This guest is so creative!

It’s not every day a cottage owner opens her guestbook to find an illustrated review from her guests. The owner of Old School Barn found this fantastic illustration in hers when her visitors left the property last month.

Dave and his wife Tomo stayed at Old School Barn in September. They said they loved their time there and hope it won’t be their last.


Our very clever in-house web developer translated their message from Japanese to English for us: “Thank you very much! We loved our stay in the Barn. Hopefully it won’t be our last!! Dave and Tomo 9/9/16.”

Find your perfect holiday cottage in West Wales, and don’t forget to get creative with the guestbook!

Posted in Holiday cottages | Tagged | Leave a comment

Five fun fact-filled days out

Looking for a day out with a difference? Want to give your children an enjoyable experience by learning through play or experience? To learn a subject and remember it well, why not live it!?

While holidays are all about having fun, you may wish for something more educational for your children. Whether providing some extra-curricular learning, or giving your children an experience to reinforce what they have learned in school or at home, there are some great sites in West Wales which provide fantastic insights into a range of subjects for all ages.

Here are five ideas which we think would appeal to your children and also give them a great educational experience, and a chance to learn something new:

1. Castell Henllys3 boys with blue celtic style painted faces having fun at Castell Henllys

Forget the classroom: come and experience history as real life! Once a part of the Demetae tribe with up to 100 villagers, Castell Henllys is a reconstructed Iron Age Village and hillfort that has been rebuilt exactly where it once stood, with large roundhouses and real Iron Age pigs!

See how villagers lived here over 2000 years ago, and experience their lifestyle at first hand whilst inspiring your children to learn and spark their imagination through re-enactment and hands-on activities.

With living history activities, you can learn how to be an Iron Age Warrior, hear stories of the past around the campfire, discover how the buildings themselves were made, and watch a woodsman in action. Other attractions include a sculpture trail, wildlife walks including Bats and Otters, costumed guided tours, craft demonstrations and seasonal events such as Roman Day and a Wildlife Watch day.

Facilities include a Visitor Centre, Café and Shop. There are two car parks and good facilities for disabled visitors. Open all year round 10.00-5.00, apart from Christmas and New Year.

Also visit: Pentre Ifan Neolithic Burial Chamber; Gors Fawr Stone Circle with views of the Preselis.

Stay at: Penpedwast Lower Barn; The Vestry; or another pretty cottage in North Pembrokeshire!

For information and prices visit the Castell Henllys website or call 01239 891319.

2. The Silver Mountain Experience3 young men/boys working in a mine inear the Cambrain Mountains when it was operational

Llywernog Silver-Lead Mine is a combination of a former mine and Lord Of The Rings brought to life. Near Aberystwyth, it was founded in 1742 and transformed into the mythical wonderland it is today in 2012. An out-of-this-world experience, it has many different aspects to appeal to your children.

Fun educational features include a restored mine and its buildings and equipment, mine shafts and giant waterwheel. There are also a wide range of activities such as bushcraft skills, panning for Fool’s Gold and dam-building.

There is a range of other exciting opportunities to inspire your imagination: find the dragon on an adventure trail; build dens in Woo Hoo Wood where there are also adventure trails and a maze; explore Silver River play area with a water channel system to splash around in; or play games on Shroomy Hill. Special events include a Dragon Egg Hunt, Summer Ghost Walks and Halloween Horror Mazes. For the brave amongst you, try the Black Chasm and face your fears in the dark in this terrifying attraction.

Open March to October, with guided tours available. Amenities include Coffee Shop with hot and cold snacks, Picnic Areas, Gift Shop, and free parking.

Also visit: Dolaucothi Gold Mines; Colby Woodland Gardens and its deserted coal mine.

Stay at: remote Tynyfron; Hen Ysgubor; or another lovely cottage in the Cambrian Mountains.

For information and prices visit the Silver Mountain Experience website or call 01970 890620.

3. A bushcraft and wild food experienceA close up of hands holding 8 wild mushrooms

Forest schools and learning bushcraft are becoming a part of our children’s education. Discovering where our food comes from, practising survival skills, and respecting nature while living off the land are great activities for the young – and are brilliant ways to have fun outdoors as well!

