Wales has 42 Blue Flag beaches. Even at the height of summer our nearest beach, Newport in Pembrokeshire, has acres of space for everyone. The Welsh call it ‘traeth mawr’ which means ‘big beach’. The Guardian once described it as ‘the new Rock’ – like Cornwall but without the crowds.
Hills and mountains
The hills and mountains of Wales form a breathtaking backdrop to the beauty of the beaches.
– the highest peak in England and Wales - or the Brecon Beacons and - my home – the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, famous as the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones.
Walking and the great outdoors
The principality is a mecca for mountain biking, rock climbing, coasteering
, body boarding, surfing
and walking the coastal paths of Gower and Pembrokeshire, which also boasts the only coastal national park in Britain, teeming with seals, sea birds and sea life.
Castles and heritage
Wales is rich in castles
, from Cardiff’s fairytale Castell Coch, to the formidable medieval fortress at Caerphilly, west to the mighty Pembroke Castle
, birthplace of Henry Tudor, and, in the north, Caernarfon Castle, with its royal connections.
Family friendly fun
I must confess to bias here but I think Wales has the best family attractions in Britain. I don’t have to go far to find Folly Farm
theme park, Anna’s Welsh Zoo
activity park and we love to break our journeys to friends and relatives in England by calling in to the Museum of Welsh Life
at St Fagans, near Cardiff.
Stars of the silver screen
Wales isn’t just about beaches and the big outdoors. Doctor Who
fans will find plenty to recognise on a trip to Cardiff and those who have seen the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
will recognise Freshwater West, the beach in Pembrokeshire used to film scenes at the shell cottage. The same beach was used in Ridley Scott’s recent adaptation of Robin Hood
, starring Russell Crowe.
The weather and gardens
Wales is in the wild wet west, which does mean it rains more here but we never have hosepipe bans and the showers bring flowers. There are some spectacular gardens to visit, including the National Botanic Garden of Wales
in Carmarthenshire - one of our favourite family days out. The rain grows the grass too for that other famous feature of Wales – sheep!
Rugby and sport
The national sport of Wales is rugby and its home is the Millennium Stadium
in Cardiff. Fans can book a guided tour of the stadium. Further west, there’s Swansea’s spectacular Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City Football Club. Wales has produced a plethora of Olympic and world champions in many different sports, from athletics to boxing.
Food and local produce
It’s traditional to celebrate St David’s Day with Welsh cakes
hot from the griddle or a slice of bara brith
but the country is also famous for its farmers’ markets, farmhouse cheeses, new potatoes, fish and of course the traditional symbols of the saint’s day, daffodils and leeks. One of the best ways to get a real taste of Welsh life is to stay on a farm
, as Carol found out for the website Have a Lovely Time.
Language and culture
Wales is still the land of song and is fiercely proud of its language and heritage, Male voice choirs still form the heart of many communities and the charts are full of Welsh groups and singers, such as Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Charlotte Church, Duffy, Katherine Jenkins, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey. Wales holds national and international eisteddfodau
each year and celebrates the written word with the literature festival at Hay on Wye. What really sums it up is the Welsh word hwyl, an untranslatable word – similar to Ireland’s ‘craic’ - which can mean goodbye or good luck but mostly just means ‘fun’!
PICTURE: (clockwise) My daughters Hannah and Rosie off to school on St David's Day; Newport beach on a busy day; body boarding; the National Botanic Garden of Wales; the Preseli hills; Welsh showers bring many flowers.