Wildlife in West Wales is soon to spring up!

It has been a chilly February so far but with Spring on the horizon, it has turned my thoughts to what we have to look forward to.

Here is a collection of just some of the wildlife we can expect to see in West Wales over the coming months. The lambs will start to enter our world, the puffins will land on Skomer Island and we will see more of our magical dolphin friends jumping around the coast.a collection of wildlife in West Wales: puffin, two lambs and a dolphin

Spring is such a beautiful time of year, a sign of new life and brighter days. Less than 6 weeks to go, can’t wait!

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West Wales holiday cottages with a real fire

It may be cold outside, but here in West Wales, we love nothing more than wrapping up warm and getting some crisp fresh air before returning home to snuggle up in front of a roaring fire.

If you’d love to spend some time on the coast at this time of year, you will not be disappointed when you come to stay in a holiday cottage in West Wales.

Here is a selection of cottages with a real fire, all perfect for a cosy break at this time of year.

1. Y Cartws  – Sleeps 2 + cot

a dog laid infornt of a fire

2. Stable Cottage – Sleeps 4 + cot

The living room at Stable Cottage with a real fire3. Cryngae Farmhouse – Sleeps 12 + cot

two glasses of red wine beside a bottle infront of a roaring fire at Cryngae Farmhouse4. The Workshop – Sleeps 2 + cot

Living room at The Workshop with fire5. Y Storws – Sleeps 2 + cot

Y Storws living room with real fire sleeps 2

There are so many more to choose from on our website. Follow this link to browse our selection of self-catering holiday cottages with a real fire in West Wales.

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West Wales in February

What’s West Wales like in February and what can you do there, I hear you ask? The sun still shines in February and although it is much colder than summer, you can still have a magical holiday.

We thought we’d show you some examples of what we locals might get up to.

a collage of images fish and chips hot tub walking on the beach

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like fish and chips (veggies aside). It’s great at any time of year and widely available. Finding some great spots to stop and eat them is one of my favourite things to do here. Read my recent blog post to see some of my favourite spots to eat fish and chips.

You may or may not know that Wales has more castles per square mile than any other place in the world! West Wales is so rich in heritage, you could spend hours exploring just one.

Cardigan Castle is somewhere I like to go a lot. The 1176 restaurant does a great scone with jam and cream and a cracking cup of tea. You can literally spend a couple of hours just wandering the grounds and exploring the history. Don’t forget to get a photo in the famous Eisteddfod chair!

You can even stay at Cardigan Castle. Choose from 3 self-catering holiday cottages there: East Wing, Gardener’s Cottage and The Coach-House

There are some fabulous beaches here in West Wales and this time of year they are beautifully dramatic. What better way to explore them than with your dog?

Take the children to Castell Henllys this February Half Term where they can go back in time and experience life in an Iron Age fort. Read all about it in our blog post featuring five fact-filled days out.

There is always something to do here and you’re almost guaranteed to see something out of the ordinary during your stay. The funniest is watching someone attempt the coast path in flip flops… yes, it does happen!

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Santes Dwynwen – The patron saint of love

Did you know that 2017 is Wales’ official year of legends? Throughout this year we are going to tell you stories about the legends and myths of Wales that are guaranteed to leave you feeling enchanted.

West Wales has many interesting legends from basking mermaids along the Ceredigion coast to the fascinating stories that surround the legend of Merlin.

You may not know that Wales has its own equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on January 25 every year and this brings us to tell you about St Dwynwen in the lead up to Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day).

The legend of Santes Dwynwenst-dwynwen_2

Dwynwen was a princess who fell in love with prince Maelon in the 5th century. Her father had already arranged her marriage to someone else so in her grief she fled to the woods where she begged God that she would forget about Maelon. An angel visited her and brought a sweet potion which erased all memory of the prince and turned him into a block of ice.

Dwynwen was granted 3 wishes by God: her first wish was for Maelon to be thawed, the second wish was that all hopes and dreams and lovers would be fulfilled and her third wish was that she should never marry. Dwynwen was so grateful to God, she decided to devote her life to his service by becoming a nun. She founded a convent at Llandwyn, on an island just off Anglesey, where a spring, Ffynnon Dwynwen,  has become a place of pilgrimage.

Today St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated by lovers in many parts of Wales in a similar way to St Valentine’s Day with expressions of love through greeting cards and gifts.

If you’re looking for inspiration for a way to treat your special someone on St Dwynwen’s Day, book a romantic cottage break. It’s easy to find a cosy cottage at excellent value at this time of year and it’s the perfect time to explore uncrowded West Wales. So if you like the idea of taking long walks hand in hand or snuggling up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, take a look at our selection of romantic cottages.

A likely gift

lovepoons

Love spoons were originally made by young men during the winter or by men on sea voyages who wished to show their interest to court a particular girl. A girl may have received several spoons from different suitors and they would be displayed on a wall at her home.

Today Welsh love spoons are used to declare a suitor’s intent, to commemorate a celebration such as a wedding or engagement, a birth, christening and to express the feeling of love on St Dwynwen’s Day.

