Travel: The wonder of Wales

 
 

Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg? No, we can’t pronounce that either but that hasn’t stopped Andrew Hines from exploring the beautiful sights of Pembrokeshire

A short ferry ride across Saint George’s Channel lies a mystical place where the jagged cliffs jutting out into the ocean are sleeping giants, waiting to one day awake and come to aid of the Celts in their time of need. As a gullible American tourist, I readily ate up these ancient stories and set out for Wales. Unfortunately none of the locals seemed to take the lore as seriously, but anyone disappointed by this would be quickly appeased once you discover the many varieties there.

Pembrokeshire is the most south-western county in Wales and surrounded by the sea on three sides. It boasts some of the most scenic landscapes in the country, but it is far from being a wilderness expedition as frequent buses and trains along the coast make travel a breeze. There is a 300km path that runs along the coast passing by some of the best surfing beaches in Wales as well as a variety of castles, monasteries and nature reserves.

The (perhaps surprisingly) beautiful summer weather is perfect for camping and there are cheap £5 campsites dotted along the trail. The campsites have a great summer crowd with very few tourists. If you want a hot meal and a shower, there are also some very good YHA hostels along the trail. However, book in advance as they have limited space and tend to fill up throughout the summer. Most of the towns and villages along the way have hotels or a bed and breakfast and will almost certainly have a few restaurants and pubs.

One of the bigger surprises to be found during your time there is Welsh beer. Welsh beer is possibly one of the best kept secrets of the country: if you ask a Welsh barman familiar with the beer lore, he will tell you that Arthur Guinness got all of his inspiration from Welsh stout. The beer brewing tradition goes back to the middle ages where home brewing was common in Wales. The Welsh beer market tends to have a bit more variety than Ireland and arguably some of the best darks in Europe can be found in Wales.

The locals are friendly and eager to chat and the culture has yet to be spoiled by flocks of tourists overrunning their towns. If you’re looking for a clubbing holiday, this is probably not your spot, but if you are up for some camping, hiking or surfing and a good pint, the Pembrokeshire coastline should be your first stop.

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