Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

Spotlight on: Brecon Cottages

Thursday, April 21st, 2016
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Today, we’re shining our spotlight on a fantastic new group of holiday cottages that have recently joined the Sykes family. Brecon Cottages are a group of 15 properties sleeping 2, 3, 4 and 6 guests in a mountainside location in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park.

These cottages are comfortable, cosy and perfect for family groups but what makes them really special is their location. Nestled amongst magnificent scenery (many of these cottages boast mountain views from their windows), Brecon Cottages are also located next door to the award-winning Dan-yr-Ogof National Showcaves Centre for Wales. Guests will benefit from subsidised entry to the Showcaves Centre with its three spectacular caves. Other attractions included in the entrance price include the Shire Horse Centre, Iron Age village and museum, and children’s play areas. The site is also home to a fascinating collection of life-size dinosaur models which is one of the largest in the world. Children are sure to love spotting the different types of dinosaur and if you book the right cottage, you can even spot some dinosaurs from your bedroom window!

National Showcaves Centre Wales

The dinosaurs at the National Showcaves Centre

Below are a few examples of the cottages and layouts that you can expect from each group size:

Brecon Cottages- Denbighshire

Sleeps 2. See it here: Denbighshire

This lovely romantic bolthole is the perfect place to spend some quality time with your partner amongst beautiful surroundings. With stunning scenery from the windows, an en-suite bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and your own private sauna, loved up couples will never want to leave this cosy romantic retreat.

Holiday cottage in Brecon Beacons

Brecon Cottages- Denbighshire

Brecon Cottages- Gwent

Sleeps 4. See it here: Gwent

Gwent offers bags of space for a small family with a sociable, open plan kitchen and dining area where you can enjoy meals together, a separate sitting room and two bedrooms, each with their own en-suites. The property also offers extensive countryside and mountain views from the windows and there’s a friendly pub just over 10 minutes’ walk away.

Holiday cottage in Brecon Beacons

Brecon Cottages- Gwent

Brecon Cottages- Crows Nest 2

Sleeps 6. See it here: Crows Nest 2

Crows Nest 2 is one of two holiday homes on-site which can accommodate up to six guests. With three bedrooms and four bathrooms, you’ll never need to queue for a shower! This spacious apartment is set in a quiet, leafy location on-site and has a separate kitchen, dining area and living area so the whole family can relax in comfort.

Holiday cottage in Brecon Beacons

Brecon Cottages- Crows Nest 2

On-site facilities available to guests

Other facilities on the Brecon Cottages site which are free for guests to use include an indoor heated swimming pool, crazy golf, games room, gym, tennis courts and a dry-ski slope which is available for an additional cost- you’ll never be short of things to do on this Brecon Beacons holiday! If you want to venture out, the National Park, considered one of the most ruggedly beautiful in the UK, is right on your doorstep with activities such as mountain biking and white water rafting within easy reach. Cardiff and Swansea are easily accessible for days out in the city or you could head to the Gower Peninsula to spend the day on the beach.

Swimming pool

Indoor heated swimming pool on-site

Book a holiday cottage in the Brecon Beacons

To browse the full range of Brecon Cottages please visit our website. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 01244 356695 to speak to one of our reservations specialists who’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, or to arrange a booking for you at one of these amazingly unique cottages.

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Places to Celebrate St David’s Day

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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Now I’m sure that you’re all already aware but the 1st of March sees one of the biggest occasions in the Welsh Calendar:  Saint David’s Day! That means parades, traditional Welsh outfits and bowls of cawl all round, but don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re going to do to celebrate. We’ve taken a look and found some of the best places that you can head over to for the big day, check them out and see which one you fancy:

St Davids

Where else is there to start than with place named after Dewi Sant himself? Officially the smallest city in the whole of the UK, St Davids used to be a bustling hive of activity in the days of the saint but nowadays it’s a much more peaceful spot. But all this changes every year on the first of March as people flock back to celebrate the city’s most famous son. You can join them as they head down to the Oriel y Parc centre and gallery in order to observe the illumination of the St David’s Day stone on the big day, or if you happen to be in the area a few days early, you might want to drop in and check out the dragon parade.

Cardiff

Or you could alternatively head down to the Welsh capital and join in the festivities at the annual St David’s Day parade. Starting off at City Hall at around 12:30 and winding through the streets of Cardiff, before ending up at St David’s Hall for a rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the parade turns Cardiff into a sea of red and green, with the odd yellow daffodil of course! Or if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could take part in one of the St David’s Day runs. With options of 1k, 5k and 10k, it doesn’t matter how fit you are and you’re sure to have a great time!

Pop down to a CADW Property

But don’t worry if you can’t get to either Cardiff or St Davids, after all there are countless other things on offer. One of the best options however comes on behalf of CADW who are allowing free entry to many of their fantastic historic properties all around Wales. From Harlech Castle through to Caernarfon, Tintern Abbey to St Davids Bishop’s Palace, they’re throwing their doors wide open to the public to give them a taste of Wales’ amazingly rich and varied history all in honour of St David. Fancy giving it a go? Then click here to find the full list of CADW properties with free entry over St David’s.

