Continuing our digital tour of the UK, this week we visit the Land of My Fathers and tell you where to shop (online for now), where to stay and what to do - when we're allowed.

Wales might not be in your immediate thoughts for a holiday destination but given the Covid circumstances and our weariness of travelling afar, it should certainly be on your list. You might have seen Visit Wales' ads on the telly with actor, Luke Evans, eulogising on the country's beauty. Yes you've got the mountains, the freshest of air, space, golden beaches and more. Should you still need further persuasion, read on as Wales is also home to many enterprising businesses in the hospitality and retail industries.

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Food and Drink



Halen Môn




The Welsh home of crunchy sea salt, made on the island of Anglesey: under normal circumstances you can visit Halen Môn and learn about the manufacturing process of its award-winning salt. However, a visit to its website is similarly rewarding, where you can buy the salt, smoked products including their own ketchup and gifts. We're intrigued by the oak smoked water which adds a layer of depth when added to soups and casseroles.

Patchwork Foods




Founded in 1982, Patchwork made its name making home-made pâté and from its humble beginnings, its award-winning pâtés can now be found in supermarkets. The pâtés (thirty to choose from) are still hand-made in small batches, without artifical colouring, additives or preservatives to original recipes.The range extends to relishes (how about bacon jam?), chilli jams and mushroom marmalades. For die-hard pâté fans, subscribe to the Patchwork Pack and you'll get four pâtés delivered monthly.

Black Mountain Smokery




Home to luxury Welsh produce, you'll find award-winning smoked salmon, fish, chicken, duck and cheese, all expertly smoked. The company takes pride in its produce and knows the provenance of everything it buys. The selection of hampers and gifts, at various price points, make perfect presents. We recommend the smoked chicken or duck, which is always useful to have in the fridge for standby lunches or suppers.

The Welsh Cheese Company




Offering over sixty Welsh artisan made cheeses, the Welsh Cheese Company had made its mission to showcase Wales' best. With Brexit in place, surely it's time to explore cheese produced closer to home? With creamy soft cheeses that rival Brie, punchy Cheddars and blue cheeses, Wales' cheesemakers are making waves. There are cheese boxes to give you a sample of the variety on offer, a cheese club, Clwb Caw and hampers. Favourites include Hafod Cheddar and Snowdonia's selection.

Graig Farm Organics




Based in Monmouthshire, this organic farm sells all the meat you need for your family from organic beef, lamb and venison to meat boxes and multi buys. The meat is ethically and sustainably produced and packaged, with free delivery on orders over £80.

Penderyn Distillery




Giving the Scots a run for their money, Penderyn whisky is produced in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. The Prince of Wales was at the distillery on the day Penderyn launched, St David's Day in 2004 and the brand hasn't looked back since. With attention to detail, we love the branding, the finest barley, expert distillers and the best American oak bourbon casks, Penderyn Whisky quickly gained a worldwide reputation winning over 50 Gold Medals. You can visit the distillery but at the moment there are virtual tastings.

Felinfoel Brewery




This brewery has been in the same family since 1878, based in a village outside Llanelli. Its Double Dragon is the National Ale of Wales no less, with a rich colour and smooth balanced character. The brewery has a number of pubs across Wales as well.

Rhug Estate




From his 12,500 acre estate in Denbighshire, North Wales, Lord Newborough has championed organic and sustainable farming for many years. Rhug stocks a wide range of products from local Welsh suppliers and small businesses. From its website, you can buy organic meats and other produce, along with gifts and hampers. There is also a cafe, overnight camping and farm walk.

Hotels / Places To Stay



Sheepskin




Book a luxury self-catering cottage and you'll have Wales on your doorstep to explore. The rentals on Sheepskin all have one thing in common, they're luxurious, each offering a highly memorable experience, whether you're looking for a romantic bolthole or a family holiday to celebrate life after lockdown. There are dog-friendly cottages too so your four-legged friends won't miss out on all the walking.

The Felin Fach Griffin




It might not be an oil painting from the outside, but the Felin Fach Griffin is a cosy dining pub with rooms, situated between the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, not far from Abergavenny and Crickhowell. Dining is simple, locally sourced produce and bedrooms are super comfortable.

The Grove of Narberth




This luxury hotel in Pembrokeshire has been making waves over the last ten years, most recently being awarded The Sunday Times Hotel of the Year for Wales in 2020. With fabulous views of the Preseli Hills, you'll get a very warm Welsh welcome. Dining is superb (3 AA rosettes) and with its own vegetable garden, you'll be served the best local produce.

Red Kite Conkers




If you're looking for accommodation with a difference, how about sleeping in a conker, in the grounds of a private conservation estate in gorgeous Mid-Wales? Each conker, sleeping two, has a terrace area, fire-pit, loo, shower and outdoor kitchen. Views are complimentary and spellbinding.

The Glynne Arms




Although closed at the moment, this 200 year old coaching inn at the heart of Hawarden village, is a great place from which to explore North Wales. Interiors are quirky and there's good food on offer.

Shopping



Hiut Denim Co.




Huit was a well established brand long before Meghan Markle sprinkled retail fairy dust on its ethically made jeans. As the brand says, 'Do one thing well' and that is exactly what they do, make jeans for men and women, the best jeans, not the most jeans they can, from a factory in Cardigan. The founders, David and Claire Hieatt are also the clever peeps behing the Do Lectures, see below.

Melin Tregwynt




Remember the iconic Welsh blankets from yester year? Well you'll find them at Melin Tregwynt with a contemporary makeover no less. This white washed mill in a remote wooded valley on the Pembrokeshire coast has been in the same family since 1912, transforming traditional Welsh designs into beautiful accessories for the home.

