Cottage review: A mountainous idyll in mid Wales
Luxury Holiday Cottage in Mid Wales
PICTURE sitting outside a gorgeous 250-year-old cottage, nestled high in the Cambrian mountains and watching the newly-born lambs gambolling just feet away, against a beautiful pink sunset. The only sound is birdsong, writes Helen Moffat.
Bliss. Of course, the children spilled out of the cottage two seconds later, arguing over a felt tip pen, but for a few glorious minutes, I was peace personified. Our short break at Blaenglanhanog in mid Wales was well punctuated with precious moments like these, helped by some glorious March sunshine.
The cottage is owned by Liz and Jeremy Barnes, who moved to this picturesque mountainside four years ago, and have obviously worked pretty tirelessly ever since to make sure their guests love this place as much as they clearly do. It is a stunning holiday location, both in terms of its setting, just a few minutes drive from Carno, the village Laura Ashley helped to put on the map, and its interior, which is spacious, yet cosy, and beautifully furnished throughout.The original features of this centuries old former drover’s cottage have been thoughtfully kept, but whilst traditional, there’s nothing old fashioned about it.
View from holiday cottage
Downstairs, the lounge is toasty, thanks to the substantial wood burning stove in the huge Inglenook fireplace, with a twin bedroom just off it, which our girls were quick to lay claim to. They’d debated over the two lovely double bedrooms upstairs, but the dressing table clinched it for them.The dining room comfortably seats six, and the generous kitchen has all you need for your stay. Plus a couple of priceless extras, such as the view from the kitchen window. As we made toast on our first morning, we watched a couple of woodpeckers battle it out for the birdseed, along with a host of feathered friends. We could comfortably have pottered around the beautiful cottage, and ambled up to the forest further up the track, but with only two days and lots to fit in, we opted for the 30 or so minute drive to the coast, and the pretty seaside town of Aberdyfi.
We could hardly believe our luck, being able to sit on the beach at the end of March, but the sun was hot enough to warrant a good lathering of sun cream, and bucket and spade in hand, the girls were in their element.We called at the ancient Welsh capital of Machynlleth on our way back to the cottage, which was a lovely place for a mooch around the shops, with plenty of great places to eat. We’d been recommended to try the Wynnstay Hotel here, which has an award-winning chef, but our youngest really needed a nap before our evening meal. Next time, definitely.
So we spent the evening back at Carno, in the Aleppo, where the food was good pub grub, with a decent choice for the children, and the atmosphere was busy and enjoyable.We raced to pack in what we could on Sunday, visiting Machinations just a few minutes drive from the cottage, which combines a museum of automata (that’s mechanical moving models) with lots of attractions for the children, including an inside play area, rabbit village and great little cafe with lots of local produce.
I hadn’t thought the museum would hold much interest for me, and was surprised by how much I loved the models. The children had a handful of tokens to operate the machines, and it was a really enjoyable morning. Next, we took our picnic along to the RSPB’s Ynys-Hir, which was another breath-taking location, combining oak woodland, with salt marshes and wetland. And so peaceful. We strolled through beautiful countryside to visit the various hides dotted around the wetlands, where we could watch a variety of birds and generally enjoy being outdoors.I sound like I never get out! Not quite true. I just think the early spring sunshine, after such a cold winter, felt extra special this year.And with still a chunk of afternoon left, we couldn’t leave this bountiful piece of Wales without another quick visit to the beach.
Borth Beach, Mid Wales Coast
The stretch of coastline at Borth was vast and I think the word is bracing! Whatever, it was just the right end to the trip, sending us home with rosy cheeks and tired, contented children. Their parents were pretty contented too.
Fact file: Other places of interest nearby include Llanbrynmair, the pretty, neighbouring village, the Centre for Alternative Technology, which we’ve been to before and loved, and King Arthur’s Labyrinth in Corris, which opened from its winter break the day after we left, but again, it’s on the list for next time. There’s a path right from the cottage if you fancy a stroll, and you can join Glyndwr’s Way 2 miles from the house.
Eating out: We tried the Aleppo pub in Carno, but there’s also the Wynnstay Hotel, which has a restaurant and pizzeria in Machynlleth, or also on the way to Aberdyfi is the Riverside Hotel in Pennal. Briggands Inn in Mallwyd was also recommended to us, as was the Wagon and Horses in Newtown, which also boasts an award-winning chef.Our thanks to the Best of Wales for these suggestions.