Holiday Times in South Wales
Pembrokeshire, on the south west tip of Wales, is a spectacular coastal region, surrounded on three sides by the sea. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park takes in the entire coastal strip – the only national park in the UK to be wholly coastal in nature and for good reason. There’s also plenty to do, you can find many attractions to keep the family happy. If you fancy travelling at speeds of 95mph - a new 2000 feet steel roller coaster opens at Oakwood Theme park in 2006. If you haven’t seen a zebra, racoon, mara or a tapir – Folly Farm is the place for you!
You don’t have to look far to discover why more and more visitors are discovering Carmarthenshire – the garden of Wales. Carmarthenshire is home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales as well as some greener than green countryside (the white sheep serve well to break up the colour a little!). Aberglasney Garden is a stone’s throw away from the National Botanic Garden and couldn’t be more different. This intimate garden of just nine acres is a rare survival from the 16th and 17th Centuries. For more information on gardens and parklands in the area visit www.onebiggarden.com
Swansea is at the heart of South Wales and is set on the curve of a five mile long sandy bay and is hugged by a popular promenade linking the city and Mumbles. A thriving Maritime quarter provides a haven for yachts and is also home to the new National Waterfront Museum which opened in October 2005. The Marina also joins the ranks of Raffles in Singapore and Nelson Bay Marina in Australia as being the best in the world, by achieving the Yachts Harbour Association’s prestigious 5 Gold Anchors Award.
To the north east of Swansea lies 'waterfall country' in the Vale of Neath - which provides a contrast to the to the coast. If admiring the tumbling torrent of the area’s waterfalls from dry land isn’t enough for you, get behind the waterfall curtain by taking the plunge with a guided gorge walk!
The Valleys of South Wales are known the world over for their culture, heritage and warmth of welcome. The countryside’s mountainous slopes and rolling valleys are already a popular destination for walkers, cyclists and the adrenaline hungry mountain bikers. Start talking to the locals and it will soon become evident how proud they are of their culture. Famous local heroes are still given great reverence and legends dating back centuries shed new light on castles and manor houses with historic interest.
The Valleys are also home to many historic places including Caerphilly’s truly massive 13th century medieval castle. The castle is also the residence of one of the Valleys’ many ghosts – the green lady. And did you know that the castle’s tower actually outleans the tower of Pisa?!
The peace and tranquillity awaiting you in the Wye Valley are a far cry from the sounds of border warfare that echoed here for centuries. This is especially true if you experience the serenity of the area’s ancient religious sites; remote Llanthony Priory, deep in the valley below Offa’s Dyke Path; the medieval treasures of St Mary’s Priory Church in Abergavenny and be sure to experience the grandeur of Tintern Abbey, early in the day before the crowds arrive. Who needs yoga when you’ve got the Wye Valley to find inner peace!
Cardiff, is the capital of Wales and a city that will surprise you with its vast diversity and cosmopolitan air. Cardiff’s compact size makes it ideal for exploring on foot. Cardiff Castle, the National Museum Cardiff and the Millennium Stadium are all within ten minutes of each other. Don’t forget your camera before you set out – here’s a challenge for you - see how many attractions you can fit into one picture!
Best Kept Secrets
The Preseli Hills are located in the quieter Northern part of Pembrokeshire, a contrast to the buzz of the seaside, but just as enchanting. The Bluestones of Stonehenge came from the Preseli Hills. They were taken from the top of Carn Menyn in fact, but don’t worry, there are still plenty left for you to see. Iron age earthworks and burial cairns adorn the summits. The Preselis are associated with many of the myths and legends of the Mabinogi. You’ll be glad to know that the Twrch Trwyth - the magical boar from the Mabinogi tales - was chased away long ago by King Arthur and his knights. You’ll only have the sheep to deal with these days.