Valleys of wonder in stunning Wales

Tram-tastic - The view from the clifftop at Aberystwyth. A tram takes visitors there as it has done since the Victorian age.
Tram-tastic - The view from the clifftop at Aberystwyth. A tram takes visitors there as it has done since the Victorian age.

When we think of the term ‘summer holiday’, our minds usually take us to a place in our consciousness where the sun shines softly on our faces and the warm clear waters of the Mediterranean flutter gently over our feet.

This year, we decided to take a different approach to that term and, boy, did we get something very different!

Happy faces! One of the many stops in the Snowdonia National Park area

Happy faces! One of the many stops in the Snowdonia National Park area

As I write, my mind drifts to the famous Crowded House tune, Weather with You, because as we excitedly left a rainy Tyrone ready bound for north Wales, the damp, grey clouds of home followed us all the way across the Irish Sea.

Granted, the sun did eventually poke its head through as we docked in Holyhead, two still very excited children in the car, but the rain was never far away as we ventured into the breathtaking valleys of the Snowdonia National Park area.

We had heard plenty of good reports about holidaying in Wales before, with friends extolling the virtues of the Haven holiday parks dotted around the countryside.

We stayed in a stunning three-storey house, Tan Llan, a few minutes drive from the village of Dolgellau, which had plenty of room for three families with children ranging in age from seven to 14, and a gorgeous coach-house just beside it for the grandparents.

Dolgellau was everything you would imagine from the typical picture postcard Welsh village, with small, quirky shops, plenty of cafes and places to eat.

There was little in terms of entertainment for the children close by, so most days were spent researching tourist locations which all involved drives of between 40 and 90 minutes.

While time spent in the car isn’t necessarily what you choose to do on your holidays, the drives were all well worth the effort, as we enjoyed trips to King Arthur’s Labyrinth, an abandoned slate mine in Machynlleth, the seaside towns of Aberystwyth (with its very own Sweet Emporium!), Barmouth and Greenwood Forest Adventure Park, which took us through some of the most breathtaking mountain views we’re ever likely to see.

Wet weather aside, Wales is simply beautiful, well worth a visit, and we had two very excited children who didn’t want to leave.