The weekend has arrived, and if ever you’ve needed an excuse to dust off your adventure hat or just pretend you’re Indiana Jones for the day, this is it!
This is no ordinary weekend in Wales, no, this is the official Weekend of Adventure.
April 2-3 sees Wales take on ordinary life, encouraging people to step outside of their ‘norm’ and try something new!
You don’t have to be an adrenaline fuelled junkie to join in (although we will want to see what you lot get up to), there’s something for everyone. Need some food for thought? Ideas are now being served by us at West Wales Holiday Cottages, Buon ‘Appadventure’!
10 New Adventures to Experience in West Wales
Try a new sport! Test your limits! Venture into the wild! Sit back and relax to new live music. Become an Iron Age villager for the day! Meet sealife, take a train ride into the past, or spend a night outside and wave at Tim Peake and the ISS. There are a host of new things you could try whilst visiting West Wales and this region offers some of the best locations for these activities.
1. Cycle the Celtic Trail
This 245 mile long road cycling challenge stretches from Chepstow to Fishguard. Not for the novice cyclist, it is a perfect way to take in the variety of scenes that is West and South Wales.
The Challenge has coastal and inland options and is split into eastern and western legs, stopping at Carmarthen on the latter. The coastal section is recommended for spectacular views and is suitable for hybrid or road bikes.
The alternative high-level inland route is more suited to a mountain bike, especially in places. Much of either route is away from traffic, with a lot of hill climbs to take in. There is so much to see along the way, and so many pubs to refresh yourself!
2. Have a Taste of Wild Food Foraging
The trend for foraging for your own food has been growing for a while now! Whether it be blackberrying or collecting samphire, there is a cornucopia out there waiting for you all year round. Wales also has some great sites for wild mushrooms, but only eat those that have been expertly identified.
Trehale Farm (01348 831037) takes you coastal foraging at Abermawr Beach. The Wild Bass Guide (07515 380169) specialises in bass lure angling and runs foraging and food days from May to October on the Pembrokeshire coast path. Wild About Pembrokeshire (01437 721035) is an informative website on the rules of wild foraging and offers courses for beginners, hedgerow foraging, seashore foraging and wild cooking. Wild Pickings, Ceredigion (01239 654021 provides courses and workshops with special events throughout the year. The next event, in April, focuses on wild spring greens whilst others include autumn collecting, coastal foraging and hedgerows.
3. Go Dolphin Watching
Either take a lovely coastal walk and be lucky enough to spot a dolphin – or a whole pod of dolphins! – or take a boat trip out into the bay, where the dolphins are likely to come and find you! June to September is the best time to see them.
The biggest pod of dolphins in the UK can be found in Cardigan Bay. You are most likely to see dolphins between Cardigan Island and Aberporth, with key siting points at Mwnt, the promontory of Ynys Lochtyn, Newquay, Aberaeron and Poppit Sands. You may also see porpoise, seals, whales, orcas and basking sharks.
There are a range of tours available, departing from Gwbert, Poppit Sands, St Dogmaels, Cardigan, Newquay, St Justinians and Milford Haven. More information is available at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre
(01545 560032). Tour guides include A Bay To Remember (01239 623558),
Newquay Boat Trips (01545 560800) and Blue Ocean Adventures (07432 262711).
4. Jump into Coasteering
Experience the beautiful Welsh coastline in a whole new way with this adrenalin-filled sport. A combination of sea swimming, cliff walking, rock scrambling and cliff jumping allows you to explore secret beaches, caves, sea stacks and reefs which would otherwise be inaccessible.
Experiences range in length and are tailored to your needs and experience. Trained professionals ensure your safety and provide you with the necessary equipment to ensure you enjoy your day. Fun for all (over the age of 8), whether water-confident adrenalin junkies or complete beginners!
Some reputable firms include the award-winning Celtic Quest Coasteering (01348 881530), Preseli Venture (01348 837709), licensed to use National Trust coastlines, Cardigan Bay Active (01239 612133) and The Big Blue Adventure (07816 169359), running boat-based adventures from Haverfordwest.
5. Visit a Music Festival
For a weekend of great live music, why not visit one of the many local music festivals in West Wales? There are a variety of different festivals, ranging in genre and scale.
The Fire In The Mountain Festival (3-5 June) is in Aberystwyth. Perfect for lovers of bluegrass, country and folk music, with a huge number of bands from the US, Scotland and Wales. With well-known performers alongside local talent, Fishguard Folk Festival (27-30 May) consists of concerts and ceilidhs as well as workshops and family events.
Fishguard International Music Festival runs from 21 July to 2 August, showcasing classical recitals and concerts. Llandeilo Music Festival (9-17 July) has predominantly classical music. AberJazz Festival in Fishguard is on 25-29 August. These are just a sample of what is available!
Finally, The Big Cwtch (10 September) is an award-winning, fun-packed, and excitingly different charity music and food festival, set in Crugybar, Carmarthenshire. It has a great Welsh line-up, a variety of places to eat and drink and activities for adults and children alike!
