In our last post we left you at Kidwelly Castle, South Wales and had been travelling down from Whitemill. We were aiming to work our way along the Welsh coast to be in Somerset in 10 days time. Looking on the map, we found a large green area with what looked like a country park. We decided to visit Pembrey Country Park to see what it had to offer. As you can see on the map, it’s not far from Kidwelly, just 5 miles!
We secured our stuff and took a slow drive. When you turn off of the A484 you go over a railway bridge which is a single track and governed by traffic lights. You will then see a small car park on the left called Penybeed car park. There are some lovely walks from here. If you follow the road down a bit further you will then arrive at the entrance to visit Pembrey Country Park and a beach site. It is one of Wales’ top visitor attractions.
A park warden greeted us in the toll booth at the entrance to the park. It is £5 entrance/parking all day and they are open until 10pm. We didn’t realise there was an entrance fee and didn’t have cash on us at the time. Luckily they allowed us to drive on through and pay at the visitor centre with a card.
With over 500 acres of land and beaches, we had lots to discover! Find out more below!
Visit Pembrey Country Park Munitions ruins
Although the park, is today a stunning, green and lush parkland, it wasn’t always this way. The park has had many uses over the years and there’s still evidence for you to explore today!
The sand dunes provided an excellent location for the manufacturing of explosives during both World Wars. It was the site of Pembrey’s Royal Ordnance Factory. The earliest munitions were produced here as early as 1882. Using it’s remote location, the dunes would greatly reduce the impact of any accidental explosions. The factory, employed mainly by women as the men were at war fighting, has as many as 6000 employees producing Dynamite and TNT.
USE AFTER WW1
After the First World War the factory closed in the 1920’s, the administration building was then used to house the children of unemployed miners. They were put to work in the factories to produce a component of printing ink, Carbon black.
At the start of the Second World War the factory re-opened and covered over 200 hectares of land. This mainly covered the sand dunes. The nitration and other dangerous buildings were located here a safe distance away from the admin buildings such as surgery, canteen, police barracks, central office and library.
Railway tracks used in the movement of the explosives can still be seen today. They are especially prevalent around the children’s play area.
Production continued at a low level after the war. It was again was relied upon to produce more around the time of the Korean war in the 1950’s. After the war, the factory was mainly involved in the decommissioning of bombs by breaking them down. The factory closed its doors in March 1965.
Pembrey’s beach, Cefn Sidan, is the resting place of a large number of shipwrecks – many can be seen on google maps! Some of these wrecks have been dated back as far as 1668 and show how important the shipping route was with the movement of timber and coal along the Welsh coast. There are over 300 shipwrecks on this coast line that they know of. Many more are still waiting to be discovered. It’s not just the boats that have been discovered here! Anchors, now placed by the beach car park were discovered within 200 meters of each other. Found near the low water mark with a chain between them. These are the heavyweight anchors from a vessel of at least 1000 tonnes!
BEACH AND SAND DUNES
The sand here is a very fine sand and the dunes are constantly changing and shifting. Reports indicate that the beach can raise or fall by over 6 ft depending on the storms and the tides either burying the beach, or exposing the wrecks underneath and is proof of just how difficult this stretch of coast line was for the boats to navigate the ever changing sand banks.
The sand dunes can be very dangerous due to the type of sand and constant shifts. There are signs up warning not to dig in the sand dunes as they easily collapse.
The beach is an excellent spot for treasure hunting. Aside from the occasional new discovery from the shipwrecks you can find a lot of shells here for your DIY projects. It is great to visit after the high tide and sift through all the debris washed up. Do be cautious though – the beach also has some dead jellyfish wash up and some are huge! For reference, I am a size 8!
The beach is 8 miles long and full of golden sand. It is one of the few places where you can watch the sunset over the sea and the red sky shining on the exposed rib cages of the ship wrecks are a sight you won’t forget!
Pembrey has lots of activities on offer. You can treat the family to an adventure filled week away there and do something different every single day! Why not have a go at the following activities;
Dry ski slope
Pitch and Putt
Adventure play area
Nature trails (coastal path and woodland options)
Award winning beaches
Whether you want to have an adventure or just relax on the grass or the stunning golden award winning beaches that have been compared to the carribean minus the palm trees, there is something you will fall in love with!
There are 2 campsites at Pembrey. A camping and caravan club site just on the edge of the park or Pembrey campsite within the park featuring 320 pitches. They cater for all with non electric, electric and fully serviced pitches.
They have 2 toilet and shower blocks with a family shower room as well as washing up rooms for your dirty cups and plates. The wardens are very helpful and are only too happy to tell you about the area and where to visit as well as its history!
If you are looking for a season pitch for your motorhome you will be glad to know that Pembrey do offer either a season pitch or just a summer pitch where you can hook up all of your gear and visit as often as you like through the season. Everything you need will be here when you visit Pembrey Country Park.
Pembrey Country Park has beautiful walks, nature trails and coastline views. A mapped walk took us on a 4 mile hike through woodland and via the historical relics of the munition factory.
If you are brave you can try and make your own path but do be aware, these woods are large and you can easily get lost!
We hired two bicycles for an afternoon. You are not limited to staying on the site. There is a coastal path that runs from Chepstow to Queenferry. We decided to cycle to Burry Port and have a well deserved bag of chips and back. Sadly for us the weather turned rather wet and windy so we had to cut short our adventure and good job too as we had rather tender bits for a few days afterwards!
As with many places, there is nothing quite like a good ghost story. Pembrey has its own collection. It is reported that everything from ghost ships and sailors walking along the beach to bears in the woods have been reported. The ships would sometimes be carrying exotic animals, such as dancing bears, for entertainment. When they were ship wrecked it is believed that some of these animals found their way to shore and lived in the woods. It had so many reported sightings around the site that the UK television show Most Haunted spent a night here to investigate!
Believe what you may but there is no denying that the beach and woods in the dark do take on an eerie feel when the mist starts to roll in! If you go down to the woods today, you are sure of a big surprise!!!
VISIT PEMBREY COUNTRY PARK
There is so much here that we didn’t have time to explore and we are looking to visit again with a group of friends. It was a wonderful place to visit and off peak for a non electric pitch cost us £17 a night. That meant that we didn’t have to pay for parking in the park as we were already there as paying campers.
We saw many a family there with the children playing and having fun outdoors. Whether for a day, a week or for a season pass we recommend you visit Pembrey Country Park.
If you have enjoyed reading about Pembrey, you can check out our other locations here!
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Our week started out with us needing to find a campsite to empty the toilet cassette and have a shower. It had been a busy few days with us doing some volunteering work clearing some land. After the manual work we were pretty stinky plus the smell of bonfire filled our van and wardrobe! We decided to explore South Wales in more depth as we still had some time to kill before needing to be in Devon for a family holiday at the end of the month.
Previously we have explored West Wales from Cardigan to Aberystwyth and North Wales but haven’t had time to explore South Wales coast.
Explore South Wales – Let the journey begin!
On Sunday morning we left our volunteering site and ventured in to Swansea to have a well earned carvery and a pint of cider with a friend. We met on one of the many Facebook groups we belong to. It was so lovely to see her again and have a proper nose about in her camper. She’s got round windows in her van. They look really good but she said they were very authentic of a submarine and leak from time to time! When it comes to Camper windows, whose don’t?
Quarry Lodge Campsite
After our massive roast dinner we made our way to a campsite we had seen on pitchup.com. Beautiful location to explore South Wales from. Just off of the A40 at Felinwen (Carmarthen) and up a narrow road with plenty of passing places. You will find Quarry Lodge campsite on your right. As you pull in the electric pitches are on the right hand field. The non electric and tent pitches are to the left and beyond.
As it’s name suggests the campsite is situated on an old Quarry so it is on a few different levels – the pitches however have been nicely levelled so don’t worry about sleeping on a tilt! They have landscaped the site fantastically to allow for a natural toilet soak-away. This has provided a wild life area rich in plants and animals. From here paths take you down to multi levelled clearings in the woodland. One of these has almost a balcony feel with a hedgerow surrounding the edge. It was here, that I proposed to Louise.