So there you go, a few suggestions of what you could get up to to celebrate St David’s Day. But don’t forget you could always take a trip over to Wales in order to make the most of the big day, just remember to take a look through our Welsh holiday cottages to find the perfect place to stay.

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Wales 2016: The Year Of Adventure

Saturday, February 6th, 2016
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This year, Visit Wales are encouraging you to embrace adventure on your next Welsh getaway. As a country bursting with sweeping valleys, imposing mountains and fast-flowing rivers, there’s no better place to experience a bit of adventure. Feel the adrenaline pulse through your veins as you try your hand at extreme sports, water sports or bush craft activities amongst some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery. Below, you’ll find just some of the activities that you can get involved in to help celebrate Wales’ Year of Adventure.

Mountain Biking

When it comes to mountain biking, there aren’t many better places to go than Wales. With everything from wild natural trails escaping into the wilderness, to purpose built tracks designed for beginners and families, there’s something to cater to every level of mountain bike enthusiast. If you’re new to mountain biking, take a look at the fantastic centres available throughout Wales like Bike Park Wales or Afan Forest Park to get you on your feet before you start tackling the wilderness on your own!

Surfing

Less acknowledged than fellow surfing spot Cornwall, many people don’t realise that Wales is actually home to some of the UK’s best surfing beaches. Glamorgan, Gower and Pembrokeshire are all brilliant places to hit the waves and there are plenty of well-respected surf schools in the area to lend a helping hand if you’re new to the sport. Further north, areas such as Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula also offer some great surfing spots. If you’re not sure about braving the outdoors, you can always try Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first inland surf lagoon. Re-opening in the spring, this surf centre offers impressive two-metre waves that peel for 150 metres.

Survival Courses

For the ultimate adventure in Wales this year, why not try your hand at one of Bear Grylls’ Survival Courses? One of the most recognisable faces in the world of outdoor adventure and survival, Bear launched his own Survival Academy in 2012 and there are now centres across the UK. Take part in a 24 hour family survival course in the Brecon Beacons or an adult day course in Criccieth, where you’ll learn how to light fires, rope skills, how to build emergency shelters and how to forage for grub and rodents.

White Water Rafting

Explore Wales from an exciting new perspective and have a go at white water rafting this year. There are places all across the country where you can get involved in white water rafting amongst beautiful scenery. In North Wales, try White Water Active in Llangollen or for Mid Wales, try Black Mountain Rafting on the River Wye. For a completely new experience in South Wales, visit Cardiff International White Water where you can enjoy the thrills of white water rafting in a purpose-built water centre.

If you’re tempted to book an adventurous break in Wales then don’t forget to take a look at our large collection of cottages in Wales. We’ve over 1,400 holiday cottages across Wales for you to choose from that would make the perfect bases for all of your adventures!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Wales’ Best Castles

Sunday, October 25th, 2015
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Did you know that there are around 400 castles in Wales, and that over 100 of these are still fully standing? If you’re not familiar with Wales’ castles and you want to learn more about these impressive feats of architecture then keep reading as we list some of our favourite castles in Wales.

Chepstow Castle

The appearance of Chepstow Castle has changed greatly over the years. In fact from the time it was built in 1067, right up until 1690, Chepstow Castle was constantly adapting to keep up with the latest trends in military architecture. Now home to the oldest castle doors in Europe, these 800 year old wooden doors are a testament to Chepstow Castle’s endurance.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September, and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £4.50, children under 16 – £3.40, seniors and students – £3.40, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £13.50.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/chepstow-castle; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle was built by Master James of St George between 1283 and 1287 for Kind Edward I. The castle’s intimidating walls, two barbicans, eight mighty towers and impressive bow-shaped hall were all built to demonstrate England’s presence and power in Wales. The dramatic structure is still largely intact today and one of Wales’ biggest tourist attractions.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £6.75, children under 16 – £5.10, seniors and students – £5.10, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £20.25.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/conwycastle; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Harlech Castle

From its coastal mount, Harlech Castle casts a regal shadow over the beach and town of Harlech in North Wales. This commanding medieval castle was also built for Kind Edward I and was completed in 1295. Home to the longest siege in British history, Harlech Castle’s impenetrable walls are still as impressive today as they were 700 years ago.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £4.25, children under 16 – £3.20, seniors and students – £3.20, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £12.75.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/harlechcastle/; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle is one of Edward I’s more unusual castles as instead of the regular circular towers, this castle has a unique collection of polygon shaped towers. Caernarfon Castle, which was built in 1287, is a real brute of a castle with a very imposing appearance so if you’re looking for something with a storybook feel, this is the castle for you.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am between March and September and then from 10am between November and February. Closing times vary so please check the website for more details.

Cost: Adults – £6.75, children under 16 – £5.10, seniors and students – £5.10, family ticket (two adults and two children under 16) – £20.25.

