stories from all over Wales,
featuring an assortment of dragons,
water monsters and fairies.
Royal connections
Follow in the footsteps of royals
down the centuries and youll end
up in Anglesey, former home of
Prince William and Kate.
Mountain biking
Discover why Wales has become a
leading destination for mountain
bikers from all over the world.
Adrenaline Wales
Wales Views youngest contributor
tells us what its like to y 500 feet
(152 metres) in the air along the
longest zip wire in Europe.
Food & drink
Whether youre foraging or
feasting, the natural produce grown
in Wales is unrivalled for freshness
and avour.
In the lap of luxury
Go on, spoil yourself...
Essential information
Travel information, area guides
to Wales and FAQs.
Wales map
Contents 2
n a Sunday morning, a black-clad
jogger trots up to the Wales View
editorial door. The jogger pulls off his
beanie and a mop of curls springs out,
a wide smile not far below. Ive been
up the Taff Trail, beams Matthew Rhys,
whos just been running along the
long-distance path that skirts the Cardiff
suburb where he was born. I love it, I
run up there whenever Im back home.
The 39-year-old radiates health and
happiness. Hes a delightful, energising
presence, talking quickly in his melliuous
baritone. He throws in impressions
and accents for free (many of them
American, because thats where hes
now based, in Los Angeles). He laughs,
a lot. Matthew Rhys is not an actor of
the tortured variety, clearly.
Life is good, he agrees. Hes currently
the star of one of the worlds biggest TV
shows, The Americans, in which he plays
a Soviet KGB spy living a chillingly tense
undercover existence in Washington DC
during the Cold War. Still, its not half
as scary as being Dylan Thomas. Rhys
played the iconic poet in The Edge of
Love, a role which required him to be
one-third of a love-triangle with two of
the most beautiful stars of British lm,
Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller. Tough
job? Yes, actually.
I was terried! laughs Rhys. Everyone
in Wales has this incredibly strong sense
of who Dylan should be. But theres no
footage of him, weve only got his voice
recordings. So no-one really knows who
he is. When I was researching the role, I
tried to read as many peoples accounts
of him as I could, to try and get an
image of him. I spoke to his daughter
Aeronwy as well, who gave me a good
few pointers. She said, His hands were
like two dead sh, which I thought was
As an actor, Rhys is awestruck by
Dylans dazzling way with words. But
does he also think the poet would have
So why does Dylan Thomas
mean so much to Wales?
Who better to ask than
Matthew Rhys, the Cardiff-
born actor who played the
mercurial poet so brilliantly
in The Edge of Love.
Interview by Charles Williams
Matthew Rhys as Dylan Thomas
in The Edge of Love
Opposite clockwise from top left
Matthew Rhys and Sienna Miller
in The Edge of Love
Sienna Miller and Kiera Knightley
lming in Wales
Best friends Matthew Rhys and
Ioan Gruffudd
Thomas lived the life he wanted, on his own
terms. Thats quietly admired in the chapels.
Arts and culture
Dylan Thomas
been an interesting chap to share
a pint with?
I do, actually, although from what I
read, not everyone who met him liked
him. He had the wit, along with the ever-
present Welsh darkness, and very little
So why does he remain such an iconic
gure to the Welsh? Ah, we love our
archetypes in Wales, says Rhys. The big
drinker, the carouser, the no-good-boyo.
Dylans image tted incredibly well. And
he was irreverent at a time you werent
supposed to be, the 1950s. Its not really
in the Welsh DNA. We havent got many
hellraisers, but Thomas stuck two ngers
up at it all and lived the life he wanted.
Richard Burton was exactly the same.
They lived their lives on their own terms.
In our nations psyche, thats quietly
admired in the chapels.
There was a modest amount of
roistering during the making of The
Edge of Love, which was lmed on
location in West Wales, land of Rhyss
own ancestors. I was determined to
put on a proper Welsh night, so I went
on full twee overdrive and found this
amazing pub in Aberaeron and I got a
Welsh folk band in, says Rhys. What was
so gratifying was how much they loved
it. The girls [Knightley and Miller] loved
Wales, they were like, Oh my God, we
need to move here!
If they had, the local farmers would
have remained utterly unfazed by two
of the worlds most beautiful actresses,
reckons Rhys. They were certainly less
impressed by Rhyss acting than his local
farming connections. One farmer said to
me, I know who you are. Youre Kevin
Evanss cousin, arent you? He runs a
thousand acres up near Aberystwyth,
doesnt he? Beautiful dairy hes got...
Its a typical Welsh characteristic a
refusal to be impressed that never fails
to amuse Rhys, even when hes on the
receiving end which he is, every time
he comes back home and goes to the
pub with his school friends. They feel
almost duty-bound to make sure that if I
ever dream of thinking myself above my
station, I should be put back in my place
or lower, just to make sure.
Matthew Rhys grew up in Cardiff,
where both his parents were
teachers. He went to the same
Welsh-language school as his
best friend Ioan Gruffudd, and
the pair trained together at RADA.
He won acclaim in the hit US TV
series Brothers & Sisters and
currently stars in the spy thriller
The Americans. His stage work
includes The Graduate with
Kathleen Turner, several Royal
Shakespeare Company
productions, and a recent revival
of Look Back In Anger in New York.
For an extended version of this
interview, and to nd out about
Matthew Rhyss favourite places
in Wales, see
Above from left
Laugharne Castle, Laugharne
Browns Hotel, Laugharne
Dylan Thomas
Its almost like hazing, as they say in
America. You have to go through the rst
15 minutes in the pub where youre torn
to bits, and then you can get on with
catching up.
Rhys went to his local Welsh-language
comprehensive school in Cardiff, where
he was the year below his best friend,
the actor Ioan Gruffudd. They went to
the same chapel, and competed in the
same school eisteddfod, the performing
arts competition in which almost every
Welsh child especially those in Welsh-
language schools takes part.
Were kicked onto a stage, or into a
pulpit, from a young age, says Rhys. I
didnt always like it as a child, but when
you look back, its amazing. That level of
celebration of culture, combined with a
sense of tradition and history its great,
as long as it keeps evolving. And even
if you hate being on stage, somewhere
in your psyche it will help you. It
encourages condence and teamwork,
which sounds like corporate clich, but
I genuinely believe it.
Rhys followed Gruffudd to the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), an
experience they found both priceless and
shockingly hard. While their friends who
went to university seemed to be living
lives of raucous freedom, RADA was a
gruelling six days work a week, plus long
nights learning lines.
Rhys is now based in Los Angeles,
where hes part of an entire tribe of
Welsh actors that includes Ioan Gruffudd,
Michael Sheen, Andrew Howard and
Catherine Zeta Jones.
I discovered an even greater group of
Welshies there during the Six Nations
[rugby championship], says Rhys.
Theres a pub in Santa Monica called the
Kings Head that shows the games live,
usually at around 5.30am. I remember
walking in and theres a sea of red, and
suddenly theres this ready-made Welsh
community. There are a lot of boys from
Merthyr Tydl working in construction
there, strangely.
Welshness and especially the Welsh
language is still central to who Rhys is.
Its also why, on this precious weekend
off in Cardiff, he doesnt mind pitching in
to help by opening major festivals at a
moments notice, for instance, which is
what he did the day before at the Welsh-
language festival Tafwyl.
Im happy to support when I can,
says Rhys. Welsh is my rst language, its
what I speak to my family and to friends
like Ioan. But whenever I do something
like speaking at a festival, theres always
someone at the back I know, one of my
school friends, who catches my eye and
does this
At this point Rhys mimes a series of
magnicently obscene gestures that,
mercifully, cannot be recreated in print.
Its the Welsh putting me back in my
place. He laughs again. Happens all the
In Country Sleep:
where to stay on
the Thomas trail
Browns Hotel, Laugharne
Dylans favourite haunt has been
restored and reborn as a boutique
hotel and oozes glamour.
1 Coastguard Cottage, Rhossili
Dylan and his school friends came
camping here, but you can stay in
this National Trust-run cottage.
Quay West, New Quay
This clifftop holiday caravan park
offers lovely views of the harbour
town that inspired Under Milk Wood.
Trehyddion Barns, Carmarthenshire
Dylans summer holidays were
spent on rural farms like this, with
Llansteffans sandy beach and castle
on the doorstep.
y Mawr, near Aberaeron
When lming The Edge of Love the
stars stayed at this gorgeous Georgian
manor in the Aeron valley.
The Dylan Thomas
The poets lovely waterside home hosts
a variety of events and intimate readings
throughout the Dylan Thomas 100
Festival. Also look out for Dylans writing
shed as it tours the country.
All year, Laugharne and locations
across Wales
Peter Blake Exhibition:
The venerable pop artist Peter Blake is
passionate about Dylans play for voices
Under Milk Wood, and this show includes
portraits of each of the 60 characters, and
collages depicting the ctional village of
Until 16th March
National Museum Cardiff
The Laugharne Weekends
Three weekends in Laugharne celebrate
Dylan Thomass life and work, each
themed to echo Dylans favourite art
forms just the kind of events Dylan
himself would have enjoyed. Therell be
Poetry and Biography, curated by Patti
Smith and Simon Armitage (11th 13th
April), Comedy and Radio, curated by
Robin Ince and Stuart Maconie
(19th 21st September), and Music and
Film, curated by Richard James and Euros
Childs (26th 28th September).
A Dylan Odyssey
This series of literary tourism events
follows Dylans steps to Wales, Oxford and
New York. They will involve kayaking, pony
trap rides, jazz music, Beat poetry, and the
company of contemporary writers such as
Owen Sheers and Gillian Clarke.
May September, Wales and worldwide /a-dylan-odyssey/
Dylan Thomas Exhibition
The National Library of Wales has a
major exhibition from its archive of Dylan
Thomas material, which includes unique
personal items, alongside visiting items
from the United States.
28th June 20th December
This live, multi-national event celebrates
the history of vocal and oral traditions. Its
presented at Chapter in Cardiff, with live
streaming from Browns Hotel in Laugharne
and the Chelsea Hotel in New York.
20th September
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Swansea Festival of Music
and the Arts
This annual festival includes the Wales
premiere of A Dylan Thomas Trilogy by
John Corigliano, and the world premiere
of Karl Jenkins Three Images from
Dylan Thomas with the Russian National
Philharmonic Orchestra.
4th 18th October, Swansea
The Dylan Thomas Festival
This annual festival, held over an event-
packed two weeks, is the centrepiece of
the year-long celebrations that make up
Dylan Thomas 100.
27th October 9th November, Swansea
A Childs Christmas in Wales
Michael Bogdanovs adaptation of the
classic tale will be performed by the Wales
Theatre Company at theatres
all over Wales.
November & December, across Wales
Dylan Thomas is Waless greatest poet and writer. To mark the centenary of Dylans
birth, in a small house in Swansea in 1914, the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival is a year-
long celebration of his life and work. The festivals Royal Patron is the Prince of Wales,
who has joined in the festival spirit by recording a special reading of his favourite
Dylan Thomas poem, Fern Hill. There are hundreds of events, here and around the
world. These are just a few highlights, but do check the website for the latest info:
Dylan Thomas 100 is the perfect way to
introduce the places and characters in my
grandfathers poetry and prose, and for
people to discover why the quirky villages
and seaside towns inspired him so much. I
hope that the festival will spark a passion
for words in a new generation and leave a
lasting legacy for Wales.
Hannah Ellis, honorary patron
and Dylan Thomass granddaughter
Arts and culture
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas 100
Sometimes even Hollywood stars have to
play best supporting actor to the scenery.
Wales has been the location for hundreds
of flms. Here we pay tribute to our most
scene-stealing performances.
O Whale of a time
Matthew Rhys lmed The Edge of Love
(2008) in several locations around West
Wales, most notably New Quay. This
lovely harbour town was the inspiration
for Dylan Thomass classic Under Milk
Wood, although the 1972 movie version,
starring Richard Burton, was lmed down
the coast at Lower Fishguard, as was the
1955 lm Moby Dick.
O Holy water!
In the 2012 movie The Dark Knight Rises,
the Batcave is hidden behind the 88-foot
(27 metre) curtain of thundering water
known as Henrhyd Falls, the highest
of dozens of cascades in the western
Brecon Beacons.
O The Dai Vinci code
Margam Park is an 850-acre country
park with its own 12th-century abbey
and neo-Gothic mansion. Its also a slice
of sun-dappled Renaissance Tuscany
when theyre lming the hit US drama
Da Vincis Demons.
Arts and culture
Wales on lm
O Welsh wizardry
Shell Cottage, in which Harry and his
companions shelter in Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows, was built on the
edge of Freshwater Wests mile-long
(1.6 km) beach, where Russell Crowe also
came to lm Robin Hood. Key scenes
from the 2012 fairytale Snow White and
the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart,
were shot nearby on Marloes Sands ...
which also featured in the 1968 historical
epic The Lion in Winter, starring Peter
OToole and Katharine Hepburn.
O Dark forces
Our own Nordic-noir-style TV detective
series is so good, we lmed it twice. The
Welsh version, Y Gwyll, was broadcast on
S4C in 2013 while the English Hinterland,
which was shot simultaneously, goes
out on BBC4 in 2014. The series location
remains the same: the hauntingly
beautiful landscape around Aberystwyth.
O Star quality
Theres a bit in the 2007 fantasy Stardust
when its star Claire Danes treks high
above a magical lake. Thatll be Llyn y
Fan Fach, a beautiful glacial lake on the
western edge of the Brecon Beacons.
O Moat points
Caerphilly Castle is the second largest
castle in Britain, and in 1995 Hollywood
big cheese Robert Downey Jr was here
to lm the tragi-comic romp Restoration.
Another key location in the lm was
Tretower Court near Crickhowell which,
in 2004, also welcomed Johnny Depp in
The Libertine.,
O Twin peaks
So spectacular are the mountains of
Snowdonia, lm-makers often use them
to represent other exotic, far-ung
locations: China in Lara Croft Tomb
Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) and
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958),
Kazakhstan for the 1999 Bond movie
The World Is Not Enough, and a rather
convincing Khyber Pass in the 1968
comedy Carry On Up The Khyber.
to Holyhead
Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, the setting for
Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Licensed By: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved 8
Island paradise
The thing about islands is
that you cant look at one
without wondering, even
for a eeting moment,
what it would feel like to be
there, standing on its cliffs
among the wheeling clouds
of seabirds, looking back at
where you are now.
Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
Inset left to right
Atlantic pufn
Bluebells on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire
s you meander the 870 mile
(1,400 km) Wales Coast Path, youll
count around 50 Welsh islands. You
can walk to some of them at low tide.
Others shimmer tantalisingly on the far
horizon. Some are near-impossible to
reach, unless you happen to be an expert
cliff-climber or, ideally, a pufn. But you
can visit many of the best ones, and even
stay on a few.
Skomer is a cracking example, part of a
cluster of little islands off Pembrokeshire
that support some the worlds most
Coast & country
important bird colonies. Its a fabulous
day-trip across the turquoise waters of
Jack Sound, where even the seabed is a
protected nature reserve. In summer the
island throngs with guillemots, razorbills
and pufns, while fulmars and kittiwakes
ll the air like urries of snowakes. Grey
seals bask on the rocks below clifftops
that offer one of the most spectacular
displays of wild owers in Britain.
You can land on nearby Ramsey Island
too its a beautifully untouched RSPB
nature reserve or take a rib ride around
its reefs and rapids. Youll denitely see
seals, probably dolphins and porpoises,
and possibly even whales and sharks.
Back on Skomer, if you stay the night
youll witness another of natures most
incredible sights: tens of thousands of
nocturnal Manx shearwaters ghosting
back to their burrows.
Theres another major colony of
these incredible little birds on Bardsey
Island, which lies off the tip of the Ll
Peninsula. There are eight self-catering
cottages on this Island of 20,000 Saints,
which has long been a spiritual refuge. 10
Talking of which, theres still an
active monastery of Benedictine
monks on Caldey Island, another
hugely popular day-trip from nearby
Tenby. You can also experience
blissful island isolation just ve
miles (8 km) from Cardiff city
centre on Flat Holm, another major
seabird sanctuary.
Its easy to get besotted with
Welsh islands. The TV scriptwriter
Carla Lane bought a tiny one of
her own, St Tudwals East, off the
southern tip of the Ll
yn Peninsula,
and turned it into a wildlife
sanctuary. Then the adventurer
Bear Grylls bought its neighbour,
St Tudwals West, and talk about
getting away from it all spends
family holidays on its few clifftop
You dont have to splash out on
a whole island, though. You can
borrow one of ours. Like we say,
there are plenty to go round. /skomer-skokholm/
Top from left
Bardsey Island, Ll ^ yn Peninsula
Llanddwyn Island, Isle of Anglesey
Water beds
Mother love
Caerfai Farm, St Davids
Cottages, yurts, caravan and camp site,
cheesemaking and all on a stunning clifftop
location, just around the headland from
Ramsey Island.
Cenarth Falls Holiday Park, Cenarth
This ve-star holiday park has caravans and
cottages, plus great facilities for tourers and
campers, just a few minutes walk from the
famous falls on the River Tei.
Fog Horn Cottage, Flat Holm
Dont forget your toothbrush its a long swim
back to the mainland from this stylish three-bed
self-catering cottage.
Plas Rhianfa, Isle of Anglesey
This architectural gem has ve-star luxury
overlooking the Menai Strait on Waless
biggest island.
y Newydd Country Hotel, Hirwaun
This comfortable hotel is right on the threshold
of Waterfall Country, and if you like whisky
with your water, Penderyn, Waless only distillery,
is nearby.
The biggest Welsh island by far is Anglesey, which was nally joined
to the mainland by Thomas Telfords magnicent suspension bridge
in 1826. The island was a stronghold of druids during the Roman
invasion, and a vital source of food during later wars leading to
its nickname of Mn Mam Cymru the Mother of Wales.
Nowadays, its a favourite holiday destination, with attractions
that include Plas Newydd stately home, a sea zoo, copper mines,
the most perfect medieval castle at Beaumaris, and a village called
deep breath
But its the 125 mile (201 km) coastline that is the islands biggest
draw, packed with fabulous beaches, nature reserves, and the most
romantic spot in Wales, Llanddwyn Island, where theres an old
lighthouse and a ruined chapel dedicated to the Welsh patron saint
of love, St Dwynwen. No wonder Prince William and Kate made their
rst home here.
hat is it about
waterfalls? Theres
something surreally magical
about a torrent of water
plunging off a cliff and
into a crystal pool. At
the western edge of the
Brecon Beacons, in a bit of
Wales known as Waterfall
Country, three rivers the
Mellte, Hepste and Nedd
Fechan have carved their
way through soft rocks to
create steep wooded gorges
full of caves and cascades.
Its popular with white-
water kayakers and, in
summer, wetsuit-clad
canyoning groups, but
its also a brilliant place
to experience the thrill of
walking behind a curtain of
thundering water notably
at Sgwd yr Eira, the famous
waterfall of snow.
Although the greatest
concentration of falls is
here, the highest are up
in the high mountains:
the Devils Appendix in
Snowdonia and Pistyll y Llyn
in the Cambrian range. And
the most spectacular? Well,
thats a matter of opinion,
but the 239 feet (73 metre)
high Pistyll Rhaeadr, in the
Berwyn Mountains, has the
advantage of a car park two
minutes walk from the base.
And to be fair, it is utterly
Coast & country
at your feet
Bet you didnt bargain for a waterfall of
snow and the Devils Appendix to be
among the sights on your visit to Wales.
Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park 12