Luckily, she said yes! There will be more info on the proposal in the future.
The facilities were very clean and well maintained. Several toilet blocks situated on the site make life easy in peak season. A washing up area with information board was a real help. There were fresh chicken and duck eggs for sale with an honesty box as well as a herb box where you could snip your own and herbs for sale courtesy of the owners daughter – 50p for a planted pot of herbs! I also got a push on the tire swing by Rob, one of the owners!
Quarry Lodge is part of the camping and caravan club, and had we known this before booking it likely would have put us off altogether. (Don’t hate us but we have found they can be a little selective and our self build sticks out like a sore thumb!). However we are both very glad that we stayed here. It is a small but welcoming site with very calm energy and amazing views. You cant ask for more from your hosts. Honestly cant wait to visit there again and see Rob and Linda. They were the most amazing hosts and are so lucky to have such an amazing small but cosy site. If you only go to one campsite in Wales, make it this one!
Once we left Quarry Lodge with tears in our eyes, we continued to explore South Wales by heading south to a place just shy of 15 miles away. Ferryside is a village on the opposite side of the estuary to Llansteffan. Strangely enough there used to be a ferry from one side to the other. Although the original Ferry stopped running in the 1950’s a new service run by an amphibious boat has operated since 2018. Trivia fact – Ferryside was the first village in the UK to switch from analogue to digital TV!
As you drive along the road, you can’t imagen the little gem that awaits you! The houses are on one side of the road and their garages are on the other. When you see the railway station crossing you will also see a small turning. It is there you will find the car park for the lifeboat station and the sailing club.
A lovely little beach, mostly sand at low tide but some stones higher up the beach. The life boat station on the right hand side of the car park but plenty of spaces with a low walled sea defence. As you look over the estuary you can see LLansteffan. Whilst walking we met a lovely gentleman who said “lovely isn’t it…. The other side looks like the finest place on earth until you get there, then you look back and this side looks like the finest place on earth too”. Was this a ‘grass is always greener’ comment or the truth that these two locations are among the best of South Wales hidden gems?
We reversed the van up to the wall and opened the back doors to overlook the estuary. It is the closest we will get to those Instagram photos – you know the ones I mean.
We had hoped to sleep near here for the night. We were approached by a gentleman from the sailing club who made it quite clear that campers were not welcome to overnight (but they had to tolerate us during the day).
Not wanting to outstay our welcome we decided to then head along a narrow mostly single track coastal road in the the hope we may spot somewhere to sleep en route to Kidwelly. Sadly we didn’t find anywhere and that was including a wrong turn that took us in a massive circle around a farm. There is another road to Kidwelly that may be more suitable for you if you are feint of heart!
Kidwelly is situated in Carmarthenshire, South Wales. It is 7 miles north west of Llanelli. Perhaps its most attractive tourism pull is the Castle. Kidwelly Castle is a site to behold. We arrived in the evening and pulled into the car park to look at her. She was glowing in the low evening sun all golden and majestic. We knew we had to come back to see her properly in the morning so we found a place on search for sites near the canal. A large car park with stunning walks popular with local dog walkers. Just a warning – you are next to a small sewage works although the wind was in our favour and we didn’t have any nasty smells. We didn’t have any trouble here and cooked our dinner before snuggling up in bed.
Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we headed back to the castle. Its part of CADW so we used our passes to get in for free. If you are not a member, it is worth thinking about. You get free entrance to all the Welsh sites and half price off of English and Scottish heritage sites. On renewal I believe it’s then free access to all 3.
The castle is a motte and bailey Castle and there current works date from around 1114. It is a double walled fortress. This means that they have an outer wall and an inner wall to protect the castles occupants. An army would have to breech both walls to get inside. The Castle has several towers on the perimeter as well as the remains of chapels, kitchens and a tale of a very lucky magical cat.
Mythical black cat
The information boards around the site tell you of the legend of the magical black cat. legend claims that the cat was the first thing to appear from the castle after the great plague, and there are also myths about her surviving a huge fire. The cat is on the official coat of arms for the town so do keep your eyes open. Legend has it that she still has 6 lives left, and is a magical cat that is still sometimes seen!
The castle is very maternal in its history and the woman that lived here, fought here and died here. The wildlife was in abundance with swallows and crows nesting in the towers and the wagtails patrolling the picnic benches for scraps.
We have added lots of photos for you but we really think this is a castle you need to visit for yourself without too may spoilers! Oh just one spoiler, the one way system that takes you to the castle and out through the remains of the walled town, has an 11ft 3 height restriction that they don’t tell you about at the start of the one way system. We changed our pants after. Close call for our van!
Where did we go next? From Kidwelly we travelled to Pembrey Country Park and Beach. It’s not far from Kidwelly and was so amazing.
We are going to write our next post about this location. We love to explore South Wales and it is getting better every day.
Don’t forget to comment below with any other recommendations for that areas we travel to. We want to know where you have visited too!
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Norfolk is a very special place. It is an important historical county as well as a wildlife haven and it is very easy to enjoy both. It’s known for its flat land and iconic ‘Big Sky’. Familiar pictures of windmills and marshland. You can easily lose track of time and feel as if you are in a different country all together! The best way to see Norfolk is slowly, so lets take you on a Norfolk road trip covering towns, beaches, marshes and much more!
Communities have existed in Norfolk since the last Ice Age. The Iceni tribe inhabited the region prior to the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD. After which the Romans built roads, forts, villas and towns.
With ports on the coast, Norfolk was a main trading location with North West Europe. Consequently it has seen many settlers from Romans to Vikings throughout history. It has been farmed extensively. Not just for its animals or woodland, but perhaps more famously, its Peat. It is the Peat farming that helped to create the Norfolk Broads as we know them today with their intricate network of rivers and waterways. 7 rivers and 63 broads are the result of the sea flooding the peat works in the 14th century.
Protected wildlife and AONB sites on the Norfolk road trip .
The Broads are home to a quarter of Britain’s rarest wildlife including the Teal, Wigeon, Reed and Sedge Warblers. The Marsh Harrier has made a comeback and Bittern numbers have also increased in recent years. It’s not just birds that are thriving here, the rare Norfolk Hawker dragonfly and the Fen Raft spider (which can grow to palm size!) are also amongst the protected species. The fens alone have more than 250 different plants. These include the nationally protected fen orchid and the rare crested buckler fern. Thankfully we didn’t see the Fen Raft Spider or this post would have been very short and consisted of hello Norfolk, goodbye Norfolk!
It’s not all marshland and windmills. There are plenty of attractions for families, great restaurants and beautiful towns and villages to explore too.
We are going to take you on a 120 mile Norfolk road trip that will show you the variety Norfolk has to offer!
Start here for your Norfolk road trip. On the northern coast of Norfolk you will find a charming city, 98 miles north of London. This is a great location to begin your adventure with it’s vibrant mix of history, shopping and entertainment. Although not on the coast itself, Kings Lynn was one if the counties most important ports in the 12th century. The great River Ouse feed the town with vessels for trade. It was as important to the UK in the 12th century as Liverpool’s docks were during the industrial revolution.
In present times, you can still see remnants of the old Kings Lynn with warehouses and cobbled streets. There are a whole host of attractions here from museums, churches and parks to visit. Or if that’s not your thing,’ sit by the harbour and relax after some retail therapy. It’s a great place to start your Norfolk road trip and maybe worth a day or two here alone.
Salthouse Via Hunstanton
Take the 45 miles route on the A149 coastal road to Salthouse. This road will take you on a stunning route past Castle Rising and the Royal Sandringham estate. There are plenty of places you could stop including the seaside town of Hunstanton. Hunstanton faces west across the wash and is one of the few places that the sun can be seen setting over the sea. The picturesque seaside town also houses the Sea Life Sanctuary and a ship wreck of the steam trawler Sheraton!
