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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Coasteering: adventures on the West Wales coast

Jumping in the sea when coasteering

Coasteering: jump right in!

If you love sea-swimming, cliff-walking, rock-scrambling and cliff-jumping, then coasteering is for you! One of Pembrokeshire’s most famous activities, coasteering offers the opportunity to explore the beautiful coasts of West Wales in a whole new way. Come across secret beaches, caves, sea stacks and reefs – all otherwise virtually inaccessible – and live life on the edge for the day.

Coasteering involves moving along the rocky coastline either on foot or by swimming (with wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets  and optional wetsuit hoods, socks and gloves, depending on the season) – but without using boats.

Experiences can range from several hours in length to an entire adventure weekend, and can be tailored to the individual’s level of experience. Family coasteering can include children from 8 years old, a qualified professional is always there to guide the group.

Coasteering is an adventure for water-confident adrenalin junkies or complete beginners – go on, have a go!

Coasteering activity providers in West Wales

Jumping off coastal cliff in Pembrokeshire with Celtic Quest Coasteering

Celtic Quest Coasteering Abereiddy – 01348 881530

Jumping into the sea from the rocks with Adventure Beyond

Adventure Beyond Llandysul – 07787 123761

Leaping from a cliff into the sea when coasteering with The Real Adventure Company

The Real Adventure Company St Davids – 07421 831462

The Outer Reef surf school

Outer Reef Surf School Pembroke – 01646 680070

Sealyham Activity Centre list of activities available

Sealyham Activity Centre Wolfscastle – 01348 840763

More coasteering providers:

Cardigan Bay Active Cardigan – 01239 612133

TYF Adventure St Davids – 01437 721611

Preseli Venture Mathry – 01348 837709

The Big Blue Adventure Newgale – 07816 169359

Dragon Activity Guides Letterston – 01348 841336

To find the perfect base for your coasteering holiday in West Wales, why not take a look at our superb range of coastal cottages.

 

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West Wales’ top 8 gardens to visit

West Wales has a variety of gardens to visit, each with different aspects guaranteed to draw you in and ensure you enjoy your day. Here are 8 of the best gardens to visit in West Wales, encompassing a wide range of garden designs and habitats, and something for everyone, whether you are an ardent horticulturalist or a family with children!

1. National Botanic Garden of Wales

Pontarddulais, CarmarthenshireLarge glass dome on a hill behind orange flowers

Voted the best in Wales, these spectacular gardens are a must-see. With over 8000 plant varieties in their collection and many different types of garden as well as waterside and woodland walks, the site was designed in part with a focus on conservation and education.

The beautiful and inspiring collection of habitats includes the Walled Garden, Tropical House and Bog Garden, as well as areas showcasing Wales’ rarest tree and Welsh rare plants. The Great Glasshouse is the largest single-spanned glass structure in the world and houses a collection of Mediterranean plants.

Facilities include a Garden Plant Shop, Gallery, the Seasons Restaurant, Gatehouse Café, and with further refreshments in the Mediterranean Café, found in the Great Glasshouse.

Open every day apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Guide dogs only. No bikes are permitted, however if you cycle to the gardens you qualify for half price entry! There is also free entry for Garden members.

For opening times and prices, visit the National Botanic Garden of Wales website or phone 01558 667149.

2. Aberglasney Mansion and Gardens

Llangathen, CarmarthenshireAberglansey behind the patterned lawn

Found in the Tywi Valley, these gardens are said to be some of the most beautiful in the region and it is thought there have been gardens here since 1477. The modern landscape is currently in the process of being restored.

The gardens are particularly varied and include a Cloister Garden, Ninfarium, Pool Garden, Yew Tunnel and Lower and Upper Walled Gardens. They were created around Aberglasney House, and also feature a Gatehouse. possibly early 17th-century.

There is a shop, and tea rooms selling homemade refreshments, including traditional cream teas. Seasonal events are held, details on their website.

Open every day except Christmas Day. Guide dogs only.

For opening times and prices, visit the Aberglasney website or phone 01558 668998

3. Colby Woodland Garden

Amroth, PembrokeshireWoodland garden in bloom

Set in a former coal-mining landscape and maintained by the National Trust, these gardens are found in a quiet, secluded valley. It is a lovely place for families and children to have adventures or for a peaceful walk.

The Woods with their Acers and Dogwoods are particularly colourful in autumn and beautiful in spring with bulbs covering the woodland floor. Attractions for children and adults alike include rope swings, cooking on campfires and building dens!

The Wildflower Meadow is great for pond dipping, with a stream, stepping stones and plentiful wildlife. The Walled Garden and former kitchen garden is best in summer, with its herbaceous plants, a water feature and sculptures.