6. Saddle up for some Mountain Biking
High in the Cambrian Mountains and in sight of Cardigan Bay, Bwlch Nant yr Arian is the perfect place for mountain biking in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Whether a beginner, or an experienced biker keen to try your mettle, this is one of the best mountain biking locations in West Wales.
There are a variety of grades of trail, including three of the best in Wales. They range from 5 to 35km in length, for different levels of experience, all of them signposted. Disabled access includes the vicinity of the Centre and one trail winding around the beautiful lake.
The site has an award-winning Visitor Centre, two play areas, Shop and Cafe with great food, located nine miles east of Aberystwyth. The Visitor Centre is open all week 10am – 5pm. No bike hire available on site. Check out their website for details on safety guidelines, necessary equipment and trail info.
Telephone number: 01970 890453
7. Become an Iron Age Villager
Castell Henllys near Cardigan is great fun for families and as close to time travel as you can get, set in beautiful Welsh countryside. Reconstructed roundhouses, Iron Age livestock and a host of things to do, set high up in 30 acres of woodland and pasture, take you back into prehistory.
Once part of the Demetae tribe, with a community of up to 100 people, this village is set EXACTLY where it once stood over 2000 years ago. Practice being an Iron Age warrior and learn the art of warfare, meet a villager and hear about her daily life, and hear stories of the past around the campfire.
Facilities include a picnic site, childrens’ play area, maze, and a Visitor Centre with shop, cafe and exhibitions. The hillfort is accessed up a steep track from the Centre. Disabled parking closer to the site and a site vehicle also aids access. Open Monday to Friday, see website for details on special events.
Telephone number: 01239 891319
8. Go Stargazing
West Wales offers some of the best unpolluted night skies in the UK. If you can access a telescope or even pair of binoculars then even better! Jupiter’s moons and the Orion nebula are both visible through a large pair of binoculars but there is plenty to spot without one. Or, if lucky, spot the International Space Station pass overhead, best seen at dusk.
Some of the best stargazing sites (identified by the UK Dark Sky Discovery Partnership) include the National Botanical Gardens of Wales and Broadhaven South car park (which host events), Kete and Martins Haven National Trust car parks, and Newgale, Penbryn and Poppit Sands beaches.
Exciting astronomical events include Jupiter at Opposition (8 March), with its four moons, cloud bands and red spot. A highlight on 9 May is the very rare transition of Mercury – watch this tiny planet cross the face of the sun (a daytime event!), but always use special solar filters, or make a pinhole camera. The Perseids Meteor Shower is on 12-13 August with up to 60 an hour, Jupiter and Venus are in conjunction on 27 August at sunset, while 13-14 December hosts the Geminids Meteor Shower – the biggest and brightest of the year!
9. Travel by Steam Railway at Gwili
Take a ride into the past on this atmospheric railway, once part of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line, up through pretty steep-sided valleys, past historical features showing the industrial history of rural Wales. Industrial and wartime rolling stock paint a picture of life when the trains ran passengers and goods regularly up and down the track.
With a new stretch only opened in 2015 allowing passengers to see the Gwili Falls once more, the railway now twists and turns over and alongside the bubbling River Gwili for 4 miles, from Bronwydd up towards Danycoed. Enjoy riverside picnic spots, woodland walks, and wildlife along the way.
At Llywfan Cerrig there is a Miniature Railway, a weir and a platform where quarried stone was once loaded onto the train. The final halt at Bronwydd Arms has a Museum, Shop, the Gwili Tea Rooms and Signal Box. Special events and train times are listed on their website.
Telephone number: 01267 238213
10. Experience a Food Festival
There is a wealth of delicious food out there for you to sample! As well as the traditional Barabrith and Welsh cakes, West Wales has so much more to offer from quality farm and local business produce. Specialities include Salt-Marsh lamb with its beautiful salty-sweet flavour, organic fruit and veg and Cambrian Mountain Lamb.
West Wales’ long coastline makes it a haven for seafood lovers. Pembrokeshire Fish Week celebrates all things fish from 25 June to 3 July. Milford Haven Fish Festival (25 June) is the main event, with chef demonstrations and chowder trail. The harbourside Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival in Aberaeron (3 July) celebrates local lobster, crab and mullet.
Cardigan River and Food Festival (6 August) has been a growing attraction. It concentrates on the quality and diversity of local food producers, with award-winning cheese and rare breeds, and family fun. Lampeter Food Festival (23 July) has many stalls, cookery demonstrations and other entertainment for all the family while Narberth Food Festival is on 24-25 September.
The Really Wild Food Festival at St David’s (28-29 May) is Winner of the Best Pembrokeshire Day Out Award. With the sea as a backdrop, this fun festival is all about the countryside, what you can forage and how to cook it. The Big Cwtch 10 September) is a great festival showcasing local music and local food. Finally, Aberystwyth Christmas Food and Craft Fair in November celebrates Welsh produce and give you a chance to find a few Christmas presents!
We can help you find the perfect place to stay in West Wales, whether it be a cottage in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire, and if your four legged friend fancies an adventure too, we have tons of dog friendly cottages to choose from!