"Nearly every hill, field
and river in the Valleys has a story or legend attached to it"
For a small country Wales is big on nature.
The three National Parks and five 'Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty' cover almost a quarter of the country and with over 500
lakes, 732 miles of coast and 15,000 miles of rivers – there’s
lots to explore. Your holiday cottage in the Swansea Valley is
ideally located for touring the countryside. In addition, visitors
are free to roam 120 acres of beautiful countryside on the surrounding
Drive south for 25 minutes to find the Gower
Peninsula, the first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
in the UK, with stunning scenery and unspoilt
Blue Flag beaches. The Brecon
Beacons National Park is 15 minutes north, where visitors
can walk the 520 square miles of national park including mountains
and moorlands. Seek out a cosy country pub in one of the nearby
market towns. Explore the Great Forest, or 'FForest
If you are a birdwatcher, visit the Cwm
Clydach RSPB Reserve, or further afield is the Pembrokeshire
Coast National Park. The islands off the coast teem with bird
life – Grassholm
Island has 30,000 pairs of gannets - the fourth largest population
in the world.
As Britain's only coastal national park, the Pembrokeshire
Coast boasts some of the finest coastline scenery in Europe,
and you can enjoy the view from Wales's longest footpath - the
186 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
You may have heard that Wales can be quite
wet, but did you know that your cottage is actually on the doorstep
Country?’ The Vale of Neath’s secret landscape
is well hidden, yet its waterfalls number nine in total. They
have proved inspirational to many artists including Turner, who
Falls, now owned by the National Trust.
And if the Vale of Neath is all waterfalls, then Afan
Argoed Country Park is all mountains. The green green slopes
of the Afan Valley rise for more than a thousand feet and are
known locally as "Little Switzerland". Among the trees
are marked footpaths, nature trails and some of Britain's best
And don’t forget about the Afan
Forest Park, Margam
Park and its Stones Museum, Craig Gwladys Country Park, Dare
Valley Country Park, and the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust's Parc Slip.
Wales’ finest rhodedendrons live and
grow in Swansea’s Clyne
Gardens. The 19th century landscaped gardens were laid out
by the Vivian family, and contain one of the UK's finest collections
of rhododendron and internationally recognised collections, together
with an extremely varied bog garden, home to giant elephant rhubarb
and American skunk cabbage!
If you’ve done the beach thing, what
about the dune thing? The sand dune of Merthyr
Mawr on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast is the second largest
in Europe. Rising to over 200 feet, you can run, trip or try your
hand at surfing them.
As for parks, the most genteel spot in Neath
is Victoria Gardens, created in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria's
diamond jubilee. Neatly manicured ornamental trees and colourful
flower beds surround a central bandstand. The gardens also contain
the Gorsedd Circle of standing stones used in the proclamation
ceremonies of 1918, 1934 and 1994 when the National Eisteddfod
was held in Neath.
There is also Gelli Aur Country Park, Dinefwr
Park, Roath Park, and Pembrey Country Park.
Ten minutes drive from your holiday cottage
will see you going underground – in the largest collection
of subterranean caverns in western Europe - Dan
Yr Ogof Showcaves. Ogof Ffynnon Ddu is Britian's deepest cave
descending 1,010 feet and continuing for 26 miles, the second
longest in Britain.
Botanic Garden of Wales was the first major botanical gardens
to be created in the UK for over a century. It accommodates the
world's largest single span glasshouse, 312 ft long by 180 ft
wide, glazed over with 48,000 sq ft of glass on 568 acres of parkland
The steep limestone cliffs north of Merthyr
Tydfil are the only place in the world where you'll see the tree
known as Ley's Whitebeam. Only 16 trees are known to exist and
the species is critically endangered.
Featured on the BBC series 'Aberglasney
- a garden lost in time', Aberglasney is an exceptional survival
of a 16th/17th century garden of which most other examples survive
only in historical documents. With its mysterious structures splendidly
restored, a visit to this historic garden in the beautiful Towy
Valley is an experience not to be missed.
Estate is close to Neath town centre. It is an early 18th
century landscaped garden and offers great fun and relaxation.
Take a stroll around the lakes or amuse the children in the play
area and adventure playground.