The Wales Coast Path is the longest continuous coastal path
in the world. Along its 870 mile (1,400 km) length there are
hundreds of harbours, coves, inlets and, of course, beaches.
Lots of them. And one of them will be your favourite. So
whichll it be? Here are ten to get you started.
O Abersoch, Snowdonia
Theres always a lively family feel to
Abersoch, one of our best watersports
centres. Its at its most vibrant during
the August Regatta which, apart
from all the serious sailing stuff,
features raft-racing, crab-catching
and sandcastle-building contests.
O Barafundle, Pembrokeshire
Its impossible to pick our prettiest
beach, but this Pembrokeshire gem,
backed by dunes and pine trees, always
crops up. Theres something almost
Caribbean about Barafundle, which
is all the better for being a half-mile
(0.8 km) walk from the nearest car park.

O Barmouth, Snowdonia
Huge and picturesque, Barmouth
beach is always popular but never
overcrowded. Barmouth itself is a proper
British seaside resort, complete with
trampolines, ice creams, arcade games,
donkey rides and a vintage railway.
O Benllech, Isle of Anglesey
This small holiday town is set on
a crescent-shaped bay, with ne
sand that stretches for miles. Its
also blissfully easy to get to, even
for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
O Llangrannog, Ceredigion
Theres nothing ashy about the
village its just a cluster of houses
wedged between two headlands,
with waves lapping at their toes. The
coastal footpath leads you through
clouds of wild owers that are alive
with butteries in summer.
O Cefn Sidan, Carmarthenshire
This whopping eight-mile (12 km) beach
has plenty of room for everyone, and
young nature detectives can climb
the dunes to track down grasshoppers
and other mini beasts. Its all part
of Pembrey Country Park, which has
play areas and an equestrian centre,
dry ski slope and toboggan run.
O Porthdinllaen, Snowdonia
Only locals are allowed to drive to this
perfect little harbour hamlet. But never
mind its a lovely short walk along the
beach, or through Nefyns famously
beautiful golf course, to reach it. Its an
idyllic cove and natural harbour, with
the added bonus of a cracking pub, the
T^ y Coch Inn, which has just been voted
one of the worlds best beach bars.
O Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
Well, we had to mention our cover star,
didnt we? Rhossilis three-mile (4.8 km)
golden sands come with a genuine
shipwreck, and if you time the tides
right, theres a fabulous walk out to the
promontory known as Worms Head.
O Southerndown,
Vale of Glamorgan
The Glamorgan Heritage Coasts multi-
layered cliffs occasionally drop down into
sandy bays. This is a favourite with surfers
and families, and theres a great clifftop
walk to the ruins of Dunraven Castle.
G Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Were cheating a bit here, since
theres not one fantastic beach in
Tenby, but three. The Rough Guide
to Wales describes this pretty little
town as everything a seaside resort
should be and it was recently voted
one of the UKs top ve beach
destinations by Tripadvisor.
Coast & country
Beaches 14
Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve, near Machynlleth
Opposite clockwise from top left
Dolphin-watching off the Ceredigion Coast
Wales Coast Path, near Llangrannog
Red kite
here are two things you need to understand about the
maverick TV presenter Chris Packham. Firstly, hes a proper
hardcore naturalist, with a phenomenal passion for a subject
that he knows inside-out. Secondly, he was an original 1970s
punk, with the hair and anti-authority attitude to match.
The 52-year-old from Southampton is now the mainstay
of TV wildlife programmes, but the teenage punk is never far
beneath the surface. Hes famous for nipping song titles of
his favourite bands into his drily witty narration: The Smiths,
The Clash, and the Manic Street Preachers have all made
unexpected cameos.
Packham even managed to slip 51 David Bowie song titles
into the 2012 series of BBC Springwatch, just for the ridiculous
joy of it.
The series was based at the RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir, where
for three years the BBC carried out its biggest and most
complex outside broadcast, with a crew of 100 descending
on the impossibly pretty Dy Estuary in remotest Mid Wales.
The spiky charm of Chris Packham has
made him one of Britains best-loved
naturalists. And he thinks that what Wales
really needs is well, some beavers.
at heart
How did you enjoy your time at Ynys-hir?
It was fantastic, a real treat. The RSPB reserve itself
is beautiful to look at, and its got a range of habitats
fresh water, the coastal water, the estuary, the oak
woodland, the bog all in a relatively compact site.
And this brings with it a great diversity of species,
which really paid off, because we had some great
stories and contributors, both animals and human.
The RSPB and the local people were extraordinarily
hospitable, too, so we very much enjoyed our time
So it wasnt your rst time down these parts?
Heavens no! Ive travelled in Wales a tremendous
amount. The rst time was when I was 15 years
old, in the mid-1970s, when I caught the National
Express bus and went to Cwmystwyth to spend a
couple of weeks in the spring, to see what remained
of the red kites. The same summer I went back to
Llangrannog to warden some peregrine falcons,
which were very endangered at the time.
Both species have bounced back since then,
Red kites are incredibly common in Mid Wales now.
Can you overdo the re-introduction thing?
No. But you have to expect change. Weve lived
through a time when kites were very rare, and
that had an impact on all the other creatures
around them. When you put an animal back into
an environment, everything has to rebalance. Kites
are largely scavengers, though, and no science has
so far proved that their re-introduction has had a
negative impact on other birds. Ultimately whats
right is to have as many species that can live in an
area, living in it. Thats why re-introduction is overall
a good idea because its trying to rebuild the proper
biodiversity of that region.
What about beavers? In parts of Wales theres a
campaign to bring them back
Yes! This ought to have happened years ago! Beavers
will be great news for Wales on many counts. Firstly,
they will have a profoundly positive impact on
biodiversity, making it much better for sh, insects,
reptiles and birds of many species. Secondly, theyll
be a great draw for tourism, because people like
BBCs Springwatch chose Ynys-hir
as its base for very good reason:
its one of the best places in Wales
to see birds, bugs and butteries
in a gorgeous setting of oak
woodland with wet grassland and
RSPB Ynys-hir
at heart
Coast & country
Wildlife 16
beavers and will come and see them.
And further, if they do present a problem
to any of our human interests, which
is unlikely, we have learned over many
years how to manage them. So I really
hope this progresses quickly and we get
these animals back.
Talking of tourism, what can we do as
tourists to reduce our impact on the
If you go to Wales, spend money in
Wales! Spend money in the local B&Bs,
hotels, pubs and restaurants. Try and
put as much money back into the local
community as possible. So dont eat in
a restaurant where theyre selling food
from the Caribbean, go somewhere
where youre eating Welsh lamb and
Welsh vegetables. Thats the responsible
thing to do. Make it fruitful for the
people who actually live and work there.
Sheep farming is not an easy business, so
if you go to a pub where theyre selling
genuinely locally-sourced food, then
that pays dividends for that landscape.
And its the landscape which provides
the fundamental building blocks of
everything that lives on it and in it.
Some environmentalists think weve got
far too many sheep, dont they?
Yes, and theyre right, but its not specic
to Wales. The whole of the UK is a
man-modied landscape. The uplands
were cleared of trees a long, long time
ago. Theyve been drained and the
grassland has been improved for the
benet of sheep. Sheep do overgraze,
which prevents the natural regeneration
of trees. So yes, sheep have an impact.
Equally, for a long time theyve been a
very important part of farming in Wales,
and they play a role, too. Its about trying
to balance the benets and needs of
farming, and the benets of putting the
land back as it was.
So youd like to see tracts of Wales
restored to what it once was: Atlantic
Of course, and tracts is the right word.
Not all of it. Im quite happy to support
sheep farmers, too. Obviously Id like
them to modify the way they do some
things, and Im happy to pay for them to
do that. But tracts of Atlantic rainforest
running in from the Welsh coast would
be tremendous. Places like Ynys-hir have
tiny fragments, and it would be nice to
see them a lot more extensive.
What about our other habitats? Should
we treasure our bogs as much as our
Everyone loves mountains, and they do
make a more spectacular postcard than
the average bog, but to the average
naturalist theres a lot going on in the less
attractive landscapes. I remember going
out on Tregaron Bog for the rst time
in the 1970s and being really excited by
that great, open, muddy wetland covered
in lichens and teeming with birds. It
was fantastic, and equally worthy of
Do you, as a naturalist, try and harness
the power of being on the telly?
I dont consider myself a celebrity, Im
just a bloke who talks about wildlife on
TV. But theres a very strong vocational
element in everything I do. I want some
of my own enthusiasm and passion for
the subject to rub off, because I want
as many people as possible to look after
our landscape. And ultimately thats why
I get up in the morning and do things
like Springwatch. Im trying to say to that
audience, look, this is brilliant, its in your
back yard, have some of it for yourself.
And when youve learnt to love it, look
after it. Thats my mantra.
Chris Packhams Wales
Wales is a very rich and compact area,
so it has a tremendous amount to
offer in terms of natural history (Im
also keen on history, by the way, so
Ive been to all the castles, too).
My rst trips to Wales were on the
bus as a teenager, but as soon as
I could drive myself, I was away. I
remember with great fondness my
rst trip to Skomer Island off the
Pembrokeshire coast, which was
just magical. Nearby are Bosherston
Lily Ponds which, in summer, is one
of the most beautiful places in the
UK, without a shadow of a doubt.
One year I spent a summer looking
at all the species of orchid I could
nd, and I went to the Great Orme
near Llandudno to look at dark red
helleborine, which are very rare.
Newborough Warren on Anglesey
is one of my favourite places in the
UK. Sand dune systems are few
and far between these days, and
Newborough is a beautiful place full
of fantastic plants and birds.
Theres so much more to explore,
though. Id love to have a couple of
months off with my friend [fellow
naturalist] Iolo Williams as my guide,
so he could take me to all the places
I havent been.
Clockwise from top left
Dy Estuary, near Machynlleth
Newborough Warren, Anglesey
Presenter, Chris Packham
Dolphin, Ceredigion coast
Bluebell woodland near Aberystwyth
Tintern Forest, Wye Valley
Ospreys nest from April to late summer on the
Cors-dy reserve near Machynlleth. Other birds
of prey regularly seen include red kite, honey
buzzard and marsh and hen harriers. Theres
also a herd of water buffalo that help to
manage the wetlands.
Although dolphins can be regularly seen from
the shore, the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife
Centre organises boat trips from April onwards.
Visitors often report seeing otters at the lovely
Gilfach Farm reserve near Rhayader. The best
time to visit is October to December when
otters come to the waterfalls to chase the
leaping salmon.
Fields of orchids
Situated above the beautiful Wye Valley, the
Pentywn Farm reserve provides commanding
views. Early summer sees thousands of green-
winged orchids in spectacular wildower
Red kites
Once on the edge of extinction, there are now
an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs of red kites
in Wales. Feeding stations where visitors can
experience these magnicent birds close up
include Gigrin Farm and the Red Kite Feeding
Centre in the west of the Brecon Beacons
National Park.,
There are an estimated 16,000 pufns and
300,000 Manx shearwaters on the world-
renowned Skomer and Skokholm islands, which
are also home to large numbers of grey seals.
Boats run daily from March to December.
Seabirds that have migrated
50,000 miles
With well over 1,000 nesting pairs of sandwich
terns, Cemlyn on Anglesey is an internationally
important site for seabirds. The arctic tern,
which also nests here, migrates up to 50,000
miles (80,467 km) every year between the
Arctic and Antarctic.
A festival of butteries
Over 30 species of buttery can be found in
the dramatic former quarry of Llanymynech,
smack bang on the border between Wales
and England. Fortunately the local wildife
trust have produced a guide, so you can tell
your Grizzled Skipper from your White Letter
Magical bluebell woods
Carpets of bluebells cover the ancient
woodlands in many parts of Wales, but few
reach the dazzling heights of Coed y Felin, just
outside Mold in Flintshire. Down south try the
Coed Dyrysiog reserve just outside Brecon.,
Autumn leaf splendour
For autumnal blazes of colour, the valleys
of South East Wales rival the forests of
New England. The Silent Valley reserve near
Ebbw Vale is a perfect example, while the
Pwll-y-Wrach reserve near Talgarth has
spectacular autumn colours in ancient
woodland running down to plunging
waterfalls along the River Enig.,
Coast & country
Days out
Soaring red kites, frolicking dolphins and leaping salmon: Wales has
just the kind of wildlife that grabs the imagination. And its all easy
to spot, says Phil Hurst of Wildlife Trusts Wales.
Ten wild days out in Wales
O O O 18
There are far too many lovely
gardens and environmental
projects to squeeze into this
postage stamp of magazine
space. But here are some
selected highlights.
O Dyffryn Gardens,
Vale of Glamorgan
Imagine a 55-acre house made of plants
and owers. Landscape artist Thomas
Mawson created the gardens at Dyffryn
as a collection of rooms in the shadow of
a grand Victorian mansion house made
of more traditional building material.
O National Botanic Garden
of Wales, Carmarthenshire
As if building the biggest, striking single
span glasshouse in the world wasnt
enough, the old grounds of 17th-
century Middleton Hall is a great place
to discover ora and fauna from all over
the world. Behind the scenes there are
a whole host of environmental projects
going on too.
O Aberglasney House and Gardens,
The origins of this magnicent Queen
Anne style house date back to medieval
times. A major restoration project
includes an Elizabethan Cloister Garden,
Pool Garden, Lower and Upper Walled
Gardens and Ninfarium an exotic
glass-roofed atrium with orchids, palms
and magnolias inspired by the gardens
of Ninfa, south of Rome.
O Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion
Built by John Nash (architect of
Buckingham Palace), the walled
kitchen garden of this minor gentry
estate functions as it did 200 years
ago providing abundant organic fruit,
vegetables and herbs, which you can
buy in the shop at the house.
O Brondanw, Snowdonia
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis is renowned for
creating the remarkable village of nearby
Portmeirion, which features wonderful
exotic woodland well worth visiting.
The gardens of Brondanw are less well-
known, but were another of Cloughs
lifetime projects that create a unique
atmosphere with creative use of the
natural landscape.
O Plas Tan y Bwlch, Snowdonia
Its less catchy name is The Snowdonia
National Park Environmental Studies
Centre. This splendid country house,
which was lit by electricity from its own
hydro-electric source as far back as the
1890s, benets from striking Victorian
gardens featuring sloping lawns, large
conifers and bursts of colour from
rhododendron and azalea. There are
semi-wild woodland areas featuring
native ora and fauna intermingled
with exotic imports from further aeld.
O Veddw House, Monmouthshire
Described as a modern romantic garden,
Veddw is the imaginative brainchild of
writer Anne Wareham and photographer
Charles Hawes. It has won acclaim (Most
Original Garden 2012 in Readers Digest
magazine) and has courted controversy.
It almost demands a visit so you can
make your own mind up about its
innovative, environmentally-sympathetic
Gone Green
Coast & country
O Centre for Alternative Technology, Powys
Imagine a one-stop resource of information
and demonstration regarding sustainable living.
Now stop imagining, because CAT covers
the lot, including several gardens offering
inspirational ideas on how you can maintain
your own ourishing patch of greenery.
O Bodnant Garden, Conwy
Like a giant horticultural stamp collection, a
diverse range of seeds and cuttings from all
over the world were collected over a century
ago to create the gardens of Bodnant. There
are formal terraces with views over the Conwy
Valley, the river Hiraethlyn runs through the
Dell, while the changing seasons offer dramatic
varieties of colour in the shrub borders.
G Erddig Hall, Wrexham
An impressive country house set in over a thousand
acres of land, the huge 18th-century walled garden
features rare fruit trees, the symmetry of a Victorian
parterre and one of the longest herbaceous
borders in Britain. Visitors can also book guided
environmental learning sessions.
Swansea 20
A tale of
two cities
Our two biggest cities are going places. Swansea and Cardiff now have football teams in
the Premiership for the rst time in history, so we asked international wheelchair athlete
and television presenter Liam Holt to pay a visit and see how both cities line up.
ts a chicken-and-egg situation. I cant
work out if the style of football Swansea
City play condent, stylish, laid-back
comes from the city itself, or if it works
the other way: if some of that footballing
panache is rubbing off on the city.
Either way, theres a denite buzz
about the place, which we feel the
moment we set foot outside the
Swansea Marriott, a waterfront hotel
which is perfectly placed for exploring
the citys main attractions.
We start with a history lesson at the
National Waterfront Museum, which tells
the story of industry and innovation in
Wales, now and over the last 300 years.
Its a very interactive place, with a perfect
combination of original artifacts and
touch-screen computer displays, which
allow people to explore deeper into
the exhibits. Its particularly great for
kids, as they can work in a technological
environment that appeals to them.
After all that science, were in the
mood for some art, so we head to the
nearby Mission Gallery, which crams a
huge amount of creative power into a
relatively small space.
The same could be said of Pierre
Donahue, a local singer-songwriter who
plays percussion for The Dukes Box,
an extraordinary wait for it human
jukebox. Basically theyve taken a tiny
vintage caravan, sawn off the front and
replaced it with a Perspex sheet and
jukebox-style buttons. People push a
pound into the slot, choose their song,
and the live band play it!
The Dukes Box has played festivals all
over Europe, and now Pierre has founded
his own left-eld event in Swansea, an
alternative Dylan Thomas celebration
called the Do Not Go Gentle festival.
Its a celebration of the legendary Welsh
poet in his home suburb of the Uplands,
Swansea, explains Pierre. We aim to be
a festival Dylan might have liked, and yes
that involves beer, but it also involves
cosy and atmospheric venues, great acts
and the people of Swansea who rst
inspired him to write all those years ago.
Right, thats culture and science ticked,
so now Im off to get physical. Swansea
is mad about sport, whether its regional
rugby and football at the Liberty Stadium,
county cricket at St Helens, or surng
on the Gower Peninsula. If youre an
outdoors person and into watersport
then you have to visit 360, a new
multisport activity centre that provides
beach and watersports all year round, no
matter the weather, just along the beach
from the city centre.
Its not just a sports centre, either
theres a good caf, which adds a
social aspect and opens the beach up
to everyone from dog walkers to kite
yers. Its also worth mentioning the
accessibility, too: the beach is normally
the natural enemy of the wheelchair
but 360 conquers this with multiple
accessible toilets and changing rooms,
and its the rst beachfront venue in
Wales to have a Changing Places facility
hoists, changing tables, etc for those
who need extra support.
Sitting at a beach caf, right next to
the sand, watching people kayaking and
playing beach volleyball its not quite
how I imagined Swansea to be. But I like
it, a lot.
Clockwise from top left
360 Beach and Watersports
Dylan Thomass Captain Cat, Swansea marina
Mission Gallery
National Waterfront Museum
Mission Gallery
Cities & towns
A tale of two cities
Perhaps more than any
other Welsh city, Swansea
cares about its food (it
boasts the biggest and
best covered market in
Wales) and this is reected
in lots of deliciously
places to eat.
Trufe Restaurant
feels a bit like going to a
house party, thanks to its
bring your own booze
policy and utter lack of airs
and graces. The staff and
customers enjoy a bit of
banter (I was made fun of
for not ordering a more
manly starter!), its great
value and the desserts
were awesome.
I liked Mosaic
even more: a quirky
modern restaurant which
in terms of independent
businesses just gets it,
from the decor to the
menu (the names alone
are hilarious!). During the
day its a laid-back lounge,
but in the evening they
transform the place into
a lively tapas restaurant,
with projections on the
walls and live music on a
raised stage above the bar.
The food at the Grape
& Olive (swansea. isnt
as innovative, but given
its location the top oor
of Waless tallest building
its worth a visit just for
the amazing views.
Finally, you cant visit
Swansea without a trip
to local institution.
Joes Ice Cream Parlour
founded in 1922 by the
son of Italian immigrants.
Joe Cascarini introduced
the familys secret ice-
cream recipe to the city
and it has never left.
Quite simply its the most
amazing ice cream I have
EVER had!
Eating out in Swansea

