A random guide to West Wales
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Much as I appreciate the rugged beauty of Scotland and the romance of Ireland, in my humble opinion they don’t touch West Wales for the magical combination of pristine white beaches, beautiful castles and quirkily charming towns (cue angry comments – come on, let’s be having you!).
Last week I returned from a fantastic short break here, and the trip has inspired me to tell you a few places that you might want to put on your must-go list if you’re considering a British get away this summer.
Laugharne gratefully trades on its association with Dylan Thomas – he fell in love with the place he called ‘the strangest town in Wales’ and lived here with his wife Caitlin in the Boat House (above) for some years.
The small town is winning and comes complete with romantically ruined castle, an estuary-ish beach and a smattering of shops and bars. Browns Hotel, where the bad boyo used to drink is a real no frills local, with a raw, fun atmosphere on the night we stopped by. Laugharne is a good starting point to put you in spitting distance of the big attractions (it’s not enough to hold you for more than a day in its own right) but not so far that you’ll fall asleep at the wheel from Oxon or Bucks.We stayed just outside the town in a sweet converted barn called The Cow Shed with stonking views, below.
Part New Zealand, part Thailand, and the rest unmistakably Welsh (you can see people walking the Coastal path all around the hills above), this beach is totally knockout with crystal clear waters and white sands. I took this photo myself – this is the real thing! National Trust owned, there’s good parking at the top, with toilet facilities and a kiosk for treats and ice creams. If you’re happy to walk further for your pleasures, the stunning Barafundle bay is a half mile along a cliff path from nearby Stackpole Quay and through a stone archway, and was voted Britain’s best beach by Time Out this year. Truthfully though, it’s an embarrassment of riches in this part of Wales. If the sun’s shining you’re onto a winner wherever you go.
Gorgeous multicoloured houses, lovely bays, touristy without being tacky, a compact town of total gorgeousness. When I was a little girl I spent a week here with my parents, staying in a B&B owned by Mr & Mrs Crumpet (you couldn’t make it up!), back in the day when fried bread was de rigeur over breakfast. The town feels a lot bigger now, with loads of restaurants, bars and shops, but it still retains a lovely quaint feel. Saundersfoot, down the road, is Tenby’s little cousin, with another lovely beach, more brightly coloured harbourside buildings, and seemingly fish & chips available on every corner.
4. Folly Farm
Can’t decide whether to go to the zoo, farm, or the fair? Folly Farm ingeniously delivers all three making it a brilliant, varied day out. Ideal for kids of all ages, we had a wonderful day here, with zebras, giraffes, pigs, goats, chickens, go-carting, helter-skeltering, JCB diggers, pirate outdoor play areas and vintage fairground rides like waltzers and dodgems all on the ecletic menu. Folly Farm has a Certificate of Excellence rating from TripAdvisor that says it all.
St David’s Cathedral
For the second time on a trip to West Wales, I ran out of time to make it to St David’s Cathedral on the far south west coast. The smallest city in the world due to its cathedral, St Davids has been a popular pilgrimage destination since the middle ages (the cathedral dates from the 12th century), nestling amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Wales. The ‘city’ is in reality a picturesque village, so if you can organise yourself better than me (not hard, let’s face it) please visit and then taunt me with your photos.