In February we took a short break to escape the city and breathe some country air and found ourselves on a snowy Welsh hillside in the Brecon Beacons. I hope you enjoy my video below as well as reading about what we did there.
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As soon as my husband stepped into our Welsh holiday cottage at Laswern Fawr in the Brecon Beacons and saw the wood burning stove in the open fireplace and the cosy red velvet wing chair, he settled in and took charge of the fire while the rest of us made ourself at home. I concluded that it’s a man thing to fiddle with logs, bellows and firelighters and left him to it.
We’d arrived in two cars from Bristol following the extremely detailed directions, turning off the main road through the valley and up the hill on increasingly steep and narrow, muddy tracks, along an old tramway then down a steep drive to the cottage, built into the hillside. The 16th century stone farmhouse is surrounded by fields of grazing sheep, and above it rose the Welsh hills covered with bracken, rocky cliff faces with many walking trails. The views from the cottage down into the valley and the small town of Crickhowell were stunning and we soon felt relaxed and at one with nature in a place where walking boots, wellies and waterproofs are in daily use.
Remote as our Welsh cottage at Laswern Fawr may have been, it was certainly not lacking in comforts and was as well equipped as any family home you might find. The owners of the cottage obviously love the place and come here regularly, as there was no trace of that impersonal feel that you get in some holiday accommodation. The furnishings were warm and comfortable with traditionally whitewashed stone walls, plenty of sofas, stools and easy chairs for lounging in comfort and the sort of antique furniture, ornaments and china that you might find in a good country antique shop. To the background tick-tock and hourly chimes of the old clock on the wall, I could almost imagine myself to be a country farmer’s wife, setting the kettle on the blackened range for a cup of tea.
Upstairs we found three double rooms and two singles, sleeping 8 people in all and ideal for two families or an extended group to enjoy a relaxing break. We’d elected to spend a few days away from it all in the school holidays, bringing two of our children and a gaggle of their teenage friends to get away from the bustle and traffic of Bristol. As well as the large family bathroom with bath and separate shower, there was a smart, slate-tiled en-suite shower room in the master bedroom which we grown-ups managed to bag just in time. Because of the cottage being built into the hill side, we actually had French windows where the occasional sheep might come and peer in.
Our comfortable bed even had an electric blanket and the bedroom was calm and cream with thick crewel embroidered curtans, easy chair and an original fireplace. In the other rooms were twin or single beds, with cheerfully coloured duvets or patchwork quilt bedspreads. The hay-loft bedroom, bagged by our boys had a steeply sloping ceiling , blue patchwork quilts and a cot for those travelling with babies.
Descending the steep whitewashed stairs with twisty wooden hand-rails there was a dining room at the front with a large Victorian antique table and sideboard and a porch where we could leave all our boots and coats. At the other end of the house, adjoining the large, cosy sitting room was the modern, cream painted kitchen with dishwasher, large fridge and freezer and plenty of storage space. Here was everything you could wish for cooking up hearty meals, with plenty of crockery and pots and pans and a wide selection of cookery books. Awaiting us was a welcome tray with a personal welcome note and tea and coffee and a bottle of delicious local apple juice.
Down in the valley was the attractive small town of Crickhowell, with several good pubs and food shops as well as an out door activity shop to supply whatever you might need for all the biking, walking, climbing, cycling and all the other outdoor activities for which this part of Wales is well known. We bought some local Welsh lamb for dinner from the butcher and then adjourned for some tea and cakes in the Court room cafe above the Old Market Hall which serves good home cooked lunches as well. Although we’d made plans to try the Bear Hotel, an award winning old coaching inn, for dinner or perhaps the restaurant at the Nantyffyn Cider Inn for something a bit more gourmet, our plans were thwarted by the incoming snow. Although we made it safely back up the mountain to the cottage on snowy tracks , we didn’t feel like risking another drive down in the dark.
The next day we ventured out on a trip to the Big Pit, the National Coal Museum of Wales which is only a short drive away at Blaenafon but had to abandon our plans when we made it through a minor blizzard to get there, only to find that it had just closed because of the bad weather. I was disappointed as the visit includes a trip underground into the coal mine with helmets and head torches, that I thought the children would enjoy – the museum is also free. After our experience in the blizzard, we gave up on the sightseeing and just enjoyed the walking trails on the hillside in and around the cottage.
The thing that impressed us most were the number of entertainments and conveniences available at Laswern Fawr, clearly showing the owners had thought of everything for our comfort (perhaps they knew that rain and snow are always worth preparing for in Wales). There were two shelves of DVD films, a large rack of music CDs, a chest full of board games as well as WiFi. I have to confess, that as a travel blogger, it was the wifi that sold it for me – sad as it might be, the thought of 3 days with no internet access was unbearable, so I was relieved that it all worked perfectly, despite the remote location! Whatever home comforts you enjoy to spend the evening after a long walk in the Brecon Beacons, our Welsh cottage at Laswern Fawr seemed to be able to provide. If I ever have to shut myself away in comfort from the distractions of the big city to write that long awaited novel, this will be the place.
We booked Laswern Fawr through Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages who kindly rented it to us at a discounted rate. They are the specialist in holiday cottage rentals in the Brecon Beacons and have over 250 holiday properties of different sizes to choose from in this beautiful area of Wales.
Travel Resources for the Brecon Beacons
Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages – specialists in holiday accommodation in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains National Park and Wye Valley
Visit Wales – the official Wales tourism website with information on short breaks, weekend getaways and family holidays and things to do in Wales
Brecon Beacons National Park Website – the Brecon Beacons website with information on things to do and places to stay in the Brecon Beacons