Cardiff 22
Clockwise from left
Cardiff Castle
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Millennium Stadium
Royal Arcade
thought I knew Cardiff pretty well.
I moved here nine years ago, and I
denitely consider it to be my home. In
true fashion though, when a city becomes
your home you kind of take it for granted.
You dont really explore what it has to
offer its just there! So it was fascinating
to spend a weekend in Cardiff as a tourist
again and re-discover just how great it is.
All the icons are correct and present:
the castle, the Millennium Stadium
which dominates the central skyline, the
neoclassical Civic Centre, the shiny new
shopping malls.
Since Im being a tourist, I start at the
top of most visitors list: Cardiff Castle.
With over 2,000 years of history, its
an incredible mash-up of all the major
historical events that have shaped
Cardiff, from Roman times, through
Norman conquest, to the fabulous wealth
that coal brought here.
The 3rd Marquess of Bute was the
biggest inuence on how the castle looks
today. Bute hired the amboyant (and
expensive) designer William Burges to
work with him in the design of his living
quarters, which reect their fascination
with all things medieval. With Burgess
vision and Butes money, there were no
limits to their sumptuous designs.
Its the little details that you remember,
though: I particularly liked the little
statues of monkeys reading books, which
were apparently Butes way of mocking
Darwins theory of evolution.
Cardiff itself continues to evolve. The
weekends highlight for me was exploring
the independent businesses that are
ourishing in the old arcades which
intertwined with the more commercial
shops. The eclectic shops within each
arcade have a real charm about them,
from local skate shop City Surf to Spillers
Records (opened in 1894 the oldest
record shop in the world). I even took the
opportunity to do some research for my
wedding in Hubbards Cupboard in Castle
Arcade, which was a bit of a dangerous
move with my ance with me!
And Cardiff isnt just about the city
centre any more: the individual boroughs
are emerging strongly and making names
for themselves places like Cathays,
Roath, Canton and Pontcanna offer
their own high streets by day and an
alternative night out for people looking
for something a bit different.
A good example of this new generation
of pioneers is Simon Thomas, who owns
a record shop called Catapult in the Duke
Street Arcade. But its more than that. Its
also a record label, and a clothing brand.
His latest business is a pop-up restaurant
called Chucks, which shone brightly last
summer in an old disused dairy.
Simon, like many of the bright young
independents in Cardiff, is on a mission:
to inspire. Im not in it for the money,
he laughs. I do it because I want to. I
started Chucks simply because it was the
kind of place I wanted to eat. But at the
same time a business like mine gives the
chance to develop the careers of other
Cardiff locals, whether theyre musicians
on the label or chefs in the kitchen.
Im not against commercial
businesses, says Simon. I just want
people to have the choice of where
they eat and shop a quality, credible
alternative to the mainstream.
Back at the hotel, Im thoroughly
enjoying my tourist trip to my home
town. Were staying at the Park Plaza,
a relaxed hotel right in the city centre,
with its own spa and health club. After a
couple of hours in the steam room and
the unique stainless steel pool, I feel like
a new man. At least, after the deep tissue
massage, I feel like Ive got a new pair of
shoulders. More than that, Ive seen my
adopted home city in a whole new light.
And it feels really, really good.
Cardiff 23
m pretty easy going when it comes to things like this. I
always approach accessibility with a where theres a will
theres a way attitude.
Over two weekends spent in Swansea and Cardiff I was
treated just as any visitor would be and thats how I like
it. I didnt encounter any obstacles in terms of wheelchair
access. Both hotels had rooms with plenty of wheeling
space and the bathrooms had all the necessary equipment.
Staff at all the restaurants were really accommodating
by allocating a table that was easy to get to and making
sure a chair was removed to enable me to roll straight in!
I was particularly impressed with Cardiff Castle. Its
a Grade I listed building with its origins dating back to
Roman times. You dont really expect to be able to access
all areas of the castle, but if theres a heritage building
demonstrating just what can be achieved with a sincere
commitment to accessibility, then Cardiff Castle is it. There
were lifts installed to allow wheelchair access not only
to the castle tunnels but also to the main rooms of the
360 Beach & Watersports in Swansea offers genuinely
innovative levels of disabled access. Suddenly youve
got none of the usual worries: How am I going to get
changed? or How am I going to go to the toilet? Using a
beach wheelchair eliminates further issues by enabling easy
access across the sand and into the sea. Its great to see a
visitor attraction offering such levels of inclusivity.

If youre looking to plan a visit to Wales and you need
sound advice regarding accessibility matters:
Access all areas
Think that a country known for its
coastline and castles might be off
limits for wheelchair users?
Cities & towns
Access all areas
Cardiff has all the big-name chains like Jamies and
Carluccios, as well as a great selection of home-grown
independents. Milgi Lounge ( is a
perfect example: a vegetarian restaurant on City Road,
a mile or so out of town. It has a real community feel,
with locally sourced food and a clientele of all different
ages and styles, so no one seems out of place. Their
cocktails are amazing, especially the Milgi Mojito, made
with elderower and lychee. Its not just a restaurant,
either: they hold live music and storytelling evenings
in the yurt in the rear garden, and art exhibitions and
markets in the lane and garages behind.
Mint & Mustard ( has a fantastic
reputation locally for its South Indian cuisine, and now
Ive been there I can see why! You dont just go there to
eat; you go there for the complete dining experience.
La Cuina ( is a family-run Catalan place
thats a deli by day and a restaurant by night. Its
relatively new but already a hotspot with local foodies (it
was packed when we visited). Then theres Torre Coffee,
another family business run by an Italian-Romanian
husband and wife team. The cakes are amazing, and
theyre especially welcoming for families and its right
opposite Cardiff Castle.

