Saturday, 3 January 2015

Seven days in Pembrokeshire

Happy New Year! Where did 2014 go!? Although it was jam-packed with lots lovely times it seems to have all happened so quickly. Too quickly. Looking back through our instagram feeds earlier this week (a great memory store), we've had loads of adventures, achieved a fair bit of home improvement, got to grips with having a produce-bearing garden and spent a lot of time in front of the (newly installed) wood-burner.

Our little wood burning stove
One particular and relatively recent highlight of 2014 would have to be our anniversary mini-break to the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. With the help of airbnb we found two amazing little getaways - Cwm Hill, a crog loft near New Moat and Wendy, a vintage railway carriage in Aberporth. Both properties were owned by the same host, Dr Greg Stevenson (a lecturer, author and TV host). We found them as we were just about to book another of Greg's rentals, in Ireland. He has a wonderful portfolio of holiday homes, all of which can be found at When we saw his Wales listings we fell in love with both immediately. J was taken by the cottage and I really wanted to stay in the carriage. When we realised they were only an hour apart we decide to spilt the week across both sites, and I'm so glad we did.

Cwm Hill, New Moat
Cwm Hill was idyllic and very remote.  It's received the accolade of Best UK Star Gazing cottage and so when we arrived at around 6pm on a December evening we were totally in the dark and, if truth be told, a little scared. With the aid of the car headlights, we spotted two little chimney pots and made our way down to the cottage gates by foot. Once inside, with a glass or two of vino (to remedy the nerves) and a roaring stove, we knew that we had found a really special place and settled in right away.

Cwm Hill, New Moat
Although we would have both happily stayed bolted up in the cottage the whole time, reading, pottering or playing board games, we managed to wrap up warm and head out for a couple of day trips. First stop was Narbeth, a cute market town with some lovely shops. We then headed to Tenby, a beautiful coastal town with an almost Mediterranean feel to it (and plenty of pubs, which necessitated a pub lunch, of course). Both places were worth braving the cold for and are probably twice as nice (and busy) in the summer months.

Almost every entry in Cwm Hill's guest book suggested a trip to Barafundle Bay, a National Trust site around 40 mins drive away. We're glad we heeded their advice - the bay must have been, on that sunny Tuesday in December, the most perfect (and totally deserted) beach in the UK. The colour of the sea was something special - our photos don't do it justice. The guest book also suggested the Tafarn Sinc, a local pub which has been in existence since 1872 - we willingly obliged with a swift pint on the way back and we'd concur with the praise of previous guests, it's a gem worth seeking out, not least for the mannequins waiting to greet patrons on arrival.

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Cwm Hill was perfect - the bed was super comfy, the couch long enough for two slouchers, the shower was hot and powerful and the stove burned beautifully. We'd return in a heartbeat, it's a really special place to escape to.

Cwm Hill, New Moat
Our next holiday home was utterly charming, in a very different way. Wendy (built in 1908) resides by the sea at Aberporth after retiring from service in the 1930s. The drive from Cwm Hill to Wendy included two lovely towns Fishguard and St David's (the latter is actually the UK's smallest city) which should have warranted proper stop-offs but as the weather took a turn for the worst we were eager to get to our destination.

The view from Wendy's stoop
Wendy, Aberporth
Wendy looks out across the Irish Sea. A short walk left takes you to the seaside village of Aberporth (handy for wood and food supplies) and to the right, the beach at Tresaith. The guest book here recommends a walk along the cliff edge to a nearby pub at Tresaith. Naturally, three hours (more likely, four) were very well spent at The Ship Inn. They serve healthily large glasses of vin rouge and a very good sticky toffee pudding. 

The Ship Inn, Tresaith
(That's a pint glass next to the wine, not a half)
We've always wanted to go to Portmeirion so on our third day we made the 5 hour return drive to the famous Welsh coastal town. Thankfully the weather changed as we drove north and by the time we arrived the light was fantastic. The village is quaint and magical, and because of The Prisoner and Festival No.6, visually familiar. Being December it was also pretty much deserted, which added to the pleasant uncanniness.

Portmeirion beach

Portmeirion beach

Portmeirion beach
Portmeirion Village
We loved Wendy, but really fell head over feet for Cwm Hill. We're so grateful to Greg for the opportunity to stay in such amazing places and are considering another stay at some point soon, possibly this summer or better yet, September (if we're quick enough to get tickets for Festival No.6 this year...).
Portmeirion beach*
*a little over-filtered

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