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I’m writing this from the Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales after finishing a most magnificent summer road trip through Wales. One of many facts about Wales is that a road trip is the best way to see the country.
I’ve been to Wales a few times in recent years but I haven’t had a great road trip which in my opinion is the ideal way to see this wonderful little country. We started in Newport, ended in Cardiff and made it as far as St Davids which is best known as being the smallest city in Britain.
After arriving in Newport we made our way to the Wye Valley while making a few stops along the way at places such as Tintern Abbey and Llanthony Priory. We even tried to look for ghosts at one of the oldest pubs in Wales called the Skirrid Inn but sadly, it was closed.
There is a lot of history in Wales and as a result, lots or ruins from the past. In fact, there are over 600 castles in Wales and yes, you guessed correctly that most of them too are in ruins. That night we stayed at Llangoed Hall which was sort of like a castle and believed to possibly be the site of the first parliament in Wales.
To say spending the night at Llangoed Hall was a treat would be an understatment. The next morning, feeling fully refreshed I had the opportunity to do something I’ll never forget. Llangoed Hall has some old classic cars and one of them is a Rolls Royce which once belonged to the Queen Mother. We drove it along some country roads with the top down and it felt surreal. Just one of those moments that while it’s happening you stop and think to yourself, is this really happening? Let me savour it! Make sure to have your international driver’s license if you plan on doing the driving.
From there we made our way through the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park to Carreg Cennen Castle for a picnic. It has been years since I’ve had a picnic, so long I almost forgot all about picnics; how sad is that? That said, aren’t picnics one of the best ways to spend time with friends and family? Buy exactly what you want to eat and instead of paying somewhere for ambiance, go out into nature and setup shop in the most appropriate place you see fit? Having a picnic in front of Carreg Cedden Castle was a moment I thoroughly enjoyed.
Afterwards we made our way to Laugharne to see the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and visit Brown’s Hotel on the main street which is known for being a place where the famous poet Dylan Thomas used to enjoy pints. I didn’t know much about Thomas before I arrived but had read some of the work of his contemporaries. Besides having a pint at Brown’s Hotel, Laugharne itself is quite interesting with a great castle and stunning coastline. When you do go, be sure to give Laugharne a quick look; it’s a beautiful place.
That night we made our way to Southern Pembrokeshire and to the town of Tenby. Tenby is beautiful, what can I say? I loved the sandy shores, the 13th century town walls and the colourful homes. It’s the type of place that makes even the least curious consumer look at house prices when passing a realtor’s office; it’s quaint and filled with character. We went on a ghost tour and learnt lots about Tenby’s past. Do I believe in ghosts? I’m not so sure and I’ll tell you this much, after attending a ghost tour like this you’ll be even less sure much like myself.
We spent the night at St. Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot and the next morning started the day in their infinity pool overlooking the coast of Pembrokeshire. The pool is a steady 34 degrees year round making it a desirable place to pass some time any time of year. Following that we went for a walk around Tenby and I found myself falling for this quaint place even more. The beaches really shocked me; when you think of Wales you probably don’t think of beaches but you should, you really should and this brings me to our next stop.
We made our way to Barafundle Bay which is home to a beach considered by many to be one of the top beaches in the world. It requires a little bit of a hike to get there but all good spots are slightly out of the way, yes? I liked the beach, it was beautiful but my favourite was its neighbour called Broad Haven South Beach. Also, this beach is right next to a parking lot making it easier to access. Truth be told, there is a private beach of sort only accessible by boat in the middle of both of them, it also looked great.
It was a bank holiday when we arrived so it was rather packed and the tides were out. I can imagine it when the tide is further in and on a sunny weekday when you have the place to yourself. Then my friends, you’d truly have a slice of paradise all to yourself. I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again, I never thought of beaches when one mentioned Wales, now I do. Wales has a massive coastline and from my experience it’s constantly rotating between rugged coast and sublime beaches.
Next on the road trip, we drove north making a quick stop at St. Govan’s Chapel before visiting the Green Bridge of Wales. The natural arch is incredible and reminds me of other similar spots around the world which are all on borrowed time. The arch is a thing of beauty and also fragile as one day, it will eventually fall into the sea like they all do. I know these things work slowly but they also work surely. Should you be in the area, do stop in as it will only take a moment but it’s a sight you’ll most certainly remember.
The next stop was Freshwater West Beach which is where some Harry Potter was filmed. We weren’t there for that long though, we were there to visit Cafe Môr and have their famous lobster roll. This roll was so decadent that it was divine. It’s a half lobster fried in butter, lots of butter and poured onto a roll with a few secret spices. The roll was unreal and so was the coastline, in fact the county of Pembrokeshire and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail are places which will leave even the most critical traveler in awe. The photo below is of the Cafe More Burger, yeah I had that too and no need to judge, you’d do the same!