Eating out in Cardiff

For more information on Swansea and Cardiff visit: and
Above Jamies Italian
TV presenter Liam Holt
360 Beach and Watersports, Swansea
Swansea 24
wansea regularly tops student
satisfaction surveys of university
towns, and its easy to see why students
love it here. The whole city hugs the vast
crescent of Swansea Bay, giving a chilled-
out seaside vibe to the city by day, and
one of good-natured indulgence by
night, notably in the bars and clubs of
Wind Street and Kingsway.
So where to start? The new SA1
area is as good a place as any, a smart
waterfront development, crowned
with Waless tallest building, that has
transformed a post-War eyesore that led
Dylan Thomas to describe his birthplace
as a lovely, ugly town.
Swansea has changed a lot since
Dylan lived here, and the city centre
has been thoroughly modernised,
undoing the damage done by wartime
bombing and, worse, hasty post-War
rebuilding. But hed still recognise several
local landmarks: the castle, museum
(, the excellent
covered market (swanseaindoormarket. and, of course, the house in which
he was born (
He might also be attered to discover
that the old Guildhall is now the Dylan
Thomas Centre (
Hopefully hed approve of some of the
newcomers, too, like the exotic indoor
rainforest that blossoms beneath the
striking pyramid hot-house of Plantasia
(, the hi-tech LC waterpark
(, and the National
Waterfront Museum (
en/swansea), which tells the story of our
industrial and sea-faring past as well as
our technological future.
Swansea is a coastal gateway to an
unspoilt area of wild coastal countryside
to rival any other. Head west through
the chichi village of Mumbles, with its
boutiques and restaurants, and you
soon arrive on the Gower Peninsula
(, the rst
place in Britain designated an Area Of
Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1949.
Its got some truly wonderful beaches,
including Three Cliffs Bay and the huge
expanse of Rhossili (see cover photo),
which are both regular xtures in lists of
the most scenic sights in Britain.
The eastern rim of Swansea Bay is
worth a visit, too. Margam Country
Park ( has a
grand castle, 18th-century Orangery,
ornamental gardens, deer park and
Go Ape high-wire forest adventure,
all set within 1,000 acres of stunning
Swansea is also the starting point of
the Heart of Wales railway line (heart-, which potters through
our farming heartland before plunging
through mountain tunnels on its
picturesque journey to Shrewsbury.
Where to go, what to do and how to do it
Opposite page from top
Mumbles, gateway to the Gower Peninsula
Swansea vs Manchester Utd, Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Swansea indoor market
Walking on Rhossili Down, Gower Peninsula
This page from top
Bute Park, Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Cardiff Bays busy waterfront
Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff Bay
kay, you have 48 hours to explore
our capital city. So lets go
shopping. Cardiffs one of the best retail
cities in the UK, thanks to the mighty
St Davids centre (,
part of a 700m transformation of the
city centre. It has more than 160 stores
including John Lewis restaurants and
cafs, all set snugly in the compact heart
of the city. There are also seven historic
shopping arcades ( and
Cardiff Market (,
a proper old-style glass-roofed jobbie.
There are museums and galleries galore
in the city centre. The National Museum
Cardiff ( /en/cardiff)
tells four and a half million years
of Welsh history and also houses
one of the nest art collections in
Europe. Just outside the city is
St Fagans: National History Museum
a fantastic open-air museum and
deservedly one of the most popular
visitor attractions in Wales.
The city has more than 2,000 acres of
parkland, making it the greenest capital
city in Europe. Bute Park (
is a stunning stretch of greenery that
reaches right down into the heart of the
city, where it bumps into the Animal
Wall of sculptures next to Cardiff Castle
Cardiff bursts with music and drama
too, from venues like St Davids Hall
(, Motorpoint
Arena ( and the Wales
Millennium Centre ( to
intimate spaces like Chapter Arts Centre
( which also has an
excellent caf and bar and Clwb Ifor
Bach ( There are countless
places to relax with good food and drink.
Thanks to the docks of Tiger Bay, this
was Britains rst multi-cultural city, which
is reected in the food: pretty much
all cultures are represented, from Brazil
to Bengal, along with the best locally-
sourced Welsh produce.
This is a city that parties every
weekend. The clubs of St Mary Street
and Greyfriars Road are the epicentre of
the action, but you dont have to look
far to nd an authentic Welsh pub selling
Brains beer, like the legendary City Arms
(, or a laid-back bar
like 10 Feet Tall (
which has a great cocktail menu and a DJ
crafting a nice groove.
As youre making a weekend of it,
youll have time for a little exploration.
Cardiff Bay ( offers
striking architecture to explore both
old and new as well as plenty of
places to eat and drink, plus attractions
like the science museum Techniquest
(, Dr Who Experience
( and the
superb Cardiff International White Water
Cities & towns
48 Hours
Cardiff 26
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
This is a proper market town three a
week, no less and a fabulous place to poke
around home-grown shops and galleries. Its the
gastronomic capital of Wales, too, with Britains
best food and drink festival held every September.
You can burn off the calories by walking one
of the seven hills that enfold the town.,
Where to stay: The Angel Hotel is the kind of
coaching inn that every town wishes it had, and
its sister restaurant, The Walnut Tree, is the most
celebrated in Wales with two adjoining self-catering
Llandrindod Wells, Powys
The Victorians ocked to Llandod for its
healing spring waters, and its mid-point location
still makes it a popular conference town. This means
its got plenty of things to amuse all year round
(including a weekly market) but it really shines
during the annual Victorian Festival in August.
Where to stay: The Metropole is the biggest of
dozens of options in a town geared up for visitors.
Market leaders
Away from the big cities and coastal resorts, rural Wales has plenty
of fabulous market towns. Like this magnicent seven, for instance
2 4
3 5
Machynlleth, Powys
Theres a lovely vibe to Mach, a
handsome market town the street market
is every Wednesday where local farmers
rub shoulders with off-beat hippie inuences.
Theres a very good modern art gallery,
MOMA, and the nearby Centre for Alternative
Technology is a gem.,,
Where to stay: The Wynnstay Hotel has
a lovely heart-of-the-community feel, and
fabulous Ynyshir Hall is a short drive away.,
Llanrwst, Conwy
In 1947 Llanrwst declared itself an
independent state and applied (only half-
jokingly) for a seat at the United Nations.
Its still a wonderfully free-spirited market
town, at the heart of the Conwy Valley,
perfectly positioned for Snowdonias coast
and mountains.
Where to stay: Plas Maenan, the mansion
on a rock is a lovely country house with
brilliant views of the valley below.
Vale of Glamorgan
The Cardiff posh commute from here, the
Vale of Glamorgans most glamorous address.
Even for all the boutiques, galleries and cafs,
Cowbridge remains the heart of the Vales
farming community, so it still has lots of
good honest muck on its wellies. Best of
both worlds, really.
Where to stay: The Bear coaching inn can
trace its origins back to the 12th century, and
is still doing a roaring trade.
Ruthin, Denbighshire
It bills itself as the most charming small
town in Wales, and were not arguing. Theres
an excellent craft centre, and even the old
gaol, which closed in 1976, now offers a warm
welcome to its fascinating museum. All in all,
the perfect base for exploring the Clwydian
Where to stay: Manorhaus is a boutique
restaurant-with-rooms that doubles as an
art gallery, while the towns castle is now
a sumptuous spa hotel.,
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire
The cool capital of Carmarthenshire, as the London press call it, sits prettily on
a hill overlooking one of the loveliest valleys in Wales. There are plenty of boutiques
and cafs to graze, and its a short walk through a wooded nature reserve to Dinefwr
Castle, an ancient royal capital. There are also excellent music, jazz and literary festivals.
Where to stay: The Cawdor is the beating heart of the towns social scene, while Fronlas
is the chicest of B&Bs.,
Cities & towns
Market leaders 28
Events Diary
From beer festivals to major sporting events, cultural celebrations to feasts
of food, theres plenty to keep you occupied in Wales this year. As you can
plainly see, were not shy of hosting a party.
2014 is the centenary celebration of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the highly
influential literary figure of the late 20th century. The Senior Open golf
championship is hosted in Wales for the first time at Royal Porthcawl Golf
Club, following in the groundbreaking footsteps of The 2010 Ryder Cup.
Along with literary festivals, numerous music celebrations and, of course,
bog-snorkelling championships, why not plan your visit to Wales in
conjunction with one of these world-renowned events?
11th January
Saturnalia Beer Festival & Chariot
Race, Llanwrtyd Wells
Saturnalia was the major midwinter
Roman festival. In this version,
participants are encouraged to wear
Roman dress, eat Roman food, quaff ne
ales and party with friends. You can even
compete in the World Mountain Bike
Chariot Racing Championship.
Classic FM Live in Wales
Held at the Wales Millennium Centre,
Classic FM Live combines the very best
international performers with the very
best talents in Wales, making classical
music accessible to a wide audience.
1st February
Wales v Italy, Cardiff
The Millennium Stadium hosts the rst
rugby union international of the Six
Nations Championship. As defending
champions, Wales take on Italy.
4th 14th February
Quiltfest, Llangollen
Anything and everything to do with
quilt making: exhibitions, competition,
demonstrations and workshops.
6th 11th February
Abertawe Festival for Young
Musicians, Swansea
An annual musical event featuring
competitive piano, strings, woodwind
and ensemble sections.
1st March
St Davids Day Parade
To celebrate our patron saints day,
parades and events take place all over
Wales. In bigger towns and cities look
out for food festivals, concerts and
street parties.
1st 9th March
Crickhowell Walking Festival
Guided walks of various grades, all led by
local experienced guides plus a range of
supporting events.
2nd March
The Island Race, Anglesey
The Anglesey Half Marathon takes
runners across the world famous Menai
Bridge and follows the coast road to
Beaumaris Castle and back.
15th March
Wales v Scotland, Cardiff
The nal day of the Six Nations rugby
union championship, and the most
eagerly awaited xture of the year at
the Millennium Stadium.
Events Diary
Opposite page clockwise from top left
The Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Llangollen International Eisteddfod
Wales v Italy rugby international, Cardiff
St Davids Hall, Cardiff
Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells
British Speedway Grand Prix, Cardiff
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye
This page from left
Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey
Musician, Cardiff Castle
St Davids Day Parade
Starts on 21st March
Wales One World Film Festival
Cardiff & Aberystwyth
One World explores the edges of
contemporary global cinema and gives
audiences the chance to celebrate world
cinema in all its richness and diversity.
Dylan Thomas
This year Wales celebrates the centenary
of the birth of Dylan Thomas, born on
27th October 1914 at 5 Cwmdonkin
Drive, in the Uplands area of Swansea.
He grew up in the city, but paid regular
summer visits to his aunts farm in
Carmarthenshire, whose rural setting
inspired much of his work.
Thomas left school at 16 to become
a reporter for the local newspaper,
and became a regular at local pubs
and coffee shops, where he mixed
with a group of writers, musicians
and artists that became known as
The Kardomah Gang.
In 1936 he met a dancer called Caitlin
Macnamara in a London pub, and
drunkenly proposed to her on the spot.
They married in 1937, and a year later
the couple moved to Laugharne, where
they raised three children. He died on
9th November 1953 in New York, after
a prolonged drinking session. His body
was returned to Wales where he was
buried in the churchyard in Laugharne.
Thomas is remembered as one of the
most innovative poets of the English
language. In addition to poetry, he wrote
short stories and scripts for lm and radio
notably the classic play for voices,
Under Milk Wood.
April September
The Dylan Weekends
Three weekends to celebrate Dylan
Thomass life and work, themed to
echo Dylans favourite art forms:
just the kind of events Dylan himself
would have enjoyed:
11th 13th April
Poetry and Biography
curated by Patti Smith and
Simon Armitage
19th 21st September
Comedy and Radio
curated by Robin Ince and
Simon Maconie
26th 28th September
Music and Film
curated by Richard James and
Euros Child
RHS Flower Show, Cardiff
Wonderwool Wales, Builth Wells
11th 13th April
RHS Flower Show, Cardiff
Held in Bute Park against the backdrop
of Cardiff Castle, the show provides an
inspirational display of vibrant gardening,
oral delights and expert advice.
26th 27th April
Wonderwool Wales, Builth Wells
A fun and bre-packed weekend that
includes displays, workshops and
31 31
Events Diary
2nd 4th May
Machynlleth Comedy Festival
An annual live comedy festival brings top
comics to this lovely Mid Wales town.
2nd 5th May
Bro Tregaron Walking Weekend
Tregaron Walking Club invites walkers
of all ages and abilities to join them on
guided walks in the unspoilt and stunning
Cambrian Mountains.
3rd 5th May
Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza
This seaside resort returns to its Victorian
roots in an event packed full of steam
engines, Victorian musical organs,
vintage cars, costumes, curiosities and
side shows.
16th 18th May
Prestatyn & Clwydian Range Walking
Festival, Prestatyn
Three days of walking and fun at this 9th
annual festival offering 25 themed walks
ranging from easy to energetic.
17th 18th May
Welsh Three Peaks Challenge
Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons
A unique opportunity to climb three of
the most iconic mountains in Wales
Pen y Fan, Cadair Idris and Snowdon.
17th 18th May
Snowdonia Slateman Triathlon
A triathlon to remember! Held over two
days, the two race options are the Full
Slateman (1000m/51km/11km) or the
Slateman Sprint (400m/20km/6km).
22nd 29th May
Beaumaris Arts Festival, Anglesey
This seaside town is the perfect
setting for a week-long arts festival.
Events include classical music and jazz
performances, talks, theatrical events,
poetry reading and art exhibitions.
22nd May 1st June
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye
Former US President Bill Clinton called
Hay the Woodstock of the mind,
which just about sums up this incredible
gathering of the worlds greatest writers
and thinkers. There are 900+ events
over the ten days, featuring poets and
scientists, lyricists and comedians,
novelists and environmentalists,
politicians and philosophers, actors and
astronauts, historians and economists
all coming together to kick around big
ideas that will transform your way of
thinking. Unmissable.
23rd 25th May
Aberystwyth Cycle Festival
With some of Britains top cyclists
making a rare appearance in Mid Wales,
festival visitors can watch all the action
and experience the beautiful and
undiscovered lanes of Ceredigion on
their own bikes.
From left
Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey
Welsh Three Peaks Challenge,
Brecon Beacons
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye
24th May
Heineken Cup Final,
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Four Heineken Cup nals have been
played to date at this world-class
stadium. The 2014 nals will see the
creation of a European Champions
Village, providing a focal point for fans
to savour the unique atmosphere of
this major European rugby tournament.
You can make a proper weekend of it by
showing up for the Amlin Challenge Cup
Final, held the day before at the historic
Cardiff Arms Park.
25th 26th May
Abergavenny Steam & Vintage Rally
Bailey Park, Abergavenny
A marvellous day out for the whole
family with steam and vintage vehicles,
a childrens playground, a food village,
rural crafts and handicrafts.
26th 31st May
Urdd Eisteddfod, Bala
One of the largest cultural youth festivals
in Europe, celebrating the best talent in
song, dance, drama and design.
4th 7th June
Three Castles Welsh Classic Trial
Attracting more than 300 classic
cars from the early 1900s through
to todays supercars. Stalls, childrens
entertainments, refreshments and
live jazz.
7th June
Big Welsh Trail, Coed Llandegla
A half marathon and 6.3 mile (10 km)
route will take in awe inspiring trails
through the 650 hectares of this
beautiful forest.
24th 25th May
Really Wild Food & Countryside
Festival, St David's
A fabulous showcase of locally grown
and produced food, with wild ingredients
foraged from the hedgerows, coast,
beach and river. Loads to see and do,
AND to eat of course!
25th May
Welsh Open Stoneskimming
Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells
Stoneskimming is the ancient skill of
bouncing stones as far as possible
across water. You can enter the fray or
just enjoy other amusing stone-themed
30th May 1st June
Woodfest, Wales, Kinmel Estate
near St Asaph
This interactive celebration of wood-
related skills and crafts is packed with
exhilarating displays including more than
150 outside stands of demonstrations
and trade, and six marquees full of
unique goods produced in Wales.
Ruthin Festival, Ruthin
An outstanding variety of non-stop
music, from traditional folk to classical,
as well as the best from the world of
jazz and popular music.
13th 29th June
Gregynog Festival, Gregynog
Known as the oldest festival in Wales the
Gregynog festival is one of the UKs top
rated classical musical events. Held in
the beautiful surroundings of the Welsh
borders, this festival has a different
theme every year spanning a range
of music from medieval to chamber,
performed by fantastic artists, on
authentic instruments.
From left
Heineken Cup, Millennium Stadium
Foraging in Wales
Woodfest, Kinmel Estate, near St Asaph
33 33
Events Diary
14th June
Man v Horse Marathon
Llanwrtyd Wells
A unique marathon of 22 miles (35 km)
through spectacular countryside where
runners and horses compete against
each other. A runner has won just twice
in the events 33-year history.
14th 15th June
Snowdonia Arts Festival
A celebration of the areas artistic
heritage through workshops and
28th June
Drovers Walk, Llanwrtyd Wells
Follow in the footsteps of the drovers
who herded their sheep, cattle, pigs and
geese across the mountains of Wales
to the market towns of England. Theres
a choice of walks, all through beautiful
28th June 6th July
Pembrokeshire Fish Week
This whopper of a festival has more than
250 events celebrating the countys great
seafood and beautiful coastline. Learn
to y-sh, go crab-catching, tuck into
the freshest seafood, get digging in a
sandcastle challenge, and much more.
4th 6th July
Wakestock, Abersoch
Europes largest wakeboard music festival
with free-to-watch wakeboarding by day
and music by night.
15th June
Etape Eryri, Caernarfon
A cycling event not to miss. The
route could not be more spectacular,
exploring the most breathtaking and
scenic roads in the heart of the
Snowdonia National Park.
20th 22nd June
Dinefwr Literature Festival
Dinefwr Park
More than 100 events featuring authors,
poets, musicians, artists, actors and
July August
Cardiff Festival
The capital comes alive for a month
of street theatre, live music, comedy,
drama and funfairs. Its all part of the
UKs largest free outdoor festival.
4th 6th July
Beyond the Border, Wales
International Storytelling Festival
St Donats Castle, St Donats
In the gardens of a fairytale castle by the
sea, a magnicent celebration of stories
and music from Wales and the World.
4th 6th July
The Celebrity Cup at Golf Live
Celtic Manor, Newport
The Celebrity Cup sees celebrities
battle it out over two days representing
England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales,
while Golf Live offers an unrivalled range
of interactive theatres, where visitors
can see the worlds greatest golfers show
their talent, pick up on top tips from
industry experts and try out the latest
From left
Man vs Horse Marathon, Llanwrtyd Wells
Wakestock, Abersoch
Entertainers Ant and Dec,
2013 Celebrity Cup
Open season
Seniors golf is entering a golden age, with many of the
greatest golfers in modern golng history doing battle
all over again. What better time to bring the Senior Open
Championship to Wales?
24th 27th July
The Senior Open Championship
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
It wasnt that long ago Wales was voted
Undiscovered Golf Destination of the
Year. Now it follows up the success of
The 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor
Resort by hosting its rst Major Golf
Championship at Royal Porthcawl Golf
Club. The secret is well and truly out now.
The Senior Open Championship takes
place between 24th 27th July and
brings some of the worlds greatest
golfers of the past 50 years to one of
the nest links courses in the world.
Take Bernhard Langer, Germanys greatest
golfer, with two Masters victories to his
name and 11 Ryder Cup appearances,
including a victorious captaincy in 2004.
Hes still quite handy, having won the
Senior Open Championship and its US
equivalent in 2010.
'Royal Porthcawl is certainly a
wonderful venue and worthy of a Major
Championship. I played there many
years ago and remember it as a beautiful
site and wonderful golf course. I am sure
the course will be just as challenging and
in great shape for us in July.
English golfer Roger Chapman, winner of
the US Senior PGA Champion and the US
Senior Open Champion in 2012, echoes
Langers endorsement.
There are many great courses in Wales
and Ive been fortunate enough to play
a number of them Royal Porthcawl,
Conwy, Royal St Davids to name but
three during my professional career.
I remember playing in the Amateur
Championship won by Duncan Evans at
Royal Porthcawl in 1980 and thinking
then what a great track it was. Ive
played it many times since and there are
some fantastic, challenging holes. You
really have to earn your corn there!
Royal Porthcawl is situated within less
than hours drive from both Cardiff
and Swansea. Its the perfect venue for
championship golf. Past winners of the
Senior Open include Gary Player, Tom
Watson and Bob Charles. Big name
players who will be eligible to join the
eld in 2014 include Davis Love III, Colin
Montgomerie and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Royal Porthcawl will ensure a challenging
Senior Open debut for all Major
champions, Ryder Cup heroes and