Bushcraft takes you back to basics, sparking your imagination whilst trying new things, all with a professional on hand. Activities include making fire, building shelter, finding water, wildlife awareness, animal tracking, nature walks and archery. Whether you fancy a family outing, or a great experience for a group of children, there are a number of choices available.

Buzzard Chris Bushcraft is in South Pembrokeshire, and offers a range of different courses. Dryad Bushcraft is based near West Wales on the Gower Peninsular, and runs a family bushcraft camp.

Some organisations can also take you for a meal from the outdoors. With wild food foraging, your children can find fresh food and herbs from a variety of places, as well as learning how to prepare and cook them.

Funghi Forays are based in the Elan Valley and offer a chance to learn about the wild mushrooms available out there. Wild About Pembrokeshire can take you out foraging along the seashore or down hedgerows, to learn about what to eat and how to cook it. Wild Pickings is based in Cardigan and runs courses which children can join too.

4. New Quay Honey FarmHoney bees in a bee hive on a honeyconb

Why not come for an educational yet tasty experience! Set in the beautiful Ceredigion countryside across which their hives are spread, New Quay Honey Farm combines an informative day out with the opportunity to treat your family.

Learn how bees live, hives work and honey is produced, or search for the queen bee and watch her lay her eggs. Also learn about their tropical ant colony. The farm produces a range of honey, including set or runny, heather, mountain or wildflower. It also has a Meadery where its own honey is turned into mead with several flavours available, and where you can learn about the process and the history of Welsh mead, the oldest known alcoholic drink.

The Tearoom serves homemade cakes, cream teas and ice creams, including honey flavoured ice cream! There is also a Wildlife Garden, Picnic Area, Visitor Centre and Shop, selling their honey, mead, and beeswax products such as candles, cosmetics and polish.

The Live Bee Exhibition is open from May to October, where you can watch the bees at work behind glass and begin to understand a day in the life of a worker, drone or queen bee. There are also exhibitions and courses available including Beekeeping and Cookery Courses. Open Easter to October, closed Sundays and Mondays (apart from Bank Holidays).

Also visit: Brynderi Honey Farm for homemade ice creams and sorbets; Caws Cenarth Creamery for delicious local cheeses and how they are made.

Stay at: Penyrallt Cottage; Fronnant, or one of the other lovely cottages in the Cardigan Bay area.

For information and prices visit the New Quay Honey Farm website or call 01545 560822.

5. WWT Llanelli Wetlands CentreA flamingo stood in water looking down on its chick

Come for an adventure in the great outdoors where you can meet the wildlife up close. Llanelli Wetlands Centre has a great assortment of ducks, swans and geese to meet – and feed by hand! There are exotic Caribbean Flamingos, Butterflies, Dragonflies, as well as a host of other birds and wildlife to spot around the site – and with recent sightings posted to let you know what to look out for.

With 450 acres of wildlife-packed wetlands to explore, complete with paths, Nature Trails and Viewing Tower, your children will learn a lot and play a lot! There are a range of hides to watch birds and wildlife from, with views of marshland and the estuary. Try the Swans Nest Maze and spot the eggs, or the Water Vole City with its winding tunnels to crawl through. There are seasonal activities during the holidays or at weekends – build a den, try pond-dipping or a variety of indoor crafts.

Open 9.30-5.00, all year round, with Café, Shop, free parking, good transport links and disabled access across the site, with great facilities for disabled visitors.

Also visit: The Welsh Wildlife Centre; Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre

Stay at: Trepartridge Cottage or another one of our Carmarthenshire cottages.

For information and prices visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust website or call 01554 741087.

Posted in Places to see and things to do | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The best places to spot autumn colour in West Wales

One of the most spectacular sights on a blowy autumn day – and a highlight of the year – is the expanse of colour produced by woodlands during this season. Something to brighten our days with the dark of winter looming ahead!4 people on an autumnal sunset walk

Here in West Wales there are a host of sites for you to visit, beautiful woodlands to walk among, and vistas to gaze at. Creating a grand spectacle particularly where there are large numbers of the right kinds of tree, the leaves start to turn in September and continue through October.

Places to visit

Why not go for an autumn walk, whether in natural woodland or one of the many formal gardens?

