adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 4, South Wales

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

 

This week Kevin and Glenys cross the border to Wales, land of Dragons, and make their way along the beautiful South Wales Coast.

Next stop, Cardiff in South Wales, reached via the gigantic Severn Bridge. Here we visited Cardiff Castle, another spectacular site just oozing with history. The last family to own it undertook extensive (and expensive) renovations, restoring the ancient Roman walls and creating a sort of medieval dream world in the opulent residences.

Cardiff - Cardiff CastleWe spent another whole day exploring this surprising city, beginning with the extensive riverside parklands, then the Civic Centre and the National Museum with its comprehensive and informative display of the geological and paleontological history of Wales. Under unexpected blue skies we then wandered the streets, admiring the colorful low-rise buildings, the numerous pedestrian plazas and the attractive shopping arcades which make the centre of town very people-friendly. We also got to admire Cardiff‘s iconic Bay area, cleverly transformed from being the largest coal port in the world to a lively entertainment precinct dotted with some very impressive architecture, like the ginormous copper-sheathed Millennium Centre and the historic red-brick Pierhead building.

From Cardiff we ventured deeper into the mountainous Brecon Beacons area to the north, following the tortuous course of the Wye River through valleys painted with every shade of green. We explored the ruins of the surprisingly large Tintern Abbey, learning what life might have been like for a medieval Cistercian monk – not comfortable, that’s certain!

Brecon Beacons - Carreg Cennen CastleAfter overnighting at the lovely little village of Crickhowell, we caught a beautiful old steam train right into the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Expecting rugged mountains but finding green, rolling hills – albeit rather large hills! The scenery was spectacular, with the gleaming white new wool of this year’s Spring lambs dotting the bright green fields beyond mill-pond calm lakes and not a drop of rain in sight.

and so, on to Stackpole, our gateway to the glorious south coast of Wales, 200 miles of which is part of the Pembrokeshire National Park. We zigged and zagged along this rugged coast, exploring its windy headlands, sheltered coves and sandy beaches. We saw thousands of squabbling Guillemots vying for that crucial piece of ledge, high on pillars of rock thrusting above the crashing Atlantic waves. We wandered over headlands sculpted into magical shapes by sea and wind. We descended into a bleak stone hut wedged in a precipitous crevice where St Govan was supposed to have hidden from pirates. We explored the colourful town of Tenby whose pastel-shaded houses contrasted with the severity of the remnant castle ramparts.

Pembrokeshire - TenbyFrom Stackpole we continued northwards, hugging the Welsh coast. We followed the medieval pilgrim path to the smallest “city” in the world, St David’s. It achieves city status because of its cathedral, which is almost as big as the town. This beautiful cathedral with its impressive woodwork has been in more or less continuous use for over 700 years, even surviving the worst ravages of the Dissolution era. Next door to the cathedral was the Bishop’s Palace, which wasn’t so lucky. It is now in ruins but is intact enough to allow its English Heritage owners to use it as a background to cleverly convey what life must have been like in its heyday.

If you would like to explore South Wales, why not try our Cardiff, Castles and Coastlines self-drive tour or you could explore Wales on one of our popular small group tours!

A Day in St Davids #AdeoOnTheRoad

A few weeks ago I took advantage of the 3-day Bank Holiday weekend to travel down to Pembrokeshire to enjoy a weekend in the UK’s smallest city, St Davids. I spent a fab weekend taking in the spectacular scenery, incredible history and, of course, sampling quite a few tea rooms and pubs.

There’s a lot to see and do in this teeny weeny city. Here are our top tips for having a great day out in St Davids:

  1. Get there by public transport!

It’s better for the environment and gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax and concentrate on the gorgeous Pembrokeshire scenery! The Pembrokeshire Coastal Bus services run along the coast seven days a week during the summer and there is also a comprehensive local bus service. Find more information here.

Whitesands Bay
Whitesands Bay
  1. Travel back in time!

St David’s is a classic welsh village – sorry, city! – complete with pretty cottages, cosy pubs and, oh yeah, an enormous 12th century cathedral and bishop’s palace. The gothic ruin of the Bishop’s Palace and contrastingly well-preserved Cathedral are certainly worth exploring.

St Davids Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral
  1. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path!

Some of the most beautiful parts of the Welsh coastline are located within walking distance from the city centre. If you have an afternoon free to explore the coastline a recommended walk follows the Welsh Coast Path around St David’s head to Whitesands Bay. You can even jump on a shuttle to avoid walking along the narrow windy road back to the city.

  1. Take a boat trip to Ramsey Island!

Another must for nature lovers is Ramsey Island, an uninhabited RSPB nature reserve where you can spot thousands of rare birds and enjoy splendid views from atop the highest cliffs in Wales. If you want to explore the island RSPB wardens lead guided walks throughout the summer. Thousand Island Expeditions have exclusive landing rights for the island but there are plenty of other boat trips that will take you around the island to explore the wildlife at sea level.

Typical British Weather
Typical British Weather
  1. Eat!

Okay, after all that you must be starving! Try the café at Oriel Y Parc gallery for lunch – it has great gluten-free and vegan options for anyone with special dietary requirements. If you’re staying overnight in St David’s we recommend grabbing dinner at one of several traditional pubs located on the town’s main square. But remember that this tiny city gets extremely busy during holidays and weekends so, if you’re visiting at these times, it’s advisable to book!

 

All in all, The City of St David’s is definitely worth the extra effort to travel to and we thoroughly recommend a visit! Why not see for yourself on our Castles Coasts and Celts small group tour or Our Wales Explorer Tour.