record European Tour winners. The club
has a colourful history dating back to
1891 and combines a great respect for
the democratic traditions of the game
with a refreshing openness towards
visiting golfers.
This pretty much echoes the way golf is
played in Wales. From courses notched
into the sides of mountains to parkland
gems; from championship tracks to
community-maintained clubs, where you
leave your green fees in an honesty box.
Golf in Wales is unstuffy, unhurried and
full of pleasant surprises. Like the saying
goes: this is golf as it should be.
For tickets and hospitality opportunities,
please contact: 0800 023 2557 or
Clockwise from left
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Bernhard Langer
Colin Montgomerie
1st 9th August
National Eisteddfod
Millennium Coast Park, Llanelli
Aled Haydn Jones is a producer and
presenter for BBC Radio 1.
Ive been to plenty of festivals in my
time: it goes with the territory when
youre a DJ. But theres still something
special about an eisteddfod, which has
been part of my life for as long as I can
remember. Every child in Wales is thrown
onto a stage from an early age, especially
if you went to a Welsh-speaking school
like mine.
If youre on holiday and you want a
proper avour of Welsh culture, then you
should denitely check out the National
Eisteddfod. You dont have to speak or
even be Welsh, to have a totally brilliant
time. Theres such a friendly, welcoming
vibe, and so much going on music,
literature, dance, theatre.
It moves around Wales to a different
place every year, and its in Llanelli in
2014, but the basics are the same.
Theres a eld called the Maes, with loads
of stalls and activities. In the middle is
a gigantic pink tent called the Pavilion
where most of the competitions and
ceremonies are held.
If you imagine the Edinburgh Fringe
crossed with Glastonbury, with a
distinctly Welsh avour well, youre
nearly there. In some ways its very
traditional, with all the druids and bards
and solemn ceremonies. But its also
great for families, and for young people.
Ive seen some brilliant Welsh bands
there in the evenings.
More than anything, though, its a great
place to catch up with friends and
make new ones. Theres always a warm
welcome for everyone, whether you
speak Welsh or not.
Events Diary
19th July
International Snowdon Race
One of Europes toughest endurance
challenges, this race involves running a
steep ve-mile (eight km) track up and
down the highest summit in Wales and
21st 24th July
Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells
This huge agricultural show isnt just
about cows and combine harvesters.
With live music, stunt displays, craft
stalls, great food and a host of other
attractions, you dont have to be a
farmer (or Welsh) to love it.
26th 27th July
Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly
A celebration of the history, heritage
and culture of Caerphilly with an
extravaganza of street entertainers, living
history encampments, music, dance,
falconry, re eating and much more, all
set around Caerphilly Castle, one of the
largest castles in Europe.
8th 13th July
Llangollen International Eisteddfod
An extraordinary cultural celebration
featuring 4,000 competitors from around
the world in song, dance and music.
12th July
British Speedway Grand Prix, Cardiff
The Millennium Stadium hosts its 14th
consecutive FIM British Speedway
Grand Prix.
13th July
Cardigan County Show
West Waless premier agriculture show.
Brecon Jazz
World-famous jazz festival set in the
beautiful Brecon Beacons, featuring
major international names. The 2013
festival included performances from Jools
Holland, Acker Bilk and Courtney Pine.
Victorian Festival, Llandrindod Wells
Step back in time to the 19th century.
The surrounding backdrop of incredible
Victorian architecture dating from the
spa towns heyday, in the 19th century,
further enhances the festivities.
12th 13th August
Anglesey County Show, Holyhead
The largest two-day agricultural show
in Wales is a show for every member of
the family. More than 350 trade stands,
entertainment marquee and country
pursuits area, plus much, much more!
13th 17th August
North Wales Boat Show, Conwy
A celebratory festival of all water-based
14th 17th August
Green Man Festival, Crickhowell
There are plenty of festivals jostling
for the position of independent and
alternative. But Green Man, founded in
2003 as a one-day campre folk event,
still stands out proudly in the left-eld.
Its bigger, thats for sure the capacitys
around 20,000 these days but it still
inhabits its own glorious alternative
What makes it special? The setting, for
starters: Glanusk Park, a natural bowl in
the Brecon Beacons near Crickhowell,
thats easily the most beautiful festival
site in Britain. Theres the sheer diversity
of entertainment: ten areas, 1,500
performers, 24-hour events, comedy,
poetry, literature, art and science, cinema,
wildlife walks. Theres lashings of local beer
and cider, and excellent gourmet food.
Then theres the music: Green Man 2013
featured hip young things like Band of
Horses, Kings of Convenience, British Sea
Power, The Horrors and Ben Howard, but
also legendary icons Patti Smith, John
Cale and Roy Harper.
Its also very much about the people
who come here, the most diverse and
friendly bunch of humanity youre
likely to encounter, a broad church
that welcomes locals, East End hipsters,
crusties, hippies, students, Boden-
catalogue families, business execs
swapping pinstripes for bandanas and
all rubbing along just ne, thank you.
The whole thing peaks, unforgettably,
with the burning of a giant wooden efgy
of the Green Man himself. Magnicent.
9th 17th August
Conwy River Festival
If jaunty sailing boats with bright red sails
are your thing, then this week of yacht
racing and cruising is denitely for you.
Even if it isnt, there are plenty of shore-
based activities to entertain you. Ever
fancied dressing up as a pirate?
From left
Brecon Jazz, Brecon
Green Man, Crickhowell
Talyllyn Railway, near Tywyn
15th August
Orchid Festival
National Botanic Garden of Wales,
near Carmarthen
Featuring specialist nurseries from the
UK as well as Europe, with talks and
demonstrations from award-winning
orchid growers.
16th August
Race the Train, Tywyn
This unique event is a must for all multi-
terrain runners. It takes place alongside
the route of the Talyllyn Railway on its
journey to Abergynolwyn and back.
37 37
Events Diary
National treasures
We dont have just one National
Museum. Weve got seven. Theyre
evenly spread across Wales, and between
them cover just about every aspect
of Welsh history and culture: coal and
slate mining, the wool industry, our
architecture, technology, folk customs,
Roman occupation, farming, seafaring
all brilliantly presented and curated
by friendly experts.
At the Big Pit National Coal Museum,
you can put on a helmet and descend
300 feet (91 metres) underground into
the mine itself, guided by miners who
really used to work here. Its the same at
the National Slate Museum, where the
slate craftsmen demonstrate skills learnt
over generations.
There are more traditional crafts at the
wonderful St Fagans National History
Museum, where more than 40 original
Welsh buildings have been rebuilt in
a 100-acre woodland site just outside
And while the National Roman Legion
Museum isnt staffed by real Romans,
Caerleon does have the most complete
amphitheatre in Britain and the only
Roman Legionary barracks on view
anywhere in Europe. The National
Museum Cardiff, meanwhile, has world-
class collections of natural history and
art, including many iconic Impressionist
and Post-Impressionist works.
And this is the best bit: all these
museums are free to visit.
18th 23rd August
2014 International Paralympic
Committee Athletics European
Swansea University
Around 600 athletes from 40 countries
will compete in this rst major para-
athletics event to be held in GB following
the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
19th 21st August
Pembrokeshire County Show
The biggest county show in Wales is also
one of the very best of its kind in Britain,
whether your interest is cars, food,
clothes or animals.
23rd 28th August
Extreme Sailing, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Cardiff has established itself as the venue
for the UK round of the Extreme Sailing
Series global tour and delivers nail-biting
racing in a festival atmosphere with
thousands of spectators.
24th August
World Bog Snorkelling
Championship, Llanwrtyd Wells
Daring competitors battle it out in a
60-metre peat bog for the coveted
title of World Champion Bog Snorkeller.
This has to be the dirtiest water sport
of the year!
Festival No. 6
The Manic Street Preachers and My
Bloody Valentine were memorable
headline acts last year, but this is more
than a mere music festival. The fantasy
village of Portmeirion comes alive with
intimate readings and talks, exclusive lm
screenings with live soundtracks, stand-
up comedy, art trails through the woods,
storytelling in the clearings, master
classes, and art installations.
From left
The best of county shows
World Bog Snorkelling Championship,
Llanwrtyd Wells
Extreme Sailing, Cardiff Bay
Above Big Pit: National Coal Museum
Below Impressionist collection,
National Museum Cardiff
6th September
Mardi Gras, Cardiff
A week-long arts festival leads up to
Waless biggest celebration of gay and
lesbian life.
7th 14th September
Tour of Britain
The UKs biggest professional cycle race
and largest free-to-spectate sporting
event, part of which takes the riders
through some stunning Welsh scenery.
26th 28th September
The Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Elvis lives, thanks to the thousands of
fans and the tribute artists who attend
this annual gathering of blue suede
shoes, Vegas jumpsuits, and whopping
28th September
My Friend Dylan Thomas, Bangor
University School of Music
A mini-festival of events encompassing
the many musical responses to Thomass
work from his lifetime to the present day.
14th September
Ironman Wales, Pembrokeshire
A 2.4 mile (3.8 km) swim, a 112 mile
(180 km) cycle, followed by a marathon,
with only 17 hours to complete it all. Just
an average Sunday really...
18th 21st September
ISPS Handa Wales Open
Celtic Manor Resort, Newport
A leading event on golfs European
Tour, attracting some of the worlds top
golfers, played on the Twenty Ten course,
designed for the 2010 Ryder Cup.
20th 21st September
Abergavenny Food Festival
One of the biggest events in the UK
foodie calendar, with local produce and
international delicacies, celebrity chefs,
master classes, tastings and street stalls
all on the menu.
20th 21st September
Mold Food and Drink Festival
Showcasing outstanding local produce,
celebrity chef expertise and live music
to create a fabulous foodie weekend for
the whole family.
SWN Festival, Cardiff
BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens is the
co-founder and curator of this hip urban
music festival, with cutting-edge bands
playing venues across Cardiff.
8th 12th October
Iris Prize Festival, Cardiff
Cardiffs international gay and lesbian
short lm prize welcomes the best new
lm-making talent to the capital.
11th 12th October
Anglesey Oyster & Welsh Produce
Festival, Beaumaris
It started as an informal event where
locals would gather to eat oysters and
get merry, but now attracts thousands
of visitors each year.
25th October 2014
22nd February 2015
Artes Mundi, Cardiff National
Museum & Chapter
This is Waless biggest and most exciting
contemporary visual art show. One of the
shortlisted artists is awarded the prize of
40,000, the largest art prize in the UK
and one of the most signicant in the
From left
Festival No. 6, Portmeirion
Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny
Ironman Wales, Pembrokeshire
39 39
Events Diary
25th 26th October
Gwledd Conwy Feast, Conwy
The medieval town of Conwy is
transformed with a weekend festival that
boasts the largest celebration of music,
art and food of Wales. The quayside,
castle and medieval streets burst with
avours, sounds and sights.
27th October 9th November
The Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea
The focus for Dylan Thomas 100
including high-prole events to mark
the 100th anniversary of Dylans birth.
This event forms the centrepiece of the
year-long celebrations over an intensive
two-week period.
Throughout December
Santa Steam Specials
Father Christmas is the VIP passenger on
weekend rides on Waless narrow-gauge
Great Little Trains.
6th 7th December
Blackwood Christmas Market
See the town centre come to life with
stalls along the high street, funfair rides
and traditional entertainment. With real
reindeer visiting, Santa will certainly be
putting in an appearance!
18th December
River of Light Parade, Caerphilly
Join in the annual River of Light Parade
in Caerphilly town centre.
31st December
Nos Galan Road Races, Mountain Ash
This annual race commemorates the
18th-century Welsh runner Guto Nyth
Brn (who was supposedly so quick, he
could blow out his candle and be in bed
before it was dark). There are races for
all abilities, street entertainment, funfair,
fabulous rework display and a mystery
celebrity runner
Wales Rally GB
The British leg of the FIA World Rally
Championship has been based in Cardiff
since 2000. Watch the worlds elite
drivers take on the worlds toughest
forestry tracks in the Mid Wales
mountains, and thrill the crowds at
special stages.
Mid November onwards
Cardiff Winter Wonderland &
Swansea Waterfront Wonderland
Ice-skating and rides, mulled wine and
roasted chestnuts feel-good festivities
in Cardiff and Swanseas Christmas
11th December
Wrexham Christmas Market
This most eagerly awaited event in the
towns calendar attracts thousands of
shoppers year after year. Music and
entertainment throughout the day.
13th 14th December
Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
With a mix of farmers stalls, continental
market stalls and genuine food and craft
producers the event offers something
for everyone. Musical entertainment,
childrens workshops, street theatre and
a Santas grotto ensure an entertaining
weekend for all the family.
Every effort has been made to ensure
accuracy in this events listing. All dates
and information were checked at the
time of going to press. Visit Wales
cannot be held accountable for any
change to this information.
From left
Gwledd Conwy Feast, Conwy
Wales Rally GB
Cardiff Winter Wonderland
40 40
Llansteffan Castle, Carmarthenshire
Opposite page clockwise from top left
Powis Castle, Welshpool
Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon
Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis
Medieval fayre, Caerphilly Castle
Beaumaris Castle, Isle of Anglesey
Carreg Cennen Castle, near Llandeilo
Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly
Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydl
ales has more castles per square
mile than anywhere on earth. At
the last count weve got 641 of them,
and they come in all shapes, sizes and
states of repair.
Some are faint traces on mountain-
tops, where our Celtic ancestors built
forts 3,000 years ago, or curious ruins
in wooded glades, which come with a
local legend attached. Others, like many
of the thumping great Norman castles
built during the conquest of Wales, have
hardly changed in 800 years, give or take
the odd cannon-ball scar.
There are plenty of wonderful native
castles, too, built by the Welsh princes
to guard their lands from the marauding
Angles, Saxons, Normans and, quite
often, each other.
Theyre not just fabulous places to
visit on a sunny day. If you look a little
deeper, the whole history of Wales, and
Britain, is written in these ancient stones.
How the Romans came, conquered,
and went. How the Celtic people drew
back into their western strongholds.
How Welsh princes fought to keep their
country intact, and how invading armies
established their footholds.
There are new castles, too the ones
built by industrial barons who grew rich
on coal, slate and iron, lling their stately
homes with fabulous art. Then theres
the legacy of the Georgian and Victorian
gentry, who built mansions and hotels
among the ruins of older castles (which
wouldnt be allowed now, but were
rather glad they did it).
With all these castles, its impossible
for us to pick a favourite. But were very
happy for you to come and have a go,
so heres a small selection to get you
41 41
Castle comforts
You can star in your own fairytale when you spend the night in a wildly romantic Welsh castle.
Brecon Castle Hotel
This ne Georgian hotel was
woven into the fabric of the
Norman castle that was built
to conquer the old kingdom
of Brycheiniog.
Castell Deudraeth
Portmeirion has some of
the most quirkily delightful
accommodation in Wales.
This Victorian castellated
mansion at the village gate
has been given a fabulous
contemporary makeover.
Home Farm
Set on the estate of the
old Welsh royal capital
of Dinefwr, this restored
farmhouse has an ancient
castle and 17th-century
mansion just a walk away.
Roch Castle
Roch was largely rebuilt
in the 1900s, and given a
ve-star makeover in the
2000s, but this lush boutique
hotel still looks like the proper
Norman fortress it once was.
Ruthin Castle
This gorgeous spa hotel is
set in a castle once owned
by Henry VIII, Edward I and,
according to local legend,
King Arthur.
42 42
Just about every lake, rock and hill in Wales comes with its own legend attached. Many of
the old stories go back for thousands of years, long before the idea of Wales itself back
before the Normans, the Saxons, the Romans, deep into our Celtic past. Over the millennia,
history and mythology have become impossible to separate and thats the way we like it.
True myths
Devils Bridge
Near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
This dizzying ravine is spanned by
three bridges, one on top of the other.
The Devil supposedly built the 11th-
century original in return for the rst
soul to cross it. He was tricked by an
old woman who tossed a crust of bread
onto the bridge, which her dog chased.
The Red Dragon
Near Beddgelert, Snowdonia
The 5
-century King Vortigern was
trying to build a castle at Dinas Emrys,
but the walls kept mysteriously
falling down. A boy wizard Merlin
identied the problem: two dragons,
one red and one white, ghting
beneath the castle. The red dragon
won, and became the symbol of Wales.,
Southerndown Common
Southerndown, Vale of Glamorgan
The Lord of Ogmores daughter
pleaded with him to allow local
people a place to hunt deer. He
agreed but only an area as large as
she could walk barefoot before dusk
of that day. The area she walked is
still common land today.
Nant Gwrtheyrn
Near Pwllheli, Ll ^ yn Peninsula
A game of pre-wedding hide-and-
seek goes terribly wrong when
the bride-to-be, Meinir, gets stuck
inside an oak tree. Her skeleton is
discovered 30 years later by heart-
broken Rhys, and the couple still
haunt the beach to this day.
Merlins Oak
According to local legend, When
Merlins Oak shall tumble down, then
shall fall Carmarthen Town. In 1978
the last fragments of the tree were
taken to the local museum and sure
enough, shortly after, Carmarthen
suffered its worst oods in living
43 43
Myths & legends
Near Conwy, Snowdonia
Every Halloween, the Angelystor
appears at the 5,000-year-old yew
in Llangernyw churchyard and, in
a booming voice, announces the
names of the parishioners who
will die in the coming year.
Near Cwmbran, South Wales Valleys
This Iron Age hill fort is said to be the
grave of a giant, who was buried along
with his horde of treasure. Be careful
not to dig up the booty, though its
said to be protected by a huge swarm
of magical bees.
Lady of the Lake
Black Mountain, Carmarthenshire
Llyn y Fan Fach is home to the
beautiful Lady of the Lake, who
married a local farm lad with a pre-
nuptial clause that if he struck her
three times, she would go straight
back to her lake. The marriage
ended in tears, but their sons went
on to become the rst of many
generations of herbalists and healers,
the Physicians of Myddfai.
Twm Sin Cati
Near Tregaron, Carmarthenshire
Born in Tregaron around 1530, Twm
was a quick-witted rogue whose
cave hideaway sits on a steep hillside
overlooking the RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas
nature reserve, which offers one of the
most beautiful walks in Wales.
Barclodiad y Gawres
Near Rhosneigr, Isle of Anglesey
The stones that built this Neolithic
burial chamber were supposedly
dumped here by giants: its Welsh
name means the giantesss apronful.,
The Fairies of Pennard
Pennard, Gower
The picturesque ruins
of Pennard Castle were
abandoned to wind-
blown sand by around
1400, apparently caused
by vengeful fairies.
Near Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia
The Afanc, a giant water-monster with
evil supernatural powers, was captured
and taken to Glaslyn, a lake high up on
Snowdon, where he still lives.,
44 44
Rebel with a cause
Clockwise from top left: Memorial and standard of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Cilmeri;
Pembroke Castle, Pembroke; Owain Glynd ^ wr memorial, Corwen; Royal St Davids Golf Club,
Harlech; Parliament House, Machynlleth; Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
at Llwynywermod; Monnow Bridge, Monmouth; Llanddwyn Island, Isle of Anglesey.
Owain Glynd ^ wr is still the most
iconic Welsh prince, leading a
spectacular rebellion that briey
united Wales in the early 15th
century. Owain was probably born
at Sycharth, near Oswestry, in the
1350s. He studied law in London,
and fought for the English king
before retiring to his Welsh estates
to live out his life peacefully.
However, he was drawn into land
disputes with a neighbouring baron,
which by 1400 had grown into
full-scale rebellion. His supporters
proclaimed him Prince of Wales,
and in 1404 Owain held his rst
Welsh parliament at Machynlleth.
It wasnt to last. French support for
the rebellion dried up, and Owains
armies were squeezed by economic
blockades and ruthless counter-
attacks. Owain Glynd ^ wr was never
betrayed or captured: he vanished in
1412, and is believed to have lived
out his life in Herefordshire.
45 45
Where does Prince Charles go on his summer holidays? Where did William and Kate spend
their rst blissful years of married life? And where did Queen Victoria buy her knickers? We celebrate
some of our greatest royal Welsh connections.
Royal connections
Last stand
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was the last prince
of an independent Wales before its
conquest by Edward I. From his Gwynedd
powerbase he controlled most of Wales,
until he was killed in 1282 by English
soldiers at Cilmeri. Theres a memorial
stone commemorating Ein Llyw Olaf (Our
Last Leader) where an annual ceremony
is still held on the anniversary of his
Battle royal
Born in Monmouth Castle in 1386,
Henry V spent much of his youth in
Wales, ghting against the rebellion
of Owain Glynd ^ wr. By the time Henry
succeeded his father to the throne in
1413, he was a hard-bitten veteran of
battle, which helped him to defeat the
French at the Battle of Agincourt, at
which Welsh archers played a crucial role.