Contact: cadw.gov.wales/daysout/caernarfon-castle/; cadw@wales.gsi.gov.uk; 01443 336000

Powis Castle

Originally built in 1200 as a medieval fortress, Powis Castle has been remodelled over the years to suit the ever-changing needs of the Herbert Family. The castle itself is a very exciting structure with stunning state rooms and an old dungeon, but almost as impressive are the beautiful gardens that surround it, so make sure you spend some time exploring the outdoor areas.

Opening Times: Garden and restaurant open from 10am until 4pm. Castle, museum and shops are open from 11am until 4pm

Cost: Adults – £13.40, children – £6.70, family ticket (two adults and two children) – £20.10. Prices are for the whole property, to see pricing for just the castle please visit website.

Contact: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/; powiscastle@nationaltrust.org.uk; 01938 551944

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is one of Wales’ most iconic castles and the birthplace of Henry VII. The castle has a fascinating history that can be traced all the way back to 1093, when the small inner bailey standing was built by Arnulf de Montgomery. You will find that all the rooms in Pembroke Castle are circular and that the castle keep is nearly 80ft high.

Opening Times: Open from 9:30am – 5:30pm April 1st to August 31st, 10am – 5pm September 1st to October 31st, 10am – 4pm November 1st to February 29th and 10am – 5pm March 1st until March 31st.

Cost: Adults – £6.60, children (3-15yrs) – £5.50, children (under 3) – free, seniors and registered disabled – £5.50.

Contact: pembroke-castle.co.uk/; info@pembrokecastle.co.uk; 01646 681510.

Chirk Castle

Built as a symbol of power and completed in 1310, Chirk Castle is yet another monument left over from the reign of King Edward I. With a history dating back over 700 years, it may surprise you to hear that Chirk Castle is still lived in today but with a grand castle to explore and 5.5 acres of award winning gardens at your back door, it’s not a bad place to call home!

Opening Times: Estate opens from 7am until 7pm. Gardens, shop, tea-room and tower open from 10am until 4pm. State room tours are from 11am until 12pm and the state room opens at 12pm until 4pm.

Cost: Adults – £12, children – £6, family ticket (two adults and two children) – £30.

Contact: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle/; chirkcastle@nationaltrust.org.uk; 01691 777701

 

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

10 things you must do on a Welsh holiday

Saturday, October 24th, 2015
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If you’re planning your first-time visit to Wales and need a bit of help on what you should look out for while you’re there, here’s our guide to the ten things that you must do when on a Welsh holiday. From scoffing Welsh cheese to cheering on the Welsh rugby team, this list will help you along the way to making the most of your getaway in this beautiful part of the world.

1. Visit a castle

With over 600 castles to choose from, no trip to this historic country is complete without paying a visit to one of the many majestic castles on offer.

2. Climb a mountain

Whether it’s Snowdon, Pen Y Fan or Moel Siabod, there is no shortage of mountains to climb in Wales. There’s something for every level of ability and the views when you get to the top are breathtaking.

3. Indulge in some Welsh delicacies

Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages, Welsh rarebit, Bara brith, laverbread, Welsh cakes- the list is endless and decidedly delicious.

4. Head to the beach

With 41 Blue Flag beaches, Wales has some of the UK’s cleanest and safest beaches, with some pretty spectacular scenery to boot!

5. Watch the rugby

The Welsh are passionate about rugby and watching a match here is a magical experience. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is said to be one of the most atmospheric sporting venues in the world so if you can, grab a ticket to see the Welsh national rugby team in action here.

6. Go underground

Its unique mining heritage means that Wales has plenty to offer in terms of underground attractions, from Bounce Below, the underground trampoline in a slate cavern, to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire.

Bounce Below

Image via Bouncebelow.net

7. Walk some of the Welsh Coastal Path

With 870 miles of coastline to explore, the Wales Coastal Path is a must for anyone holidaying in Wales. Whether you fancy a morning stroll by the sea or a weekend’s hiking along the coast, make the most of this superb pathway on your next holiday.

8. Try your hand at surfing

Wales- South Wales in particular- has some of the best surfing spots in the UK. Whitesands in Pembrokeshire is ideal for beginners while Llantwit Major in Glamorgan is perfect for the more experienced surfer.

9. Ride a steam train

Wales’ mining history also means that narrow gauge steam trains are easy to come by- a fantastic way to explore the countryside! Llanberis Lake Railway offers unbeatable views of Snowdonia, whilst the Brecon Mountain Railway takes in 13th century castle ruins and the highest peak in South Wales.

10. Visit an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Wales has six AONB- Anglesey, Gower, Dee Valley, the Clwydian Range, Llŷn and Wye Valley. Boasting some of the most stunning scenery that Britain has to offer, you can’t afford to miss experiencing these places.

If you’ve been inspired to visit Wales, make sure you take a look through our fantastic collection of holiday cottages in Wales. From Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire, we’ve a wide range of cottages perfect for every occasion; your Welsh getaway wouldn’t be complete without a cosy Welsh cottage to return to after all your adventures!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.