The villages of Cley and Salthouse are within walking distance of each other on the coast path. The Norfolk Coast Path is a long distance footpath in Norfolk, running 83 miles from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea. Opened in 1986 it covers the North Norfolk Coast AONB. There are so many ways to see the sights that is a Norfolk road trip isn’t your thing, you can always walk it with a backpack! We met a lovely lady on our walk who was doing just that and stopped to have lunch with us.
These small parish villages are located on the salt marshes where it is not uncommon to see Marsh Harriers and Lapwings.
Cley is stunning with an 18th century windmill, delicatessen, famous smoke house, craft gallery and tea shops. The Cley Marshes Visitor Centre is a great place to start. It will help you get to understand the area of outstanding natural beauty. There is an education centre featuring films about the birds and nature reserve. It teaches you about its unique structure. Not being too hot on my bird breeds I found that I came away with the ability to identify some of the rarer birds. Although there are plenty of ‘twitchers’ around it is also a place for artists, poets and photographers. The natural landscape is inspiring to see.
As far as shops go there are very few in Salthouse. Little village shops and local pubs will see you through but do be warned, if you visit the Salthouse church you will see the museum dedicated to the savage floods that have occurred here over the years and killed many local residents. There is parking right down by the sea defences and it doesn’t state that you cant overnight here. Do be warned that in bad weather these sea defences have been severely breached!
We read one story of a lady who was sat on her stairs watching as her house had flooded. She commented that she had seen the water rise so had lifted what she could up stairs and rolled up the carpets. She then watched in disbelief as a hoover floated past her that she hadn’t seen in years!
Next Stop – Cromer!
10 miles from Salthouse on the same coastal road will return you to civilisation! Possibly the 2nd most popular seaside destination in Norfolk after Great Yarmouth and famous for its local crab and Seals. This is certainly a must on your great Norfolk road trip.
This popular tourist destination has plenty to offer including a good selection of car parks and on road parking options. The walk to the beach, in some places, is a little steep. From one of the car parks it is down a cliff path but it isn’t too bad from the town itself. The beach is shingle and sand when the tide is out. It is a great destination for a day of lounging about near ice cream stalls and sea food vendors. We were lucky enough to see some buskers too adding to the atmosphere of the sea front.
With rock pools to satisfy the little ones, and surf schools for the slightly older and more adventurous, there was something for everyone to enjoy here. Now I’ve mentioned the seals and I know you are waiting eagerly for this section so here goes!
See the Seals
Blakeney point is a nature reserve. The National Trust have owned this land since 1912 and it has become home to both common and grey seals. There are over 2,700 pups born each year. This makes Blakeney Point the largest colony in England. Between June and August, Common seals have their young, while the Grey seals have their pups between November and January.
The best way to see them is via a boat trip from either Blakeney harbour or Morston quay. Usually lasting about an hour you’re taken to the natural habitat of the seals around the ‘Spit’. There are several boat operators that you can arrange trips with but we do advise to book in advance – especially in peak pup season!
There are also trips aboard amphibious boats from Hunstanton to the Wash. The Wash is an area of shallow tidal sandbanks, fed by four tributaries.
At Horsey, you will find a large colony of Seals. Please admire from a distance and keep dogs on leads. You may be lucky to also see seals in the water or basking on the beach at Wells Harbour, on the sandbanks at Holkham and at Sea Palling.
33 miles south of Cromer you will find a bustling town and seaside resort with a long promenade full of arcades, rides and attractions. It is more suited to young families with the pleasure beach and donkey rides. Teens and adults can take refuge from the weather in the abundance of arcades.
The Pleasure beach is free to enter and rides are paid for by tokens. You can enter or leave as you please. It can be quite expensive for rides, after a few, according to reviews.
The buildings along the front are very Victorian and some are now derelict which is a real shame. Some have been converted to Night clubs and adult entertainment lounges. You can have a bet on the racing – horse racing and greyhound tracks can be found here if you are into that type of thing. Sadly for us we felt Great Yarmouth was a little dated and much preferred Cromer. It was very difficult to park our large van in Great Yarmouth.
Back into the Wild!
After your trip to Great Yarmouth, head 20 miles in-land for some rest and recuperation in Wroxham and Hoveton. Knows as the ‘capital of the Norfolk Broads’ these 2 connecting villages situated on the river Bure provides tourists with the chance to see the broads by boat.
You can also experience a trip back in time with the villages largest department store chain- Roys! Mr Roy started his chain with a department store, a DIY shop, a toy store and supermarket.
You can park behind Roys department store for free for 4 hours but I have been told there are other free spots. There is a large car park by the marina but this can be pricey for all day parking!
Wroxham contains many visitor attractions including a riverside park, the Bure Valley steam railway and nearby Hoveton Hallgardens and Wroxham Barns craft centre. The village certainly is a busy spot in high season, but is open all year round and is well worth a visit at any time of the year.
Do make sure you take a boat trip on the broads! You can either opt for a guided trip on a passenger boat or hire a small boat and go on an adventure yourself! Just pop over to BroadsTours for more information and for an unforgettable experience on your Norfolk Road Trip. We took a trip along the river Bure on a guided tour and learnt all about the area including some special local boats and also the local wildlife. We didn’t see any otters on our trip but the guide said they are there and can sometimes be spotted so take your binoculars!
Final Destination – Norwich
It is just under 10 miles from the stunning village of Wroxham to the city of Norwich. It is worth trying to aim for a weekday for this trip as we encountered long queues.
This medieval city houses museums and historical buildings including 2 Cathedrals. Norwich Cathedral is a medieval Cathedral with its Romanesque design and ornate cloisters. Across the city lies the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, said to be one of the finest examples of great Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in the UK. It is complete with beautiful stained glass windows and stonework.
There is so much to see and do here that I would really recommend either the guided tour or hop on sight seeing bus. Even just to familiarise yourself with the layout of the city. It would be a good idea to treat yourself to a few days here to really learn about the city and relax. There are plenty of places for retail therapy and good food! You can’t beat a bit of people watching whist enjoying a drink after a bit of shopping!
Norfolk is popular with camping enthusiasts so there is a great deal of choice in where you can pitch up. We tend to wild camp where we can but can recommend Reedham Ferry campsite where we stayed for a night. The campsite is right next to a ferry where you pay a small charge to cross. The site is very clean with lovely hot showers and plenty of space to work in. I found this a good spot to do some admin – accompanied of course by a nice glass of cider!
Other areas to investigate…
If you have time, check out Salhouse Broad. A lovely car park leads you to a woodland footpath before taking you to the broad. There is a little campsite where you can borrow a wheelbarrow to move your camping gear. A small marina with a beach awaits you and a woodland that was filled with Bluebells when we visited. She laid out a carpet of wonderful lilac and blue hues.
Bacton Wood is also a lovely spot
for a stop over. Nestled in woodland a sheltered car park leads to trails and footpaths where we spotted a muntjack deer, owls and over 30 species of trees. There are bird and bat boxes, open spaces and a tumbling woodland with mixed terain that can attract the bmx bikers but we didnt have any problems when we visited! its perfect for dog walks and nature spotting.
Thetford – Just about within the Norfolk border to Suffolk, this is where the Iceni tribe and Boudicca called called home. Now it is a market town with the remains of a castle on Castle Hill and close to Thetford Forest this location has many hidden treasures to still reveal to archaeologists.
It was in Bacton woods that we found our very first painted rock. Norfolk Rocks are a facebook group with lots of members. Many of whom take great pleasure in decorating rocks and hiding them in different locations all across the county. People find the, take a picture and then rehide them. The photos are uploaded onto the group so they can track how far they have travelled. It’s great for the kids but also fun for us! We hid ours around the Salhouse Broad – I wonder if it’s been found yet!!!
That concludes our Norfolk road trip and this is a nice route that can take you as long as you like to complete. We did this in around a week but could easily have spent longer investigating the villages and scenic spots.
If you have visited Norfolk and know of good places to go, drop the details in the comments box below! Don’t forget to subscribe for monthly emails about the behind the scenes information and share us on social media.
