Cymru is famed for its wild and rugged beauty. South Wales is home to thriving communities and world-renowned natural sights, yet the landscape seems to preserve its own remoteness.
Its impenetrable terrain has kept the crowds out through the ages. In 1194, the medieval chronicler Gerald of Wales noted Wales as a ‘country very strongly defended by high mountains, deep valleys, extensive woods, rivers, and marshes.’
In the age of social distancing, his words resonate. Many of our guests are, like us, instinctively drawn to the wild. Lockdown has made us acknowledge why. In open spaces we are free. We are free to engage our senses, quieten our overstimulated minds, and reconnect with ourselves and our companions.
There is no shortage of life-affirming ‘the hills are alive’ space in South Wales. It used to be a joke (as well as an accurate statistic) that there are more sheep than people in Wales. Now, our population density is one of the reasons to visit South Wales this summer. Here are 6 more…
We have a bit of a reputation for outdoor adventure. It’s well deserved. The Welsh mountains and hills are the perfect playground for anyone who loves the outdoors. Over the years adventurous folk have established trails, centres, and exhilarating experiences here.
Llangorse Multi Activity Centre specialises in adrenaline-fuelled and family-friendly pursuits in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Take on the indoor climbing walls, or go caving or abseiling. Take to the trees on the Sky Trek Experience, a high wire assault course with zip lines, wobbly ladders, and seemingly precarious crossings. For a more sedate activity, explore the beautiful beacons on horseback and let your steed scale the hills with ease.
There’s plenty of room for the weird and wonderful here. Dolgarrog aluminium works branched out and created an inland surfing lagoon and adventure park at Surf Snowdonia, while if you head to Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda you’ll find the fastest zip line in the world.
For those who favour a gentler approach, the National Cycle Network have opened up hundreds of miles of traffic-free cycle paths in Wales. The beautiful Taff trail links the Brecon Beacons with Cardiff. A nine mile cycle takes you there from the fairytale turrets of Castell Coch, built within the ancient beech woods of Fforest Fawr.
Or you can explore Monmouthshire on The Peregrine Path. The 16 mile cycle skirts the picturesque River Wye along the English border. Wave at canoers in the water between Hay-on-Wye and Monmouth, look out for Skenfrith and Monmouth castles, and picnic on the riverbank.
Wales was the first country in the world to join up all of its coastline into one footpath. The Wales Coast Path is a thing of beauty, a winding trail that climbs and falls with the coastline around the entirety of the South Wales coastline. You can pick it up a 10 minute drive from us in Porthcawl, and run or walk its 870 miles if you so desire. Stop when you drop (or at an artisanal ice-cream shop) and discover dramatic clifftop passes, sweeping bays, and hidden coves.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, head inland to the Brecon Beacons. The home of shimmering lakes and South Wales’s highest mountain – Pen Y Fan – has hiking trails and spectacular scenery.
Wales has 40 Blue Flag award beaches – more than any other part of the UK.
Head to the Gower Peninsula on a warm day and you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the Caribbean. The golden sands and crystal blue sea are pristine and peaceful. They are also teaming with life...you may be lucky enough to spot Atlantic grey seals, dolphins, and porpoises.
On the southwest coast, Castle Beach in Tenby, Pembrokeshire was awarded The Sunday Times Beach of the Year 2019. It’s easy to see why.
Tenby is a seaside town with a gentle magic. Its Welsh name, Dinbych-y-Pysgod means Little Fortress of the Fish. Against a vivid backdrop of lush green countryside and azure water, Georgian townhouses unfurl, in neat rows of rippling pastel shades. The slender houses front the beach and some sit upon the finger of headland that reaches to Caldey Island. Here you can explore a 15th century church and admire gorgeous views across two bays, with Castle Beach perched in the middle. At low tide the small beach becomes an orb of golden sand. Quite the honey pot.
In 2012 the Brecon Beacons National Park was awarded International Dark Sky reserve status, making it the first reserve in Wales, and only the fifth in the world!
With only six cities in the entire country, Wales can thank its lack of light pollution for its staggering stargazing. On clear nights the sky shimmers with the Milky Way, constellations, distant nebulas and the unmistakable flare of shooting stars.
There are hundreds of places to stargaze in Wales. You could head towards the southernly part of the Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve, or give one of the many options in Monmouthshire or the Vale of Glamorgan a try.
And if you want to stay near the stars, our rural location means we can count on dreamily dark skies above The Great House.
Often called the land of castles, Wales has over 600 castles, which is more per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
The south’s headliners are Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carew, Kidwelly, and Pembroke.
There are absolutely too many to mention, but Caerphilly Castle deserves the privilege. The fortress spreads over 30 acres, making it the largest in Wales, rivalling only Windsor and Dover castles in Britain. Similarly, Raglan Castle is a must-see. It is widely regarded as the finest late-medieval fortress-palace in the British Isles. Which is a bit of a mouthful, but we are inclined to agree.
There aren’t many rural idylls that can also lay claim to top-notch, inventive food and heaps of character. But these are our specialities.
Our hotel is tucked away in the South Wales countryside, in the picturesque conservation village of Laleston. The village feels like the ‘middle of nowhere’ but it is just 10 minutes from the seaside town of Porthcawl, and 25 minutes from Cardiff and Swansea. Explore or relax to your heart’s content. We will look after you in our renowned AA rosette restaurant and stunning hotel.