They say a change is as good as a rest and after months and months of lockdown even more so. So, in late June, we decided to take ourselves away for a few days. Our walks around the Vale have kept us sane but as much as we’ve enjoyed it, we’ve yearned to explore – to get lost shall we say.
We didn’t want to venture too far (abroad is certainly off the list at this point), so we thought West Wales could be an option. We were a little concerned that most places would be booked up but perhaps a midweek excursion would offer more choice and we were right.
Now we’ve never tried AirBnB. No particular reason – just creatures of habit. Again, we thought let’s roll the search dice and see what the app presents. It wasn’t long before we found Llwyn Yr Ynn, near Talley, owned by Robert and Kate, nestled in the countryside (above) just outside Llandeilo.
Reading Room & Library, Llandeilo
Llandeilo had been a popular destination when we were courting (dating, if you’re American reading this), back around twenty-five (ish) years ago it had a particularly impressive high street and Jennifer loved a little boutique there called Cherubs. Cherubs has long gone and the town has ridden the commerce rollercoaster ever since. Thankfully it seems to be on the rise again with some good independent shops, eateries and a hotel at its centre.
We booked a Wednesday and Thursday night at Llwyn Yr Ynn and were excited at the prospect. The weather had been good and the forecast looked promising. Booking is easy I have to say, and the app works very well, even for novices like us.
We left at 9 am, intending to check in around 3pm. There’s plenty to see so we headed for the market town of Narberth. The equivalent town in the Vale of Glamorgan would be Cowbridge (sadly it lost its market quite recently – a sign of the times).
Narberth had a lot of heart, despite the drizzle
Our mood was slightly dampened by the drizzle on arrival, but we had a good look around and ended up having lunch in The Ivy Bush Inn. The staff were extremely friendly, and we were confidently informed that this was the best pub in Narberth and, if we wished to eat, we wouldn’t be disappointed. We weren’t. The Ivy Bush Inn’s kitchen produced a very competent lamb shank, mash, vegetables, and gravy – really good gravy actually.
After lunch we headed for Tenby and after a brief wander around headed back to check in at Llwyn Yr Ynn.
If we had any concerns about finding our destination, they evaporated quickly. Robert’s directions were excellent, and we arrived as planned.
The bedrooms at Llwyn Yr Ynn are tastefully furnished
Robert hadn’t arrived home, but Kate was there to greet us and give us a brief scoot around, just so we knew where everything was. We had booked two luxury king-sized bedrooms and they met our expectations. Tastefully decorated and, most importantly, spotless. There is a beautiful fully equipped shared kitchen, dining area, lounge with premium recliners and a wood burning stove. The lounge was spacious and featured a 60” OLED tv with Netflix, Amazon Prime complemented by site-wide WiFi – a home from home.
We loved the colour of the kitchen at Llwynn Yr Ynn
At this point, we were in explore mode so headed back out with the promise that we’d meet Robert later and he could give us the grand tour.
The beautiful log burner had us thinking about returning in winter
With the weather improving rapidly, we headed for Llandovery and a little mooch around the antique shops before heading to Llandeilo for a walk around. The main retail areas were closed at this point, so we headed back to base. By this time Robert was home and we were keen for him to show us around.
This really is a rural idyll. The traffic is noticeable by its absence. This cool, home-from-home sits in expansive secure grounds which include an orchard, a wildflower meadow and a picnic area with firepit. To say we were impressed would be an understatement. If you were on the run, this is the place to hide. Kate also runs several craft businesses from the site and has her own studio where she works and teaches.
Robert is running guided tours in the area for motorcyclists so the plentiful, secure parking and storage for sports and leisure equipment is perfect to accommodate visitors’ vehicles and their kit. The location is handy for the Brecon Beacons, Brechfa and the coast.
This is, as this lovely couple are keen to stress (and this is the only stress you’ll experience here), a proper rural getaway. You won’t be bothered with neighbours or the usual hustle and bustle of city living. There are some excellent pubs and restaurants a short drive away, but there are no forms of local transport so your car, bike or feet are your only options to get around. We definitely liked that.
We enjoyed an excellent curry at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine in Carmarthen
Guided tour over, we still had itchy feet and hungry tums so decided to head for Carmarthen for a curry. Cinnamon Indian Cuisine on Mansel Street came highly recommended and around twenty minutes later we were sat enjoying a very good curry. If The Raj at home in Rhoose is a 10/10, Cinnamon was a solid 8.5. We can certainly endorse it and the service, along with the food, was excellent. As we tootled back to Llwyn Yr Ynn, the only thought on our minds was could we get a good night’s sleep.
The answer was yes. The beds are very comfortable and after a sound sleep, the following morning we awoke to a beautiful dawn and enjoyed a cup of tea strolling around the beautiful, wild, buttercup meadow in the company of Kate and Robert’s cheeky Schnauzers Rhubarb (Ruby) and Dill. They are particularly affectionate, and we loved their playful and inquisitive nature – great company.
Mornings at Llwyn Yr Ynn are quite magical
We were keen to make the most of a beautiful day so headed to New Quay, Cardigan, for breakfast. We have visited New Quay many times over the years. My most memorable time there was two weeks as a child in the heat-wave summer of 1976. And on this glorious June Thursday, with the sun beating down, the memories came flooding back.