The UK Wolf Conservation Trust is home to around 10 wolves living very happily in 4 packs on the conservation site. These include North American and Arctic wolves, as well as a European/North American cross.
They are situated just 10 minutes from the motorway, between Newbury and Reading on a large farm affording large enclosures, paddock areas, an education barn and main entrance with small shop.
The trust run talks and workshops to raise funds and educate the public on the misconception of wolves, the trust’s principles and the worldwide work they are involved in.
UK Wolf Conservation Trust aims to help raise awareness of wolves, raise money for worldwide wolf conservation projects, to provide ethical opportunities to research (and improve the lives of) both captive and wild wolves and provide wolf related conservation programs for adults and young people.
The site has been here for many years and I had previously sponsored one of the wolves (Torak) for a year or two.
Although only a small ‘attraction’ the site offered wolf walks as well as talks and events that could be attended.
Sadly, due to the age of the wolves, the owners have decided that they are going to close the site to visitors although they are going to continue to care for the wolves at the site with a small team of dedicated volunteers and staff.
I was lucky enough to attend one of their final wolf-howl nights and was a magical evening that I will never forget.
Arriving at the farm an hour before we were due because we were so excited, we had hoped to hear the wolves in the distance but it was very quiet. When allowed to enter, we checked in as this was a ticketed event. We were due to have a talk by an external charity on anti poaching dogs however they had broken down en route and the evenings talk was quickly changed to one on wolf communication.
Whilst we were waiting for people to arrive we were able to have a little look around at the first enclosure of wolves. In reception you could watch a video of media clips taken at the UKWCT. You could also purchase items from the shop including the obligatory key chains and T-shirts.
The staff guided us to a purpose built education barn down the hill a little way. It was here that a staff member delivered a facinating talk on wolf vocalisations and body language. Having worked with dogs for 13 years I was surprised and excited about how in some respects they were so similar, but also very different in how they communicated.
Whilst the talk was happening, the air was charged with excitement. It had been a hot day and the cool evening air mixed with the anticipation of what was to follow.
The wolves, however, felt they were being ignored and decided to get our attention. One wolf started to howl, then another replied and another, until all the wolves were singing to us.
Not one to be rude, our speaker allowed the wolves to continue, the visitors were all awestruck. The sound so encompassing and magical that we were all simply stunned into silence. Some of us were very emotional and shed a tear of joy.
We continued our talk with intermittent interruptions by the wolves and once finished we were lead by two other members of the team who escourted us around the enclosures.
As I introduce the wolves I will link to their official pages on the UKWCT website. All the pictures of the wolves on this page are from the official website and do not belong to me.
Torak and Mosi
First up, Torak and his companion Mosi. These two share a large enclosure at the front of the park and although Torak can be a little shy, Mosi loves a bum scratch by her human friends to get the fluff out of her coat! Mosi’s sister Mai is also here however when Mosi came of age, she decided she was the dominant female and pushed Mai out of the pack.
Mosi and Motomo
Mai now lives with Motomo, an under socialised wolf from Devon. These two lovebirds hit it off straight away and Mai subsequently give birth to Nuka, Tala and Tundra in May 2011.
The Beenham cubs.
These three rascals have grown up in Beenham and have been a delight for the handlers to watch grow up from day one. Now 7, they became the ambassador’s of the conservation centre.
The three have very different personalities and roles within the pack. Tundra likes to be the dominant female and will tell Tala off if she receives too much attention. Brothers are sometimes hard to live with too and Nuka will spoil the fun ensuring all squabbles are ended. He is the Peace keeper of the group. We saw this in action on the howl night when Nuka had to get in between his sisters and keep them apart.
Born during a storm in Canada, the cubs suffered from hypothermia before they could be dug out from the snow. The mother wolf had 5 cubs in total, sadly one died and the other remained with its mother after the three cubs were transported to the UK. They were the first Arctic wolves in the UK and caused quite a lot of excitement whilst in quarantine!
Sikko is the only female of the pack. Massak and Pukak, her brothers, are larger than her. She is a very smart wolf and can outwit her brothers quite easily. Massak is in charge of the trio but Pukak likes to have fun and rebel when he thinks his brother isn’t watching.
END OF AN ERA
We had an absolutely amazing time visiting the UK Wolf Conservation Trust and learnt so much about the wolves. The team were very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. They were constantly watching the wolves body language and seemed to be able to communicate well with them.
I feel so lucky that I got to experience this before they closed.
Do take a look at their website as they may still have the occasional talk or event running to help fund the wolves retirement. The staff were unsure how much they would be open for but thought it was possible that future events could be advertised.
You can still sponsor the wolves and donate to the Wolf Conservation Trust to enable this work to continue, not just in the UK but worldwide.
Anglesey is well known for its stunning beaches. After a day on the sand, why not go to the other extreme. Try a high speed boat trip down the Menai Strait! Rib Ride offer several different types of boat trip depending on your thrill seeking level. Their newest boats are capable of doing 73 miles an hour on the water!
When we booked the ticket they did say that parking could be problematic. They recommended getting there about 30 mins before your trip. Having seen the parking situation I would recommend getting there much earlier – especially if you are in a larger vehicle. We had the VW at the time so not too bad however the Iveco would be much harder to park.
We met up with Matt, our captain for the Velocity boat trip. He took us through a very extensive health and safety briefing and ensured that we were all harnessed up correctly. There was plenty of room on the jetty for all of us to get into our harnesses. The captain ensured that the boat was balanced as we made our way onto the seating area.
The boats are incredible and resemble a roller-coaster and that’s exactly what the ride is, without the rails. You must hold on to the handles at all times through this ride as sudden turns or waves could hit you hard. It does require a certain level of physical fitness.
White Knuckle Rollercoaster
The adrenaline is flowing as you power through the water past all the little sail boats! Zoom under the two bridges from the mainland and back again and feeling the G force on your face. Try and remember to breathe! This ride gives you a thrill for sure but also give you a great view. Not only of the wild life but the tiny beach houses situated at the waters edge. You can’t see these from the road, they are well sheltered. A little bit of envy perhaps at these gorgeous properties and their views!
Our captain was lucky that there were not many boats on the strait that day so he could show us how the boat handled. With loops and quick turns he put her through her paces! It was a real treat to feel the wind on our faces and pass the small boats as if they were motionless.
Our Rib Ride captain was very knowledgeable about the boat and the water he was taking us on. He stopped when he needed to around other boats and ensuring our safety at all times. The team were great fun and tried to take footage of us on the trip. This is because you do need to have both hands on the handle bars and it would have been far too dangerous to use a camera. There would be a good chance that you would knock your captain out as the device would fly straight at his head. Unfortunately, on our trip the camera failed so we don’t have any pictures to share with you. I guess we will have to go and do it again…
Great value for money and other trips available
This boat trip is not very expensive for what it is, £35 each when we experienced it and a really fun mini adventure. Only negative comment is that it doesn’t last long enough! 30 minutes sail time is all you get on the Velocity ride but there are other boat trips available at a slower speed.
Rib Ride also offer rides out to see the seals and puffins, as well as castles and islands. A 2nd office in Hollyhead also offers trips out to South Stack, Gogarth and the Skerries.
We were heading to a camper van meetup in Somerset in early April. If we know we have to be somewhere by a set date we can look at our route and plan stops on the way. On this occasion we stopped in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Home of cheese and Cider! I have been to Cheddar before and couldn’t wait to take Louise.
Driving to Cheddar is beautiful from every angle and is a great place to use as a base due to the amount of campsites in the area. I have stayed at 2 different campsites in Cheddar now.
What is it?
Cheddar is a limestone gorge on the south side of the Mendip Hills. It is where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found during cave excavations in 1903. He has been named Cheddar Man and tests on his DNA show that 9,000 years since his death, there is a direct descendant of his living in the Cheddar area to this day!