Tudor rose
Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke
Castle in 1457, a descendant of several
Welsh royal houses. During the War of
the Roses he ed to Brittany, returning
with a small army which landed near
Milford Haven. He gathered 5,000 more
soldiers on his march through Wales,
and defeated Richard III at the Battle
of Bosworth to become Henry VII. The
Tudors reigned for the next 120 years.

Union ofcial
Despite his Welsh ancestry, Henry VIII
kept an iron grip on Wales. He passed
the 1536 Act of Union, which legally
incorporated Wales into England. The
Act banned Welsh-only speakers from
public ofce, but he didnt manage to
suppress the Welsh language, even in
his own family: his daughter Queen
Elizabeth I apparently spoke uent
Royal retainers
Queen Victorias knickers were supplied
by Sir Pryce Pryce-Jones, who founded
the worlds rst mail-order company in
Newtown, capital of the Welsh annel
industry. His soft annel knickers were
favoured by many of the crowned heads
(and bottoms) of Europe, including the
Queen of Norway and the Empress of
Russia. Queen Victoria no doubt wore
hers on visits to her Welsh estate, Ynyshir
Hall, which is now a luxurious country
Berties bolthole
The lm The Kings Speech told of King
George VIs struggle with his stammer.
But in 1917 the 22-year-old Prince
Bertie retreated to the country estate
of Clochfaen, just outside Llangurig,
to recuperate from a stomach ulcer.
Driving reign
Edward VII was a passionate golfer,
and he granted Royal status to his two
favourite golf courses in Wales: Royal
Porthcawl and Royal St Davids. The
Kings grandson, the future Edward VIII,
was also a keen golfer, captaining Royal
St Davids in 1934.,,
Cheeky mare
In 1955 the young Queen Elizabeth II
made a royal tour of Wales which
included a trip to the Brecknock
Agricultural Society show. BBC TV
footage shows the Queen being
introduced to a white Welsh mountain
pony called Owain Glynd ^ wr who
tried to eat her bouquet of owers.
Gold standard
When Prince William slipped a wedding
ring onto Kate Middletons nger in
2011, it was a band of pure Welsh gold,
following in a tradition founded by The
Queen Mother in 1923. Since then, all
major royal weddings have been sealed
with Welsh gold. For the early years of
their marriage, William and Kate lived
on Anglesey, where the prince worked
as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.
Home Farm, Llwynywermod
When Prince Charles and the Duchess of
Cornwall come to Wales on their annual
summer tour, they stay at their Welsh
farmhouse residence, Llwynywermod,
near the village of Myddfai in
Carmarthenshire. The 192-acre
smallholding was renovated by skilled
Welsh craftsmen and women, using
local stone, slate and textiles, and the
gardens and grounds are managed under
organic principles. When the Prince and
Duchess are not there, Llwynywermod
becomes a highly desirable holiday let.
Royal Welsh
46 46
he rst thing that hits you is
the chatter.
A few days of mountain biking in Wales
can take you to dense woodland and
remote mountain peaks. Youd think that
these are the sort of places youd rarely
hear a human voice.
Youd be wrong.
Dave is 67. He started mountain biking
because his son said hed never be any
good at it. Ben and his mates are from
Lincolnshire. Theyve spent a week biking
around Wales and never experienced
anything like the trails here. Same goes
for Anna and Kris from Shefeld. All ages,
all abilities, sharing experiences with
mutual enthusiasm.
We begin at Afan Forest Park in South
Wales. There are over 62 miles (100 km)
of trails across 39 square miles( 64 km
of woodland clinging to the side of this
steep, narrow valley. It doesnt take long
to work out why they call the area Little
Your ride can vary from the 29 mile
(46 km) long Skyline trail, featuring a
6,561 feet (2,000 metre) climb, to a
couple of rookie trails right in the heart
of this natural playground. Its the kind
of place that allows total freedom for
visitors. Once youve popped your pound
in the parking meter youre pretty much
free to go as you please.
Visitors who want a bit of expert
guidance can head straight to Afan Bike
Shed, which offers bike hire, repairs, tours
and tuition. The living embodiment of all
these useful skills is Ben Threlfall, a genial
gent from Portsmouth, who has that
evangelical love of the place that comes
with choosing to make it home for his
young family.
Ben leads us to the practice area.
You soon realise that even the slightest
undulation or the smallest berm
(a banked piece of track) requires
condence to negotiate. Mountain
biking, as it turns out, is NOT as easy as
falling off a bike.
Ben is patient, and eventually leads
the way for some singletrack action. This
is really where Afan Forest Park comes
into its own. It feels a million miles from
anywhere, even though were just a few
miles from the M4 motorway and less
than an hour from the countrys two
biggest cities.
First lesson: in order to go down you
must rst go up, and riding up singletrack
trails is a skill in itself, with lots of loose
stones, tree roots and sharp turns to
negotiate. They call this technical. I call
Going downhill fast
The mountain
wilderness of Wales
makes it a natural
playground for
dedicated mountain
bikers. But as novice
rider Iestyn George
discovers, this is a sport
that welcomes riders of
all ages and abilities.
Afan Forest Park, Neath Port Talbot
Mountain biking
it hard work, and while exhaling through
my ears I quietly vow to get my legs in
some kind of order.
The other priceless piece of advice
from Ben is that when youre on a fast
descent, its not advisable to jam on the
brakes. If I hear the squeal of brakes, I
know the rider is no longer in control of
the bike, he says with quiet authority.
We return to the Bike Shed richer
for the experience. Ben asks us where
were heading next. When we tell him,
he responds with a knowing smile and a
parting: Good luck with that!
Over a drink at the Afan Lodge Hotel,
a wonderful Alpine-style retreat just a
stones throw from the park entrance, I
wonder what Ben meant by that laconic
farewell. A few days later its vividly
The Slate mines of Snowdonia are
famous for roong houses the world over
and the Llechwedd quarry in Blaenau
Ffestiniog is as dramatic a backdrop to a
town as you could imagine.
Generations of people have worked
hard and played hard here; and the
singletrack trails are the embodiment
of that way of life. They were set
up by Antur Stiniog, a dynamic local
organisation that puts on all manner of
activities, including wild camping, shing,
kayaking and walking trips.
For mountain bikers, theres a superb
practice track, a very welcoming visitor
centre and a caf providing all the
necessary carbohydrates to tackle its
four trails: two black and two red (rides
are graded black-red-blue-green, with
black being the toughest). Theres also a
van and trailer on hand to offer an uplift
service high above Blaenau Ffestiniog,
right opposite the famous quarry.
This is where a lot of the chatter
happens. Imagine the polar opposite of
a London tube journey featuring people
wearing body armour with full-face
helmets sitting in their laps. Theres so
much adrenaline ying around it would
come as no surprise if the van itself was
fuelled on it.
For me, this is what mountain biking
is all about, says Lincolnshire Ben. The
riding is a pure challenge from rst to last,
the facilities are brilliant and everyones
Within seconds, he whips his bike off
the trailer and hes off on Y Du, a black
run that leads him back to the visitor
centre about twice as fast as he got to
the summit in the van.
Its fantastic to watch these
daredevil mountainbikers in action,
swooping and soaring like swallows
on their way down the trails.
Its fantastic to watch these daredevil
mountainbikers in action, swooping and
soaring like swallows on their way down
the trails. One of the leading riders in the
country, Gee Atherton, raced a falcon
down these routes earlier in 2013. Check
it out on YouTube its bonkers.
An arthritic snail might have fancied its
chances against me, as I grunt and gasp
my way down Drafft, the least daunting
of the four trails, with tight, speedy twists
and carpets of uneven stone slabs.
Its a truism of downhill mountain
biking that the slower you negotiate
these kind of runs, the harder it is. There
are at least half a dozen points at which I
exit a section and wonder to myself, Did
I really do that?
Still, I make it to the bottom without
any collateral damage and Im happy to
watch Ben and his mates head straight
back up the mountain in search of further
thrills and spills from the safety of the
caf, where an added bonus of making it
down to the bottom comes in the shape
of the legendary Kurdish pasties from
nearby Model Bakery.
Antur Stiniog had succeeded in
switching on the hotels and guest houses
of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the needs of the
mountain biker chief among them
Antur Stiniog, near Blaenau Ffestiniog
48 48
Whistler, a nod to the revered mountain
resort in British Columbia. But BikePark
Wales will do just ne, thanks.
Even at 9am the place is buzzing
with people pulling bikes from vans and
roof racks, making renements with
complicated-looking tools and diving
into the visitor centre for a quick coffee
before the rst ride of the day.
Again, the chatter is very loud and very
friendly. I can spot accents from the far
side of London nudging into Essex.
Theres a gang from Somerset, another
from Northampton and a bunch of well-
spoken gents from Surrey.
Dave, the OAP biker, lives in Newport,
just 30 miles (48 km) away. He goes out
three or four times a week and takes
monthly trips to North Wales during the
summer months. Youll enjoy today, he
smiles. This place is special.
BikePark Wales offers an uplift day
pass, or you can pay just a few pounds
for a park entry fee and ride up to the top
of the mountain by road or on the uphill
trail, Beast of Burden. From the top you
can take your pick of the downhill routes.
Whats particularly smart is that there are
several points along the trails where blue,
red and black meet up, so you can swap
according to your level of condence
(and theyre also hotspots for even more
The facilities at the visitor centre
match the fantastic trails. Where else can
you hire a 3,000 bike for a reasonable
daily fee and enjoy a massive slab of
carrot cake at the same time? I sit
outside and soak in the atmosphere,
as infant school kids buzz around the
practice track with their bright, shiny
helmets on.
Its small wonder that people love
this sport. Whisper it, but this mountain
biking thing could catch on you know.
Its been called the Welsh Whistler, a nod to the revered
mountain resort in British Columbia. But BikePark Wales
will do just ne, thanks.
Top row BikeParkWales
Bottom from left Antur Stiniog, Afan Forest
Park, Afan Forest Park
a safe place to store their beloved (and
often very expensive) bikes.
We stay in the Capel Pisgah B&B, a
converted chapel run by Glenys Lloyd,
whose father and grandfather both
worked in the colliery. Im given a warm
welcome, a key to the front door and an
invitation to come and go as I please. On
another day, Id be heading out to Cell
B, a brilliant bar, arts centre and music
venue in a former jail and courthouse.
Tonight, though, I can just about muster
enough energy to make it to my bed.
The latest addition to the must-ride
list in UK mountain biking is less than
30 miles (48 km) from the centre of
Cardiff, where a handful of people have
been quietly working away in the dense
Gethin Woods above Merthyr Tydl. The
result is the most comprehensive array
of singletrack routes and family-friendly
trails in the UK. Its been called the Welsh
Mountain biking
1. Snowdon (Rangers Path), Snowdonia
Why? Its Waless highest mountain and every mountain
biker should have that peak on their hit list. And its reward is
one of the best and most challenging singletrack descents in
the UK. Please note the voluntary ban on bike riding between
midnight 31st May 30th September. Added bonus: Petes
Eats in Llanberis for hearty portions and a legendary breakfast.
2. Coed-y-Brenin, Snowdonia
Why? The rst UK purpose-built trail centre. Great variety
of trails for pretty much every level of rider this is one of
the best, not only in Wales but in the UK. Added bonus:
Excellent all-round facilities: bike shop, caf and toilets. Cool
little playground for the kids too.
3. Doethie Valley, Carmarthenshire
Why? Great isolated-feel natural riding without actually being
miles away from everything! It features one of the longest
stretches of singletrack in the country. Added bonus: Clive
Powell Mountain Bikes is the shop of choice with a famously
good restaurant and catered weekend tours offered.
4. Cwmcarn, Monmouthshire
Why? Widely known for its DH track and rapid-re uplift
service, but for those in the know its also an XC/trail bike
paradise. The nine mile (15.5 km) Twrch Trail is one of the
most engaging loops around and its nal descent is in many
ways more entertaining than the actual downhill one. Added
bonus: Fine food provided by Welsh dinner ladies in the
trail centre caf. Plus quality shop PS Cycles is just around the
5. Brecon Beacons, Powys
Why? National Park riding at its best with 14 marked cross-
country routes ranging from basic level to all-day hammerfests.
Loads to explore but get the specic lowdown from Gateway
Cycles in Abergavenny. Added bonus: Walking in the
stunning Brecon Beacons National Park or taking a ride on the
Brecon Mountain Railway.
6. Afan Forest, Neath Port Talbot
Why? With four incredible trails in easy reach of the M4
corridor, its the easiest remote place to get to, making it ideal
for weekend adventures. Added bonus: Complete your
adrenaline weekend with surng at Llangennith or Langland Bay
on the Gower Peninsula..
7. BikePark Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Why? Its the hottest new mountain bike spot in the UK and
the rst true Bike Park to boot. Fantastic range of tailor-made
trails for all levels of rider, whether youre just starting out
or fancy taking on a bigger challenge on the uplift. Added
bonus: A cracking visitor centre, with all the facilities and
expert advice on hand you could wish for.
8. Nant yr Arian, Ceredigion
Why? It has three great trails across exposed moorland, and
tight twisty singletrack through woodland ranging from
5.5 miles (9 km) to 21.7 miles (35 km). Added bonus: The
George Barrow hotel is less than a mile (1.5km) from the centre,
and is a great mountain biking friendly place to stay.
Not just with the sound of music, either. Danny Walter, editor-in-chief of Mountain Biking
UK magazine, picks out some of the best rides in Wales.
The hills are alive
All these trails and many more can be explored at
50 50
Whats it like to soar ve hundred feet through the
air at one hundred miles per hour? Just ask 13 year-
old Finlay George, who took an unforgettable trip on
the longest zip wire in Europe.
Kid On A Wire
Its one thing standing
on top of the world. Its
another when you know
youre just about to throw
yourself off it at 100mph.
didnt really expect this. Two weeks
ago I was nishing school for the
summer. I dont think I got out of my
pyjamas for the rst few days of the
holidays. But here I am standing on the
edge of nothing in this weird suit about
to y 500 feet (152 metres) in the air for
a mile (1.6 km) above a quarry in North
Wales. I can see the island of Anglesey
from here.
There is a group of about 15 of us, all
ages. Were kitted out in a cross between
a spacesuit and the overalls you see
prisoners wearing. Its not a great look,
but were all in this together.
Zip World is based at Penrhyn Quarry
in Bethesda, where slate has been mined
for over two centuries. This was the
biggest quarry in the world at one time
and it employed two thousand men. Now
it employs two hundred people and the
two zip lines stretch across areas of the
quarry that are no longer in production.
Were briefed by Helen and taken
to the Little Zipper, which is still the
third longest zip wire in Britain. This is
just an appetiser. We get familiar with
the routine of being hooked up to the
mechanism that transports us across the
1,640 feet (500 metre) zip line at around
40mph (65 kmh) at a height of 72 feet
(22 metres). Rather than dangle from
the wire, you lie at, which gives you a
brilliant sense of ying through the air.
The Little Zipper calms any potential
nerves and gets everyones adrenaline
really going for the Big Zipper. Were
driven slowly up the winding ascent to
the top of the quarry in a red truck, all
clutching our helmets and goggles like
amateur astronauts. Everyone chatters,
glassy-eyed with excitement, cheering
when Kristiaan the driver bungles a
couple of hill starts.
As we near the top we can see
Penrhyn Castle and its grounds in nearby
Llandegai a 19th-century mock castle
built on the original 15th-century
fortied manor house.
The DawkinsPennant family owned
Penrhyn Quarry and now the castle is
in the hands of the National Trust. But
its fair to say that our thoughts are not
focused on the one-ton bed made of
51 51
Zip Wire
slate that was created for the visit of
Queen Victoria in 1859. After all, its
one thing standing on top of the world.
Its another when you know youre just
about to throw yourself off it at 100mph
So here I am, right back where we
started. Theres a lot of drama going
on. Two way radios crackle as the
well-rehearsed procedure of strapping
me up and putting me in position is
communicated rmly and with authority.
Theres no messing about. As I lie down
and prepare myself to be released, I
realise my destination is way out of sight.
I can feel the blood pumping just that
little bit faster around my system.
The radio crackles again and formalities
are exchanged between operators at the
bottom and the top of the line.
The safety clip is released on the wire.
Big base, safety is off, says Mark, the
Are you ready?
Im ready.
Three Two One Go!!
The rst thing you experience is
an exhilarating whoosh of noise. The
speed literally knocks the breath out
of my chest and I cant help myself,
but cough out a laugh like a madman.
It feels like Im cutting through the air.
Its overwhelming, I think about how
small I am and how Im tearing through
centuries of hard work by others.
Im ying hurtling above the gigantic
steps of the quarry below, soaring above
the vivid blue of the quarry lake. It feels
Across the lake, getting lower as the
line stretches towards Big Base, I can
see people craning their necks upwards
from the visitor centre. I can measure my
speed more easily along the last third of
the journey, slowing down to the bottom
of the run.
And then its over. The instructor hooks
me in, smiling as he brings me back
down to the ground. Its exhilarating.
Unforgettable. I could sit here and
write for hours about how it felt, but
youre much better off nding out for
All images
Zip World, Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda
52 52
While were all prone to the temptation of a
duvet day on holiday, its worth mentioning that
the outdoor bits of Wales really are quite lovely.
Here are some activities to put some colour
back in your cheeks.
Coasteering in Pembrokeshire
If jumping off cliffs, scrambling around rocks and
exploring caves might seem a bit too devil-may-care, banish
that apprehension immediately. With an experienced guide
by your side, coasteering becomes an utterly liberating
experience. And where better to do it than in Pembrokeshire,
the rst place on the planet to offer guided coasteering
trips. The options are plentiful, from cliff-jumps at Abereiddi,
to the whitewater playground around St Davids Head.,
Surng on Gower
A way of life for people brought up in the area, Gowers
coast has a broad range of surng spots. There are gentle
swells in broad bays (Llangennith), challenging reef breaks
(Langland Bay) and plenty more besides. The waves are
relatively modest in size, so this is an ideal environment in
which to learn. There are several businesses offering board
hire and tuition. A safe tip is to check tide times and take
a stroll along the Wales Coast Path to check out the waves
rst. It saves those uncomfortable hours sitting on the
beach in your wetsuit waiting for the tide to hit the right
Main Coasteering, St Nons Bay, Pembrokeshire
Active service
53 53
Walking the Anglesey
Coast Path
Anglesey is a must-visit
destination for amblers, explorers
and meanderers alike. There
are nearly 125 miles (201 km)
of coastal pathways around
the island at the northern tip of
Wales, featuring ancient Celtic
ruins and dramatic clifftop views
overlooking an RSPB nature
reserve. Then theres one of
the most famous Welsh castles
at Beaumaris, ancient burial
chambers a dramatic lighthouse
at South Stack, the wonderful
Menai Strait and its abundant
shellsh, and the rare ora and
fauna. As nature goes, its pretty
rafting in Cardiff
While all the sensible people in
the meeting were on a comfort
break, someone had the great
idea to build some white-water
rapids in Cardiff, the Welsh
capital. The Cardiff International
White Water centre is practically
in the shadow of two of Waless
nest contemporary buildings
the National Assembly for Wales
and the Wales Millennium Centre.
It features white water rafting,
kayaking and indoor surng and
has become one of the most
popular destinations of its kind in
the UK.,,
Horse riding in the
Brecon Beacons
Theres trekking, riding and
hacking activities galore in the
Brecon Beacons National Park,
with ve riding centres working
together to provide a range of
options for visitors. One ride even
ts pub stopovers into the
itinerary. The national park covers
500 square miles (805 square km)
and the Beacons are high on the
list of any must-visit destinations.
So why not explore them on
For active ideas of what to do throughout Wales, visit:
Clockwise from top left
Pony trekking, Llanthony Priory,
Brecon Beacons
Surng, Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula
South Stack lighthouse,
Isle of Anglesey
Cardiff International White Water
Centre, Cardiff Bay
Nature &
Nurture 54
Wales is a paradise for food-lovers. But
dont just take our word for it. From
award-winning chefs to producers
of high quality organic produce, the
verdict is unanimous.
Grow it
Food & drink
Welsh food
was born near London but my family
originally came from Pembrokeshire.
We were desperate to escape the
London rat-race, so three generations of
us came back: my grandmother, mother,
me and my wife.
I was in the building trade, but I had
the typical downshifting dream of having
a bit of land and being self-sufcient. We
really threw ourselves into it as a family.
We grew our own vegetables, and raised
pigs, lambs and poultry for the table.
Mum baked all the bread she even
made her own soap.
In the early days, there were two things
I really craved: proper bacon, and proper
crackling. So we got a couple of pigs, and
it all grew from there. We started giving a
bit away to friends and neighbours, and
the taste of it blew people away.
Now we have Saddleback, Berkshire
and Tamworth pigs, which we cross with
wild boar to get a bit more gaminess into
them. We feed them barley from local
farms, which is soaked in organic whey
that I collect from [multi-award-winning
cheese maker] Caws Cenarth. I also get
malted barley from a local brewery and
beer slops from pubs. A friend of mine
is a cider-maker, and he gives us his
apple-pressings. In return, Ive planted
70 of his apple trees on our land. So the
by-products of cider-making go to feed
the pigs, and when the ciders done I use
Adam Vincent is a true local food hero. You cant buy his rare-breed meats more
than a few miles from his Pembrokeshire smallholding, Trehale Farm. But its worth
planning an entire holiday around his sausages. We know because weve tried them.
And they taste, quite simply, extraordinary.
We farm organical ly, we don

t even use any machinery.

