Photo - Tenby along the South Beach from Giltar point near Penally © Copyright Michael Graham
Pembrokeshire - Bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest. This county is home to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the United Kingdom and one of only three national parks in Wales. Much of Pembrokeshire, especially the south, has been English in language and culture for many centuries. The boundary between the English and Welsh speakers is known as the Landsker Line. South Pembrokeshire is known as Little England Beyond Wales.If you are thinking of taking a holiday in Wales then take a look at Pembrokeshire. Whatever it is that you enjoy, Pembrokeshire has it all, from activity breaks such as mountain biking, walking and horse riding to wildlife and even historical intrigue with over 51 forts and castles spread around the county. Pembrokeshire also has the most Blue Flag beaches and Green Coast Awards in Wales. Perhaps one of the most famous historical landmarks in Pembrokeshire is St Davids Cathedral. The vast Cathedral sits amongst idyllic cottages and homes in what many would classify as a large village, however St Davids in Pembrokeshire is actually Britains smallest city. St Davids is also home to Oriel Y Parc, owned by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority working in partnership with the National Museum of Wales, the result is mutli- faceted learning and information centre that has won numerous design awards for the architecture and use of renewable energy. From Oriel Y Parc you can take part in guided walks with the National Park Ranger and learn the best places to spot wildlife and how to look after the countryside. Dotted around Pembrokeshire you will find many more sites of historical interest. In particular Carew and Pembroke Castle which remain largely intact, with many displays of historical items and interactive learning displays that are sure to interest the whole family. Pembrokeshire has much more to offer than history, it has always been a popular visitor destination but the growth has been slowly nurtured keeping it pristine and unspoilt to the extent that it was recently voted to have the second best coastline in the world by National Geographic, and its not hard to see why when it boasts 186 miles of stunning scenery and over 50 beaches. A diverse landscape from open bays and sandy dunes to forests and rivers and wild open headlands make Pembrokeshire ideal place to enjoy a cottage holiday in Wales.
Photo - National Botanic Garden of Wales and Paxtons Tower © Copyright John Duckfield
Carmarthenshire - is situated in the south west, it encompasses coast line, rolling pasture land, the southern tip of the Cambrian Mountains in the north, the lush green Tywi Valley, the dramatic Black Mountainand the western edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in the east. In recent years the county town of Carmarthen has undergone tremendous renovations, a new shopping centre (St Catherines Walk) has been built with the coming of many popular high street stores. The town has certainly not forgotten its roots as a farming and market community and in the centre of the shops you will find a group of sculptures including a farmer and his flock of animals. Carmarthenshire is a county steeped in rich history and it is said that it has links with the legendary wizard Merlin and every year the town holds a Merlin, Mystery and Magic Festival in remembrance. In later years Carmarthenshire was emerging as an industry town and there is an abundance of history about industry development from castles to gold mines and old woollen mills. Castles, such as Carreg Cennen, Dinefwr and Kidwelly to name but a few, can be found dotted around the county making this a special and interesting place to stay for a holiday in Wales for history enthusiasts.In the north east of the County at Pumsaint is Dolaucothi Gold Mines, a Roman gold mine is set in the wooded hillside, overlooking the lovely Cothi Valley. There are guided tours of the underground workings, gold panning, exhibitions on gold and mining history and working trains on the mine floor. At the beautiful Cenarth Falls is the National Coracle Centre, where coracles are made in the workshop. The Teifi Valley Railway, created from a branch line of the Great Western Railway offers a two mile journey through the beautiful Teifi Valley, a chance to enjoy the age of steam. Four miles east of the town the National Woollen Museum tells the story of the woollen industry of Wales, with demonstrations of spinning, weaving and displays of traditional Welsh textiles. A short drive from Carmarthen to the east at Llanarthne, is the National Botanic Garden of Wales, opened in May 2000. The garden contains the largest single-span glasshouse in the world and the longest herbaceous border in Britain. The Botanic Garden is still being developed, an unique garden to keep visiting.