Newton House in the distance behind autumn leaves

Dinefwr Park

For golden beech leaves, visit the Hafod Estate near Aberystwyth, with its eerily beautiful river, and waterfalls, gorges and hillsides buried under the canopy. There are tracks and trails winding through the woods at Bwlch Nant yr Arian as well as a Visitor Centre and views of Red Kites, and the 18th-century landscape at Dinefwr Park is perfect for an autumn stroll.

Acer leaves against a blue sky


Acers and Dogwoods brighten up the woodland walks at Colby Woodland Gardens. There are three ancient woodlands of native trees at Green Castle Woods, near Carmarthen, while the Elan Valley’s beautiful displays are set off by its reservoirs and rivers.

For a more formal setting, the display of Nissa, Cornus and Sorrel trees at Aberglasney are a lovely sight, while the Acers, Maples, Crab Apples and exotic Katsura Tree at the National Botanic Gardens are a must-see.

To see all these and much much more, why not book a holiday in one of our beautiful holiday cottages in West Wales.

Posted in Places to see and things to do | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog-friendly walking holidays in West Wales

Now that the summer is out of the way and we head into autumn, it’s the best time to start planning your walking holiday with your most loved companion!

Beach restrictions are lifted at the end of September, the weather is cooler and the area is generally a little quieter, perfect for a last minute break to the and white whippet on cliff path

If you’re planning on getting away, we’ve got tons of dog-friendly cottages to choose from, and you can book direct with the owner, too – super easy!

Hit the coast path4 images, one of a black and white whippet stood near a beach, another of a fluffy white dog carrying a stick in its mouth, another of the coastline in Ceredigion and one of the witches cauldron in Pembrokeshire

Ceredigion: Bottlenose dolphins and seals are popular on the coast of Cardigan Bay. The Ceredigion coast path is renowned for its mixture of landscapes to include dramatic high cliffs, sandy bays and many interesting spots along the way such as Borth’s sunken forest. For more information and to plan your route see our guide to walking the Ceredigion coast path.

Pembrokeshire: Quite a few walking boots have been worn out over the years since the Pembrokeshire coastal path first opened, and we’re not surprised, it’s absolutely stunning! Many are tempted here every year to experience the dramatic coastline. A wonderful walk discovering some of the diamonds of Pembrokeshire’s treasure chest makes a perfect day out. Use our guide to walking the Pembrokeshire coast path to plan your trip and get prepared.

Carmarthenshire: Carmarthenshire has a continuous route all the way along its coast. Popular spots include Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse, near Laugharne and the view of Kidwelly’s medieval castle. There are many glorious and varied beaches along the way, prefect cooling off points for you and your dog! Carmarthenshire Bay is one of the most important conservation areas in Wales. To plan your walk, use our guide to walking the Carmarthenshire coast path.

Whichever West Wales county you choose to base yourself in for your walking holiday with your dog, we’re 99% certain this is how he or she will appear at the end of your stay!black and white whippet asleep in garden

 Tips for walking the coast path with your dog:

  • Keep your dog on a lead in areas of exposed cliff edges
  • Take a small container and bottle of water in your bag as some sections have no access to drinking water
  • Make sure you check the route before you go, some have stiles with no provisions for dog access, unless you can haul your dog over, you may want to choose an alternative
  • If your dog somehow ends up in the water or stuck in mud, don’t go in after him/her – move to a safe area and call your dog, chances are he/she will come to you
  • If you’re worried call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Most of all, have fun! Dogs love a good outing and what better way than walking the out-of-this-world coastline of West Wales?

Choose your perfect dog-friendly holiday cottage here.

Posted in Places to see and things to do, West Wales walks | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a holiday at Brig-y-don in Llangrannog!

You don’t want to miss out on this one! Enter our free prize draw to win a 2-night break for 4 at Brig-y-don in the popular village of Llangrannog on Cardigan Bay.

On 7 October, we will draw the winning entry at random. The lucky winner will then be able to book any available 2-night break between 1 November 2016 and 31 March 2017, outside school holidays, rent-free for up to 4 people. (Sorry, no pets allowed). Only one entry per person, you must be 18 or over at the time of the holiday. Closing date for entries is 6 October 2016. See full terms and conditions of the draw.

Find out more about Brig-y-don in Llangrannog

Brig-y-don has a rich history and an interesting story of how the property has been passed through the Jones family for generations, since its construction in 1912.

