We have a great time this summer. After our week in Amalfi in Italy, right at the beginning and our quick weekender to test out the new van, we finished off our summer holidays with 10 days in Wales, in our new T5 camper.
I promised a proper post all about our campervan, which I will do, but you can see a little montage of campervan goodness to whet your appetite for now because this post is really about beautiful Wales!
I will just say this first – if you wanted me to explain why we decided to go for a campervan, I would simply show you this picture below – our van parked up somewhere beautiful and remote (or anywhere else we might fancy), with facilities to make tea and sandwiches on tap. Perfect.
We booked ourselves onto a lovely simple campsite on a working farm near Pennal, in Mid Wales called Gweniago Farm. It was rural and simple, with no games room or washing machines etc (neither of which we wanted), but the showers were amazing – we certainly weren’t slumming it by any means, and the family that run it are really friendly and welcoming.
Unfortunately not only was it lashing it down when we got there, but it had been for the previous three days straight, so the bridge to Machynlleth was almost out due to the flooded river Dyfi. We erected the awning in the rain, got out the wellies and sat in the van that evening playing cards. I have to say we were very worried about getting out of the field the next day because there was so much water on the ground, but it was fine because they just towed us out with their tractor.
The next day we took to the Roman Steps at Harlech which was a real trip down memory lane for us. Gary and I found this magical place quite by chance about 20 years ago, it’s also the place we went to watch the solar eclipse in 2000.
I had quite forgotten how magical it was, and after such a bad night in the rain (and rather frayed tempers on our first night in the van, I must admit), it was the tonic we needed. We spent a good few hours there in the sessile oak forest then walking up the mountain towards the steps, we all had such a great time, and I hope this will become as a fond a memory for the kids as they grow up, as it is for us already.
We got a great balance of not doing too much, but just enough to explore the area which I don’t know very well. Aberdyfi is somewhere I visited as a child, and it was much more pretty than I remember it.
Mid Wales is definitely an area we plan to visit again, and I am itching to take the children up Mount Snowdon, where I have been quite a few times as a venture scout (many many years ago!).
After four nights there, we set off to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire to a rather quirky campsite I booked called Hillfort Tipis. It’s situated right on the tops above Stumble Head, and really is a beautiful spot.
Because of the site restrictions, there are portaloos rather than flushing toilets and a rather quirky converted horsebox into two showers and a kitchen for the site. It’s definitely not a site for people who like all the mod-cons, as this is all there is, facilities wise. However, if like to go off-grid or are no stranger to the odd festival, then it’s perfect! Our van has gas and a leisure battery, so we sat in our field charging our electronics, with a fridge and running water – all we needed was the view, and it certainly delivered there! John runs the site, and makes sure you get a fire (a recycled washing machine drum) and plenty of firewood.
It’s worth mentioning that they do beautiful tipis and yurts to rent, if you fancy a spot of glamping, instead.
We have been to Pembrokeshire the last 6 years, but the previous 3 has been lower down to the Broadhaven area. Fishguard was a welcome return and we even went back to the same Indian Restaurant for a takeaway that we had visited 6 years ago. The food did not disappoint, and sitting outside around a real fire, followed by toasted marshmallows is certainly a fantastic change!
We ate fish and chips at the Old Harbour in Fishguard, and spent a couple of afternoons exploring Parrog and the other way down the coast to Porthgain. This really is a stunning part of the world, and we wondered why we had never found these places before!
We tried on a couple of occasions to get in to The Shed Bistro at Porthgain, and managed on our final night. Proper gorgeous fish, you simply have to eat there if you get the chance.
Holidays are so much easier now that our children are older, we can travel lighter, and just go out when the mood takes us without all the palarva of prams and stuff you seem to need with younger children. The dog fitted in very well with our little crew, and was happy in or out of the van as long as we moved his bed and made sure we took him swimming somewhere every day. He even fits snuggly into the van in his bed once we are tucked up for the night.
Apart from the day and evening that we travelled across, the weather was so kind to us. Of course the weather is everything for a UK-based holiday. If you get great weather, there is nowhere better to be than here. However, we are hoping that our campervan and awning combo will keep us happy and relaxed should we not be so lucky next time.
We are looking forward to more adventures in our new van! As a new convert to vanlife, I would welcome any tips from van owners on spots you like, or little tricks to getting the most from you van when you are away.