Adam Vincent
Adam Vincent, Tehale Farm, Pembrokeshire
Top to bottom
Anglesey oysters
Fresh produce
Caws Cenarth Cheese
it to make cider-cured hams and cider-
avoured sausages. Its that perfectly
circular way of doing things that makes
everything extra-tasty. All this good stuff
that usually goes to waste, we put it into
the pigs because it makes the meat taste
We farm organically, we dont even use
any machinery its all done by hand.
We do almost everything right here on
the farm. We make all our own dry-cure
bacon and sausages. We dont use any
rusk, and only natural casings, and I blend
my own spices to make them exactly the
way I want them to be.
We sell direct from the farm, at
farmers markets, and to local hotels and
restaurants. Until recently, everything
was sold within 10 miles (16 km) of
the farm, and we still only sell within
Some local producers have big
ambitions, but I want to stay true to our
art. We are expanding in a modest way,
though. Weve got a camp site, with a
couple of yurts and a tepee. We felled
some mature trees over the winter, had
them planked, and were building a farm
shop out of them. All the timber is cut
by hand, we dont use chainsaws. We
even make our own charcoal to cook our
sausages on. Were as green as it gets!
Trehale Farm, Mathry, Pembrokeshire.
Tel 01348 831037
Really Wild Food Festival, St Davids
Pembrokeshire Fish Week
Abergavenny Food Festival
Anglesey Oyster & Welsh Produce
Festival, Beaumaris 56
Local food festivals
nglesey is like its own independent
state of food. Theres an abundance
of sh and shellsh and wonderful salt
marsh lamb. You can get great cheese
on the island and theres an excellent
smokery. The honey is wonderful and
there are various people making their
own ice cream and gelato.
My wifes family have been coming to
Anglesey since the 1960s and weve all
learned where to go searching out the
best food. At Easter time we get loads
of wild garlic to make soup and at low
tide we handpick mussels and cockles
from the estuary between Valley and
Rhoscolyn. Theres plenty of samphire
In the summer, we catch crab, lobster
and mackerel. I dont know of a better
lobster than one that comes from
Anglesey. You just cant beat it. Weve
got two pots, we have a licence and the
whole thing is managed really well. The
mackerel is superb too. And you get
prawns the size of your thumb.
We dont get to come here in autumn
because its such a busy time with the
restaurant, but I love it here in winter.
The house looks over to Snowdonia and
theres so much drama going on with the
mountains and the weather.
Theres a great butchers on Anglesey
in Bodedern. They slaughter their own
sheep and theyve got beautiful salt
marsh lamb there. Ive tried to get them
to deliver to London. When I set up the
bakery for Peyton and Byrne in London
we used to sell Ml Mn (Anglesey
honey). And dont even start me off on
the salt. Anglesey Sea Salt (Halen Mn)
is the best. I buy it in half-kilo tubs. Their
smoked salt is wonderful too.
Sometimes you do wonder whether
people have any idea how lucky they
are in Anglesey. Shoppers drive to the
supermarkets in Holyhead and on their
way there, they pass great butchers,
cheese makers and independent
retailers, all selling really good locally-
sourced food.
Anglesey is very raw and I love that.
That rawness seems to be reected in
the way of life, the nature of the land and
the produce that comes from the island.
Its just different from everywhere else
its got its own special avour.
Anglesey is very raw
and I love that.
Roger Pizey
Roger Pizey was part of the fabled
dream team of modern British cuisine
of the late 80s and early 90s, working
alongside Marco Pierre White and
Gordon Ramsay at Harveys restaurant.
Hes head chef at Marcos Stamford
Bridge in London and is author of Small
Cakes and Worlds Best Cakes. He loves
Anglesey so much he could eat it all up.
Catch it
Right Menai Strait towards Snowdonia
57 57
Food & drink
Welsh food
outstanding. From North Wales we get
Blodyn Aur extra virgin rapeseed oil,
which is amazing.
We get all our Sunday vegetables
from a local guy called Philip at T
y Mawr
Organics, and he asks, what do you want
me to grow? And he grows it. Were all
helping each other, and that gives me a
great pleasure, especially after spending
so long in London: theres nothing you
cant get there, but theres very little
local produce, for obvious reasons. Its
different in Wales, and were proud to
put our suppliers names on our menu.
Theres a denite cluster of good
food places here in Monmouthshire
and across into Powys, but thats mainly
because of the geography: were in
a convenient corner of South East
Wales, close to Cardiff, with a lot of
people coming through on their way
west. But actually, there are lovely
little pockets of good food all over
the country. The Harbourmaster is a
beacon in Aberaeron, then theres the
Ultracomida delicatessen in Narberth and
Aberystwyth, the Druidstone Hotel down
in South Pembrokeshire, and Wrights
Independent Food Emporium near
If I had to choose one meal, it would
have to be wild Welsh salmon. Its
incredible. Id have it with some samphire
and lovely little Pembrokeshire new
potatoes. Id fry up a little dry-cured local
bacon to mix with my spuds, and add
some of T
y Mawrs red spring onions, and
some Halen Mn sea salt (which is the
worlds best salt, incidentally).
Id wash it down with some wine from
Ancre Hill Estates in Monmouth. They
won the best sparkling white in the world
last year, at an international competition
in Italy, against some of the best
champagnes in the world. They also do
a beautiful sparkling ros, some amazing
pinot noir, and theyve planted some
albario grapes which will be coming
through in 2015. I cant wait.
I honestly believe that what w

re doing in Wales at the moment

is as good as anywhere in the wor ld. Stephen Terry
Stephen Terry is one of Britains
best chefs. He trained with Marco
Pierre White, won his rst Michelin
star at the age of 25, and now runs
the celebrated The Hardwick restaurant
near Abergavenny.
ou hear a lot about the food in places
like Sonoma and Napa in California,
but I honestly believe that what were
doing in Wales at the moment is as good
as anywhere in the world.
Perhaps the biggest change in the
last 10 years is the publics knowledge
of food. People have a hunger for
traceability and sustainability, the
pedigree and heritage of things.
Were very proud to support local
producers, and weve got a very personal
relationship with the people who supply
the restaurant. For instance, weve got
fantastic relationships with Trealy Farm,
who do the most brilliant charcuterie,
and Cothi Valley goats cheese, whose
halloumi and feta-style cheeses are
Cook it
58 58
The Welsh food and drink scene has never been in better shape. Weve got hundreds of
traditional artisan producers whove been doing their thing for generations, joined by lots
of perky newcomers full of bright ideas.
Central eating
The capital of Wales, if you enjoy your
grub, is undoubtedly Abergavenny. The
fabulous Abergavenny Food Festival
takes over the whole town in September,
and theres a brilliant market three
days a week, all year. Some of Waless
best restaurants are clustered around:
the Walnut Tree, The Hardwick and
The Foxhunter to name but three.,,,,
Shellsh pleasures
The Menai Strait produces some
of Britains very best mussels and
oysters, a fact which is celebrated at
the annual Anglesey Oyster & Welsh
Produce Festival, where theyre usually
accompanied by lashings of champagne.
A mug of strong tea is the preferred
partner of a South Walians favourite
breakfast: cockles and laverbread, fried
up with salty local bacon. Youll nd this
on most local breakfast menus, or buy
your own ingredients in markets at places
like Swansea, Llanelli and Carmarthen.,
Best possible taste
Fish frenzy
Pembrokeshire Fish Week is an annual
celebration of everything shy,
packed with more than 150 events for
families, foodies, beach-lovers, outdoor
enthusiasts, anglers well, everyone.
It happens just about everywhere, too
the whole county goes sh-festival
crazy for a week in late June / early July.
Rebel yell
Theres been a remarkable explosion
in Welsh microbreweries over the
last few years. Traditional names like
Brains and Felinfoel have been joined
by fast-growing upstarts like Otley and
Evan Evans, and a whole load of left-
eld artisan brewers like Bullmastiff,
Jacobi, Pipes, Purple Moose, and The
Kite. But the biggest splash has been
made by Tiny Rebel, a funky Newport-
based outt who swept the board at
the 2013 Great Welsh Cider and Beer
Festival and have just opened their
own Urban Tap House in Cardiff.
From left
Penderyn Welsh Whisky
Wrights Independent Food Emporium, near Carmarthen
Otley Ale
Home grown
The 6.5m Bodnant Welsh Food Centre
is a culinary centre of excellence, set in
old stone farm buildings on the Bodnant
Estate near Conwy and showcasing
the very best artisan food that Wales
has to offer. Theres a farm shop, tea
room, restaurant, dairy, bakery and a
cookery school and they all use home-
grown produce from the estate itself,
local farms, and from around Wales.
Trail mix
The county of Ceredigion has some of
our best farming country backed by a
cracking coastline. More importantly, the
county is packed with passionate food
producers, around 30 of whom have
come together to create Taste Train
Ceredigion. This epic foodie journey
takes in our mills, organic vegetable
producers, chocolatiers, cheese-makers,
foragers, crab shers and a brewery.
People who love food, basically.
59 59
Food & drink
What to eat
Sand bar
Its not the easiest pub to reach. Unless
you have a permit to drive into the
tiny National Trust-owned village of
Porthdinllaen, you have to walk. But
what a walk! A spectacular 20-minute
stroll along the beach or clifftops (your
choice) brings you to the T^ y Coch
Inn, a friendly boozer set on a sandy
beach, yards from the sea. Its no
wonder that in a recent survey of the
top ten beach bars in the world, the
T^ y Coch Inn came in the top three.
Clockwise from top left
Welsh lamb
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre,
near Conwy
Porthdinllaen, Ll ^ yn Peninsula
Swansea market
Welsh mussels
Laverbread and Welsh bacon
The Foxhunter, Nantyderry
Wright stuff
Imagine if all your home cooking turned
out brilliantly, every time. Every cake
perfectly risen, every meat meltingly
tender. Thats what its like at Wrights
Independent Food Emporium near
Carmarthen, where chef Maryann Wright
and her food critic husband Simon
turn out consistently fabulous food at
their caf-deli. They also do monthly
dinners with big-name chefs, if you
can bag a table before they sell out.
Dont miss
Things you have to try when youre in
Wales: Welsh black beef; lamb (both
mountain and salt marsh varieties); sewin
(its a cross between salmon and trout);
Cenarth Cheese (any variety, or preferably
all of them); cawl (ideally in someones
home, made to their traditional
family recipe); cockles and laverbread
(together, for breakfast); Penderyn Welsh
whisky. Were not offering any further
explanation. You just have to, okay?,
The luxurious St Brides Spa Hotel is
perfectly perched on a cliff overlooking
Saundersfoots harbour and beach.
When youre relaxing in the outdoor
innity pool, which is heated to blood-
temperature even on frosty days, you
cant help feeling just the tiniest bit smug.
Youre probably wondering where to
park your helicopter. Luckily, dozens of
Welsh hotels have their own pads or
suitably spacious lawns. Youll certainly
have a happy landing at Bodysgallen
Hall and Spa, a perfect 17th-century
country house in Snowdonia which is the
AAs reigning Welsh Hotel of the Year.
Were far too discreet to reveal which
Hollywood stars were spotted holidaying
on a canal boat on the Llangollen Canal.
But there are plenty of stars (including
one from Michelin) at the nearby Tyddyn
Llan, a country house with a multi-award-
winning restaurant.
Antique Welsh quilts and blankets sell
for a small fortune these days, but
the tradition is still alive and kicking
in West Wales. Melin Tregwynt near
Haverfordwest is a superb example of
a mill thats combined centuries-old
skills with chic modern designs, making
not just traditional woollen blankets
and throws but also clothing, bags and
upholstery fabric.
The expression millionaires golf
describes that lovely feeling when you
and your mates nd yourself teeing
off with nobody in front or behind,
as if youve got the whole course to
yourselves. Wales has some of the best
links courses in the world, yet theyre
nowhere near as busy (or pricey) as
elsewhere. But is anywhere as stunning
as the peninsular section of Nefyn, or
the 7th at Pennard? We dont think so.
One of the best ways to explore the
Welsh coast, we nd, is on our private
yacht. There are 14 marinas in which
to spend the night, including the smart
160-berther at Aberystwyth, which falls
happily half-way along your journey.
The Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews
bought the hospital in which he was
born, transformed it into a luxury hotel,
built a whole new leisure complex behind
it, added a conference centre, ne dining
restaurants and three championship golf
courses, brought The 2010 Ryder Cup
to Wales, and well, isnt that enough?
The Celtic Manor Resort is a simply
extraordinary place to spend a long
The worlds rst million-pound business
deal was struck in the Coal Exchange in
Cardiff Bay. These former coal docks
have been reborn as a chic waterfront
leisure destination, which you can
admire from the terrace of the ve-star
St Davids Hotel & Spa. Up in the city
centre, theres a priceless collection
of Impressionist art in the National
Museum Cardiff.,
The salmon and sewin (also known as
sea trout) rivers of West Wales attract
shermen from all over the world.
The beautiful Maesycrugiau Manor, in
Carmarthenshire, is a ve-star B&B within
casting distance of the Tei, Cothi and
Tywi rivers, whose beats have been
enjoyed by US presidents and Hollywood
The training home of the Welsh rugby
team might not sound like a place for
luxury and pampering. But The Vale
Resort is a four-star playground within
15 minutes reach of Cardiff, the Welsh
capital, combining luxurious relaxation
and sporting activity. It has Waless
largest spa and two championship golf
courses, situated in 600 splendid acres
of grounds.
Most of Waless beaches are west-facing,
so you can enjoy fabulous sunsets,
completely free of charge. Priceless.
Go on, spoil yourself. Luxury hotels, ve-star restaurants, a hot spa, something
cold and zzy whatever Sir and Madam desire, weve got it. And wherever
you go, the spectacular views are on the house.
Lap of luxury 60
Food & Drink
St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot
St Davids Hotel & Spa, Cardiff Bay Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen Canal
Whitesands Bay, near St Davids,
National Museum Cardiff
Bodysgallen Hall
Nefyn and District Golf Club Celtic Manor Resort, Newport Melin Tregwynt River Tei
i 62
The Valleys Heart and Soul of Wales
The Valleys
1 The Isle of Anglesey
2/2A Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl & Prestatyn
3 The North Wales Borderlands
4 Snowdonia Mountains & Coast/Eryri Mynyddoedd a Mr
5 Mid Wales & the Brecon Beacons
6 Ceredigion Cardigan Bay
7 Pembrokeshire
8 Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Bay
9 Swansea Bay Mumbles, Gower, Afan andthe Vale of Neath
10 The Valleys Heart and Soul of Wales
11 Cardiff, capital of Wales
12 The Most Southerly Point In Wales The Glamorgan Heritage Coast and Countryside
13 Wye Valley & Vale of Usk
The Isle of Anglesey
Anglesey offers unparalleled beauty,
amazing adventures, serious solitude and
a warm welcome. Easily accessible; this
unique island, with its coastline, varied
beaches and historical towns make it a
superb base for all the family. Those that
have visited need not be told. They just
+44 (0)1248 713177
Llandudno & Colwyn Bay
Vibrant Llandudno, the Victorian seaside
gem with a history that goes back to
the Bronze Age. World Heritage Conwy
with its rich maritime past. Waterfront
adventure in Colwyn Bay. Year round
breaks, lled with family fun, good food,
great walking, world-class theatre and a
full calendar of exciting events. All within
easy reach of Snowdonia.
+44 (0)1492 577577
North East Wales
Less than 20 minutes from Chester, were
just a short journey from the North West
and the West Midlands. From the bustling
shops and cultural events of Wrexham
to the culinary delights of the Mold Food
and Drink Festival to the world-famous
Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
The area includes Rhyl, one of the best
recognised British seaside resorts and
the Clywdian Range & Dee Valley Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We even
have an 11-mile long World Heritage Site
the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal
and you can also walk the ancient Offas
Dyke path running through Chirk out to
the coast at Prestatyn.
+44 (0)1978 292015
+44 (0)1745 355068
Snowdonia Mountains & Coast
The outdoor adventure playground
of North Wales that includes the
Snowdonia National Park, Ll
yn Peninsula
and Cambrian Coastline. A wide choice
of quality accommodation, attractions
and activities castles, narrow gauge
railways, golf, cycling, walking, award-
winning beaches, country parks,Wales
Coast Path, World Heritage Site, Areas
of Outstanding Natural Beauty and
Heritage Coast.
+44 (0)1341 281485
Mid Wales My Way
Featuring Brecon Beacons National Park,
Dy Biosphere, Cambrian Mountains,
Lake Vrynwy & the Berwyns and Offas
Country. Magnicent Walks two
national trails, waterfalls trails and many
other breathtaking walks besides.
Muddy Wheels cycling on- and off-
road. A great track record- four years
with the Tour of Britain, home to Dy
Enduro and Beacons Beast. Family
trafc-free routes to extreme mountain
biking await. Year round events - from
Hay Literary to Machynlleth Comedy,
from Green Man to the Royal Welsh
and Winter Shows, celebrating our
agricultural heritage. Stay in magnicent
mansions to wacky wigwams. All topped
Wales is divided into 13 distinct areas, each with its own individual
character. Allow us to introduce you.
1 The Isle of Anglesey
2 Llandudno & Colwyn Bay
3 North East Wales
4 Snowdonia Mountains & Coast/Eryri Mynyddoedd a Mr
5 Mid Wales My Way
6 Ceredigion Cardigan Bay & the Cambrian Mountains
7 Pembrokeshire Britains only Coastal National Park
8 Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Bay
9 Swansea Bay Mumbles, Gower, Afan & the Vale of Neath
10 The Valleys Heart & Soul of Wales
11 Cardiff Capital of Wales
12 The Glamorgan Heritage Coast & Countryside
13 Wye Valley & Vale of Usk
Meet our holiday areas
off with mouth-watering cuisine, local
whiskies and marvellous wines.
Thats Mid Wales My Way!
+44(0)1874 622485
Ceredigion Cardigan Bay & the
Cambrian Mountains
Discover the landscape, villages and
harbours that inspired Dylan Thomas and
delve into Waless history at Cardigan
Castle. Walk gentle or challenging
sections of Ceredigions coast path from
a promenade stroll at Aberystwyth to hill
fort climbs at Llangrannog. Spot dolphins
and birds; enjoy family fun at award
winning beaches and all sorts of events;
relax and savour Cardigan Bay seafood to
Cambrian Mountain lamb.
+44 (0)1970 612125
Twitter: @visitceredigion
Pembrokeshire Britains only
Coastal National Park
Rated by National Geographic magazine
experts as the second best coastline in
the world. With 186 miles (299 km) of
magnicent and varied coastline and
more than 50 beaches, theres plenty of
space for everyone. Choose between
lively Tenby and Saundersfoot or
peaceful St Davids and Newport. Perfect
for outdoor activities or just relaxing.
To nd out more about Pembrokeshire
Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Bay
The last place that Dylan Thomas
called home and the best place to be
to celebrate and capture his centenary
celebrations in 2014. Carmarthenshire
stretches from Carmarthen Bay in the
south to western Beacons and the
Cambrian Mountains in the north,
wondrous Gardens, awe-inspiring Castles
and Waless longest beach, market towns
brimming with local produce and chic
+44 (0)1267 231557
Swansea Bay Mumbles, Gower,
Afan & the Vale of Neath
Discover Dylan Thomas in Waless
Waterfront City, birthplace of our poetic
hero and playwright. Be a part of his
centenary celebrations throughout 2014.
Spend some time in the UKs rst Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Unwind
on award-winning beaches and explore
unspoilt countryside. Bring your board,
bike and boots and enjoy watersports,
cycling and walking.
+44 (0)1792 468321
The Valleys Heart & Soul of Wales
World-class mountain biking and other
activities on, over and under landscapes
that are never short on drama. Proud
communities bursting to tell you their
stories about Waless largest castle, a
World Heritage Site, craft beers and
ciders and an intriguing cast of heroes
from the mythological past to the
contemporary music scene. You havent
visited Wales until youve been to the
Valleys the Heart and Soul of Wales.
+44 (0)29 2088 0011
Cardiff Capital of Wales
The capital of Wales has unique
attractions, top-class entertainment, a
wide range of accommodation to suit
all needs and quality shopping with a
difference. Cardiff Castle, the Millennium
Stadium, National Museum Cardiff, the
Wales Millennium Centre and famous
Doctor Who Experience combined with
Cardiff Bay offer indoor and outdoor
entertainment for everyone all year
+44 (0)29 2087 3573
The Glamorgan Heritage Coast
& Countryside
The dramatic Heritage Coast and popular
resorts of Barry Island and Porthcawl
are fringed by lovely Vale and Bridgend
countryside and green hills. Discover the
special character of an area steeped in
history and its close to Cardiff, Waless
cosmopolitan capital.
+44 (0)1446 704867
+44 (0)1656 815338
Wye Valley & Vale of Usk
Fantastic scenery and high-quality food
and drink from the Brecon Beacons
National Park to the Wye Valley Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Explore
castles, Roman towns and beautiful
gardens; then take in award-winning
vineyards bustling market towns and
great local pubs. With the renowned
Newport and Abergavenny Food
Festivals, celebrated restaurants and
artisan producers, discover why were
the Food Capital of Wales.
+44 (0)1291 623772

