My Friday morning began at 5am, with an offensive alarm clock and a long trip ahead, but… I was excited. I was about to embark, with my boyfriend, on my first trip to Wales and more importantly, my first visit to the Brecon Beacons. I was travelling to meet with the ladies of Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages, a team I had been working with for several months.
Wales has sometimes been described as “wet and windy”, and on this visit it certainly held up to its name, especially as we were visiting the same time as Storm Gertrude decided to grace us with her presence. Despite the bullish weather, from the minute we arrived, the splendor stood out from the mist and it provided a striking backdrop.
We arrived at Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages HQ in Talybont-On-Usk and were met with a warm welcome from the team, a noisy dog and a barrage of delicious brownies. If you ever find yourself in the area, or at the offices of BBHC, ask about the brownies!
Following our storming of ideas and hatching of grand plans, it was on to my first Welsh pub experience, The Star Inn in Talybont-On-Usk. This classic British boozer was adorned with beer mats on the walls and served up a variety of ales. It also delivered one of the best fish fingers sandwiches I’ve ever had!
After a lunch filled with good food and conversation, my boyfriend and I were handed the keys to our home for the evening – Groves Cottage, conveniently placed directly opposite The Star Inn. Opening the door directly in to the living room the first thing that greeted us was a wood burner, complete with a mound of logs, ready to go! With the weather being as it was, this immediately filled me with huge amounts of joy (no, I’m not exaggerating). Once the burner was lit, we excitedly gave ourselves the grand tour of the cottage, unashamedly taking ‘braggies’ every step of the way (it’s the new selfie, apparently). The country-style kitchen, the charming style of the bedrooms, the balcony overlooking the garden with a view of the Al Mountain…. It was picture-perfect!
Wasting no time, we gathered the blankets and got cosy on the sofa as we researched where to go for dinner, deciding on the nearby Travellers Rest Inn, just a 5-minute walk away. After a well-earned nap, we headed over to the restaurant. We were greeted with a welcoming smile from the owners, who we immediately struck up a conversation with about the local area. There’s something really satisfying about going to a local area, meeting the local people and getting a genuine local experience. Not to go all ‘League of Gentlemen’, but it really does fill one with a warm glow.
As we sat and enjoyed our wine by the wood burner, tucking into our aperitif of a miniature tomato soup, we made friends with Leeroy the cat, which I have now claimed as my official Welsh cat. If you ever find yourself at The Travellers Rest, make sure you get acquainted with him. He’s black and white and full of affection.
We proceeded to enjoy three courses of fresh local produce. From the venison medallions and seabass fillets through to the sticky toffee puddings, every bite was a delight. We finished up and headed ‘home’ via the local shop to grab a bottle of red wine and some traditional welsh cakes. We got comfy, switched on the fairy lights, and reveled in the quiet, non-London atmosphere before settling down for the night.
Following a wonderful night sleep we prepared ourselves for a day of sightseeing, first stop, the ‘town of books’ Hay-On-Wye. The journey to Hay was stunning. The landscapes in Wales really do have to be seen. Green, bright, mountainous… even when in the middle of a storm!
We entered the land of literature, seeing a bookshop on every corner. Hay-On-Wye is full of character and charisma; if you are a bookworm this is your mecca!
Our next adventure was to head to the Brecon Beacons National Park and walk amongst the waterfalls. The weather had really held out for us, it was cold but sunny. The perfect setting for exploring! We spent the next couple of hours climbing, clambering and absorbing the exquisite surroundings. The Brecon Beacons National Park should be on your bucket list, if it isn’t already. It’s natural beauty at it’s finest and begs to be discovered!
After our expedition we were on our way. Our fleeting first visit to the Brecons was over. What a trip! From the wood burner to the waterfalls, my boyfriend and I enjoyed every second.
Wales is a place that needs to be experienced, even when it’s wet and windy. It’s an underrated part of Britain that should be on everyone’s bucket list. When you do find yourself there, and in the Brecon Beacons, my tips are as follows….
1 – Get yourself a cosy cottage from the BBHC ladies.
2 – Go exploring as much as you can!
3 – Meet Leeroy the cat.
… and finally, get yourself a BBHC Brownie. (this could be the most important thing to remember)