Cheddar Gorge is a site of special scientific interest due to rare plants, caves and Vertebrate palaeontology. The gorge is 3 miles long and 400 meters deep! 2 of the caves are now open along with several other attractions such as the museum of pre-history. The museum displays many artefacts of great historical importance, that shed invaluable light on our ancestors and how they lived, have been found in Cheddar Gorge and it’s caves.
Jacobs Ladder is another attraction in Cheddar that’s included in the ticket price. At the exit of the Dreamhunters cave you can ascend the 247 steps straight up to the top of Jacobs ladder. Once there the panoramic views are breath taking. If your legs are still up for the challenge, there is the look out tower where you can go up even more steps (48) and take in the sights.
The climb is well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Mendips and beyond. To the south you’ll see the flat, lush water meadows of the Somerset Levels. To the north you’ll see the windswept plateau that runs for over 22 miles east to west! If you don’t fancy walking 247 steps back down you can always do some or all of the cliff top walks through a nature reserve.
At over 500,000 years old and excavated in the late 19th century, this is the most magnificent cave in Cheddar. I recall that the walk is around a quarter of a mile into the cave. In severe weather it has been known to flood to the entrance. You will also see where the famous Cheddar Cheese is put to mature at a consistent temperature of 11 degrees.
This cave system takes you through formations where the River Yeo carved its way hundreds of thousands of years ago. You can spot where whirlpools put pressure on the rocks and hollowed them out, as well as stalagmites and stalactites that have formed slowly over that time. St Paul’s Cathedral and Solomon’s Temple will have you in awe as you gaze up at rocks above you.
After your exploration of the caves, there are plenty of shops to wonder around. These include ice cream parlours – we found one with over 100 flavours! There are gift shops and cafes in the gorge as well as the obligatory Cheddar Cheese shop and the cider shops too.
If you don’t manage to visit all of the attractions in one day, don’t worry! you have a whole year from your purchase date to visit again and use the rest of the ticket.
You can walk into Cheddar Village where you will find supermarkets and other shops. Parking in Cheddar can be tricky especially if you have a larger vehicle so I would recommend staying on a site for a couple of nights and walking in!
I have stayed at 2 of the nearby campsites. Both easy to walk into the gorge and local shops.
Petruth Paddocks – Run by Jules and his family, Petruth Paddocks marks itself as a ‘free range’ campsite. With a lovely laid back feel and really clean facilities you will feel welcome here. Jules loved to drive around on his tractor and loan you a fire pit and sell you some wood. Its a great site for families, groups or just a quite get away. There is plenty of land and you can pitch where ever you like if you are happy on a field or they do have some electric hard standings available. If you want to splash out you could always hire a shepherds hut!
Cheddar Bridge – This is an adult only site, just a few hundred yards from Petruth. This quite site has the River Yeo running alongside it with many pitches able to take enjoyment from pitching close to the bank. It has plenty or hard standing pitches and a few camping pods on a field as well as 5 static caravans for hire. Facilities were clean and well kept.
We loved Cheddar and its such a beautiful place to visit. It is a popular attraction so in peak times it can be very busy. There are some lovely places to visit in the area too so we think you should make the most of it and stay longer!
Cheddar Gorge is linked with Longleat Safari Park and you can buy a duel ticket from the gorge ticket office.
North Wales is a hotbed of activities. From Castles and Caves to Mountains and Lakes. There is no end to the adventure here. North Wales has something to suit every taste and fitness level. Check individual websites for access information if you have particular needs or requirements. Here are our list of places to check out when you visit North Wales but there are so many more! Pop yours in the comments if you have experienced North Wales.
I have compiled a list of things to do and experience. I have done 10 of them myself, 2 are on my bucket list so feel free to ask me any questions!
Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) is a 6km long lake on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. It is paradise. Surrounded by hills and mountains the lake provides a sanctuary to its visitors. There is a watersports hire shop where you can rent various vessels for an hour or two or up to half and full day rentals. A cash deposit is required to hire the equipment.
With such a large body of water you never feel enclosed. It is a much better way to see the wildlife than by car! You can even pull your kayak up onto the shore, and investigate places you can’t get to by foot! If you are looking for more of a thrill seeking adventure, the white water rafting centre is a short drive away! (Or just grab an ice cream, relax on the shore and maybe dip a toe in every now and then!)
Bala town houses a few pubs, takeaways and gift shops. Lovely for a stroll around!
RAF aircraft can often be seen doing their exercises here. They call it the MACH loop. CLICK HERE for flight information!
If you are looking for a nice gentle walk and a bit of shopping, head to Corris Craft Centre. On the A487 between Dogellau and Machynlleth, you will find a series of honeycombed buildings housing all sorts of crafted items. Candles, soaps, chocolates, pottery, glassware, forest furniture and wooden toys to name a few! Many of the craft studios also encourage you to have a go. Why not indulge your creative side and design your own pottery, dip your own candles or make your own chocolate.
Set in beautiful surroundings with a café that serves spectacular food (their Welsh Rarebit still hasn’t been beaten!) you will be able to watch the world go by in luxury! Dogs are welcome in most of the craft shops and surrounding areas.
There are caving adventures here too, depending on your thrill seeking limitiations!
A cave tour where you will find out about the local legends of King Arthur! Crowned Best Visitor Attraction in Mid Wales 2018 in the National Tourism Awards for Wales. Equipped with a hard hat you’re greeted by a mysterious hooded boatman. He takes you by underground boat and through a magical waterfall; your gateway to the Dark Ages and to the life and times of King Arthur. Continue on foot for a guided tour around the caverns and learn about Dragons and Giants that lived here a very long time ago! Perfect for hot days as the caves stay a cool 8 degrees so take suitable clothing and footwear. The cave system is full of passage ways and large chambers. Not one to be missed! The kids will love this one! (Dogs not allowed in the caves, sorry!)
Offers a unique opportunity to explore the virtually untouched, abandoned workings of an old Welsh Slate Mine with one of Wales’ top Mine Explorers. The mine closed back in the 1970’s but was hand dug in the Victorian era. As you travel, with your hard hats and dim lights, you are taken back in time through stories of the people who lived and worked here. This one is a little more physical but worth the trip to explore the old mines! There are three trips you can take here, a taster session of just an hour, a 2 hour trip or a half day excursion. See the tools and machinery left behind as well as personal items and discover what it felt like to be a miner!
There are other mines and caves in North Wales including one where you can zipline and trampoline – however I have not tried this one out yet! do let me know if you have been and what it was like!
Situated on the Dwyryd Estuary, this village had been constructed in the theme of a Mediterranean Piazza. A punchbowl landscape filled with pastel coloured buildings, water features and architecture like no other. You will easily forget that you are in North Wales!
Recieving over 200,000 visitors per year, this tourist attraction has something to suit all family members. Marvel at the exotic plants that grow in the areas micro-climate, investigate the 70 acres of woodland, play in the water fountain or upgrade your kitchenware in the Portmeirion Pottery shop.
Guided tours are available at selected times during the season and these point out all the features you may otherwise miss. Perhaps best known for being the backdrop to The Prisoner TV show, starring Patrick McGoohan, this village has also had a multitude of media filmed here, including a 4 part Dr Who series in 1976, some shots for the 2002 final episode of Cold Feet and Siouxie and the Banshees ‘The Passenger’.
All the family will fall in love with Portmeirion and its beauty!
The zoo is a fantastic way to enjoy a day out with the family. The location is a little hilly so please bear this in mind, but nice paths and well signposted to different areas. The zoo houses animals from snow leopards, tigers and bears, to owls, meerkats and snakes. Although the zoo itself looks a little run down in places I found that the keepers had put a lot of effort into ensuring the areas were enriched for its inhabitants. The bear enclosure for me showed the most amount of effort on my visit with so much for them to investigate.
It is only through us visiting such zoos that they will have the funds to keep improving the facilities and participate in zoological programmes to keep these animals alive and breeding. Your entrance fee will help towards this but you can also get involved in other fundraising programmes or become a keeper for a day and have an amazing experience that you will not forget.