New Quay holds special childhood memories
Thankfully, unlike many popular coastal towns across Wales and the South West of England, New Quay hasn’t yet been yuppified and, in my humble opinion, ruined by the second-home crowd of London and the South East. New Quay still looks remarkably similar to the New Quay I fell in love with as a fourteen-year-old boy.
A tasty Welsh breakfast set us up for a lovely walk across the harbour wall and then a stroll up the hill and through the town. A little moan at this point. The machines in the car park are appallingly bad – difficult to fathom – everyone was complaining. The local council clearly had decided that simplicity shouldn’t be the order of the day. I ended up being fleeced for 24 hours parking when I was trying to purchase two. The car park toilets were not up to par either. Not impressed. If you need the loo, use one of the local businesses.
Cenarth is beautiful and the tea room sells the best Bara Brith (cake)
After a quick glance at the map we took ourselves off to Cenarth to view the falls and we were not disappointed in the least. The Teifi was flowing, and we enjoyed a lovely circular walk along the river and up and around the hill overlooking the valley. Our effort was rewarded back in Cenarth with good coffee and an unbelievably moist piece of locally made Bara Brith* which was, honestly, one of the best I have ever tasted.
Aberporth is full of character, and history
After a further stroll around Cenarth, we headed back to the coast. This time we had Aberporth in our sights and the opportunity for a coastal walk to Tresaith. Aberporth is lovely and, quite frankly, these gorgeous Welsh coastal hamlets come alive in the sun.
Between Aberporth and Tresaith
Tresaith is further up the coast and has a small beach and a few cafés and eateries. We stopped at The Ship Inn for a drink but were so impressed by the burgers coming out we had to try one so sat, in the sun, overlooking the beach, staring at the beautiful blue sea, both of us thinking it was like we were back in Spain enjoying lunch on the Med. It was absolutely breath-taking.
Bliss, a scrumptious cheeseburger overlooking the blue waters off Tresaith beach
We walked the couple of miles back to Aberporth and, as the day was still young, thought we’d pop up to Llangrannog, Llandysul. Parking just above the town (free car park – take note New Quay), we walked down to the beautiful beach and again sat enjoying a coffee before taking a stroll on the beach and up around the headland. By this time, we were selling everything and moving to West Wales, it was that intoxicating.
Llangrannog is quite stunning and well worth a visit
Our leisurely drive back to Llwyn Yr Ynn was unbelievably relaxing. We managed to get onto a road marked ‘unknown’ by Google and were treated to some of the most magnificent views of the region. We thought the Vale was beautiful, but this was like the Vale on steroids. An endless vista of trees, fields and lush greenery that seemed to stretch to the horizon. Robert and Kate had talked about what had attracted them to the area several years earlier and we could understand the magnetism this region had, not only for them but everyone who visits. Yes, we were seeing it at its very best (everywhere looks better when the sun is shining) but this was special, magical even.
West Wales, and particularly Carmarthenshire, is full of history
Dusk fell and as we watched the sun set, we couldn’t help but feel good about our little excursion into paradise. We love to travel, to explore – it keeps us alive. It certainly recharges the batteries and ours were full to bursting, but ready for another great night’s sleep in those super comfy king-size beds.
Sadly time to leave. Time to part company with the cheeky Schnauzers and say goodbye to this really special place. We had said our goodbyes to Robert the evening before. He was up and away early – his job still tears him away from his ultimate dream of semi-retirement heaven. Kate was on hand to wish us well and leaving was just that little harder because we’d felt we’d met some souls we liked – kindred spirits if you will.
To the east, Pendine sands appear endless but there’s more to see around the headland to the west
We waved goodbye, vowing to return at some point and headed for Pendine for breakfast. Yes, another blast from the past, Pendine Sands. Again, a family holiday destination from long before the 1976 trip to New Quay. My dad had driven us down on to the beach early one morning and I had taken the wheel of our Ford Cortina – and in that moment, as an eight year old boy, I was John Parry-Thomas and that old Cortina was the beautiful, gleaming and streamlined Babs, out to beat Sir Malcolm Campbell in his Bluebird
We never quite broke the land speed record that day but we had fun, and the joy Jennifer and I experienced on this little road trip was just enough to recharge the batteries and get us ready for another few sprints in the rat race.
Sometimes, a short break can make all the difference in life. West Wales is full of wonder, and you don’t always have to book a hotel. Jump online, look up Llwyn Yr Ynn and book a few days away. Who knows something quite magical might happen? Ladies and gentleman start your engines…
Llwyn Yr Ynn
Talley, Llandeilo SA19 7
07866 442324 (Robert)
Llwynn Yr Ynn images courtesy of Robert, the rest are Mark’s (all are copyright).
Bara brith (or speckled bread), is a yeast bread either enriched with dried fruit or made with self-raising flour. It’s more of a cake really. It is traditionally flavoured with tea, dried fruits and mixed spices, and is served sliced and buttered at tea time (actually any time of the day is fine by us). It is delicious.