Wales home base

We're visiting Wales in a few weeks and thinking about a home base or bases. We're renting a car, and willing to travel a couple ( that's two) hours each way to a destination. Our style of touring is of the wander aimlessly about happy just to be here if we see something really cool and interesting , great , school. With that in mind should we plan on more than one home base to get the optimal Wales experience ?
Peter

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Two would work best.

Maybe Caernarvon and either Pembroke Dock or Llandrindod Wells, depending on your interests.

Optionally, you can just do ever what Fab is going to say since his ideas are always better than mine.

Posted by Ann
Hereford
35 posts

You don't say whether you want to do north or south or both and in between.
My husband and I were in Wales for two weeks in May. We used two bases.

Conwy in the north where we explored the castles and Neolithic sites on Anglesey, as well as anything else that struck our fancy in the mountains. We used Enterprise Car Rental in Llandudno Junction and it worked well. They picked us up at our B and B and then we were on our own after doing the paperwork at their office.
We spent five days there.
Then we drove down through the mid section and hit the coast around Cardigan where we did a lot of coast walks and explored inland as well.
We finished at Carmarthen for an overnight so we could turn our Enterprise rental in and catch the train to London to fly home. While we were there we went down to Kidwelly and Llansteffen
Hope this helps.

Posted by nordicajester
9 posts

Thanks Ed and Ann for your replys, both were helpfull. As we'll be coming from Cornwall Ann's route reversed might work well for us. Sorry to be vague about areas of exploration but my knowledge of Wales is woefully slim. We've got about eleven days of a twenty one day UK holiday to plan and I thought wandering around Wales for most of them would be just the thing. Is the North much different than the South? Would there be enough variety in just driving around the coast? Neolithic, and early industrial site are good as well as any thing maritime history and small boat related are prime areas of intrest to me, my wife will call our holiday a success if she can get a great photo of the car on a small road surrounded by sheep.
Peter

Posted by James
260 posts

Basically most of Wales is scenic but there is a former coalfield area in a narrow band across south Wales which is best avoided - though the A470 expressway between Cardiff & Merthyr shoots you through it in about 25 minutes.

The capital, Cardiff is worth a look and has 4 very different castles within 7 miles of the centre:>
www.cardiffcastle.com; www.museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans;http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/caerphilly-castle/?lang=en;http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/castell-coch/?lang=en; www.visitcardiff.com
Pleasant farming country is found to the west of Cardiff. This has http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens/ and nearby is the St.Lythans Burial Chamber >http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/stlythansburialchamber/?lang=en
So, you might like to consider staying a night or 2 in Cardiff - or as a day trip from the Brecon area which is about 1 hour away.
www.visitcardiff.com

However, if you wish to avoid cities altogether and just stick to the country areas, then that to can be easily accomplished. You come up from Cornwall on the M5 and cross the Avonmouth bridge - traffic here is heavy so be careful to follow the correct lane > you need M49 South Wales. You then cross the Severn estuary (M4) on a huge bridge and must pay a toll of £6.40. Just as you approach Newport, leave the M4 at Junction 24 & take the A449 expressway going north. Drive for about 10 miles/ minutes on the expressway and leave at the second junction (Raglan) and take A40 towards Abergavenny. (If you wish to visit the ruins of Raglan Castle - loop back at the first roundabout & then turn L up the driveway. On leaving the Castle - must turn L but then turn L almost immediately and turn the car around to then turn R and get back to route going NW towards Abergavenny. Look at Google Earth to see the road configuration & all will be clear). http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/raglancastle/?lang=en

Anyway, If you now just stick to the A40, you would have a scenic route through part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. I would be inclined to try and set up a base somewhere in the Crickhowell > Brecon area for maybe 3 or 4 days.http://www.breconbeacons.org

Now, after staying in the Brecon area, you could either head up through the middle of Wales on the A470 to NW Wales or take the A40 westward to Pembrokeshire with detours to http://www.carregcennencastle.com/Castle.htm & http://www.gardenofwales.org.uk and/or http://www.aberglasney.org - though I was not that impressed with the latter. If going to Pembrokeshire, I would not miss out Tenby. Drive to Bosherston - park by church & take walk over lily pools to the coast - turn L & walk to stunning Barafundle Bay.
http://www.visitwales.com/explore/national-parks/pembrokeshire-coast

So, perhaps a second base in Pembrokeshire? Then up the W coast - Aberaeron is worth a quick look.http://www.discoverceredigion.co.uk/english/Pages/default.aspx

The road to Barmouth passes along a lovely estuary. Harlech Castle is worth seeing. The Porthmadog area makes a good base for NW Wales = Snowdonia. http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/home .Be sure to visit http://www.portmeirion-village.com ;http://www.festrail.co.uk;

http://www.farmstay.co.uk/wales/
Hope this helps! You might want to try and find the places / routes on Google Earth.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Based on the three or four months I've spent in Wales, Conwy would be a non-starter as a northern base since it's in the corner. There's not much difference between Fab's Porthmadog and my Caernarfon except for proximity to the Menai Bridge. Also, I don't feel that Porthmadog has a great pub selection or as many places to wander around at the end of the day.

Since you've fessed up to some interests, here's a couple of encyclopedias:

http://www.megalithic.co.uk

http://www.castlewales.com

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Sheep

I'd say that it's more likely Ireland where you see the sheep marching down the road. From what I've seen, the British seem to move them around with trailers.

Regardless, the Brutish open-land rules allow you into any fields as long as you leave the gates the way you find them, don't trample the crops, and don't harass the critters. My interest is megalithic stones so I spend a lot of time out in the sheep fields. The buggers are either docile or stupid. Anyway, you can go stand amongst them and take all the pictures you want.

If you're going to park in a gate cut-out and get very far from the car, leave the keys in it so somebody can move it if they need to.

Posted by James
260 posts

I would not rave about Porthmadog as a town but I do think that somewhere in that general area would be a good place to have a base in NW Wales due to central position.

Any upland road in Wales will have wandering sheep. You can sometimes just stop and zee zillions of them covering the hillsides. Welsh farmers will use dogs to help round up the sheep for shearing & for bringing them down to lowland fields for the winter.

You can usually find places to park without blocking gates.

Posted by nordicajester
9 posts

Thanks all; the very usefull information here has enabled me to plan, as much as we plan ie. accommodations , seven days of wandering in Wales. Just two days of accommodations to book than done.

Peter