The Zoo also has interactive shows where you can watch flying displays from their birds, Chimp encounters, Sealion playtime and Penguin playtime, do try and catch some of these if you can!
The Safari restaurant overlooks the Tiger enclosure and serves hot and cold food and the Penguin Café overlooks the Penguin enclosure, so you have a couple of choices for food (although you can take a packed lunch). There is also a gift shop and an adventure land for the children to burn off some energy.
Featuring Alice in Wonderland, The Great Orme, A Tram and a Long Pier!
Llandudno is a beautiful seaside town. Georgian houses line the front, many now hotels and b+b’s offering spectacular views of the curved bay. This really is what every seaside town should be striving for. There is a large promenade, suitable for heavy volumes of foot traffic and push chairs, and a shingle beach leading out into the Irish Sea. Llandudno is home to the longest pier in Wales, which houses amusement arcades including one with a ZOLTAR machine. (If you have ever watched the film “BIG” you will either be enthralled or scared of it). You will also find a variety of shops, food stalls (including seafood and cheese as well as donuts and burgers) and kids games to keep all the family happy. The pier is also dog friendly.
Punch and Judy have some fame here as the longest running show. 150 years ago the Codman family started the show here and it is still going today! This is located on the seafront just before the pier. Regular shows in peak season will have the kids yelling “that’s the way to do it” for days to come!
Alice In Wonderland
As you travel through Llandudno you may notice some carved statues that look like the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and a Cheshire cat to name a few! It turns out that the real Alice, inspiration for the Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carol, had a holiday home here in Llandudno. In homage to her the town has created a guided walk, great to do with a dog, with wonderland themed statues in locations around town! You can buy the maps from the tourist information centre.
A massive limestone headland on the coast, is well worth the effort of reaching the top. Fear not – you don’t have to walk! You can either take a cable pulled tram or a cable car up to the summit. There is a nature reserve up here where you can walk around the Orme in peace. Dogs are welcome here and there are lots of sniffs to wear them out. The Captains Table café/restaurant serves food and drinks for when you want to rest or take it easy. For the kids there is a playground and there is also a gift shop by the tram station.
Llandudno is a great base to visit North Wales from and is a super seaside location! You can read a more in depth review of Llandudno here!
6) Visit the Lakes
With so many Lakes to see when you visit North Wales, I would be here all day just naming them. From Bala you can take the road to Portmeirion and explore two other stunning lakes en route. The one displayed above does have a car park across the road where you could park up for the night. Whether you are looking for active water sports, bird watching or a place of quiet meditation, you will find a lake close by to achieve that.
We have seen amazing sunrises and sunsets by Welsh Lakes. The colours all reflect in the still, clean waters. The great thing about sunbathing by a lake rather than a beach is that you do not have to move every half hour because of the tide! Pop your picnic hamper down and know that you can sit here and watch the sun move slowly across the sky! Maybe even wait for the starts to come out.
7) Castles! Conwy, Harlech and Caernarfon…
Visit North Wales and its castles. Wales has such a rich history and its castles are a great reflection of both its Wealth and military strategy as well as being used as Places for royalty. Each castle is stunning in its own right and taking some time to learn about its specific qualities and place in history will open up a world of wonder. With so many castles and heritage sites to visit you will be in awe.
Conwy Castle is a spectacular site to visit. We had driven through the area on a previous North Wales adventure but been unable to find parking later in the day. Driving in to the walled town you are instantly blown away by the sheer magnitude of the Castle. She is amongst the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain and was a heavily fortified castle. The curtain walls surround the town and protect her inhabitants.
Most of these walls are still walkable today and you can find yourself climbing the old stairs to walk along the top of them like the soldiers did, and protect the castle from any incoming threats! With its 8 massive towers and inner chambers, this site was of great importance in Welsh history. The castle also had control of the port just below the Kings chambers and was a perfect location to defend itself from land and sea.
Another stunning castle built by the same master builder (James of St George) who built Conwy. Harlech has seen its fair share of battles and sieges. The song ‘Men of Harlech’ is said to describe a battle that took place here. A handful of men held out from a besieging army of thousands. They clearly did not think about visitor parking when designing the castle all those hundreds of years ago! However there are a few parking spots by the castle and a larger car park just around the corner in the village.
The new floating bridge, seen in the picture, gives you a real sense of what it would have been like to walk on a drawbridge. You are free to explore the grounds and climb the towers. The views from the top on a good day extend to Mount Snowdon and beyond! Great to get yours and the kids imaginations flowing as you learn about the castles history and imagine what it would have looked like when it was in its prime.
You cant really see her from your approach but when you do, she appears like a queen stood on the estuary, prideful and majestic. Caernarfon is a fortified town with magnificant walls around the perimeter. Cobbled streets and wonky buildings galore! We ‘wild camped’ the other side of the estuary and the castle was stunning from our back doors!
There is currently an extensive exhibition about the Welsh Fusiliers, including their part in the first and second world wars. You can see uniforms, medals, weapons and other artefacts used by the soldiers. For the children, they can fly their own dragon on a holographic screen! This castle has very high walls that overlook the town and again you are able to walk around up here. The railings are very so be cautious if you are unsteady on your feet.
Local to the castle there are great spots on the estuary to go crab fishing! You could take a boat ride along the Menai Strait, sit in the Anglesea pub listening to live music, or walk to the harbour and see the yachts. You can see Anglesey from here and explore the walled town including automated water jet fountains in the main square.
All of these Castles, as well as many others all across Wales, are part of Cadw – Welsh Government’s historic environment service. We purchased the CADW passes. This gives us free entry into Welsh CADW sites and half price entry to English and Scottish this year. On renewal we should then get free access into all 3!
With so many castles in North Wales to visit, you will have plenty of exploring to do. There are also plenty of castles in mid and south Wales to visit too!
8) Anglesey Beaches
Lligwy Beach, near Molefire, is a sandy beach backed by dunes. Anglesey is knows for having super beaches full with wildlife. The sand dunes are fun for the little ones to play in and there was a café when we went. I found it a but tricky getting to in the camper as the roads were narrow.
There were lots of children here playing in the water and it seemed quite safe but they do not have a lifeguard station here. Always be sensible near water and look out for anyone in trouble. The car park we found said there were parking charges and to pay in the café. If you are looking for a day to be lazy and relax on the beach then I would suggest Anglesey.
After a day on the beach, why not go to the other extreme and try a high speed boat ride down the Menai Strait! Rib ride offer several different speed boats and trip but their newest boats are capable of doing 73 miles an hour on the water! The adrenaline is flowing as you power through the water past all the little sail boats! Zoom under the two bridges from the mainland and back again and feeling the G force on your face as you try and remember to breathe!
This trip is not very expensive for what it is, and a really fun mini adventure. Only negative comment is that it doesn’t last long enough! Matt was our captain and was very knowledgeable about the boat and the water he was taking us on. He stopped when he needed to around other boats and ensuring our safety at all times. I guess we will have to go and do it again… sucks!
This is where the River Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the West, the Llugwy, the Lledr and the Machno. In the centre of the town you are treated to a mini rapid where you can sit and hear the water roaring past you with force. Not far away the tourist attraction of Swallow Falls will give you a camera worth snap of waterfalls.
Much of Betws-y-Coed was built in Victorian times and a popular attraction in North Wales in the Victorian era. It is the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park. Betws-y-Coed is a walkers paradise with several walks suitable for a variety of fitness levels throughout the mountain range. Just over the bridge a notice board with the walks and paths highlighted on it. Do check these before you set off so that you know what colour to follow. A few of them are very steep to start with! There are also a lot of outdoor shops catering to the adventurer. You can pick up a bargain on a backpack and save a few quid on walking boots.
We loved our breakfast!
If you prefer to stay at a reasonable altitude there are plenty of craft shops and cafes to eat in. The Alpine café served us breakfast (below). We found them to be such a good café that we went back later in the day. They have a wide range of veggie and vegan items, as well as extensive cake menus, home made fruit smoothies and to top it off – all palm oil free!
