We have 5 nights in Wales. The 1st three nights are in Narberth where we will explore Pembrokeshire. We have 2 more nights in Wales before heading to the Cotswolds. Any ideas where we should go for the 2 nights in Wales? We don't mind spending a few hours to get to our destination or break it up by staying at two different locations. Guide books recommend Conwy, Snowdonia Park and North Wales. Is this too far from Pembrokeshire/Cotwolds or is there another "must see" area ? We are interested in scenic routes, good food, historical sites (a castle or house), local culture (pubs, markets etc) and short hikes.
When you go to Narberth, where are you coming from? Are nights already booked & at what time of year? I take it you are driving?
Our accommodations in Pembrokeshire are booked. It is just the two nights before we go to the Cotswolds that we need to decide on. We are travelling in the spring and will be driving.
Still no idea of your start point so I will assume it is London and that you will be using the M4 to Narberth along with the A40 for the final bit. If you drove non stop it would take you getting on for 5 hours to do such a trip. So, you will need to take a break en-route. These places are within 10 minutes of your route. (Look at road configuration on Google Earth).
M4 Junction 32 (north of Cardiff) = Castell Coch. Go through the village of Tongwynlais & follow signs. Beware of nasty humps in village.http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/castell-coch/?lang=en
M4 J33 (NW of Cardiff). St.Fagans Castle & Museum. Leave M4 at J33 & take A4232 south for just over 1 mile. Look out for brown signs and SLOW down to 15 mph in the slip road as the turn is very sharp. To get back to M4, you will need to return to A4232 but are only allowed to turn left. Loop back to M4 from the next junction (Culverhouse Cross)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Fagans_National_History_Museum
A48 at Porth-Y-Rhyd (Just East of Carmarthen) - National Botanic Garden of Wales.http://www.gardenofwales.org.uk
When in Narberth, be sure to visit Tenby and take the boat to Caldy Island if weather is good. Check days when open here:-http://www.caldey-island.co.uk
Another day trip I recommend is to drive to Pembroke (which has a Castle) and then B4319 to Bosherston. Park behind the church and follow footpath along the lily pools to the beach at Broad Haven. When you reach the coast, turn east and walk to beautiful Barafundle Bay. (A shorter walk to Barafundle comes from Stackpole Quay but this misses the lily pools). On returning to car at Bosherston, continue west on B4319 until you see a *tank on your left. Take the next left and follow road to coast. You have now reached Stack Rocks. Walk 5 minutes to the right (west) and you will see the huge sea arch called 'The Green Bridge of Wales'. Wak east from the parking area and you will see 'The Cauldron' and Flimston Bay - but you would have to be a mountain goat to reach the beach - I made it! * This is the Castlmartin Army Range. It is normally only open to the public on weekends and holidays.
Another day trip could be to St.David's and west Pembrokeshire.
Right, now for heading to the Cotswolds.You could head up to north Wales for a couple of nights but it is pushing it. Alternatively, follow the A40 back to Carmarthen and then head for Llandeilo by the A40 or B4300. (You may like to visit Aberglasney Gardens but I was not that impressed).http://www.aberglasney.org
This ruined castle is between Carmarthen & Llandeilo: http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/dryslwyncastle/?lang=en
Anyway, just east of Llandeilo is Carreg Cennen Castle - a ruin on top of a crag and this is impressive.http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/Carreg-cennen-castle/?lang=en
Next, I would continue to the Brecon area to spend a couple of nights (on your way to the Cotswolds). You can do this by following the A40 via Llandovery though an alternative route by backroads does exist - but you must be able to drive backwards to passing places. In the Brecon Beacons National Park, these caves are worth a http://www.showcaves.co.ukhttp:
On leaving the Brecon area for the Cotswolds - take A40 to Abergavenny and then A40 to Raglan. (Stop to see Castle at Raglan - on left). Then A40 (towards Monmouth) & M50 & leave M50 at J1 for Tewkesbury (see Abbey)? From Tewkesbury take A46 going E & then B4077 to your first Cotswold villages = Stanway & Stanton.
I must second the St. Fagan's recommendation. We have been to several open air museums in Europe (including Skansen in Stockholm) and we found St. Fagan's just as charming. We spent an entire day there and enjoyed it all. (Do have tea in the tea room above the 19th century market store.)
There is no shortage of castles, local culture, scenic routes, and short hikes in Wales. I would consider Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons. In Snowdonia, we stayed in Betws-y-Coed, which was okay. In the Brecon Beacons area, we stayed in Crickhowell, which was lovely. Brecon is a very nice town as well. Snowdonia is more dramatic, but both national parks are quite beautiful.