Sometimes we forget just how beautiful parts of Britain are, as I was reminded recently on a marvellous minibreak in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales. Covering 520 square miles, the region has sweeping green valleys dotted with fluffy white sheep and picturesque villages, hills cloaked in emerald pines, rivers, mountain tops and moorland.
Our self-catering accommodation, Glowty Cottage, Llwyn Y Merched, Aberyscir, a warm and well-equipped barn conversion, was just four miles from Brecon, yet tucked away on a hillside with glorious countryside as far as the eye can see.
It’s also well placed for reaching some great tourist attractions. We started with a trip to Talgarth Mill. The old mill had been left to rot, but in 2010, local enthusiasts won National Lottery funding to restore it and it is now milling flour again – buy a bag at the nearby craft shop. The mill runs bread-making classes, too – 01874-711352, www.talgarthmill.com – and don’t leave without lunching at the Bakers’ Table café and bakery; the sausage rolls are the best I’ve tasted.
While in the town, we also picked up a leg of lamb to cook back at the cottage for supper. WJ George Butchers – www.talgarthmeat.com – in the high street was recommended for the high-quality meat. Our roast was indeed utterly delicious. The large kitchen at Glowty has a cooking range and a big table to eat around. Luckily, the lounge has comfy sofas to sprawl out on afterwards and doze in front of the TV.
Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages can book you a Renault Twizy. These electric cars are the eco-friendly way to drive around the area.
Do make time to visit Myddfai in Carmarthenshire, to find out about its famed ancient physicians, whose knowledge of medicinal plants was taught to them by their mother, the mystical Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach, who came from a beautiful lake – according to legend, anyway. Book a tour of the Penderyn Distillery and, of course, taste the award-winning single malt Welsh whisky.
The Welsh Venison Centre, Bwlch, offers venison in many forms, but also a truly scrumptious pork pie. Black Mountains Smokery, Crickhowell, sells the best smoked salmon and they do mail order: www.smoked-foods.co.uk
Black Mountain Gold Chocolate, Crickhowell, sells fine chocolates by Master Chocolatier Jules James, including truffles in many flavours. You can also take part in a chocolate workshop, lasting about three hours: call 01873-812362 for details.
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, is famous for its afternoon teas. For £20.80, you’ll feast on three tiers of savouries, cakes and pastries, sandwiches, trifle and scones served with all the trimmings. You certainly won’t go hungry while you’re here.
If you don’t want to self-cater every night, there are plenty of good restaurants. We loved Felin Fach Griffin – www.eatdrinksleep.ltd.uk – just off the A470 and not far from Brecon. Dinner was delicious – pork belly with scallops, Welsh Black beef and rhubarb crumble.
Brecon Beacons National Park is now the world’s fifth Dark Sky Reserve, a region where light pollution is low and you can look up at the Milky Way. Expert Allan Trow gave us a wonderful stargazing lesson, training his telescope so we could see Saturn and its rings and the craters of the moon in fascinating detail. The end of a perfect day.
Glowty Cottage costs from £374 per week. Contact Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages: 01874-676446, www.breconcottages.com
For information about stargazing, visit: www.darkskywales.org
Contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org