Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Tour of Tintern

Tintern CoachStanding on the banks of the River Wye in the pretty village of Tintern, it's hard to imagine a more tranquil setting for one our biggest historical attractions.

Tintern Abbey was built in the 12th century by an order of Cistercian monks who lived in the Abbey for 400 years.  Latterly the Abbey attracted the attention of celebrated poets and artists such as Wordsworth and Turner.

Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.

These days the remains are popular with visitors to this corner of Wales and walkers exploring the nearby Wye Valley and Offa's Dyke Path.

Other attractions nearby include the Abbey Mill Craft Village and Tintern Old Station, a delightful country park with an award winning tea room based in the station's old ticket office.

For more information please click on the following links
Tintern Abbey
Abbey Mill
Tintern Old Station
Visit Wye Valley

Roman Remains

CaerleonJust to the north of Newport lies Caerleon, a small town with a big history.  The town was once one of the most remote outposts of the mighty Roman Empire and one of only three permanent fortresses in Britain.

The legacy of that past is clearly visible today with many relics and remains throughout the town.  The amphitheatre is the most complete  in Britain while the barracks are the only one of its kind still on view in the whole of Europe.  A short stroll through the town brings you to the Roman Baths, in their time a state of the art leisure complex with heated changing rooms, exercise rooms and an open air swimming pool.

Telling the story of the town's Roman past is the National Roman Legion Museum.  Exhibitions and artefacts show how the town and its garrison lived, fought and died. 

Visit the museum's website for more details

The King of Castles

With its towering turrets and sprawling water defences, Caerphilly Castle dominates the town of Caerphilly.

It's actually the second biggest castle in the UK behind Windsor.  It has been there since the late 13th century when Gilbert de Clare decided he needed to keep the rebellious locals at bay.

They're much more welcoming to visitors these days.  They've even built a bridge over the moat to stop you getting your feet wet on the way in.To find out more about this impressive castle, take a look at the video or visit the website.

Meet the Ancient Keepers of Bryngarw

Bryngarw KeeperIn the tranquil surroundings of the Bridgend's Garw Valley, lies the beautiful Bryngarw Country Park.

113 acres stunning parkland to explore, including native woodlands, formal gardens and secluded glades.

And lurking amongst the flora and fauna are the Ancient Keepers of Bryngarw - four mythical guardians of the park's woodlands, meadows, gardens and river.  Awaken the keepers with your special 'talisman' (available from the visitor centre) and hear the stories, myths and legends of this mysterious area.

For more information on Bryngarw Park visit the website

GTOA All Set for Southern Wales

Caerphilly CastleA busy weekend is in store for us as welcome the Group Travel Organisers Association Western Branch to the region for a familiarisation visit.

The group, who are in Cardiff for their AGM, will also take time to visit some of the area's best attractions and sample some legendary Welsh hospitality.

The tour will kick off with a visit to Llancaiach Fawr, a 17th century manor house near Caerphilly, which takes you back in time to see how the servants worked and lived during the civil war.

Back in the present day, and the group will then head for Wales' only distillery at Penderyn in at the top of the Rhondda Valley.

From there they head to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet near Bridgend, to browse (and spend) in some of the centre's 90 designer and big name stores.

Dinner at Llanerch Vineyard will round off the day in a relaxing manor.

The following day, the group will head for the St Fagans National History Museum and enjoy a trip aboard the Cardiff Bay Road Train.  Whilst in the Bay, they'll also visit the Norwegian Church and the Senedd.

The weekend will then be rounded off in unforgettable style with a sumptuous feast at Cardiff Castle's famous Welsh Banquets.

The group will be guided by Steve Griffin from Griffin Guiding.

We hope the GTO's have a great time and that they will be inspired to return with their groups in the not too distant future.

A Taste of Wales

This weekend sees Wales' biggest and best food festival come to Abergavenny.

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales. 

Complementing the stalls are a variety of masterclasses, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, story telling and live music.

Don't worry if you can't make it to Abergavenny, there are two more great food festivals coming up over the next few weeks. 

Look our for the Bridgend Food Feastival (26-27 September) and the Newport Food Festival (4 October)

Elvis Comes to Porthcawl

Event - Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Location - Porthcawl
Date - 26 - 28 September 2014
Website


On the face of it Porthcawl seems to be a typical British seaside resort.  Just 30 minutes from Cardiff, the town has everything you would expect - sandy beaches, a fairground, seafront Grand Pavilion and of course fish and chip shops.

Every September, the otherwise tranquil town comes alive as the unlikely venue for one of the world's biggest and best Elvis Presley festivals.

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival sees the town swamped with fans, lookalikes and tribute acts all enjoying the atmosphere and the various concerts and events throughout the area.

The festival is centred on the historic Grand Pavilion, a traditional sea front theatre which is host to the main concerts but the whole town gets in on the act with various events happening throughout the resort all weekend.

The highlight of the weekend is the big Elvies award ceremony where the best Elvis impersonators are rewarded for their work.

Wales Open Golf

Continuing to build on the success of hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup, the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport will find itself back in the golfing spotlight this week as it hosts the 2014 Wales Open.

First held in 2000 the tournament is now firmly established on the European Tour and attracts some of the biggest names in golf.  This year's competitors include Lee Westwood, Jamie Donaldson and Thomas Bjorn.

More information is available on the website

Hidden Gems: Guardian

GuardianYou'll know all about our castles, museums and other well-known attractions by now.  But aside from all those, there are a plethora of hidden gems lurking throughout the region, each with their own story and ability to make any trip to Wales a memorable one.

The Guardian Memorial

It's been compared to the Angel of the North, and it's easy to see why.

Towering above the village of Six Bells, in the heart of the Valleys, the Guardian stands as a monument to the mining industry that once dominated this landscape.

It stands on the site of the former Six Bells Colliery, not that you'll know it, given how you are now surrounded by meadows and wildlife.  The inscriptions on the base of the statue commemorates the lives lost at the 1960 Six Bells disaster.

Nearby, Ty Ebbw Fach houses a small exhibition on the statue as well as a café, making it an ideal places for a refreshment stop.

For more information, please visit the website

Discover Rhondda Cynon Taf

Lluest-wen ReservoirNestled at the heart of the Southern Wales is perhaps the most famous valley in the world. Once upon a time, the Rhondda Valley produced the coal that powered the world.

How times change, the pits and heaps have long gone to be replaced by glorious countryside and great mountain top views.

There are still reminders of the area's past, not least at the Rhondda Heritage Park, where in the company of an ex miner you embark on an Underground Experience Tour. Find out what life was like for the men (and indeed boys) who worked in the mines.

Up above the valley, the views from the mountain tops are spectacular. There are many walks and routes to follow, not least from the Dare Valley Country Park. Who knows, they might lead to historic sites or hidden waterfalls.

The valley actually stretches all the way up to the Brecon Beacons.  And it is here, in the foothills of the mountains that you will find the tiny village of Penderyn, home to the only whisky distillery in Wales.

They started production here in 2000 and the first bottle was released on St David's Day in 2004. It was the first whisky to be (legally!) produced in Wales since the 19th century. The distillery is situated on a natural spring and it uses this water, to produce the whisky.

The visitor centre opened in 2008 and gives visitors a tour explaining how the distilling process works. Even better, at the end of the tour you get the chance to sample the whisky (or vodka, gin or cream liquor that they also produce).

For more information on this region of Southern Wales, please visit the website.