There is a motorhome parking area at the back of the car park at the end of the train station. We parked up here and only had to pay £2.50 up to midnight and then we were free until the morning. The train station also houses a mini steam train for the kids (although my dad would have loved it… if you have time, why not jump on a train to the beautiful countryside around the area from another perspective!
11) Climb Snowdon
This is one of the few that I still haven’t done. My friends have walked it (Thanks Zena and Tabs for the picture) and I am planning to do this next time I visit. Zena loves to travel – here is her insta) I aim to get fit so that I can really enjoy it. Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England. It’s one of our most famous and recognizable landmarks. With 6 different walking paths and a train service, the summit seems within reach for everyone. The train from Llanberis to the summit of Mount Snowdon, in a Victorian style carriage, is a major tourist attraction. We advise you to book your tickets in advance. Since 1896 people have begun their exploration here and climbed the 1086 ft journey in the comfort of the train rather than walk up!
If you are walking, please make sure you read up about the mountain and the routes you can take. There is a visitor centre at the summit and their website states that you can see as far as Ireland on a really clear day! Visit the “the highest re-fuelling station in England and Wales” and have a drink in the summit Café.
On the A5 between Betws-y-Coed and Llangollen, a 6,700 acre in hand organic farm is the geographical core of the Rhug estate. The estate houses many animals including cows, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens and geese. It is the Bison, however, that give this location its unique selling point. A large restaurant serves novelties such as Bison Burgers, cream teas and full main meals to impress anyone! (check out this menu!!!) and their café serves more bbq orientated meals for a quick bite.
The shop houses almost 3000 products from its own range and those of other local suppliers and small businesses. These items include meat, deli, beverages and gifts.
Rhug is committed to an organic approach to farming. This means that the farm benefits from organic pastures that the animals are free to graze on, and they live their life free from unnecessary drugs. They are reared with minimal stress and a high quality of life. This is overseen by the estates governing body.
I hope that you have found something to cater to your tastes in this list. I could probably write one of these every week and still not get to the end of all the things North Wales has to offer. It really does have something for everyone!! Please do comment below and share other places you have been to or if you visit one of these places after reading my post, do come back and let me know if you enjoyed it.
Visit Llandudno! Situated on the coast of North Wales, Llandudno is a location full of promise and mystery. It incorporates both tourist attractions, stunning welsh countryside and wildlife. For this specific visit we decided to stay in a hotel and found a Travelodge. This is the only branded hotel in the town centre with a Premier Inn about 5 minutes out of town however there are so many B+B’s and independent hotels to choose from.
This Travelodge is one of the chains newest hotels and is only a few minute’s walk to the beach. Car parking is available on the roads central reservation or on side streets which could get busy.
After easily finding the hotel and a parking space we decided to check out the beach. Llandudno is a horse shoe shaped bay with large Victorian hotels standing shoulder to shoulder along the seafront. There is a large promenade, suitable for heavy volumes of foot traffic and push chairs, and a shingle beach leading out into the Irish Sea. Llandudno is home to the longest pier in Wales, which houses amusement arcades including one with a ZOLTAR machine. (If you have ever watched the film “BIG” you will either be enthralled or scared of it). You will also find a variety of shops, food stalls (including seafood and cheese as well as donuts and burgers) and kids games to keep all the family happy.
Visit Llandudno Pier – It has been lengthened since its original construction. Originally it started half way up with it’s entrance by what is now the Grand Hotel. An additional section brought it further inland alongside the edge of the bay. The pier is dog friendly, something that is rare to find, and they can enjoy the warm smell of donuts too! Llandudno is what we imagine a typical ‘British’ seaside town to be. Clean, friendly, colourful, charming and happy. Even though many British seaside towns are showing their age and some poverty, this doesn’t seem to have reached Llandudno. It looked fresh and vibrant with an air of Victorian charm.
Mostyn Street is located just behind the promenade and is the main street for shopping here when you visit Llandudno. Well known high street shops can be found here as well as independents covering gifts, antiques and clothing. There is a small retail park just 5 minutes away with more high street names.
There are an abundance of restaurants, coffee shops and take-away’s. From fish and chip shops to full seated restaurants. The town library and small shopping arcade feature tourist information centres.
Llandudno is the birthplace of Punch and Judy. To celebrate this there are shows on the promenade multiple times a day during peak season. A great opportunity to get the kids to sit down for a while! Another treat for the kids is to let them have a go at crabbing. Buckets and reels are available to purchase from several shops.
Alice, Alice? Who the hell is Alice?
As you travel through Llandudno you may notice some carved statues that look like the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and a Cheshire cat to name a few! It turns out that the real Alice, inspiration for the Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carol, had a holiday home here in Llandudno. Alice used to visit Llandudno frequently and in homage to her the town has created a guided walk. It’s great to do with a dog, with wonderland themed statues in locations around town! You can buy the maps from the tourist information centre.
There are plenty of places to eat when you visit Llandudno and Harvey’s, a New York bar and grill, hit the spot! It has a lovely atmosphere and is a great place to relax. The food was amazing and the service was first class. There are plenty of cafe’s, restaurants and bars around, almost every side road featuring a food outlet.
Nothing beats being on the pier or the prom with a bag of chips but do be warned… the seagulls will likely mug you for the food, they don’t have manners!
Two tourist attractions can take you to the top of the Great Orme. A cable car or a tram. The cable car is weather dependant and doesn’t run in windy conditions. As we had a dog at the time we opted for the Tram ride (dogs travel for free – even the big ones!) Trams were running every 10 minutes but you may have to queue in peak times. It is worth the wait if you like stunning views. The tram stops halfway up the hill where you can get off and explore the copper mines – stick a pin in that… I’ll come back to it.
You could also continue to the next tram and head up to the top of the Orme. Here you will be able to see for miles and miles on a cloudless day, in every direction. There is a nature reserve up here where you can walk around the Orme in peace. Dogs are welcome here there are lots of sniffs to wear them out. The Captains Table café/restaurant serves food and drinks for when you want to rest or take it easy. For the kids there is a playground and there is also a gift shop by the tram station.
The Copper Mine was something that we came back to do a few days later and decided to drive to. It took about 45 minutes to go around the attraction which was full of fascinating information. The Orme Mines are thought to date back 4000 years – 2000 years before the Romans invaded. Over the past 28 years mining engineers, cavers and archaeologists have been slowly uncovering more tunnels and large areas of the surface landscape. This has revealed what is now thought to be the largest prehistoric mine, so far discovered in the world making this site very special.
There are 9 levels that have been uncovered so far and evidence of fires which were used to crack the rocks can also be seen. Unfortunately, not much of the site is open to the public yet but when speaking to a member of staff they said that they may open more in the future.
Excavations can only take place in the winter so that they can open it to the public during the summer season. It is very narrow inside and if you suffer from claustrophobia you may find it a bit much. The mine has been dug out using hand held tools, so the miners wouldn’t dig out more space than they needed to follow the copper veins.
Thursday saw us take the van out for a spin. You can easily spend a week in Llandudno and not needed to take a car out. Everything we needed was available in Llandudno. We drove west to Anglesey and found this to be a beautiful place to visit with a rich wildlife. Lligwy Beach in Moelfre is a wide sandy beach with low sand dunes giving an open airy feel. Dolphins and Puffins can spotted here – Keep your eyes peeled to see the local wildlife.
Thanks to the SATNAV we headed down a tight single track lane to the beach, and had to pass a lorry coming the other way. Minor damage was caused to the van in the shape of bramble scratches but nothing too major. The beach was worth it as there was plenty of space, golden sand and beautiful scenery. There was a little café where we purchased hot chocolates and hot bacon baps for lunch. Sunshine and blue skies accompanied us which I believe are a rarity in Anglesey.
Although there are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied when you visit Llandudno, you may wish to visit other local places. Here are a couple of ideas!
Conwy Castle. A stunning castle and part of CADW. We have passes to CADW sites and really recommend them. It’s a good idea to get here early as parking can be troublesome in peak season. The castle is a 13th centuary medieval fortification and was build for Edward 1st.