From there we hit the road to Haverford West for a scenic flight over Pembrokeshire. It was a small plane filled with good people and a gregarious pilot. We flew for about an hour or so giving us a whole new perspective on the beauty of Pembrokeshire. We saw beaches, islands, estuaries, villages and of course castles. It was a unique experience and one I’m grateful for, I didn’t take many photos but did film lots of video so be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel not to miss them in the coming days.
Next we made our way to Roch Castle to enjoy the views and have a quick drink to let the past few days soak in. This castle is in great shape and what’s extra special about it is that you can stay in it. It has six bedrooms and feels more like a private castle than a hotel if that makes sense. If you had a group and were traveling through the area, renting the whole place to yourself would be the move you’d want to make and one that would be most memorable. It’s a legit castle, how often do you get the opportunity to sleep in one of those?
Afterwards we made our way to Whitesands Beach just past St. Davids to enjoy the sunset. Really, no better way to complete a busy day than enjoying a good sunset. We chose Whitesands Beach but Wales has near endless west coast so wherever you are, you’re never far from the coast to enjoy a similar view of sunset over the sea. I’m a huge fan of sunsets and believe watching as many as possible is good for the soul, this one didn’t disapoint.
The next day we went coasteering and what can I say other than I LOVED IT. I was hesitant to go coasteering for a few reasons. One is that when I heard it described it just didn’t appeal to me. Put on a wet suit, walk to the coast then jump in Atlantic… Part of me always found it intriguing but it wasn’t something I ever pursued, boy was I wrong. The moment that wetsuit was on and I jumped into the sea I felt like a kid again. I was full of energy, never felt cold and the entire tour literally flew by. We swam in the ocean, explored caves and did flips off cliffs; it was a blast and I’d go again.
After this it was sadly time to reel in the fun and start heading south again. We went straight from St Davids to “The Diff” which is what many locals call Cardiff. Cardiff is the capital of Wales and home to an incredible castle. We went on a private tour of Cardiff Castle and got to see areas few do. If you do go and are a fan of architecture or the architect William Burges, ask for the connoisseur tour and you’ll be glad you did. I need to count how many castles in Wales I’ve visited; I’m not sure but would like to visit 100 at some point in my life.
That night we went to Street Food Cardiff and it was good times. They had a big beer tent filled with people filling their bellies fully of beer and good food. The mood was relaxed and my biggest stress was deciding to choose which food cart I’d purchase a meal from. The choices were eclectic with Canadian Poutine, Thai Wraps and even some fusion tacos with a Vietnamese twist. I ended up going for the Thai and then the tacos, both solid choices. I love street food and thought it was nice how they were having this little fair bringing together great street food and foodies who enjoy it.
The whole time I was in Cardiff the weather was wonderful. We started the next day with the Cardiff Tasting Tour which took us to several spots while also introducing us to the city. By the end of the tour I had a better understanding of the city centre and fell in love with the market. We had some faggots in the market which are made of minced liver, covered in gravy and often served with mushy peas. My father is Welsh and I remember eating them occasionally as a kid. If you’re in Cardiff, do stop by the market to try some classic Welsh cuisine and meet some classic Welsh characters.
In the afternoon it was all about Pride Cardiff. I’d never been to a Pride celebration before but I thoroughly enjoyed it. To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect but what I did see was a group of people getting together to celebrate equality. It doesn’t matter who you are because if you believe in equality for all you’d have a lot in common with everyone there and be sure to have a fun time. If you’re in a city while Pride is taking place, try and catch some of the parade as it’s quite the colourful parade to say the least. We caught some of it during the tasting tour then went over to the main event after.
That night we headed to The Dead Canary for cocktails and it was there I realized that I had entered a new era in my life. Done are the days of clubs which don’t do it for me so much anymore. That said, a nice lounge with a deep cocktail menu, comfy couches, a lounge singer in the corner and good friends? That’s my new scene. We went in for a cocktail, left after a few. I loved The Dead Canary and will be on the top of my “things to do list” next time I’m in Cardiff.
Following the drinks and to conclude a great trip it was time to visit Chippy Lane aka Caroline Street within the old city walls of Cardiff. What’s Chippy Lane you ask? Well it’s a lane where lots of different shops sell curry chips and the like. The type of place where everyone and anyone is welcome to have a big greasy snack before they hit the sack after a fun night out on the town. If you stay there long enough you’ll see it’s a great cross section of society, literally everyone out and about past 1am makes a stop; I tried the curry fries from Dorothy’s and highly recommend them.
This sums up my road trip in South Wales and I throughly enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed it so much that I was smiling while I wrote most of this post. I just can’t believe it’s already over but that’s alright, it has sparked a keen interest to see even more of Wales. Hopefully soon I’ll go on another road trip and see more of what this small but beautiful country filled with history, characters, coastlines and castles has to offer
This post was brought to you as a result of the #lovegreatbritain campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Visit Britain and Visit Wales. As always, Stop Having a Boring life retains all editorial control of what is published.