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Go West (in the UK)

cotswoldsceneIt may have been decidedly chilly this April in the UK, but when you come prepared it doesn't need to spoil a holiday there. This time we decided to Go West.

The Cotswolds

Such a beautiful part of the country with its pale brick houses scattered over sheep filled fields. You don't need to go to the best known picturesque towns to get a grip on what is Cotswold chic. The whole area oozes its own country charm.

Nailsworth is bursting with independent shops.  I loved the quirky items sold in Sharland & Lewis. This shop is in a converted mill and also houses The Canteen which serves tapas on the weekend, and the Enchanted Childhood, a magical toy shop. Pop into the Hobbs House Bakery too. Take a pretty walk along by Ruskin Mill. Here a non-profit organization supports youth with learning disabilities through training in arts, craft, agriculture and environmental sciences. Nailsworth promotes art through its spring festival each year when local artists exhibit their work all over the town.

Close by you could stay at Cotswold Yurts to make the most of the stunning countryside. Between the Cotswolds and Cardiff there is the impressive castle hotel, Thornbury Castle, complete with coats of armour and secret panels.


We did take a drive through the Cheddar Gorge which makes a pleasant excursion if you take the open top bus and visit the caves too. (£50 for a family ticket.) Buy cave matured Cheddar and Wilcox Cider to take away with you. Or there are caves at Wookey Hole nearby too.

glastonburytorBath, the wonderful Roman spa town, feels like you are in a living museum as you walk the streets. Visiting the ancient baths takes you back 2000 years, actors help you go back in time. For more details see website here. Try staying at the converted boathouse, Toad Hall, from which you can enjoy activities on the river Avon on a boat, The Cru Houseboats.

Stonehenge should not be missed when visiting this part of the country. The ring of standing stone date back from around 2000-3000 BC and the efforts that would have been undertaken to get the stones in place is unfathomable. The site has spiritual significance, for those who constructed it, and for people today and is a magical place to be. The website can be seen here.

Glastonbury is a great hippy town to visit. Of course most people know it only for the festival but its a special place to go to outside of that time. A wonder down the High Street must take you one step closer to Enlightenment. There is a meditation centre, crystals, floaty clothing stores, Indian wares and veggie cafes to explore. Be sure to climb up the Tor for a view over the whole area. Also found here are the Glastonbury Abbey and Lady Chapel - ruins of the first Christian church in Europe.

See Tor View Shepherds Huts


Sorry to say we had to drive straight through Devon on our quest to reach friends in Hayle. We were greeted with sunshine and even managed a lunch outside with coats, hats and gloves on. See my blog on Hayle and its surroundings here.

Stay somewhere unusual...

Harvey, a converted train carriage in Hayle and Cornish Tipi Holidays have their authentic tipis dotted around a picturesque lake.

For more properties in the South West click here.

Into South Wales...

tinternabbeyTintern is south of the Forest of Dean, not far from Chepstow. This is an interesting old area, with plenty of good walks which criss cross the Welsh-English border. We took a loop starting at The Old Station (where some train carriages house the Tourist Information office - plenty of activities for kids here), crossing the river and continue to walk alongside it before heading up the hillside. We continued along on the Offa's Dyke wooded path until we reached Devil's Pulpit with its view down to Tintern and its striking abbey in ruin below. The path then lead us down to the Abbey where we took a stroll around. (£4.50 entry fee.) There was plenty of pub's with good grub on offer in the town, but no shops.

Next day we drove through the Forest of Dean itself, a little further north, and were talked into doing the Sculpture Trail. We found this way too structured, with its wide tracks through a working forest which lead you to hidden sculptures en route. I would suggest you take a more random stroll in the beautiful woodland.

Going to Cardiff is like visiting home as it was ours for several years. It's a compact city, with great shops and facilities - easy to get around. Nightlife is more geared towards the trashy Stag or Hen do, so if this isn't your thing you may be better off looking for pubs outside the centre, perhaps in the Pontcanna area. From here you can walk through extensive Bute Park, flanked by the river Taff, all the way to the city centre and Cardiff Castle. With a history dating back 2000 years and its quirky interior its worth doing a tour of the castle. Cardiff Bay, a large waterfront development with shops and restaurants, can draw the crowds. Its a buzzy area on a sunny day.

I especially love to go to Southern Down beach on the Bristol Channel, outside Bridgend. For the brave you could surf here, but I prefer to keep wrapped up and climb the mound from the other side of the carpark to take in the fantastic view of interesting beach/rock formations over the other side. After this we had a hearty lunch in the Pelican in the Piety at nearby Ogmore before nipping over the road for a horse riding excursion (click here for more information). Ask to take your ride on Ogmore beach itself to end a perfect day. No experience necessary and the kids loved it.

Staying in an charming lighthouse on the Bristol Channel, outside Newport, could be a good base from which to explore. And it will satisfy Doctor Who fans with its tardis and darlik too. The West Usk Lighthouse