Rhug Estate Wild Beauty




This luxury skincare is formulated with organic, natural and wild foraged ingredients from the Rhug Estate in North Wales, delivering positive benefits for the skin. With plaudits from those in the know and awards that back up the science, this is a brand to take note of.

TOAST




Toast began life in a farmhouse in Wales, selling endlessly covetable lounge and nightwear from its shop in Llandeilo, which exists to this day, despite the brand having grown manifold. Renowned for clothing, the company also offers equally wonderful homewares, designing and developing everything in-house. Today, in its own words, Toast ‘aspires to a more thoughtful way of life, creating and curating simple, functional, beautiful clothing, homeware and editorial.’

Welsh Lavender




From what started out as merely a thought of a lavender hedge turning into a lavender field, the founders of Welsh Lavender, Oxford philosopher, Bill Newton-Smith, and international journalist Nancy Durham, now have a fully fledged lavender farm, making natural body creams and balms and growers and distillers of lavender high in the hills of mid Wales

Makers Guild Wales




The Makers Guild in Wales is based in Cardiff and champions Welsh artisan makers. Although the gallery, Craft in the Bay, is closed at present, you can enjoy a sample of work from these skilled artists on its website. Under normal circumstances, there are community craft workshops to join.

Rhiannon




Welsh gold has nigh on mythical status, the gold of royalty, no less. Members of the Royal Family have wedding rings made from Welsh gold. No longer mined today, it is considered one of the most valuable golds in the world. Head to The Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre in Tregaron for fine jewellery, designed in house and crafted on site.

Crochendy Bethseda




If you're after interesting pottery, you'll find it at this gallery along with a small selectiton of contemporary paintings. The website is basic but there are gems to be had and if you're in this part of North Wales, a visit is definitely worth it.

Oriel Ger y Fenai




This Gallery exhibits the work of North Wales artists including the work of Sir Kyffin Williams, William Selwyn, Wilf Roberts, Philip Snow, Stephen John Owen (image above), David Barnes and many more.

Things To Do



For an Italianate day out




You might not want to travel as far as Italy this summer but Portmeirion in North Wales would make a magical alternative. It's pure fantasy with its Italianate buildings, created by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976. Stay overnight if you can as the joy begins when the day trippers depart.

For wine lovers




If you like a glass of wine, are interested in local food and drink, or want to support real businesses run by real people, you’re in the right place at Wine Cellar Door. Find a selection of Welsh vineyards closest to your chosen location, whether you are looking for a day out, just to taste some local wines or even buy a few bottles direct from the producer.

For hikers




Wales has much to offer walkers of all abilities but Snowdonia is the place serious hikers head to with challenging climbs and the best of views. The area's website tells you about the area, what to do and more.

For the adrenaline junkie




Zip World has three locations for adventures of the spine tingling kind for all age groups. Its most famous adrenaline fuelled adventure is Velocity 2 at the Penrhyn Quarry, the fastest zip line in the world where you could travel at speeds of over 100 mph. As seen on Top Gear, need we say more?
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For riders and runners




Setting a man against a horse in challenging terrain makes for interesting competition. Man V Horse in and around Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales, is an annual event that has attained cult status with hotly contested places. The course has been designed so that there's an even match between man and horse with very close finishes. The horse generally wins but runners have won, but infrequently.

For something out of the ordinary




Wales is not short on exciting things to do and has become world leader in bog snorkelling. Yes you heard it right; it's a very unique test of skill and endurance that takes place outside Llanwrtyd Wells over the bank holiday weekend in August. There's a triathlon with run and bike ride included and the globally famous World Bog Snorkelling Championships. You can of course just watch which is where the fun really starts.

For kids




Wales is full of romantic castles where you can bring your kids' imagination alive. One particular favourite of ours is Carreg Cennen, perched on a great limestone crag nearly 300ft/90m above the River Cennen with stunning views over the Carmarthenshire countryside. Cadw's website has a comprehensive list of castles and places of interest worth visiting.

For the entrepreneur and thinker




Set up by the founders of Hiut, Do 'gathers together the world’s DOers, disruptors and change makers, experts and pioneers, to share their stories, and encourage others to go and DO.' In normal circumstances, there is an annual event hold over a few days near Cardigan. On the website, you'll find talks, online course, not forgetting the Do book series, so no-one need miss out.

For taking time out




Good Life events celebrate the here and now. Held in two locations, Hawarden being the one we're interested in here. It's all about slowing down, wild swimming, wellness, great food, camp fires and like minded people. What more could you ask for?

For the food lover




Abergavenny Food Festival was one of the first, putting the area firmly on the foodie map. It has an exceptional reputation attracting well-known chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers and food producers.

Gardens To Visit



Aberglasney Gardens





Carmarthenshire's Aberglasney is a gem, made famous by the BBC television series “A Garden Lost in Time” which followed its restoration. Today it is one of Wales’ finest gardens, and at its heart lies a fully restored Elizabethan Cloister Garden that is the only surviving example of its kind in the UK today. There are ten acres to explore with over twenty different garden styles from formal to woodland, right through to exotic and modern.

Bodnant Garden National Trust





Bodnant Gardens is world-famous and home to national collections and outstanding trees. It was created over 150 years ago, with plants collected and brought to Britain from far afield, and the incredible vision of generations of the McLaren family and Puddle head gardeners. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia, it is a rare beauty.

Gardd Cymru | Garden Of Wales





The National Botanic Garden of Wales is worth a visit, home to birds of prey, tropical butterflies and its pièce de résistance, the largest single-span glasshouse in the world. It's an hour west of Cardiff, just off the M4.

By Arabella Dymoke
February 2021

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