Wood carvers have traditionally used a range of timbers in their work, usually those readily available and easily worked such as softwoods like sycamore and lime.

A few facts you probably didn’t know

Dwynwen means ‘she who leads a blessed life’

St Dwynwen is Wales’ very own patron saint of love

St Dwynwen is also considered the patroness of farmers’ beasts

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Win a £250 holiday voucher!

Make sure you don’t miss out on your chance of winning £250 towards a holiday booked through West Wales Holiday Cottages!West Wales Holiday Cottages homepage graphic with text displaying WIN A £250 HOLIDAY VOUCHER Enter our free prize draw for your chance to win! GOOD LUCK! Closing date: 31 January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All you have to do to enter this free prize draw is fill in the entry form on our website.  On 1 February 2017 we will draw the winning entry at random and the lucky winner will be notified by email.

We have over 700 self-catering holiday cottages across West Wales on our website from a restored Romany wagon, a double decker bus to holiday cottages with a hot tub or perhaps you’d prefer a swimming pool! You’re guaranteed to find the perfect place to base your holiday in West Wales.

Only one entry per person, you must be 18 or over at the time of the holiday. Closing date for entries is 31 January 2017. See full terms and conditions of the draw.

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Christmas wishes from West Wales Holiday Cottages

We’d like to wish all our blog readers a very Merry Christmas and magical New Year. We hope that 2017 will be a great year for you all.

I thought you might like to see the beautiful picture from our Christmas cards this year, it’s called ‘Knitting’. We just love the way it is presented with the little flock of birds formed from delicate strokes, the crashing waves and the peacefulness that seems to surround the woman outside her cottage – we really think it gives a glimpse of what it’s like and how it feels to be here in West Wales.

Image from chsritmas card called Knitting by Valeriane Leblond

Knitting: By Valeriane Leblond

‘Knitting’ is by a very talented local artist, Valeriane Leblond who draws on the natural world and the traditional Welsh way of life – we love her work. You can see more examples of Valeriane’s work on her website.

We hope to see you here in West Wales in 2017.

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We’ve got a fresh new look!

We’re so pleased to show you our new look website. It has been designed with you in mind, making it easy for you to browse our selection of self-catering holiday cottages in West Wales. You can book directly with the owner and there’s no booking fee!

We’d love to hear what you think. Visit our homepage to enter your search and view our full selection of cottages from cosy romantic cottages for 2 in the country to beach-side, stylish family cottages along our beautiful coastline. Don’t forget the dog!

graphic from the West Wales Holiday Cottages website of New Quay on Cardigan Bay with the company logo at the top, the words 'SEE OUR FRESH NEW LOOK' in blue and 'Magical West Wales - at your fingertips' along the bootom

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Meet the owner of The Coach House and her lovely llamas!

We have a lovely and varied range of cottages on our website, all with their own highlights and attractions as a holiday destination, and each with a different history. Each cottage has an enthusiastic owner with their own story to tell. Here we talk to Ann Davies about her Pembrokeshire cottage for two, The Coach House, and the unusual livestock on her small farm.

Ann Davies and her llamas, paddling in the sea under a blue sky at Poppit Sands

Ann and her llamas at Poppit Sands

Ann’s property is an 18th-century converted stone coach house, situated in quiet countryside near St Dogmaels on the Pembrokeshire coast. Comfortable and cosy, with a quirky upside-down plan and entry on the second floor, it is in a great location for relaxing and watching the local wildlife. The River Teifi with countryside behind and boats on the river

The Coach House can be found on a peaceful, picturesque spot, on the owner’s working sheep farm, where she also keeps llamas and horses. The area is great for walking and riding, located close to the Preseli Hills, and near to where the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and northern route of the Wales Coast Path meet.

Local attractions include outdoor pursuits such as dolphin-watching, kayaking, horse riding and golf, while you can also enjoy yourself at the many local historical sites such as St Dogmaels Abbey, the amenities to be found in the historic town of Cardigan, and the lovely beaches from only three miles away.

The Coach House

What is the story behind The Coach House?
The Coach House was converted into a holiday letting cottage in 1988, from an original coach house. It was so designed as to make the best of the surrounding countryside, as the open plan lounge/kitchen areas has varied views from the upstairs windows, with the bedroom being downstairs.

The property forms part of my small holding at Colwyn, St Dogmaels, which has a long history – a battle between the English and Welsh took place here in the 11th century. Colwyn is at least 500 years old and is surrounded by 33 acres of permanent grazing for breeding sheep. They share the farm with 2 horses, a pony and 4 llamas. Colwyn is also a former mill, and includes the remains of the mill leat and mill race, with the millstones and wheel scrapped in the 1960’s.ceibwr-2VWa

What do visitors like to do when they stay at The Coach House?
Most visitors come to enjoy the peace and quiet The Coach House has to offer. Walking the
Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a favourite and they are keen to see the Cardigan Bay dolphins and seals. Many enjoy a day on the beach at Poppit Sands and other picturesque bays within easy reach. Other guests are fascinated by the variety of wildlife, birds and bats, as well as stargazing. Most visitors like to meet the llamas, and are interested to learn about them, and possibly take them for walks in our quiet lanes tracks and to the village, where they attract a lot of attention.