Colwyn bay, just on the other side of Llandudno. Free parking on the road side and a promenade with coffee shops, ice cream parlours and a Celtic hat shop to name a few!
Llandudno itself has two beaches. The main tourist one on the north face and then a west beach, which is quieter and dog friendly. It does not have the abundance of shops or tourist attractions but instead is a quiet beach, with lots of benches on the path way, for you to enjoy a quiet stroll. Being west facing you may also find the best sunsets on this side of Llandudno with views of the Ormes to treasure for ever.
There are still many parts of Llandudno that we did not get to fully experience in our 4 days here. We definitely want to visit Llandudno again!
Evesham is filled with fruit orchards and rolling hills galore. I fell into the same traps as many and forgot to investigate my local area, opting to travel long distances for the next adventure – but not this weekend! We had a blast without spending a lot on fuel or hours of driving.
Evesham is a Market town with an Abbey, Armoury and history steeped in legends. The abbey was, in a roundabout way, responsible for the name of Evesham. It seems that, Eoves, a herdsman of the Bishop of Worcester, had a vision of the Virgin Mary at this spot. Evesham Abbey, and consequently the town that grew around it, immortalised Eoves name.
The Vale of Evesham prides itself on its varied exports. Evesham Asparagus Festival is held annually to celebrate the harvest. The Round of Gras pub is the centre of the festivities, holding an annual asparagus auction (the village asparagus festival lasts a full week). They hold carvery’s as well at certain times and their food is delicious. We tucked into a lunch of freshly made baguettes and jacket potatoes with a couple of pints of lager shandy.
The other exports around the area include Apples, Plums (The Pershore Plum Festival is also a great one to visit!) and vegetables.
Sadly the town centres retail catalogue has shrunk, as it has in many local towns now. Projects are underway to restore footfall in the town and I would certainly say it is still worth a visit. The changing architecture, the park by the river, the history… all amounts to a wonderful trip out. (If you like your history you may even find links to the Knights Templar here if you do a bit of research! I don’t want to give away all of her secrets!)
For dinner we ventured into Evesham town and had a meal out at the ‘Casa’ Italian restaurant. Stylish and tasteful décor greeted us as we entered into the Bar area with dark beams and cosy lighting. It set the tone for a relaxing and enjoyable meal. We sat by the front window gracing us with a view overlooking the Abbey. They have a large conservatory at the rear of the venue with ample seating so you do not feel as though you are being packed in to get more tables, but spaced out where the emphasis is on the enjoyment factor. Their large menu caters for everyone in the family, offering vegetarian food, authentic pasta dishes and fish dishes.
Just 3 miles from Evesham you will find the text book definition of a Cotswold Village. With its wide high street and shops built with traditional Cotswold Stone, you can’t help but fall a little bit in love regardless of your age.
Places to eat in Broadway
There are an abundance of places to eat and drink to suit any budget.
Russell’s – Fish and Chip shop
We know the best chip shop is Russell’s in Broadway. Tucked down a side road you will find a rare gem. The design of the interior combines life jackets, sea fearing paraphernalia and candles on the tables with posh nosh! In the summer it is lovely to sit and eat outside under umbrella’s with the dog after a long walk.
Their menu is surprisingly large with the take-away option of beer battered cod/haddock, breaded or grilled plaice, scampi, chicken goujons or fish cakes as well as vegetarian pies, battered halloumi and a catch of the day. Customers can buy an alcoholic beverage in the licensed restaurant. The Take-away meal is presented to you in a lovely box with plenty of chips, including a serving of tartar sauce and a slice of lemon.
The Broadway Hotel
With a choice of spots to settle including a relaxed lounge, a bar area with an open fire (both dog friendly) or a formal serviced restaurant. You can relax here any day of the week and enjoy fine wines, excellent food and a friendly atmosphere. The decor changes through-out the hotel with the Broadway Hunt featuring largely in the local artwork upon the walls.
Stocked high with different local foods, treats and gifts. There is a cafe in there serving all manner of home cooked food with many vegan and gluten free options. They work with producers and suppliers from around the world who focus on the quality, integrity and provenance of their produce.
The Market Pantry
This small cafe sits about 20 people at a time. Vegetarian vegan and gluten free options, this British cafe serves meals ranging from £5-£9. Open 7 days a week and serving locally sourced, quality food, fresh seasonal and natural ingredients. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea or simply a coffee and a homemade cake.
There are so many other places to try, your taste buds will definitely be tickled in Broadway.
A walk around Broadway Village is a good way to walk off all of the food! It’s traditional Cotswold stone buildings pack in the charm with style and grace. Other shops include Kitchenware, Art gallery, old fashioned sweet shop and fashion items.
Broadway Tower and The Cotswold Way
Broadway Tower is a unique Capability Brown Folly tower. Its one of England’s outstanding view points, at 1024 feet above sea level, you can see over a 62 mile radius and as many as 16 counties from the roof viewing platform. William Morris also spent time here being inspired by the arts and crafts scene in the area.
Refreshments are available at the Morris and Brown cafe which is open all year round. It serves hot drinks and full meals or just a slice of cake if you prefer. Sit by the log fire and relax or browse their shop.
You can tour the tower with 50 acres of woods and parkland offering scenic walks and cycle routes. Spend time watching a heard of Deer housed there or go down and investigate the nuclear bunker between March and October.
The Tower just happens to be on the Cotswold Way, a 1000 mile footpath from Chipping Campden to Bath offering panoramic views of the Cotswolds. We have walked from Chipping Campden to Broadway so far and hope to walk other parts in the future. You don’t have to walk the whole thing and the paths are well sign posted.
Evesham Country Park / The Valley
Offering ample car parking. You can go for a riverside walk, do a spot of shopping, or grab a coffee with a friend. For the kids over the summer they have a ‘beach’ with sandpits for the children to play in. There are inflatable slides, carousel, swings and food and drink available.
A steam train runs from the car park, around the orchard, to a wooden castle built for the children. You can stop here and walk back or pick some apples and plums while you wait for the train to return. It is not an exceptionally long ride, but for £1.20 adult fare it is a good way to keep the family quite for 10 minutes!
Hillers Garden Centre
Hillers Garden Centre, Alcester, Warwickshire. Part of the Ragley Hall Estate, it has operated on one form or another on this site since the 1920’s. They have changed from a fruit farm to a pick your own and now a farm shop and garden centre. The shop sells produce either grown on site or sourced from a 10 mile radius. Farmers then invoice the farm shop what they need to make a living.
Honeyed ham, Ragley beef and pork are all roasted in their own kitchen for sale on the deli counter, along with a range of homemade salads, continental meats, pâtés and locally made cold pies.
Make your selection from the self serve olive and antipasti bar and stock up on all your groceries from the wide selection of specialised and everyday food. Bread is freshly baked throughout the day and they also have a selection of rolls and breads from local baker Lawrence’s.
The garden centre has well established flower beds and a rose garden. There is also a bird hide where you can see some of the 40 species of birds spotted. Fallow deer have also been known to feed here. There are avid bird watchers with camera lenses bigger than their heads, sitting next to children. For the children (and adults apparently) there is also a miniature railway – and the trains ARE small. It only lasts a few minutes but costs just 90p a ride. You can only fit two people in a carriage sitting opposite each other.
There are tea rooms here to enjoy your afternoon after walking around the garden centre. Staff members waited on you and come to your table to take your order. The tea rooms were dog friendly and we saw several well behaved pooches resting their paws in the shade.
There are many other places to explore nearby including Snowshill Lavender, Chipping Campden and Bourton on the Water. Stratford Upon Avon, although not in the Cotswolds, is only half an hour by car from Evesham – as is Cheltenham. Why not plan a stop to stay over and visit either the Cheltenham or Stratford races? Birmingham is also in close reach for a bustling nightlife or larger retail experience.
The Cotswolds are full of attractions and travel between the towns is easy with good public transport links. You can find accommodation to suit your budget and tastes.
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