An Englishman in Wales #1

Greetings from Turkey, my first stop in Asia on the way to Kazakhstan. I’ve been here for a week now – in this time I’ve gone to a wedding, explored the city with friends and made a trip to Istanbul to visit more friends. I’ll be sharing some of my insights on this fascinating country in future posts. Today, I want to reflect back on my time in South Wales and celebrate the finest it has to offer – it’s a beautiful part of the world and I encourage you all to visit if you’ve yet to!

Swansea and the Gower Peninsula
For the first couple of years that I was living in South Wales, I didn’t realise how much Swansea had to offer. The city centre itself isn’t the most pretty, but it has a wide range of shops and restaurants, including my favourite Middle Eastern restaurant, Awa. The bay, however, is stunning! I loved going on walks around Swansea Marina and along the coast to the Mumbles. There’s a great free museum that explores the history of Swansea and its waterfront that I highly recommend. You can also get a stunning view of Swansea Bay from the Grape and Olive restaurant at the corner of the marina.

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On your way to the Mumbles I’d recommend a walk through Clyne Gardens – if you go up into the woods, you’ll be able to get another beautiful view of Swansea and the bay too. The Mumbles is a quaint touristy part of Swansea with nice cafes and restaurants, and a fairly decent castle to visit. I highly recommend going to Verdi’s for a delicious Italian ice cream!

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After visiting Swansea and the Mumbles, you have to go to the Gower – it is stunningly beautiful and a great place to go for coastal walks. My favourite beaches are Three Cliffs and Rhossili Bay, but you can’t really go wrong in visiting most of them! Walking over Worms Head when the tide is out is a fun activity to do, but make sure you check the tidal forecast to allow enough time to return back before the water comes in! I’m a big fan of castles, my favourite on the Gower would have to be Pennard – it’s a ruin at the top of Three Cliffs, but it’s very atmospheric and there are great views to be had once you’ve climbed up the sandy hill. Finally, I’d encourage you to finish your day off at the King Arthur for a tasty Welsh meal and a pint of local beer.

The Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons are to mountains what the Gower is to coast and countryside – both are gorgeous places to explore and highly recommended to visit – particularly if you’re into hiking in the countryside. The Brecon Beacons showcase the beauty of rural, hilly Wales – my favourite place to walk here is up to Pen y Fan – the highest point in the Beacons – take a look at the view below that you get from the top.

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Another highlight of the Brecon Beacons is Waterfall Country – spread throughout the lower Brecons is a series of waterfalls, many of which you can get to by foot – there’s a specific waterfall walk that I recommend that will take you to four of them over the course of a few hours, including one that was used as the entrance to the bat cave in Batman Begins.

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In terms of towns, Brecon and Hay are both quaint places to visit – Brecon has a lovely cathedral and Hay is known for its books, hosting an annual literary festival. Going back to castles, I’d say that my favourite in the Brecon Beacons region is Carreg Cennen – it’s on the top of the hill and feels very atmospheric – if you’re like me and like castles you can certainly see a number of these in this region on one day if you’re up for it!

I realised after I started writing this post that there’s too many places I recommend in South Wales, so next time I write on this topic I’ll be sharing my recommendations of places to visit in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire!

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