3 images together, one of Brig-ydon's kitchen one of the living room and another of a double bed in a white bedroom

The family roots

The family originate from a farm called Cilie, just outside of Llangrannog. The farm is a well-known name in the area as the Jones family notoriously won all the poetry and Bardic competitions in Wales during the 20th Century and were regularly spotted on television. They were affectionately known as Bois Y Cilie (The Cilie Boys).

One of the 9 children, Tom Jones, settled in the heart of the village at the end of the First World War until the 1950s as publican of the Pentre Arms, which stills serves the community today. He was the first person to purchase a car in the area and used it to provide a taxi service for guests to visit.

In 1922, Tom Jones and his wife welcomed one of their 9 children into the world. They named him Ewyndon, a made up name translating to ‘foam of the sea’, due to his birth taking place on a very rough December day, when a stormy sea was casting its foam against the pub.

Three images of Llangrannog, West Wales

Cowboys and bank managers

Most of Ewyndon’s brothers and sisters left home to explore the world. His brother Ellis emigrated to America and became a cowboy, returning only in the late sixties as a stranger. Two of the sisters, Beryl and Anne-Jane, stayed in the village moving from the ‘Pentre Arms’ to ‘Angorfa’, the large house next to ‘The Ship’ pub, where they ran another Bed and Breakfast for over 50 years.

Ewyndon returned to Llangrannog after the Second World War and joined the bank. This was a respectable career at which he was very successful, rising to top managerial level. He later met his wife Peggy and they had two children, Simon and Judith.

Purchasing Brynmorfa and Brig-y-don

In 1967, the couple purchased two properties in the village, Brynmorfa and Brig-y-don. They were bought from a retired Merchant Seaman, Captain Evans, for what was then a princely sum of £3,650.

The family spent many school holidays in Llangrannog. With Ewyndon’s career leading the family to move every three to four years, it meant that the village once more became the next generation’s stable family base.

Brynmorfa was always rented out to holidaymakers when the Jones family were not in residence, its stunning location making it a firm favourite year after year.

Ewyndon passed away in 2010 and his ashes were scattered over the limekiln in front of Brig-y-don, always to be in Llangrannog, his home, the place he loved.

His wife, Peggy, who is a fit 90-year-old, moved to Jersey to live with her daughter Judith.

Brig-y-don and Brynmorfa seaside holiday cottages in Llangrannog, West Wales

The latest generation of owners

The Llangrannog property was passed on and now Simon and his wife Jane, who also live in Jersey, own this small part of Llangrannog, maintaining the close family ties to the Jones’ roots for future generations.

Simon’s love of Llangrannog was cemented in his teenage years with long summer holidays by the beach, steadfast friends and pretty much coming and going as he pleased.

Simon and Jane realised that the property required much renovation to bring it into the 21st century, having been largely untouched since 1912.

The properties today

Extensive work has been carried out at Brynmorfa and the adjoining cottage Brig-y-don, enhancing both properties sympathetically. Possibly the most successful part of the work to date was the construction of an additional en suite bedroom in Brynmorfa’s attic.

When the gable end was opened up to create a balcony, the vista over the bay and coastline was breathtaking. Truly a crowning glory! A place to sit, relax and be content.

Simon and Jane visit regularly with their two children, Morgan and Katie, and Peggy still comes along with them too! Because Brynmorfa, Brig-y-don and Llangrannog are still home to them, continued improvement and investment is planned for the future, ensuring a great place for them and their holidaymakers to relax and enjoy the stunning coastline and Llangrannog’s unique village life.

To see more of how the cottages are today – or even book a holiday in one of them! – take a look at the photos and details for Brynmorfa and Brig-y-don.

Posted in Holiday cottages, Our news | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Big Cwtch – A festival with a difference!

Come to the heart of Carmarthenshire and relax with good food and new music! This award-winning and excitingly different festival of food, fun and family entertainment – not to mention over 30 live artists and bands over two stages – is set in the lovely Cothi Valley surrounded by beautiful Welsh hills. Great for music lovers, families, foodies and holidaymakers alike.

