Three Weeks in Wales

Old May 18th, 2024, 03:40 PM
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Three Weeks in Wales

My wife and I are planning to spend three weeks in Wales in September/October. We are 72 years old so not interested in surfing or so-called adventure tourism. While I love walking my wife’s health doesn’t allow her long or too strenuous walks.

I am not really interested in cities so will probably avoid Cardiff and even Swansea. While we are interested to see a few castles, grand houses etc, we are particularly interested in small towns and villages, whether coastal fishing villages or rural hamlets, and more off the tourist trail places. I know it sounds ridiculous, and to a large extent it is, especially in just 3 weeks, but we would like to see the Wales that exists beneath the tourism veneer. We are both retired historians and keen photographers but our interest lies more with the ‘common’ people than the rich and famous.

We will have a car and my initial inclination is to stay for about 4 nights in each of 5 locations, thinking that the drives between these bases together with day trips from them should enable us to experience a fair bit.

We will fly in to Heathrow, arriving about lunch time so my thought is to pick up the car there and drive to somewhere like Chepstow for the first night - not thought of as one of our 5 bases. From there I thought we could take a broad anti-clockwise direction up through Brecon Beacons (possibly our first base) to North Wales and Anglesey before heading south (along the coast perhaps) to a final base in the south-west. From there we would head direct back to Heathrow.

While I am wading through guidebooks it would be great to hear from anyone with advice as to whether this sounds like a reasonable plan and, more importantly, any suggestions as to where we should make our 5 bases.

Thanks in advance, Paul
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Old May 18th, 2024, 05:27 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Not to worry -- you wouldn't be surfing in Wales in October even IF you were into it

"We will fly in to Heathrow, arriving about lunch time so my thought is to pick up the car there and drive to somewhere like Chepstow for the first night -"

Terrible (really really bad) idea. Are you flying in hong haul? Driving on the first day is never advised but especially this trek of nearly 120 miles. It isn't just jet lag -- it is micro sleeps, the unfamiliarity of the road signs, traffic patterns etc. Either stay the first night in Windsor or maybe central London and collect the car at LHR the next day . . . OR . . . Take the Express coach to either Bristol or Cardiff, stay the night there and collect a car the next day.


Or even fly into MAN, stay the night and collect a car the next day. From MAN you could a loop something Chester > Conwy > Snowdonia > down along the coast > Pembrokeshire/St Davids > east towards Cardiff/Brecon Beacons/Chepstow/Tintern - then on to LHR, drop car and fly home.

Or do this in reverse from south to north.

Exactly where you stay in N Wales and on the west coast -- there are just tons of options.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 08:01 PM
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In general janisj that's good advice but our flight to Heathrow is only 4 hours after having spent some time in Turkey so jetlag won't be an issue. As for the drive to Chepstow being a trek I'm from Australia where we think nothing of driving 120 miles for a coffee. I realise traffic patterns etc are different but I've driven in the UK before so am not too concerned about that. They can't be any worse than those I've encountered in places like India and Thailand.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 08:26 PM
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Don't (ever) think of traveling in OZ being similar to the UK. Having said that -- only flying in from Turkey makes your original plan doable. (So many first timers posting on this board are either flying in overnight from North America or all the way from OZ/NZ so I just assumed )

So your plan of driving to Chepstow is totally doable. I'd spend maybe 3 or 4 nights in the general Chepstow area -- but maybe farther inland like near Abergevenny / Brecon. This would be a great base for Brecon Beacons / Chepstow / Tintern etc.

Then head out to Pembrokeshire and the rest of my loop but in reverse. End up dropping the car at MAN and either fly down to LHR . . . or maybe take the train to London for a couple of nights before flying out.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 08:32 PM
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Meant to add -- many of the scenic villages and towns in rural Wales can be a bit difficult for those with mobility issues. Maybe taking a lightweight/folding rollator will help. (not sure what they are called in Australia but something like this https://vocic.com/products/ergonomic...RoCOPoQAvD_BwE )
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Old May 18th, 2024, 10:53 PM
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You may like Portmeirion
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Old May 18th, 2024, 11:55 PM
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Croeso, from Chepstow you could vaguely follow Offa's Dike north through the Marches.

Don't ignore North East Wales. Wrexham is hot at the moment thanks to the football team and the film stars, but in that area you also have Pontcysyllte aqueduct, Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen, St Asaph, second smallest city after st David's. a few castles, moorland.
Northern Eryri (Snowdonia) can turn into a massive car park on a fine weekend even that late in the year, so if you want to see that area try and do it on a week-day.
Maybe visit a slate mine or quarry.
Ynys Mon (Anglesey) is lovely, with gorgeous coastline, prehistoric monuments, ancient chapels, Beaumaris of course,
Southern Eryri and the Llyn peninsula are quieter and still have plenty of things to see and do. Machynlleth is a nice market town.

Further south you might like the Dolaucothi gold mine https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/wales/dolaucothi
Llangrannog is a lovely village on the coast.
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