In April I visited North West Wales and enjoyed the most spectacular weather of the year so far, along with some of the most stunning views I've ever seen. I had no idea Wales was this beautiful! I visited a blogger pal in Cardiff last year and enjoyed the city break (and the Dr. Who-ness!), but the other end of the country is something else - awash with gorgeous beaches, mountains and countryside, and I had an amazing week.
Ten of us stayed at Carregfelen, an amazing manor house dating back to the 1300's, with an early twentieth century extension. It's been in the same family for well over a hundred years, and they still have their personal items and photos around, making it so homely. It's surrounded by a huge garden (where we enjoyed barbecues and proseccos) an adjoining meadow, and acres of woodland. Situated in the seaside town of Porthmadog, it was a handy short drive to the beach where we loved getting a few games of rounders in. A former resident of the house was Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who designed and built the nearby village of Portmeirion, a truly resplendent collection of quirky, colourful buildings famously used as the filming location for the 1960's TV show The Prisoner.
We actually went on the day that the annual Prisoner convention was held, it makes me laugh just typing this. But this gathering of die-hard Prisoner fans has been going on for forty years and by the looks of some of the people there, they'd been coming along since the start. When we weren't marvelling at Portmeirion's stunning architecture we were loving the fully costumed re-enactments and Prisoner soundtrack being played on a loudspeaker. I genuinely love The Prisoner and think it's still highly watchable, it's everything Lost wanted to be but failed (in my humble opinion). But you can visit the village all year round, and there's a music and literature festival every September that I bet is just amazing in this location.
Entrance is £10, or free if you're staying in any of the on-site guest cottages or in the hotel. I would dearly love to stay in the cottage Noel Coward hired whilst writing the brilliant Blithe Spirit. I can highly recommend dining in the Portmeirion Hotel where we had three delicious courses with views looking out to sea and the yonder mountains. The rest of the time we mostly self-catered and had picnics and barbecues and ten thousand ice-creams.
This part of Wales is incredibly pretty and your Instagram will love it. Every day we ventured out to explore the areas surrounding Porthmadog and I've never been so glued to a car window to watch lush fields and mountains pass by. We had the best of both spring and summer worlds: flowers still in full bloom, and lambs skipping round (including quite noisily in the field next to our house...) and hot weather that gave us all nice, glowing tans.
Other places I'd recommend are the mahoosive Penrhyn Castle in Bangor, which was lots of fun to explore (including a guided tour across the rooftops), and Caernarfon with it's sea views, yummeh ice-cream parlours and another giant castle. We also went to the serene waterfall at Betws-y-Coed in the Snowdonia National Park, and loved watching the water flow by as we hiked.
Maybe this has inspired you to pay this delightful area of Wales a visit, and if it has you can find lots of useful information and ideas on the Visit Wales website, including places to stay and things to do to suit your budget. I'm way more of a cosy cottage (with power-showers and Wi-Fi) kinda gal, but we saw lots of campers everywhere, and if you like camping and hiking I don't think you'd find a prettier place in the UK. If this does happen to be your thing Visit Wales is offering one lucky winner a travel pack from Berghaus that's perfect for exploring the great outdoors in Wales. Each pack contains a rucksack, head torch (exciting!), travel mug to keep drinks warm on the go, a charger, weather-proof notepad, and a book of Wales costal walks. Just use the Rafflecopter to enter as many times as you like, and the winner will be notified next week by email. Good luck fellow explorers!