Find out more by visiting to
download as many brochures
as you like or select up to
three for free postal delivery
or call +44 (0) 8701 211256.
i 64
By road
Mileage and journey times by car
Birmingham Aberystwyth
123 miles, 2hrs 44mins
Canterbury Cardiff
214 miles, 3hrs 51mins
Coventry Barmouth
138 miles, 2hrs 56mins
Exeter Swansea
144 miles, 2hrs 35mins
Leeds Llandudno
126 miles, 2hrs 31mins
London Cardiff
151 miles, 2hrs 53mins
London Tenby
238 miles, 4hrs 29mins
Manchester Caernarfon
105 miles, 2hrs 19mins
221 miles, 4hrs 20mins
Nottingham Swansea
204 miles, 3hrs 41mins
Peterborough Aberystwyth
207 miles, 4hrs 22mins
Reading Carmarthen
172 miles, 3hrs 02mins
York Welshpool
152 miles, 3hrs 02mins
Edinburgh Cardiff
393 miles, 7hrs 03mins
Glasgow Aberystwyth
331 miles, 6hrs 04mins
National Express provides a nationwide network of express
coach services linking major towns and cities in Wales as well
as the UKs principal destinations.
Megabus provides low cost intercity travel in the UK, with
buses running from a number of major UK cities to Newport,
Cwmbran, Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.
Prices from 1 plus 50p booking fee (one way).
By rail
In the UK, fast and frequent rail services run between London
Paddington and Cardiff, taking only two hours. There is a half-
hourly departure to Cardiff Central, with an hourly continuation
to Swansea and onward connections to West Wales. Direct
trains to North Wales depart from London Euston. Theres also
a rail service between London Marylebone, Shrewsbury and
Wrexham. Hourly services run from Manchester to the North
Wales coast.
For general rail enquiries:
By sea
Irish Ferries
Dublin Port to Holyhead
Journey time:1hr 49mins (Fast
Journey time: 3hrs 15mins
(Cruise ferry)
Rosslare to Pembroke
Journey time: 4hrs
Stena Line
Dublin Port to Holyhead
Journey time: 2hrs 20mins
Journey time: 3hrs 15mins
Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead
Journey time: 2hrs 20mins
Rosslare to Fishguard
Journey time: 3hrs 30mins
Getting to Wales
Wales is easy to get to. Its a big plus
point. Were just a few hours by road
and rail from most of the UKs main
centres. And if youre visiting us from
Ireland, you have the choice of direct
ferries to both North and South Wales
or direct ights to Cardiff Airport.
St Marys Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid
whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave
By road
Waless most scenic drives count
amongst the best in Britain. Some
favourite routes with fantastic views
include the A466 along the Wye Valley,
the B4574 from Rhayader to the Vale
of Rheidol, the A4069 across the Black
Mountain range, the A4086, A498 and
A4085 around Snowdon and Marine
Drive around Great Orme, Llandudno.
When youre out and about in our
National Parks, use the convenient park
and ride bus services designed to cut
down on trafc:
Brecon Beacons National Park
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Snowdonia National Park
By rail
Rail services run through the regions of
Wales usually on highly scenic routes
such as the Cambrian Coast, Conwy
Valley and Heart of Wales lines.
For pure pleasure why not take a ride on
some of our 14 narrow gauge and steam
railways? Many are members of the Great
Little Trains of Wales
Discounted rail
and bus travel
The Explore Wales Pass offers unlimited
travel on all mainline rail services in
Wales plus most scheduled bus services.
Holders will also benet from free or
discounted travel on some of the narrow
gauge Great Little Trains of Wales and
discounted entry to many of Waless
tourist attractions. The Explore Wales
Pass (94) allows four days train and
eight days bus travel. The Explore South
Wales Pass and the Explore North and
Mid Wales Pass (64 each) allow four
days train and eight days bus travel
within each regional area. There are also
a number of Rover and Ranger tickets
available, which all offer unlimited rail
travel for one day on specic areas of the
Arriva Trains Wales network. They can
be purchased from the station booking
ofce or on board the train.
Additional Information
For up-to-date and reliable public
transport information
For a handy route planner or
Information on UK road regulations /highway-code
By air
Cardiff Airport
A number of airlines offer direct ights
to Cardiff from other parts of the UK
and Ireland check out their websites
for details:
Aer Lingus
Serving: Dublin
Serving: Anglesey
Eastern Airways
Serving: Newcastle and Aberdeen
Serving: Belfast (City), Edinburgh,
Glasgow and Jersey
Serving: Dublin
The airport is situated in Rhoose, 12 miles
(20 km) south west of Cardiff. Buses,
trains and taxis link the airport to the
city centre. The Cardiff Airport Express
bus service offers a direct link to the
city centre every 20 minutes. Taxis cost
approximately 26; a booking ofce is
located outside the arrivals hall. A rail link
connects the airport station to Cardiff
Central and Bridgend. Trains run every
hour from Monday to Saturday and every
two hours on Sundays. A complimentary
shuttle bus service is available between
the terminal building and the station for
passengers with a valid train ticket. Car
hire is also available.
Getting around Wales
i 66
Free brochures

Find out more about Wales by choosing
some of the FREE guides available. Check
them out, and order or download them
Our other websites

There are a number of really useful Visit
Wales websites to get information on
the different types of activities you can
try on your holiday in Wales. Whether
you want to hurtle down a mountain
with your rear brakes burned out, throw
yourself off rugged wave-lashed cliffs,
sh for grayling on the River Wye, or play
one of our championship golf courses
we have a website for you. So what are
you waiting for?
Mountain biking:
For up-to-date information on short
breaks and proper holidays in Wales, go
to the ofcial website:

How do I know Im booking good quality
When choosing your holiday
accommodation, look for the Cymru/
Wales quality mark of Waless ofcial,
nationwide quality assessment scheme.
Visit Wales and the AA are the only
checking agents in Wales, checking
out over 5,000 properties. Both assess
holiday accommodation to the same
criteria and award one to ve stars, based
on the facilities and overall quality of
the experience. Also look out for that
extra-special property that has been
awarded Visit Waless Gold Award,
given for exceptional standards of
hospitality, comfort and food in serviced
For more information on
accommodation in Wales, the Cymru/
Wales Quality Assessment scheme,
general grading information and star
ratings go to:
Where can I nd holiday information
for people with special needs?
Tourism for All is a free specialist
information service promoting accessible
tourism. It offers free guidance on travel
planning, transport, accommodation and
Id like to learn some Welsh before my
visit where do I start?
Take a look at the following websites to
pick up some basics:
If youd like to learn Welsh in Wales,
the Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh Language &
Heritage Centre specialises in residential
courses for adults learning Welsh.
Where can I get local tourist
One of the simplest and quickest ways
of getting local information is by calling
in to one of our Tourist Information
Centres. The staff are highly trained,
have an excellent knowledge of the area
and will be delighted to help you with
booking your accommodation, nding
places to eat, things to do, routes to take,
national and local events and obtaining
maps, guides and books. Normally, ofces
are open between 10.00 and 17.00. For a
list of Tourist Information Centres see:
Travel agents and tour operators
in the UK and Ireland
To make it really easy to book your
holiday or short break in Wales you
could use a tour operator. There are a
number of UK and Irish companies who
offer Wales-based holidays. They often
have specialist knowledge of particular
products and will be happy to help you
nd the right holiday to suit your needs.
For companies go to: traveltrade
Selling Wales to your clients
If you work in the leisure travel trade
or business tourism sectors, we have a
dedicated website to help you sell Wales
to your clients and enhance existing
tours to Wales or help introduce Wales
into UK programmes for the rst time.
Theres everything from great places to
visit, how to get here, inspiring itinerary
ideas, operator and venue searches
and the latest product news where you
can sign up to receive regular product
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure
accuracy in this publication, Visit Wales can accept
no liability for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions
or for any matter in anyway arising out of the
publication of the information. All websites listed
are checked at the time of going to press. However,
Visit Wales cannot be held accountable for any
change in the content of these websites.
Further information
Mother tongue
When the Romans arrived in Britain,
every person in what is now England and
Wales spoke the same language: Welsh
(or at least, British, the Celtic language
from which modern Welsh is descended).
Successive invasions from mainland
Europe drove the British language to
the western edges of Britain, where it
evolved into Welsh, Cornish and the
now-extinct Cumbric. The language also
hopped across to north-west France,
where the Breton language is still partly
intelligible to Welsh speakers.
Nowadays Welsh is spoken by around
a fth of the population, especially in
the north and west of Wales, where
it is many peoples everyday working
language. Youll also hear quite a bit of
Welsh in major towns and cities like
Cardiff, where the government and all
major public bodies are fully bilingual.
So if you want to know what our ancient
British ancestors sounded like, just nd
your nearest Welsh speaker and say
A sense of place
Place names tell a story in Wales. Youll
see the same words appear time and
again on our road signs, and theyll always
tell you something of the local history or
landscape. Two in particular appear very
often: Llan indicates a church or parish,
usually followed by the name of the saint
to whom its dedicated, as in Llandudno:
the church of St Tudno. Aber means
the mouth or conuence of a river, as in
Aberaeron: the mouth of the river Aeron.
Heres a list of common names to look
out for on your travels:
Aber mouth/conuence of river
Afon river
Betws chapel
Blaen source of a stream
Bryn hill
Bwlch a mountain pass
Caer fort, fortied camp
Capel chapel
Cas, castell castle
Coed forest
Cwm valley
Din hill fort
Dinas city
Dyffryn valley
Eglwys church
Ffordd road
Ffynnon spring
Glyn deep valley
Gwaun moorland
Hafod summer farmstead
Hendre winter farmstead
Llan church, sacred enclosure
Llyn lake
Mr sea
Mynydd mountain
Nant brook
Newydd new
Plas hall, mansion
Pont bridge
Rhaeadr waterfall
Traeth beach
T^ y house
Ynys island
And the award goes to
The National Tourism Awards for Wales
showcase the very best that weve got
to offer in the tourism industry. From
luxurious hotels to cosy B&Bs, attractions
to eateries, they all have the same
things in common great quality, a
warm welcome and a truly professional
approach to looking after visitors. These
are our reigning champions, who were
crowned at a big glittery ceremony in
November 2013:
Best Places to Stay
St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot
Guest Accommodation
Llwyn Helyg, near Carmarthen
Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens and
Cottages, Menai Bridge
Holiday, Touring or Camping Park
The Plassey Leisure Park, Wrexham
Hostels, Bunkhouses and Alternative
Cosy Under Canvas, Newchurch
Best Event
Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny
Best Visitor Experience
Celtic Quest Coasteering, Haverfordwest
Most Successful Tourism Team
Trecco Bay Holiday Park, Porthcawl
Best Places to Eat (Public Vote)
Restaurant (Large)
Signatures Restaurant, Aberconwy
Restaurant (Small)
Llansantffraed Court Country House
Hotel & Restaurant, near Abergavenny
The Bell at Skenfrith, Skenfrith
The Old Station, Tintern
Regional Tourism Award
Capital Region
Welsh Whisky Company, Penderyn
South West Wales
Dan yr Ogof, The National Showcaves
Centre for Wales, near Neath
Mid Wales
Y Talbot, Tregaron
North Wales
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways
Business Tourism Operator Award
Radisson Blu Hotel, Cardiff
Young Tourism Entrepreneur
Phil Scott and Tom Ashwell, RibRide
Technology in Tourism Award
Celtic Quest Coasteering, Haverfordwest
Outstanding Achievement Award
Gordon Green / Green Events Ltd
FL0835 VISIT WALES 273X210 V2.indd 1 03/10/2013 17:37
The sea has been a breeze-serene sapphire,
And blue-tipped birds have rippled it,
And the sun smoothed it with quiet re,
And I have reected its colours in the peace of my eyes
From Idyll of Unforgetfulness by Dylan Thomas, written before his 16th birthday