During October half term, we made a bit of a last minute decision to get out of the capital for a few days. As soon as Alex and Sophie’s swimming lesson was finished on Saturday morning, we hit the M4 and headed for the Brecon Beacons. There was no traffic at all (maybe everyone else had seen the weather forecast!) so we made it in record time!
First stop was the Sugarloaf Vineyard in Abergavenny, somewhere we stayed on one of Alex’s first holidays back in 2011. The weather was appalling, but the children still had a blast running around the vines in the drizzle (while we stocked up on Welsh sparkling wine!)
We whiled away the rest of the day at the lovely Abergavenny cinema watching the latest lego movie and eating vast quantities of pasta together!
The next morning dawned a little drier, so we decided to attempt a hike up on The Blorenge, a hill just above Abergavenny. As we piled out of the car, we realised that it was both freezing cold and pretty windy. We put on most of the clothes we’d brought with us, and luckily had hats and gloves for the kids, so we could persuade them to leave the car.
Matt had found a good 5km route for us – and it was ideal for little legs as there wasn’t too much climbing. The children enjoyed running along the wide grassy path through the bracken and heather as the views opened up around us.
It was hard to capture, but the light was absolutely beautiful, with streams of sunlight flooding through the clouds onto the green farmland below.
We made the kids pose for loads of photographs with the glorious Brecon Beacon views behind them:
We were delighted to find a group of horses wandering near the summit – they seemed totally unconcerned with us being close by, and one came over to say hello to Matt!
As we got nearer the summit, the wind picked up and it got a bit crazy. The kids enjoyed a spot of scrambling, but got a bit unhappy as the wind got worse! We practically had to hold them down to prevent them being blown over!
The summit was crazy – I’ve never been in wind like it. We didn’t linger for long!
We were pretty relieved to get back to the calm of the car! We had such a good walk though and it certainly blew the cobwebs away!
We warmed up with a quick lunch at the Big Pit in Blaenavon, before driving over to Swansea to catch up with old friends over coffee. Last stop of the day was Nantgaredig near Carmarthen where Matt’s mum was from. We were staying for the next couple of nights with his aunt and cousins in the village. We enjoyed a wonderful family roast with nearly all of Matt’s Welsh family on our first evening, and I am absolutely kicking myself for not getting my camera out to get a snap of everyone 😦
With the weather a bit worse, we focused our next day on the local castles where we hoped to get a bit of shelter! We started at Carreg Cennan Castle on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. It was so foggy and drizzly, we could barely see it as we walked up towards the crag!
We had a brilliant time despite the weather exploring the castle ruins. A real highlight was an incredible limestone cave that ran underneath the castle. Armed with torches, we clambered deep into the cave enjoying the unusual textures and patterns in the stone! It was so slippery and dark – the kids loved it!
Once we’d emerged back into the daylight, the children led the way exploring every nook and cranny of the castle, and making up their own ideas for what each area was used for! They came up with some really creative ideas – all of which were more 21st century than 13th century!
After lunch, it was time for our second castle – this time Dinefwr. Confession time…we didn’t actually make it to the castle on the estate, but we still had a great time looking round the beautiful 18th century manor, Newton House, instead.
We spent ages on a really hands-on tour of the building learning about life as a butler and chamber maid in a grand house. It was ideal for children – they could touch everything and complete a puzzle as we looked around.
Afterwards, we decided to walk up to the castle, but got distracted by the promise of some deer and headed off on a nature walk instead!
Can you see the deer with huge antlers hiding under the tree here?
We headed back for another fabulous evening with Matt’s family. Alex and Sophie were truly delighted to discover they had a pool in their house, so they squeezed in plenty of swims during our short stay!
All too soon, it was time to head back to London – but we all felt so refreshed after our wet, windy and wonderful break in Wales. We’ll definitely be back soon, and will hopefully bring the sunshine on our next trip!