Wales – The Perfect Family Holiday

Holidays for me are about adventure, exploring new places a little off the beaten track in which we can discover local life in both nature and culinary terms. We’ve had to rein that in a little since the arrival of our daughter just over 18 months ago, and holidays in the mountains of Spain where the local store is 10 miles away are for now replaced with destinations that are non-commercialised to satisfy our needs, but also close enough to stock up on the essentials for the little one.

IMG_7258With five days set aside for a family holiday we knew Wales would be the perfect hideaway. Years ago we’d visited Trearddur Bay in Anglesey and sat on a rock face drinking tea while fishing the sea. I caught absolutely nothing but that wasn’t the point. Me and my wife sat and chatted for hours setting the world to rights, and it was perfect.

This time, with the advice of a colleague (who in my opinion is the most Welsh Welsh person I’ve ever met), we headed to a Sykes Cottage on the Welsh side of the England-Wales border, close to the village of Walton.

Just the drive assured me that this holiday was going to be fantastic. Single track roads crossing the Shropshire Hills which criss-cross England and Wales, water and mud splashing up on the 4×4, it was perfect. A quick stop en-route to change the little one and make a picnic lunch for her in the back of the Land Rover allowed me to take in the beauty of these vast hills. The fog was coming down and there was a little drizzle, but that really didn’t matter. We were in the middle of nowhere and this was an epic adventure already.

IMG_7265Our cottage for the week, named 2 Siluria Cottage, is a 3 bedroom idyllic place to stay. Apart from the occasional ‘nay’ from a horse or ‘moo’ from a cow, it’s peacefully quiet, the neighbour next door is the owner’s mother who has the biggest array of bird feeders I’ve ever seen, 20 meters in the other direction and down the single track private drive is the owner herself. Lynn is a very hospitable host, there for all the advice if you need it and nowhere to be seen when you don’t.

The cottage itself is extremely well decorated and has a perfect county cottage feel to it, which carries through from the kitchen table to the stove in the living room. Once the little one was to bed, a glass of red and the sound of logs burning on the fire was perfect.

Our week is filled with activities suited to a family, a day at the local small breeds and owl farm was outstanding. I’ve never had such freedom around animals at this type of place,

IMG_7297Next on the agenda was a trip to Hay on Wye and an opportunity to meet the man behind Passion Preserves who also just happens to own a tea room where the cakes are absolutely delightful and without doubt worth seeking out.

And finally a trip further into the heart of Wales and the very scenic Elan Valley, an area the Welsh like to refer to as the Lake District of Wales, and while they may be over exaggerating slightly (I would say that I’m an Englishman), it is stunning indeed. Amongst a sturdy walk to the dam of the Caban-coch Reservoir we also find time to have lunch at Elan Valley Vistiors Centre, a place where first impressions are deceitful, especially once you’ve tried the steak pie in which the chef tells me the meat had been cooking for some six hours. Absolutely amazing and extremely well priced too.

IMG_7307We spent many an hour playing in the garden back at the cottage, with cows in the field directly adjacent to the cottage and horses in the field opposite. The little one was fascinated, this holiday was certainly a voyage of animal exploration for her.

Of course you don’t need to necessarily need to stay in Wales to experience cottages like the one we had. Sykes Cottages have more than 6,000 cottages across the UK and Ireland. The booking process, customer service and post-holiday experience is seamless and they’re priced pretty well too.

So here’s to the next little adventure. We already know where that will be but you’ll need to stay tuned to find out!