After almost 4 months of living in lockdown, we were desperate for an active holiday. Lockdowns began lifting in April, so we jumped at the opportunity to explore South Wales. Our week was busy and getting back in the groove of traveling with three children was exhausting and wonderful. Exploring a new place ignites us mentally and physically which provided the mood lift we were after. Here are the places we visited. The locations have links and are also pinned on the interactive map included at the bottom of the post.
On our way to our Air BnB in Clydach we stopped in Great Malvern for a hike. We like to incorporate hikes into our driving breaks and this was a great one! I loved it here. The Malverns was the first hilly region we experienced since we arriving in September and even though many of the trees were still in their winter sleep, the area was absolutely beautiful.
We stayed at The Cambrian Inn in Clydach which was simple and just what we needed. The apartment we stayed in is above a pub. This was convenient for getting pizza when we arrived! As you can see from the picture below, it has excellent wallpaper!
Pen y Fan. We started our holiday with a steep and beautiful four mile hike up to the top of the highest peak in south Wales. There are longer approaches available but because we had more planned for the day, we took the direct route from Pont ar Daf car park.
Four Falls Waterfall hike. After our hike up Pen y Fan we made our way to The Four Falls Trailhead, found a huge cave, and then hiked 4 miles to three different waterfalls. It was also quite beautiful and I can only imagine a visit in the summer would be spectacular.
We started our day at Tretower Castle. This was our first castle in Wales and It just so happened that a few days before we arrived, Lena Dunham finished shooting her movie, Catherine Called Birdy (based on the book of the same name). I can see why they chose this location. It is gorgeous.
Next we visited Crickhowell Castle. Crickhowell isn’t very impressive but it sits beside a playground and is in the center of the town of Crickhowell. The Castle was a nice addition to wandering around the town. Crickhowell has a lovely little bookstore called Book-ish!
We came back to Clydach and found Gilwern crag, where we spent the afternoon rock climbing. The approach was a little challenging to find but eventually we figured it out. Unfortunately the embedded map won’t let me drop a custom pin so if you want to know where this crag is, email me and I will send you the exact google pin drop for parking and the access point.
Our first stop of the day was Carreg Cennen Castle. This castle sits on the edge of a cliff. Which isn’t obvious unless you walk around the other side. If you do, the views are worth it!. The castle is fun and there are lots of places within the castle walls to climb around and explore.
Next Stop Dryslwyn Castle. This one we used as a pit stop so I could get some exercise. I did a quick jog up the hill to the castle ruins and the view was beautiful. If you want to see this castle, you can check out our video of ALL the castles was saw in Wales. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture.
Next stop Dynfwr Castle. I think this castle was our favorite. The trail to the castlewas lovely, there were so many nooks and crannies to explore and many narrow staircases to climb! We loved it here. I could have brought a picnic and stayed all day.
Next stop was Tenby where we found a restaurant, ordered take out, and ate dinner standing up overlooking the beach. All the restaurants were closed due to COVID, so takeout was our only option. This is a cute city but given the circumstances of COVID, we couldn’t really enjoy it.
After dinner we arrived at our next Air BnB Dovecote Cottage
Cilgerran Castle. Another small castle with a lovely walk. A nice place to stretch your legs but nothing too exciting to see here.
We tried to go to Cardigan Castle but it was closed so we walked around town and found a lovely cafe called Stiwdio 3 where we picked up lunch and ate it by the river. It pains me to say this, but finding great food (or what I consider great food) in the UK is not as easy as it is in other countries, so this restaurant was a gem. The food and desserts were fantastic!
We visited the Welsh Wildlife Center which had a wonderful adventure playground and so many beautiful flowers.
Next, Pentre Ifan. This neolithic burial chamber was eerie and fun. The site is simple but something about the stone monument makes the place feel pretty special.
We drove to Strumble Head Lighthouse but because the children fell asleep in the car, we took pictures from the car window, enjoyed the view, and kept driving.
Blue Lagoon. This was an interesting sight. The Blue Lagoon is an old slate quarry. Parts of it were blown up , which allowed the ocean to flow into the quarry to create this blue pool. It was beautiful and I imagine that in the summer it would be a fun place to cliff jump and swim.
St David’s Cathedral. I am so glad we stopped at this cathedral. It’s GORGEOUS. The ceiling is carved from oak and there is a stream flowing through the garden. I loved it here.
We started our day with a bike Ride/run on the Pembrokeshire Coast. We planned to do a longish trail run with the kids on their bikes but a few miles in we discovered part of the trail was closed for military training. The good news is, we did find… St. Govan’s Chapel
After exploring St. Govan’s chapel we hung out at Broad Haven Beach
Later that day we drove to Pembroke Castle and let the kids ride their bikes. There is a nice loop around the castle and down the river. The castle was closed due to covid so we just enjoyed the view from the bike path.
We decided to push our luck (and bedtime) to head back out to Pembrokeshire coast to see The Green Bridge, The Stacks, and The Cauldron. I am SO glad we did this. These views were incredible and the rock formations were very dramatic.
Gower Penninsula. This area was lovely. Here are the specific places we visited.
Rhossili Beach– I loved it here. There is a great hike out to Worms Head that you can do when the tide is low. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time but we did get to pet some foals!
Three Cliffs Bay Beach– This beach was beautiful. Our kids ran around and had so much fun playing in the sand.
Gower Heritage Museum. We stopped here and bought some delicious food from the bakery. Unfortunately the museum was closed but it looked really fun and I hope we can go back and visit another time.
Langland Bay. From this bay we did a walk around the peninsula for some exercise. It is a lovely and steep path and there were so many families playing in the water here and trying to surf on the gentle waves. While the path is a little worn down, our jogger stroller would have been fine on it. Parts of it are paved so the kid’s scooters worked well for most of it as well.
We stayed that night at the Swansea Marriott Hotel
Carew Castle. This was another wonderful castle. The host told a very creepy ghost story which the kids loved. Parts of this castle were closed due to Covid which made me sad because we weren’t able to explore as much as we wanted. There is a lovely cafe and bookshop so we made up for it with hot chocolate and baked treats.
Kidwelley Castle. We really liked this castle too. Out of all the castles we visited, this was probably the biggest, with the most tunnels and passageways to explore. Kidwelly is another castle we could have enjoyed for hours.
Margam County Park On our drive home we stopped here for a few hours. The playground is amazing and we discovered a treetop ropes course that looked SO fun. There were also some downhill bike trails with technical features we wished we could try. I think we all agreed we would love to come back and spend more time at this place. And can you believe the herd of deer?! Check out the video to see it. This was so cool.
Tintern Abbey. I was really excited about visiting Tintern Abbey but found it to be a disappointment. The main part of the Abbey was closed for renovations so perhaps if it had been open, my experience would have been better.