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Archive for wales

Glimpsing Pembrokeshire’s Past

By Linda Tancs

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales is Britain’s only coastal national park, a place full of archaeological icons. One of its most famous attractions is Pentre Ifan, a stone structure marking the entrance into the heart of a burial chamber dating back to the Neolithic Period. Other stone ramparts dating from the Bronze Age encircle the hilltop of Foel Drygarne, dominated by three massive and well-preserved cairns. Excavation at the heart of the park has also revealed Iron Age settlements, like those found at Carew Castle. Covering 240 square miles of spectacular landscape around Wales’ southwestern shore, you’ll find visitor centers in Tenby, Newport and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St. Davids.

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The Year of the Sea in Wales

By Linda Tancs

Wales is promoting its vast coastline this year, designating 2018 the Year of the Sea. Indeed, you’re never more than an hour or so from the sea wherever you may be. Why not explore the Wales Coast Path, the world’s first footpath dedicated to a country’s entire coastline—in this case, 870 miles. Along the way you’ll pass fens, cliffs, harbors, coves, inlets, islands and beaches. The beaches are great for surfing, a popular sport in the country, which established a Welsh Surfing Federation. Other coastal activities include rafting, kite surfing, surf kayaking, coasteering (that’s jumping off cliffs), paddleboarding, scuba diving and cliff camping.

The Heart of Wales

By Linda Tancs

A rural lifeline, the Heart of Wales is one of the UK’s most beautiful train journeys. As the name implies, it runs through the heartland of Wales and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The railway was built to transport coal and other freight from the Welsh valleys up north to the burgeoning factories of the industrial revolution. Running between Shrewsbury and Swansea, the meandering route passes through the Shropshire Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and quaint spa towns, offering views of castles, meadows, forests and viaducts, to name a few. Many of the line’s 34 stations are within one mile of major A roads and are accessible via connecting rail services from stations such as London (Euston or Paddington), Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Fishguard, Aberystwyth, Pwllheli, Holyhead and Hereford.

Britain’s Longest Ancient Monument

By Linda Tancs

Offa of Mercia was one of the most remarkable kings to have ruled much of Anglo-Saxon England. At his command, an earthwork covering a distance of more than 80 miles was built along the border between England and Wales in the eighth century to separate his kingdom from rivals in present-day Wales. This earth ditch-and-bank is reportedly the longest ancient monument in Britain. A long distance trail covering 177 miles, Offa’s Dyke Path, follows much of the ancient course. The trail links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea and crosses the border between England and Wales over 20 times. You’ll encounter stunning landscapes boasting castles, country churches, hillforts, riverside meadows and rolling hills. Similar to Camino de Santiago, you can purchase a trail passport (or download it from the site) and get it stamped along your journey to enter the path’s Hall of Fame. Expect it to take up to two weeks to complete the whole trail.

Little Big Town in Wales

By Linda Tancs

Hay-on-Wye is a Welsh market town nestled along the English border. It’s little in size (you can walk it in around 20 minutes) but big on books—really big, considering there are more than 30 bookstores, many specializing in out of print or hard to locate titles. No wonder, then, why it’s called the Town of Books. Today marks the start of one of the signature events of the year, Hay Festival. Running through June 3, the extravaganza comprises over 600 events featuring writers, artists, academics, thinkers and performers selected by the program committee. Special festival bus service linking Hay with trains and coaches at Hereford’s train and bus stations and Worcester Crowngate Bus Station runs for the duration of the event.

The Rooftop of Wales

By Linda Tancs

At 3,559 feet, Snowdon Mountain dominates the landscape of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. The land of fairies, giants and kings, legend has it that the mountain hosts the burial place of the giant ogre Rhita, vanquished by King Arthur. The views from Wales’ highest peak are spectacular, and what better way to see it than on a scenic railway ride from Llanberis to the summit. Operating from March to October, Snowdon Mountain Railway operates diesel and steam-powered locomotives that push vintage viewing cars on a journey through the clouds experienced by 12 million intrepid travelers since 1896. A round-trip ticket includes a 30-minute stop at the summit from May to October, weather permitting. Between mid-March and May, the trains will normally run to Clogwyn, where the summit is about an hour’s walk away.

A Good Walk in Wales

By Linda Tancs

The town of Crickhowell, Wales, offers a nine-day walking festival every year—a chance to put your best foot forward, as the saying goes. Offering dozens of guided walks, there is an activity level to match every taste, from trekking all day across the tops of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons to keeping to paths and the lower slopes. All walks start at CRiC Centre on Beaufort Street. The weather may prove challenging this time of year, but don’t let that stop you. This year’s festival runs from February 24 to March 4.

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