Staycation in Wales this year
You don’t need a crystal ball to predict that we won’t be jetting off to all corners of the globe any time soon. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Let’s look on the bright side. No more red-eyed flight times. No more airport hassle. No more buffet breakfast scrums. No more towel wars with Germans. No more faux-folklorique evenings with fire-eating jugglers and dodgy dancers.
There are other, genuinely positive benefits. We’re becoming more appreciative of the calming nature of ‘slow tourism’. We’re searching out real, authentic experiences. We’re looking beyond our back doors for the first time and waking up to the fact that Britain is a big, open book, the pages of which we’ve barely read.
Without indulging in too much one-upmanship, it’s fair to say that Wales is particularly well-placed to welcome visitors this year. When it comes to fresh air, big skies, open spaces and inspiring countryside and coastline, it ticks all the boxes.
More than a quarter of Wales is covered by National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast and nature reserves. There’s proper wilderness in the solitudes of central Wales, where sheep easily outnumber people and you can get lost in the remote Teifi Pools or the woods of handsome Hafod Estate, with just red kites (and sheep, of course) for company.
Escapist, post-lockdown experiences are thick on the ground. There’s the Wales Coast Path, the world’s first continuous national coastal trail; all 870 miles of it, so you’re sure to find that perfect away-from-it-all beach (how about the 7 miles of Cefn Sidan Sands in the south, or the endless dunes at Ynyslas in Mid Wales, or the twin crescents at Porth Dinllaen and Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula?).
Inland, it’s easy to find alternatives to the honeypot summit of Snowdon by pointing your walking boots in the direction of other parts of the 845-square-mile Snowdonia National Park: looming, brooding Cader Idris above Dolgellau, for example, or the untrodden Aran range above Bala. In the south, explore the dark side of the Brecon Beacons National Park – the deserted Black Mountain in the west, and equally lonely Black Mountains (plural) along the Wales/England border.
As The Sunday Times recently remarked, ‘You can still go on safari this summer … in the wilds of Wales.’ The country could have been purpose built for activity and adventure. The Times article goes on to say that ‘operators more familiar with Africa than Aberystwyth are offering original ways to enjoy the UK this summer’, citing ‘horse riding trips to the Black Mountains and boat rides to see dolphins’.
There’s also the man-made stuff: over 600 castles to explore (top tip: for the ultimate romantic ruin search out Castell-y-Bere, hidden on the flanks of Cader Idris), and all manner of adrenaline activities like flying by zipwire, coasteering, mountain biking and surfing (not just in the sea, but on an inland lagoon).
You can go as far as you want in Wales, with the bonus that it’s all so close to home. Take a look at a map: Wales is just a few hours from most of the UK’s main centres of population. Welsh Rarebits look forward to welcoming you back in 2021– or seeing you for the first time.