Cwtch is Welsh for a hug, and this is just what this festival does for a whole weekend!

two images: one of a girl singling live on stage with an acoustic guitar and another of a catering area at the Big Cwtch FestivalTaking place this weekend, 10 September, this summer party festival is now in its third year. With music around the campfire, craft stalls, adult activities such as yoga and children’s activities in the Walled Garden, there is a lot to see and do. A great lineup of breakthrough artists together with established bands, play at the acoustic venues, Orchards Stage and Lakeside Stage.

a woman on a pole flame throwingRefreshments include craft beers, cocktails and afternoon teas, from the temporary but classy Lakeside Restaurant, Wonky Table Pub, Ginhaus Deli and Vintage Tea Rooms. Not to mention the wealth and variety of food available from these venues and the many street food traders!

The site is surrounded by working farmland in lovely Welsh countryside, so please stay within the grounds of the festival and respect private land. The Big Cwtch is also an environmentally friendly festival, please take your litter home with you and recycle where you can.

Cash-basis payments only across the site. Adult tickets from £40 and Children tickets from 12.50, free for the under-fives. Concessions available. Under-16s must be accompanied by an adult. Please book tickets in advance. Large car park available with disabled access and parking. Sorry, no dogs allowed. For more details, visit The Big Cwtch website.

Looking for somewhere to stay near The Big Cwtch Festival? Take a look at our holiday cottages in the heart of Carmarthenshire.

Posted in Events and festivals, Food and drink, Places to see and things to do | Tagged | Leave a comment

Adventure with wild swimming

It may be the lure of a freshly running stream or deep cool pool that draws you to wild swimming. Or maybe the idea of being able to swim whenever or wherever you please. Whatever the case, there are some beautiful hot-spots and secret and secluded sites for you to jump into across West Wales. This is the Year of Adventure so now is a great time to try it!

What is wild swimming?

Wild swimming is swimming for pleasure in natural waters, whether they be wild rivers, secret beaches, deep lakes or waterfall pools. Late summer is the best time of year to get into this pastime, particularly if you are a novice and need the warmer weather and waters! There are no rules, it’s wild swimming whether you just fancy a dip in the river in summer to cool down, or an endurance swim along the coast in autumn.Man lake swimming

Safety tips for wild swimming

This activity has been classified as a moderate risk – so long as you assess your abilities and the location, take account of the cold and don’t expect too much of yourself. Top tips include taking someone with you for company and safety, keep warm afterwards and always pack extra clothing, and using equipment such as neoprene gloves, hat and socks to make it easier. Start in spring, keep going and as your body gets used to it, the cold becomes less of a shock to the system year round! For further information on safety, see the Wild Swimming website.

Places for wild swimming in West Wales

One of the best times to take the plunge is after a long hot walk when your feet need a cool down. Here are some prime spots in West Wales for cooling off.

Barafundle Bay is on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path or a half a mile from the car park, with a wide sandy beach and natural arches in the headland.

Mwnt Beach involves a short walk down, has sea caves to explore and is good for snorkelling.

For a beautiful setting, Furnace Waterfall, on the Aberystwyth to Machynlleth road, flows into a bowl of bedrock, forming a deep tranquil pool surrounded by ferns and the green canopy overhead.

The Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi

The Blue Lagoon, near Abereiddi, is a picturesque and historic location, within the large bowl of natural rock and former quarry structures, with tempting water below.

A more challenging swim is Confucius Hole at Broadhaven. A natural wonder, with a bowl of bluey-green water formed from a collapsed sea cave filling at high tide, it is only reached at low tide and in calm seas – and only for the very experienced swimmer.

Tresaith Beach

Tresaith Beach

Alternatively, the swim from Aberporth to Tresaith, or vice versa depending on the tide, is for those with endurance!

Waterfall poolRiver and lake swims include the allegedly haunted deep cold lake of Llyn y Fan Fach, the isolated clear water of Llyn Moel y Llyn in the Pumlumon range of mountains, Wash Pool and Wolf’s Leap near Irfon, and Cenarth on the River Teifi, where the river runs parallel to the road through the village.

For opportunities to visit these sites and your own wild swimming adventure, why not stay in one of our holiday cottages in West Wales, and explore for yourself!

Posted in Places to see and things to do | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Simone Mansell Broome – the owner of Pen-y-banc Farm

Each of our cottages has a different history behind their life as a holiday destination, and each of their owners a different story to tell.

We have some great summaries of these properties on our website, but who better to tell us about staying at these destinations and the story behind them, than the owners themselves!

