A visit to West Wales has special attractions at different times of year. Out of season – in the autumn, winter and spring – many of them are connected with nature.
Out of season Wales
Does it rain all the time? Does it blow a gale every day? Will you be snowed in and not be able to get home? Not really likely is the answer to each. We don’t get much snow in West Wales, and even if there is wild and wintry weather, it comes with its particular kind of excitement.
Surfers will already be familiar with the delights of a rough sea as well as the possible dangers, but landlubbers can enjoy watching the waves crashing up against the cliffs enclosing a rocky cove or really blow the cobwebs away by going for a wild and windy walk across the beach or along the myriad country footpaths.
Blue sea and beachcombing
In the calm after the storm you can enjoy the contrast of a sparkling blue sea stretching way into the distance from your vantage point on the coast path. Descend to the shore to indulge in some beachcombing amongst the exciting debris washed up by the high tides. If you happen to be visiting at a time of heavy frost, then there is the chance to see the most spectacular icicles and sheets of ice cracking across the curves of an estuary channel like water icing flowing down the sides of a cake: a photographer’s dream.
However you choose to spend your time out of doors, it’s always great to return to a cosy holiday cottage with wood burning stove or open fire or maybe just pile into one of the characterful pubs in the area where you can thaw out whilst sampling the local fare and ales.
Treasures of the low seasons
In autumn after the last of the blackberries there is still the chance to encounter a huge variety of fungi on the verges, in the woods or on the pastures of West Wales. Of course you shouldn’t cook any up for supper unless you’re really sure, but you may be lucky enough to visit at a time when organised foraging expeditions are on offer in the area.
Many edible plants – including seaweeds – are to be found on our lanes and beaches, among them Pennywort (also known as Navelwort) and sorrel – growing in abundance on many verges of quiet country lanes. The best times to find these are spring and winter respectively.
The trees without leaves reveal their individual shapes and subtle colours, many with trunks cloaked in moss and twigs dripping with lichens. You can see further into the distance in winter by peeking through to the other side of a wood or spinney rather than having your view blocked by the leaves.
Of course if there’s been some rain then the waterfalls are much more spectacular, although they can be a trial for salmon trying to swim upriver to spawn. You can see them making numerous attempts to advance up the River Teifi at the falls near Cenarth Bridge.
Between September and December, baby grey seals can be seen in the bays of West Wales. They are often to be seen lying alone on the stones – but don’t worry that they have been abandoned as the mother has to go off fishing in the sea and keeps a close eye on her pup.
There are exciting bird-watching opportunities, as you may catch sight of flocks of migrating birds or an occasional rarity which has been blown off-course. In colder weather, you can be lucky to spot flocks of redwings and fieldfares greedily devouring the berries on a holly tree; a group of long-tailed tits or many other small birds, waders and birds of prey. See our Birds to see in Winter page.
One of the most marvellous winter treats is to be in just the right place at dusk. Near the Teifi marshes in Cardigan or the pier in Aberystwyth you can see great murmurations (flocks) of Starlings as they gather near their roosts, swooping and flowing in great spools like a pixelated cloud of dissolving ink.
Don’t forget that your dog will be welcome on many more beaches out of season so bring it along too! We have a wide range of dog friendly cottages for you to choose from. Many cottages are available for short breaks as well as longer stays out of season so you can grab a weekend away or take a midweek break. Choose from our full list of cottages in West Wales.