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Friday, 13 October 2017

One Week in Wales: Day Six

country-park, brecon-beacons, wales
Image: Lorna Holland

Are you up to date with One Week in Wales? Catch up with the series so far.

Armed with plenty of knowledge and insider info from the locals about the best places to visit, we had outlined a brief plan for the day before bed the previous night. This part of the Beacons is apparently full of must-see attractions, so we wanted to catch the highlights and make the most of our trip before we moved away up to Brecon itself for our penultimate night.

After breakfast in the Hub's dining room/coffee shop/convenience store (admittedly, it's a rather odd experience, eating your breakfast when someone just pops in to buy a pint of milk) we packed up and set off, not wanting to waste even one minute of the day ahead. 

The weather was much cooler than the previous day and grey clouds on the horizon threatened rain for most of the day, though luckily, aside from a few spots here and there we managed to stay dry. 

The first stop on our itinerary was only a short drive away - Craig-y-nos country park. 

Offering stunning views, charming vistas and plenty of gorgeous Welsh scenery, Craig-y-nos is a real gem. Originally a Victorian garden, the park features walks through acres of woodland and meadows, interspersed with tranquil ponds and bubbling rivers. We picked a trail and enjoyed our time walking in the park, taking things at a leisurely pace and just enjoying our surroundings. 

After veering off the beaten track and trekking up a hill, we managed to find our second destination of the day. We had intended to go back to the car and drive up to Dan-yr-Ogof caves, but since the two were so close together, it made sense to walk the distance and only pay for one parking ticket!

dan-yr-ogof, showcaves, dinosaur, wales
Image: Lorna Holland
Although primarily aimed at kids, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales is an interesting and informative attraction for all the family. On our visit, we saw other couples, older people, families and (unfortunately) several very loud and obnoxious school groups, so it's definitely got a wide-ranging appeal. Add to that the interesting dinosaur theme around the site (although it's directed at kids, even I learned some new things I didn't already know!) and this makes the perfect destination for an enjoyable yet educational family day out.

The caves themselves are stunning - after visiting the caves at Cheddar Gorge last year, it was interesting to see if the Welsh equivalent could live up to their English cousin. Showcasing outstanding natural formations and beautifully worn rocky tunnels, Dan-yr-Ogof caves were a real treat. 

After a thoroughly enjoyable visit, we stopped for a bite to eat in the on-site cafe before trekking back down the hill, through the park, and back to the car.

dan-yr-ogof, showcaves, wales
Image: Lorna Holland
Our day's drive took us up through the Brecon Beacons to Brecon itself, where we were due to be staying for the night. By the time we arrived in Brecon, our busy week had caught up with us and we were both exhausted. It was still too early to check into our night's lodgings, so we took a short walk around the town, visited the cathedral and tried to visit the castle before we realised it was actually a hotel with no public access. With afternoon wearing on, it was finally time for us to check into our B&B.

The Borderers is a 17th-century coach house, full of unique charm and character. They offer secure parking in the internal courtyard and it's even dog-friendly - perfect for those with four-legged friends! Our room was on the ground floor and accessible straight from the courtyard, offering a pleasant and comfortable experience. Plus, the owner, Gail, was extremely helpful, friendly and polite throughout our stay. We couldn't have been made to feel more comfortable; the Borderers was a definite highlight out of our accommodation during this trip.

With the glandular fever kicking in and fatigue hitting me hard, I took a nap to try and regain some energy for the remainder of the day. Once I perked up a bit, we headed out again to try 'the best ice-cream in the world' on Gail's recommendation. Located on Bridge Street, Llanfaes Dairy looks incongruous from the outside, but houses numerous new and exciting flavours just waiting to tantalise your taste buds. Of course, with so much variety, we couldn't just pick one flavour - I tried chocolate orange, Kinder Bueno and white chocolate. Gail certainly wasn't wrong; that was very possibly the best ice-cream I've ever tasted. (seriously, if ever you find yourself near to Brecon, you must make a stop off here to try it for yourself!)

After another period of respite relaxing back in our room, we headed out later that evening to enjoy dinner at a local pub and restaurant just up the street from The Borderers (also recommended by Gail). Full to the brim and ready for bed, we headed back to our room for an early night, ready to tackle the biggest challenge of our trip the following day...

Only one more day left to go - keep checking back to find the final instalment and read the series in full.

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