The family team who run the Ceridwen Centre, including children and dogs

Simone and her family run the Ceridwen Centre on Pen-y-banc Farm. This large and characterful house offers either self catering or catered accommodation. There are also some lovely glamping properties to choose from around the farm, whether you fancy a roomy yurt, historic gypsy caravan or cosy converted cabin.

The Ceridwen Centre can also offer reflexology treatments, bike hire, mountain biking skills, arts and crafts classes, and an on-site shop sells lovely local and home-grown produce.

There is a golf course nearby, Cilgerran Castle is a short drive away, and there is a choice of some great local walks around the historic landscape and beautiful Teifi Valley. Simone tells us about the background of her farm and what it has to offer its guests:

What is the story behind the Ceridwen Centre and Pen-y-banc Farm?
We moved here in 2007 to Pen-y-banc Farm, and our initial aim was to create a hospitality and tourism business we could grow, which would support us and any of our family who would want to become involved.

It was also important to us to run our business on sustainable principles, being as carbon neutral as possible, so these principles have informed our purchasing choices and the way that we renovate and create spaces here on the farm.

Four images in a collage, gypsy caravan, a box of vegetables, a bride and groom outside a yurt and a wood cladded shack

What do visitors like to do when they stay on Pen-y-banc Farm?
To relax and unwind, To enjoy the scenery, the fabulous views, the sunsets over the valley and the starry skies on a clear night.

We attract walkers, cyclists (we have bike repair and a mountain bike skills area/pump track on the farm), bird watchers and amateur photographers, antiques hunters and lovers of craft and art, families with children of all ages who love the freedom they have here (and the outdoor games), families with pet dogs, couples looking for a romantic break or short activity or touring break – all sorts in fact. Because our accommodation is quite spread out we can easily cater for different sorts and ages of groups at the same time.

In the summer we have occasional pizza evenings which are popular with the guests on site, and there is a bar which we open for events and on request at other times.

3 images, pizza night at Ceridwen Cente, a couple walking along a mown path hand in hand, 2 dogs in a field

If you were a visitor to Pen-y-banc Farm, what would you do on an ideal day?
Visit the donkeys and sheep, walk round the farm (we’ve created a farm walk this summer), maybe visit one of the local attractions – we’re just over a mile from the National Wool Museum and there are some fabulous art and craft studios locally – or go to the beach, possibly barbecue for supper, collecting organic salad stuff from the farm, or maybe spend a relaxing evening in the wood-fired eco hot-tub.

two donkeys and a few sheep in a field woodfired hot tub sat on wooden decking area in the countryside

What do you like best about letting the Ceridwen Centre and your glamping properties?
Seeing people enjoying themselves and having some time and space to slow down and relax. Doing as much or as little for them as they need. Helping guests to discover and explore the fabulous local area. Sharing our farm, and the way it is run and is growing, with the visitors. Happy faces. Thank you cards and emails! :)

For more information or to book please see the Penybanc Farm properties on our website.

Posted in Holiday cottages | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Introducing the top 8 historic houses in West Wales

While on holiday here, it’s well worth visiting some of our many historic houses to absorb some of the area’s history. Here are our recommendations of the 8 top historic houses to visit in West Wales. Each house has a unique history and different aspects to spark your imagination and show you a view of the past, offering a fascinating day out.

1. Picton Castle, PembrokeshirePicton house behind pink flowers

Picton Castle and its magnificent gardens are an ideal day out for all the family. Awarded the 2014 and 2015 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, this large attractive building is an unusual combination of castle and fortified manor house. Its RHS Partner gardens are a must-see, and the house has many attractions as well as now housing Pembroke’s Museum of the Home.

The Castle was owned by the Wogans since the 13th century and their descendants the Phillipps, once one of the most powerful families in Pembrokeshire. Seasonal events include a Children’s Easter Egg Hunt, Tapas Nights, viewing the Picton Renoir painting, and a Victorian Christmas Tour.

Amenities include Picton Galleries and its exhibitions, shop selling locally-produced items and plants for sale in the courtyard from Picton Castle Nursery. A restaurant and deli are open throughout the year selling lunch and afternoon teas, with evening events detailed on their website.

For opening times and prices visit the Picton Castle website or phone 01437 751326

2. Llanerchaeron, CeredigionLlanerchaeron to the right with a driveway infront and lawn behind

Llanerchaeron is a Georgian Villa which was designed to make the most of the beautiful landscape and its panoramas. Built in the Palladian style by John Nash in the 1790s, it remains amongst the least altered of his early works. The beautiful setting also includes the working farm and gardens open to the Llanerchaeron, a Georgian Villa public.

