8th May Ceredigion Tour
Starting at The Lake, Llangammarch Wells, Texans Sam & Mary joined Rob for a tour of northern Ceredigion. Barely seeing a car for the first hour, we travelled across the Abergwesyn Pass and shockingly steep Devil's Staircase to cross the Elenydd, that empty heart of Wales that makes up in tranquility what it lacks in population. Excellent coffee was taken at Y Talbot in Tregaron and then we practised our Welsh as we explored the tiny market town. Next up was Strata Florida, the ruined Cistercian abbey where we explored the history of Deheubarth amidst this beautiful and serene landscape.
Following the gorgeous Ystwyth valley, we travelled via Pontrhydfendigaid and Pontrhydygroes to the classic Nanteos country house hotel for lunch. Moving on to Aberystwyth we walked the prom and, like generations of Aber students before them, we "kicked the bar" under Consti Hill. With the sun beating down, Cardigan Bay looked serene and inviting. Siop y Pethe offered more chances to speak Welsh and then we left Aber and travelled by way of Cwmystwyth and the Elan valley to return to Llangammarch Wells. A long but fascinating day.
7th Brecon Beacons National Park tour
Sam & Mary, from Midland, Texas were keen to maximise their time in Wales this year. They teamed up with Rob who planned their first day - the Brecon Beacons. The Lake Hotel, Llangammarch Wells was their idyllic base and they toured the Epynt ranges and Brecon to reach the fascinating Kitchen Gardens at Ty Mawr on the shores of Llangors Lake.
Following a little walk down to the Bird Hide, built by The Prince's Trust, the tour reached Usk Inn for a lovely traditional Sunday lunch.
In the afternoon we crossed the Beacons, called in at the Penderyn Distillery before a long drive over the Heads of The Valleys. Cynon, Neath, Swansea and Aman valleys were all passed as we eventually arrived at the iconic Carreg Cennen Castle. The castellan was less than welcoming, due to our late arrival but with her dire warnings ringing in our ears, we still reached the stunning castle. Our long day ended with a drive up the Tywi valley via Llandeilo and Llandovery back to Llangamarch Wells.
6th / 7th May - Navigation course
Belen & Andrea, from London and Spain / Brazil respectively joined Rob & Sarah for a two day navigation course based at the Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, the Welsh Hotel of the Year.
Day One of the course was the theory - we studied at maps, scales, distances and grid references; compasses - setting and reading bearings while we also planned timings and routes for future walks. In the afternoon, we practised our skills on Sugar Loaf, the conical hill that overlooks Abergavenny.
Day Two saw Sarah took over the reigns by taking Belen & Andrea to Aberedw Rocks, to practise compass work and then the Begwns where the women walked their own routes that they had planned and timed. Wall-to-wall sunshine rounded off a highly successful weekend!
3rd May The Three Castles of Llandeilo Tour
As one of a series of Heart of Wales Line tours, Rob ran an historical tour of the three castles that nestle around the Carmarthenshire town of Llandeilo. Meeting at the station, we first visited the National Trust's Dinefwr Park. Here we embarked on a beautiful walk through bluebell woods to the romantic ruins of Dinefwr, once the royal castle of Deheubarth.
Following lunch at Wrights of Llanarthne, we next tackled the impressive ruins of Dryslwyn, looming above the sinuous River Tywi. The day was completed with that most iconic of castle sites, Carreg Cennen, perched atop a sheer limestone cliff. Complete with a long cave beneath the castle, Carreg Cennen has the most dramatic of situations of Welsh castles.
Should you be interested in joining Rob exploring Wales' historical landscape then please click here for more information.