Llamas in a grassy field

Ann Davies’ llamas at home

Can you tell us a bit about owning llamas and how you came to share your life with them on the farm?
The suggestion to have some llamas came from my sister, who said they have lovely eyes and would look nice in the fields by the house. So I did some research, and hey ho, there were llamas for sale locally. They are great fun and never fail to make you smile; visitors have the opportunity to take them out walking. I have enjoyed showing them, successfully winning rosettes. They are great field managers in that they eat unwanted vegetation, and they are supposed to be guard animals at lambing time, but I think they are too used to seeing foxes, and badgers.

People ask me about the fibre (fleece but that is incorrect!) – I have a spinning wheel and I’m attempting to spin enough to knit a hat. Their fibre can also be woven into small rugs that are very hard wearing.

A picnic bench in the foreground next to a river, flowing below trees and a castle on a hilltop.

The Teifi below Cilgerran Castle

If you were a visitor to The Coach House, what would you do on an ideal day?
Personally I would explore the local area and take a walk on the coastal path, or in the Preseli Hills, seeking out historical sights of which there are many. There are some woodland walks nearby and the river gorge below Cilgerran Castle is well worth a visit. For the more adventurous, a trip to St Davids and the South Pembrokeshire coast is only an hour’s drive away, or north towards Aberystwyth makes a good day out.

What do you like best about letting The Coach House?
I have made many new friends of guests that have stayed in The Coach House. I enjoy meeting new people and sharing the wonderful environment of West Wales, and that they go home feeling relaxed and satisfied with what I have on offer here. I have a lot of local knowledge and can pass onto visitors the best places to visit. It’s very satisfying to know that most visitors to The Coach House appreciate the beauty of the area and express a desire to return.

Check availability and find out more about The Coach House.

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Travelling through history with the Archwilio app

If you are exploring Welsh archaeology, researching a site you have visited, or are out and about and want to know what lies under and above ground around you, this new app will come in handy!

Stone circle on empty moorland

Bedd Arthur Stone Circle, Preseli Hills

An online mobile introduction to Welsh heritage

The Archwilio app provides you with more information on sites in your area, combining a wealth of information with GPS. Available for smartphones and tablets, it allows you to search thousands of records of historical and archaeological sites and explore the past environment in real space and time.

Developed by the Welsh Archaeological Trusts, in conjunction with CEMAS (CEM Analytical Services), it is available for free download. When travelling away from mobile coverage, you can also store the site information on the app to use when out and about.

Mwnt hill with the church beach and the sea to the right

So come to West Wales, and find your ideal holiday cottage from which to explore our history! Choose your perfect West Wales cottage now.

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Explore West Wales’ magical Christmas markets

Christmas is little over a month away but don’t worry if you haven’t started your shopping yet, there are some magical Christmas markets on the horizon in West Wales.

Father Christmas surrounded by lights The opportunity to visit some magnificent and historic properties, sort out the Christmas shopping and enjoy delicious local food and drink all at the same time is what I love about Wales!

Picton Castle’s annual Christmas Market is on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November from 10.30am – £7 per person, under 15s £4, under 5s free.

Picton Castle behind tree branches with the ground blanketed in snow

With a fantastic range of stalls in the castle this is a magical way to start the season. A Christmas market that isn’t just British, but prides itself on being a very local one. Most stallholders are from Pembrokeshire, offering beautifully handmade wooden toys and crafted candles, tasty cheeses, funky jewellery and ceramics.

Up next is Pembroke Castle where the doors are open into the evenings: 25 and 26 November, 10am – 8pm, and 27 November 10am – 4pm.

Entry is free and the charge of £1 per child for Santa’s Grotto will be donated to charity.
Where else will you see Santa abseil down an 80ft keep?

Christmas cookies in a jar and cup cakes surrounded by festive decorations

Llanerchaeron is hosting their Christmas Food and Craft Fair on 5 and 6 December, 11.00am – 4.00pm. £4 per adult, National Trust members and children free.

This is the perfect way to get into the festive spirit with a visit to this wonderful Christmas Fair. Choose a unique gift from over 70 stalls selling the very best of local food and crafts. The house will be decorated for Christmas, there will be a visit from Father Christmas and a treasure hunt for children. ‘Out of town’ shopping at it’s very best!

Aberglasney is holding a Traditional Winter Fair on 2 and 3 December, 9.30am – 3.30pm. From humble beginnings more than 10 years ago in the Gardens’ Tearooms, this annual event is now one of the biggest events of its type with over 100 carefully chosen stalls helping to transform this world-renowned site into a Christmas shopper’s paradise.

Aberglasny gardens in the snow

The Gardens themselves, named by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the UK’s top 10 formal gardens, will be specially lit and entertainment ranging from traditional choirs to silver bands will perform across the weekend in what will be a winter wonderland.

If you’re imagining yourself wandering around these Christmas markets and you’re hooked on the idea of a magical Christmas here, there’s still time to book your perfect self-catering holiday cottage in West Wales.

I’m really looking forward to the festivities!

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