The small farmhouse and formal gardens were bought in 1634 by Llewellyn Parry, a descendant of Welsh princes. 20th-century renovations included new fireplaces, and internal electricity powered by a waterwheel on the estate!

Some of the most interesting features include a dairy, brewery and salting house, laundry and cheese press room. A further feature is the Edwardian kitchen range, where homemade Welsh cakes are baked for you to try!

Events include storytelling, geocaching and quilting workshops, as well as festivals and plays. Conti’s Cafe sells refreshments, and the Farm Shop sells produce from the farm. Baby-changing and disabled facilities available, with some disabled access. See website for opening times. Only guide dogs allowed.

For opening times and prices visit the Llanerchaeron website.

3. Newton House, Dinefwr Park, LlandeiloNewton House in the distance behind autumn leaves

Visit Newton House and go back in time to before WWI! Run by the National Trust, this striking house with its four corner towers is set in a beautiful wide valley surrounded by ancient trees and 18th-century parkland. Expect ghostly encounters in the cellars, or the spirit of the strangled Lady Elinor Cavendish on the staircase!

The medieval Deer Park, Wales’ only parkland National Nature Reserve, is skirted on one side by the River Tywi valley. Originally built in 1660, it has later 1850s Gothic additions which form the majority of the current house. The estate was landscaped by George and Cecil Rice (Rhys), aided by Capability Brown, and very little has changed since.

The house was owned by the Rhys family, descendants of the ancient princes and kings of Deheubarth, who once ruled the area from Dinefwr Castle on a nearby hilltop. It was sold by Richard Dynevor in 1972. The name derives from the former location of a medieval “New Town”, constructed for the English to trade.

There are guided rooftop tours, exhibitions on the first floor and events throughout the year, listed on the website. A National Trust shop and Art Gallery are also on site, with plants for sale, a Second Hand Bookshop and a Farm Shop selling the extremely local venison!

Facilities include the Billiard Tea Rooms where you can enjoy fireside lunches and teas, or the Castle Walk Cafe, designed especially to be dog- and muddy-boot friendly. Dinefwr Castle is also open to visitors.

For opening times and prices visit the Newton House website.

4. Tudor Merchant’s House, TenbyTudor Merchant's House, Tenby with people stood outside in a narrow street

The Tudor Merchant’s House is in the heart of Tenby. Visit this late 15th-century historic house for a trip back in time to Tenby in the Tudor period. This is a small treasure in the middle of a beautiful seaside town and harks back to the days when Tenby was an important centre for trade.

The site is a middle-class town house, furnished in a c1500 style. It was originally built for a merchant who would have traded in various goods including cloth, coal and spices. Interesting features include a garderobe within a tower on one wall of the building, and a herb garden to the rear of the house.

This is a great interactive experience, with guides on hand to show you how the family once lived and ate, and children’s costumes to try on. Whilst there are no facilities attached to the house, there are a variety of places to find refreshments around Tenby, as well as a host of other attractions.

For opening times and prices visit the Tudor Merchant’s House website or phone 01834 842279

5. Scolton Manor Museum and Country Park, PembrokeshireScotlton Manor behind the lawn, picnic table and  green leaves

Scolton is a Victorian manor house set in 60 acres of parkland currently being managed to encourage wildlife, as shown in the Visitor Centre. There are many reasons to visit the property, whether you are interested in history, wildlife or beekeeping.

Built in 1842 for the Higgon family, once Sheriffs of Pembrokeshire, this is a typical house for the country squire. It became a convalescent hospital in WW2, and remained a private house until bought in 1982 by Pembrokeshire County Council to house the county museum.

Features to look out for in the house include the great cantilevered staircase, a portrait of Lucy Walter, mistress to King Charles II and mother to his son James, Duke of Monmouth, and a painting of the “Battle of Fishguard”, the last invasion of Britain, by the French at Carreg Wastad. There is also the Walled Garden, currently under restoration, and the Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre with live demonstrations.

Open from Spring to Autumn, facilities include a Tea Room with homemade refreshments, and a Gift Shop selling the local honey.

For opening times and prices visit the Scolton Manor website.

