Our family used to rely on air travel to take us to islands such as Lanzarote and Majorca, but it was costing us a lot, as well as being quite stressful. That’s because we’re a family of six (the four kids are aged between two and 14), so it was quite hard to keep everyone happy and entertained. So last year I decided that my family and I would have the majority of our holidays in the UK going forward.
By staying on home soil we can choose to travel by car instead, and bring everything we need for our trip without being restricted to 20kg of luggage. That’s how we ended up exploring the Welsh valleys a couple of months ago; I’d certainly recommend it if you’re looking to make a similar swap to “staycations”. Here’s what we did:
We wanted to explore the great outdoors so we went to the head of the Amman Valley to Brynaman. It sits at the base of the Black Mountain, so naturally it is very beautiful. The kids really enjoyed the variety of trails in the area which range from gentle strolls to more taxing day hikes. The best place to start is The Black Mountain Centre so you can plan your routes and stops.
The Rhondda Valley was recommended to us by a friendly neighbour so we went to see what was suitable for families. We found the Rhondda Heritage Park which really went down well with my eldest children. The littluns were more amused by the playground area, but my 10 and 14 year old loved the underground experience tours which are fully guided by ex-miners. It’s a good way of introducing a bit of education to a holiday!
Vale of Neath
We quickly discovered that the Vale of Neath is also known as “Waterfall Country” due to the amazing assortment on show here. We went to Sgwd-yr-Eira and Sgwd Clun Gwyn but we’re aware that there are many more we didn’t see. On our travels we noticed quite a lot of people rock climbing here so this might be a good activity for teenagers and adults.
Somewhere we all enjoyed was Afan Forest Park. It seems like there is loads to do here, but we spent our time doing a bit of cycling and more strenuous mountain biking. We set off on our trails from the Afan Forest Park visitor centre but you can also start at Glyncorrwg visitor centre if this is more convenient.
We couldn’t visit the Swansea valleys without a trip to the National Showcaves Centre for Wales. We’d heard the caves referred to as Britain’s finest natural wonder and also knew they had a number of awards. We were not let down when we arrived as they were absolutely spectacular. There are two main caves to look in but there are other attractions that will keep the younger kids happy; ours loved the dinosaur models!