- Countryside Verdant variety show
- Country life Coastline, castles and contemporary cool
The sleepy green counterpoint to southern England’s metropolitan madness.
Over the past decade, the central swath of Wales has gained a golden reputation among organic-aware weekenders looking for a break from urban living. Happily, ye olde Wales and cool Cymru co-exist perfectly. There are superchic hotels and restaurants, but also plenty of auntie-run pubs still going strong. Mid-Wales beaches offer Atlantic surf and retro charm; walkers can hike up Snowdon or stroll down the English Marches. With its Victorian spa towns, millions of books in Hay, and the growing gastro scene showcasing Welsh produce, this is a region approaching Next Big Thing status.
Do go/Don’t go
It’s all about the weather: seasonal serendipity will decide whether you enjoy a roaring fire or a beach barbecue, though a summer’s day is always likely to be bracing rather than baking. Beaches fill up on summer bank holidays but remember, a crisp winter walk can be extra special when you’ve got the whole valley, beach or hillside to yourselves.
- Planes Cardiff Airport (www.cwlfly.co.uk) and Bristol Airport (www.bristolairport.co.uk) are the closest international links.
- Trains Train travel in Mid-Wales is scenic if not super-reliable: the Heart of Wales line (www.heart-of-wales.co.uk) runs daily between Llandrindod Wells and Llandovery. From Shrewsbury, trains run east to Machynlleth and Aberystwyth. Arriva Trains Wales (0845 606 1660; www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk) operates most services.
- Automobiles Cardiff is a good two-and-a-half hour drive from London | via the M4. Once in Wales | a car’s a must if you want to do any exploring. Driving here | especially on minor roads | can be a real pleasure.
- Taxis Outside Cardiff, you’ll have to pre-book or find out if there’s a decent local firm via your hotel.