6. Ffynone Mansion, Boncath, PembrokeshireFfynone Mansion

This attractive Grade I listed house is in a beautiful setting looking out across the Pembrokeshire countryside. Named after the springs around the site, it is set in a peaceful 20 acre landscaped estate. This is a perfect day out for those wanting a quiet and relaxing day.

Created in 1793 by John Nash and thought to be one of his best earlier creations, the house was constructed roughly on the site of its medieval predecessor. The estate was purchased from the Morgan family by Colonel John Colby in 1752 and the present house commissioned by him.

Early 1900s renovations included a ballroom and dining room in Italianate baroque style, leaving Nash’s work intact. The gardens were landscaped at the same time. In 1987 the house was bought and restored by the third Earl Lloyd-George.

Please book in advance to view the house and for guided tours. Large groups are welcome. The house and gardens are open May to September, Thursday to Saturday, with an NGS garden day on 1 May.

Refreshments are available from the tea Shop serving homemade cakes and hot drinks. There is limited disabled and pushchair access to both house and woodlands.

For opening times and prices visit the Ffynone Mansion website or phone 01239 841610

You can even stay at Ffynone Mansion in one of the self-catering apartments. South Flat sleeps 4 and Stable Flat sleeps up to 6.

7. Stradey Castle, Llanelli, CarmarthenshireStradey Castle from a distance

Stradey Castle is a Grade II listed historic house which has been opened by the Mansel Lewis family for all to enjoy and as a way of preserving the castle and its contents. Apart from drawing in visitors, it is also a popular location for filming and photoshoots, including the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special!

Currently under the process of restoration, the present house dates to the mid-Victorian period and includes a tower and a secret passage around the basements. The original Stradey House was built in the 17th century, but has since been demolished. It is set in 100 acres of farmland and woodland, and the Woodland Gardens are also available to explore (please enquire when booking).

Opening times and guided tours are available every 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, please check the website for further details. The heritage, educational, garden and Christmas tours are generally conducted by the present owner, and the house is also available for wedding receptions. Disabled and pushchair access to the ground floor only.

For opening times and prices visit the Stradey Castle website or phone 01554 774626

8. Cresselly, PembrokeshireUpton in the background, horses grazing on the lawn to the front

Cresselly is a grand house, an epitome of the country house, set a short distance from the Cresswell River Estuary to the east of Pembroke. With links to the Wedgwood family, the estate was also once visited by Coleridge. Visit this site for a peaceful, relaxing and historic day out.

Owned by the Allen family, the current Georgian house was built in 1769. Prior to this, the Cresselly estate had been owned by the Bartlett family since 1564. John Bartlett Allen, a descendant of the Bartletts and the Irish Allen families, commissioned the rebuilding of the new house away from the coal mines to which the family owed much of its income.

The new house was higher up the hill, overlooking the Cresswell River and onwards towards Milford Haven. It has many period features, including original solid oak furniture, and a glass chandelier. Open 10am-1pm, 3-16 May and 1-14 August. Visitors are welcome for guided tours, please see website for details. No dogs or children under 12 permitted.

For opening times and prices visit the Cresselly website or phone 01646 651992

If you are looking for somewhere to stay near any of these historic houses, we have a wide variety of self-catering accommodation in the area for you to choose from. See our full collection of holiday cottages.

Posted in Heritage, history and legend, Places to see and things to do | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye spring, hello summer!

We have all been admiring what spring had to offer us in West Wales this year: some of the cutest little lambs, the daffodils and snowdrops, bluebells have come and gone and the puffins made another appearance on Skomer Island, which even got BBC’s Springwatch talking!

Now that we say goodbye to spring, a season we all love here at West Wales Holiday Cottages, we are so happy to see the warmer evenings and the true signs that summer is here! West Wales is the perfect place to admire summer, from busy beaches and ice cream to exploring the coastal path, spotting some of the best wildlife on offer, bottlenose dolphins and seals!

Watch our video as we wave goodbye to spring for another year and say: ‘hello summer!’

Don’t miss out on your summer holiday, we still have some availability for a truly magical last minute adventure on the West Wales coast. Whether you choose to base your adventure in a superb cottage in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion or Carmarthenshire, we hope you love the area as much as we do!

Posted in Places to see and things to do | Tagged , , | Leave a comment