How to travel Wales in a campervan with a dog
I spent just a week in Wales, which is not nearly enough time to do the country justice, but here is my amateur guide to travelling Wales in a campervan with a dog.
Roads to Take
The A487 takes you along the stunning Pembrokeshire coast then up into Snowdonia National Park. It is Wales at it’s best. Then you join the A5 which takes you thought the very heart of Snowdonia.
Walks to Hike
The obvious ones are Pen y Fan in Brecon Beacons and Mount Snowdon in Snowdonia, but storm Ali and Sebastian stopped those plans so I kept to smaller, but still magnificent trails.
Afan Forest Park
Afan Forest near Port Talbot was a hidden gem. For my first night I booked a campsite on the edges of the forest to ease myself in. Initially I planned to hike the Henrhyd Falls before heading north but Storm Ali was hot on my tail so I spent an extra night there to see the storm out. The walk through the mystical forest was well worth it.
The trails follow ancient paths carved by the Celtics who would take their dead through the forest to be buried at a nearby church. Settlers continued to use the paths at the tops of the mountains. The route I took was Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail, but there are loads more that take you by the disused railroad.
The best time to see a waterfall is after heavy rain. Storm Ali brought plenty of that. Henrhyd Falls and it’s surrounding rapids were fiercely powerful. Walking behind the waterfall was a) cold b) wet but c) exhilarating. It made me feel so alive. The other waterfalls along the trail are well worth taking the extra time to see too.
Pen - y - Bryn
A short, magical forest trail of around 1.5 - 2 hours that takes you past an old slate mining cottage ruins, several springs, and stunning views over the valley and surrounding mountains.
Near Bosherston there is St Govan’s Chapel, a small hermit cell built into the cliff face. Beyond the chapel, there are stunning costal walks. The weather beat me back but the short walk to the Coastguard look out point and Huntsman Leap were breathtaking.
Life isn’t complete without my furry companion and he loves history as much as I do so here are a couple of my favourite dog-friendly attractions in Wales.
A ruined Castle with a bloody history. It dates right back to the Iron Age but is was the Normans who built the ramifications to subdue the Celtics. Then later it got a medieval face lift with ‘murder holes,’ arrow slits, and battlements. During the Civil War it changed hands at least four times after intense fighting.
It’s little wonder then that is has a number of ghost stories. Princess Nest, the daughter of the last Celtic King, was captured and held hostage by a Welsh prince, Owain. Nest’s ghost is said to haunt the Old Tower at night. More bizarrely, there are reports of a ghost ape. Yes really. The battlements of the North West Tower are said to be haunted by a ghostly ape which murdered it’s master. Who wants to go on a ghost hunt with me?
St Govan’s Chapel
After chatting to a couple of locals I completely changed my plans. I stayed an extra night and woke up early to see St Govan’s Chapel. A small hermit cell carved into the cliff face above the sea near Bosherston. Legend has it Govan in the 6th century was travelling to Wales from Ireland when he was attached by Irish pirates. He ran to the cliffs for shelter, which opened up a cave for him to keep him safe. He stayed paying homage to the cliffs, warning locals of impending pirate attacks and living off the land. The stream he washed from is said to have healing powers, but it’s now dry. Typical. The chapel was built some time in the 13th or 14th century as the site became an important point of worship for pilgrims. It contains nothing but a stone alter and bench. It’s not spooky at all…
Where to stay
I mix things up sometimes staying on campsites or wild camping. These two campsites were relaxed, friendly, beautiful and cheap.
Bosherston Campsite is a farmers field a stone throw away from the Lily Ponds and a short drive to Govan’s Chapel, all for a staggering £3 per person. Willow Springs Campsite is in the heart of the Afan Forest Park, only 8 pitches from £12.
Wales I will be back!