The house is early 19th-century (unfortunately not open to the public), whilst the gardens were begun in the 1870s. Their industrial past is seen everywhere and includes the Bedlam Pit (the former mine entrance), the old mine wheel and an old tramway.

Facilities include the Bothy Tea Room, a Gallery showcasing local artists, the Gift Shop, and Farm Shop with award-winning produce. There are also baby-changing facilities, access for pushchairs and backpacks, and disabled access in the nearer reaches of the garden. Events include children’s quiz trails, family fun days, wildlife walks and winter fairs.

For opening times and prices, visit the Colby Woodland Garden website or phone 01834 811885.

4. Llanerchaeron

Aberaeron, CeredigionA very green walled garden with a pathway leading to an archway.

This striking National Trust walled garden, lake and traditional working farm were created around the villa designed by renowned Regency architect John Nash in 1790. The walled garden has been producing fruit and vegetables continuously for the last 200 years.

Examples of traditional horticultural techniques can be seen throughout, including fire pits and hot water systems. The site is also renowned for an ancient and large collection of apple trees, now numbering 51 varieties.

Elsewhere on the estate, visit the late 18th-century villa and collections of antiques and ancient farm equipment. There is a Cafe, and produce from the gardens and farm are sold in the Farm Shop, including some rare breed Welsh pork and Welsh Black cattle.

Open at weekends and with seasonal events, please check their website for details. Parkland and woodland are open daily. There are baby changing and feeding facilities, disabled parking and partial disabled access.

For opening times and prices, visit the Llanerchaeron website or phone 01545 570200.

5. Hilton Court Gardens and Crafts

Roch, PembrokeshireSquirrel Lodge at Hilton Court Gardens

These gardens have a great choice of activities that can provide a whole day’s entertainment. You can walk in the 8 acres of woods among bluebells, or around the three beautiful large ponds and their water lilies, all havens for wildlife.

The gardens are perfect for families, with children’s Wooden Houses including Badger’s Hall and Squirrel lodge. The Solar Dome houses semi-tropical plants and allows you to enjoy afternoon tea in its tropical atmosphere, whilst the Gardener’s Restaurant and Woodland Tea Room provide a range of refreshments. You can enjoy a game of boules, or explore the shop with its range of gifts, or the small plant nursery that specialises in alpines, all found in the restored Victorian courtyard.

Open all week. Seasonal events include pond dipping, outdoor theatre and film showings.

For opening times and prices, visit the Hilton Court Gardens and Crafts website or call 01437 710262

6. Hafod Estate

Aberystwyth, CeredigionA carpet of bluebells in a woodland area

Set in the Ystwyth valley near Devil’s Bridge, this 200-hectare estate is one of the best examples of a Picturesque Georgian landscape in Europe. First designed by Thomas Johnes, it was a major attraction in its day. The series of walkways, woodland and gardens, including Mrs Johnes’ Garden, are currently in the process of being restored.

This site is ideal for the avid walker, with five different signposted routes. They vary from moderate to strenuous in length and include the Ystwyth Gorge walk, where you can walk through bluebells, next to steep drops and waterfalls and over the restored suspension Chain Bridge above the Ystwyth River.

Access to the estate is free, as Open Access and Forestry Commission land. There are £2 guide maps available in the church car park or from Tourist Information Centres.

For opening times and prices, visit the Hafod Estate website or call 01974 282568

7. Picton Castle and Gardens

Haverfordwest, PembrokeshirePicton Castle behind orange dahlias

These 40 acres of award-winning gardens are ideal for families and those who enjoy a lovely walk. Part of the RHS Partnership, they include important collections of rare trees and plants, including their Rhododendron collection.

The gardens offer a wide range of habitats, such as the peaceful and romantic walled garden and perhaps the largest Jungle garden in Britain. There is autumn colour with redwoods and giant oaks on the woodland walks where you can see rare conifers from around the world. Family activities include woodland trails and the adventure playground.

Once home to one of the most powerful families in Pembrokeshire, the 13th-century castle can also be visited – an unusual mix of medieval castle and fortified manor. The Gardens have seasonal events that include plays, music concerts and displays, and there is a Restaurant, Gift Shop, Plant Sales and Art Gallery.

For opening times and prices visit the Picton Castle and Gardens website or call 01437 751326.

8. Upton Castle Gardens

Cosheston, Pembrokeshire4 children stood next to gunnera manicata

These beautiful listed gardens have the added benefit of being designed around the historic Norman Castle of Upton (sadly not open to the public). Set within 35 hectares in a secluded valley, they include ancient woodlands, herbaceous borders, formal rose garden and a 19th century walled kitchen garden, currently under restoration. The main draw of these gardens is their collection of unusual tree and shrub varieties, including Tree Magnolias and the Handkerchief Tree.