Photo - Footbridge across Nant Egnant, Ceredigion 2 miles east of Strata Florida © Copyright Roger Kidd
Ceredigion - As Cardiganshire (Welsh: Sir Aberteifi), it was created in 1282, and was reconstituted as a county under that name in 1996, reverting to Ceredigion a day later. In extent the current county is more or less identical to the historic county. Ceredigion is a coastal county on the West Coast of Wales, bordered by Cardigan Bay to the west, Gwynedd to the north, Powys to the east, Carmarthenshire to the south, and Pembrokeshireto the south-west. The Cambrian Mountains cover much of the east of the county; this large area forms part of the desert of Wales. In the south and west, the surface is less elevated. The highest point is Pumlumon at 2,467 feet (752 m), where five rivers have their source: the Severn, the Wye, the Dulas, the Llyfnant and the Rheidol, the last of which meets the Afon Mynach in a 300 feet (91 m) plunge at the Devil's Bridge chasm. The largest river is the River Teifi which forms the border with Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for part of its length. Other significant rivers include the River Aeron which has its estuary at Aberaeron, and the River Ystwyth and the River Rheidol both of which reach the sea in Aberystwyth harbour. Ceredigion's 50 miles (80 km) of coastline boasts some fine sandy beaches and high quality transparent sea water. Ceredigion has the only permanent summer residence of bottle-nosed dolphins in the United Kingdom. Rich in Welsh culture and language, Ceredigion provides visitors with a stunning contrast of spectacular rural landscapes and award winning coastline. Located on the west coast of Wales, Ceredigion sits between Cardigan Bay, one of the finest stretches of coastline in Britain, and the Cambrian Mountains range, an area of outstanding natural beauty. A selection of spectacular valleys, rivers and mountain ranges make Ceredigion's countryside a national attraction. Take a walk along one of the hundreds of public footpaths or take a drive on some of the country's most breathtaking roads, stopping off at numerous places of interest. Ceredigion has much to offer those who are interested in outdoor pursuits and active breaks. A diverse range of walks from coastal paths to mountain treks, Ceredigion provides the most varied walks in Britain. For those who prefer to travel on two wheels a well- managed network of cycle paths winds throughout the county. Being near the coast Ceredigion has great access to water sports such as surfing, coasteering, sailing, fishing and kayaking. Golf is also a popular activity in the county as it has 10 competitive golf courses, perfect if youre looking for a golfing break with plenty of variation.One thing that really sets Ceredigion apart is that its a foodie paradise from simple country pub lunches to award winning five star restaurants. Ceredigion is blessed with a rich, diverse array of produce, from organically grown fruit and vegetables, home baked cakes, breads and biscuits to a fantastic range of cheeses, ice cream and yogurts. It is also famous for its fresh fish, such as lobsters and mackerel, all caught in the sea off the coast of Ceredigion. Ceredigion has many sites of interest for wildlife enthusiasts such Ynys Hir an RSPB site that has a mixture of Welsh woodland, wet grassland and salt marshes. In the summer you can see wading birds such as lapwings and redshanks whilst in the winter birds such as ducks and geese move in.
Photo - Swansea Bay at The Mumbles © Copyright Rob Farrow
Gower Peninsula - The peninsula is bounded by the Loughor Estuary to the north and Swansea Bay to the east. The highest point of Gower is The Beacon at Rhossili Down at 193m/633 ft overlooking Rhossili Bay. Pwll Du and the Bishopton Valley form a statutory Local Nature Reserve. The interior of Gower consists mainly of farmland and common land. The population resides mainly in, though suburban development has made a number of communities in eastern Gower part of the Swansea Urban Area.The southern coast consists of a series of small, rocky or sandy bays, such as Langland and Three Cliffs, and larger beaches such as Port Eynon, Rhossili and Oxwich Bay. The north of the peninsula has fewer beaches, and is home to the cockle-beds of Penclawdd. The Gower is the perfect place to have a holiday in Wales particularly for those who enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside but yet dont want to be too far from the city, as Swansea is less than 15 minutes drive away.The Gower Peninsula is rich in wildlife and has nineteen nature reserves www.enjoygower.com lists each of them and the wildlife, flora and fauna you may find there. The diversity in landscape and wildlife makes the Gower a popular place for walking holidays and activity breaks.If youre a fan of the seaside then a cottage holiday in the Gower is a must, with over 50 beaches to choose from youll be spoilt for choice. Rhossili is perhaps one of the most popular with The Independent classing it as The Supermodel of British Beaches and the Sunday Times featuring it in the Top 25 Beaches in the World. Neighbouring beach Llangennith is an exceptionally popular surfing beach and The Observer declares it as the best place to learn to surf in Britain. Beaches in the Gower have several Blue Flag awards and Green Coast awards making them some of the cleanest and safest beaches in Britain.