Upton Castle dates back to the 12th or 13th centuries with later additions. It includes three of the original towers, evidence for a drawbridge and a small medieval chapel nearby. Further features of the site include woodland walks, wildflowers and wildlife visible along the nearby Upton Creek, were otters have been seen.

Currently maintained and cared for by volunteers, the gardens are open daily from April to October and have facilities including toilets and a picnic area.

For opening times and prices visit the Upton Castle Gardens website 

If you haven’t yet booked your holiday in West Wales, see our full collection of holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire to find the perfect base for your garden-visiting break!

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Fancy a taste of the good life? Stay at Ty-Clyd

Pet the horses, feed the hens and watch the cutest little Spring lambs West Wales has to offer: Ty Clyd is the perfect rural escape and most definitely offers a taste of ‘the good life’!

Ty-Clyd is an old cottage which was renovated in 2010. Teresa, the owner, told us that 3 generations of her family were born there, her mother, her grandmother and great grandmother.

The cottage was the original farmhouse at Hafod Fach near Cross Inn, Llanon near Cardigan Bay. In the 1920s, Teresa’s family built the house which she lives in today and, no longer inhabited, the cottage became used as a farm outbuilding. Completely renovated, it is now a beautifully presented traditional Ceredigion-style longhouse.

The sitting room and wood burner at Ty Clyd

Alongside the log burner in the living room, you can see the original bread oven. The framework you can see on the other side is what was used to hang cooking pots above the fire – some of the old pans stand on the windowsill (top left of the picture).

Ty Clyd front door with tubs of flowers

Ty-Clyd is ideal for couples looking for a rural escape with a romantic base, for families wishing to venture to the beach, and for walkers and their dogs too. There are 20 acres on the farm, including wildlife-rich fields which are Sites of Special Scientific interest. Stroll slowly through them to spot wildflowers and unusual butterflies!

From Ty-Clyd, you can enjoy beautiful countryside views and walks along forestry trails, explore the stunning Ceredigion Coast and the unspoilt landscape of the Cambrian Mountains. The friendly local pub is just a 5 minute walk away and there are plenty more places to eat in the Georgian harbour town of Aberaeron just 15 minutes’ drive.

It is much-loved by guests who stay there. As one said, “Please don’t change a thing, a perfect stay. Wonderful well appointed and equipped cottage, perfect host, a wonderful stay.”

Sion the Welsh Cob looking at the camera

Sion the Welsh Cob

Come and meet Sion and the sheep yourself: book your stay at Ty-Clyd today!

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Win a holiday at Bwthyn Creigiau!

There are less than 3 weeks to go, so don’t hang around! On Wednesday, 9 June, we will be announcing the lucky winner of a holiday in Bwthyn Creigiau!

A collage of photos of the inside and outside of the holiday cottage Bwthyn Creigiau

The prize will be a 3-night out-of-season stay for up to 6 people and a baby in this old barn and piggery dating back to 1710, renovated into a beautifully designed, easy access holiday cottage.

bwthyn-creigiau 600

This 3-bedroom converted barn at Llangain in South Carmarthenshire is just 10 minutes from the beach at Llansteffan on Carmarthen Bay and 5 minutes from the All Wales Coast Path which passes through Green Castle Woods. If you are a fan of castles, Llansteffan Castle will be sure to give you the wow factor!Llansteffan Castle

What did others have to say?

“We have spent a wonderful week here ! What a charming and comfortable cottage, with everything you could need. The surroundings are lovely and the Vickridges are clearly taking great pride in caring for them – we enjoyed watching and listening to the birds tempted by the gardens. The cottage was great for us and the location meant you felt tucked away in the evenings, but other places are easily accessible for trips out. Our particular favourites were, The National Botanical Gardens, Folly Farm (fab day for the children) and Tenby with its picturesque beaches (we went on the train from Carmarthen – which was well enjoyed by the girls). Thanks again for a truly lovely stay – we hope to be back again!” – Thomas, Laura, Emily, Martha & Helen, March 2016

To see full details of the cottage including live availability and prices, view Bwthyn Creigiau on our website.

If you haven’t yet entered the free prize draw, fill in the entry form now for your chance to win a holiday in Bwthyn Creigiau. The winner will be able to choose any 3-night stay from 1 October 2016 to 31 March 2017 outside school holidays, subject to the dates being available. Limited to one entry per person, closing date 9 June 2016. The winning entry will be drawn at random on Friday 10 June.

Good luck!

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