Wales, land of legends

This year Wales is marking the Year of Legends, a fitting celebration for a country full of mythical landscapes and mystical stories. Here are some of our favourites.

Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris, which directly translates as Idris’ Chair, is one of Wales’ most iconic peaks and can be found in southern Snowdonia. It’s rumoured that Idris was once a giant king who used the mountain as his throne and it is said that if you fall asleep on the mountain you’ll wake up as either a madman, a poet or not at all. For the perfect base to explore this throne, take a look at Penmaenuchaf Hall.

Merlin’s Oak

It’s said that King Arthur’s legendary wizard protected this oak tree, which can be found in the centre of Carmarthen. Merlin threatened that Carmarthen would drown if the oak was ever removed and it was rumoured to even resemble the face of the wizard himself. A local poisoned it in the 1850s, and the remains of the trunk were finally removed at the end of the 1970s – after which Carmarthen suffered its worst floods for years. Coincidence? If you want to explore Merlin’s cursed town, stay at Tŷ Mawr Country Hotel:

Merlin is said to be buried on Bardsey Island, off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula. Our recommendation for a hotel in this area is Porth Tocyn.

Gelert

The legend of Wales’ most famous dog, Gelert, and his master Llewelyn the Great is one that many schoolchildren are familiar with.

Llewelyn and his wife went out hunting with his wife, leaving their baby son with a nurse and a servant, who went on a walk. On Llewelyn’s return, Gelert ran out of the home covered in blood. Llewelyn ran to his son’s room and, finding the cradle overturned with his son nowhere to be found, killed Gelert with his sword.

As the dog died, his last sounds were answered by the sounds of a baby’s cries, coming from behind the overturned cradle. Llewelyn pulled aside the cradle and found his son unharmed lying next to the body of a huge wolf.

The village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd is supposedly where Llewelyn buried his brave companion. You can visit the charming village of Beddgelert and learn more about the legend. We recommend staying at the Saracen’s Head.

St David

The patron saint of Wales, St David was born around the year 520 near the city that now bears his name.

St David performed many miracles including bringing a boy back to life. The most famous of his achievements is said to have taken place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi when he was preaching to a large crowd that was having difficulty hearing him.

A white dove landed on David’s shoulder as the ground beneath him rose up to form a hill that allowed everyone in the crowd to see and hear him better.

If you want to visit this hill, which now holds a church, stay at Y Talbot, or if you want to visit the birthplace of St David and hear more about his life, stay at Warpool Court for some added luxury to your stay.

Perfect Pamper Breaks – our TOP TEN Spas

In this busy world it’s important to take time out. Be pampered, relax and recharge your batteries – our luxury Spa hotels present the opportunity to do just that.

Our Gift Vouchers make a perfect Mother’s Day present – use them at all our Welsh Rarebits hotels and indulge in an extensive range of bespoke and signature pamper treatments featuring the finest spa and beauty products.

1. Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa – The superb Spa and Thermal Suite allows you to experience the elements of ‘Water, Fire and Ice’ whilst also soaking up the breath-taking lakeside view. Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa

2. Holm House – The spa includes treatments rooms, a hydrotherapy pool with a tidal current machine, a steam room, private gym and elegant relaxation area.

Holm House Spa
3. The Metropole Hotel & Spa – situated in the heart of the glorious, unspoilt mid Wales countryside.  The Cambrian Gold treatment is designed to give your skin a lift, along with your spirits. The Metropole Hotel and Spa

4. Bodysgallen Hall & Spa – A true historic house with superb pampering facilities and magnificent spa and pool.

5. Llety Cynin – Luxury accommodation and a stunning leisure complex with a 40ft indoor heated pool, spa, sauna and gym.

Llety Cynin

6. Lake Country House & Spa – Melt away any stresses at their award winning spa set in the heart of mid Wales.

7. St Brides Spa Hotel – perches above Saundersfoot, and the fabulous infinity pool offers far-reaching views over the sea.

8. Coes Faen Spa Lodge – There are individual spas in each bedroom so that you can have your own private, personalised treatments from fully qualified massage and complementary health specialists.

9. Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel & Spa – Indulge in one of their very own signature treatments using Anglesey Sea Salt and allow your mind, body and soul to be rejuvenated, revitalised and re-balanced.

10. Peterstone Court Hotel & Spa – The spa’s design introduces a place of calm where you can slow-down, unwind and be pampered, allowing you a little well deserved ‘me’ time.

But don’t take our word for it, have a look at the spa hotels on the web site and choose one that suits you, and sample the delights on offer. As with all our hotels, the spas offer fine dining and a warm welcome throughout the year.

Top places in Wales to propose this Valentine’s Day (or any other day)

Are you planning a romantic surprise this Valentine’s Day? Whether it’s a proposal or a picnic, Wales is full of the most beautiful settings to enjoy with the special person in your life.

For that extra special surprise, you don’t have to take them on Valentine’s Day – take them somewhere special ‘just because’ to really melt their heart.

Here, we’ve picked some of our favourite stunning settings. Let us know what you think on Twitter @Rarebits

Lake Vyrnwy, Llanwddyn

Referred to as a ‘reservoir’ in Powys, the reality is much more captivating than the description. Originally built with the purpose of supplying Liverpool with water, the lake is now the setting for water sports, horse riding, cycling and other activities.

A truly breathtaking sight, the lake is also home to Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa.

Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire

What could be more romantic that a real life castle? Roch Castle is a restored Norman castle, with all the mod-cons and features you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

Four waterfalls walk, Ystradfellte

 The four waterfalls walk is a popular route in the Brecon Beacons, which takes in a quartet of waterfalls along the Afon Mellte. The walk culminates in the Sgŵd yr Eira, where the footpath passes behind the waterfall itself – the perfect location for a romantic gesture.

If you want to make a weekend of it, take a look at Peterstone Court Hotel and Spa.

 Barafundle Bay, near Stackpole

Named as one of the best beaches in the world by Passport magazine, Barafundle Bay offers nothing but natural beauty. If you’re visiting, be sure to pack a romantic picnic as there aren’t any facilities on site.

If you’re heading down that way, why not use Elm Grove as a base for exploring? The house, based in Tenby, has been in the same family for 150 years. Or The Stackpole Inn makes an ideal spot to explore this corner of Pembrokeshire.



Portmeirion Village

An Italianate village in North Wales, Portmerion Village is one of a kind. If you had dreams of proposing abroad, but lack of planning or budget hampered that wish, take a look at this village.

Dwynwen – the saint for Wales’ lovers

In our first guest blog for The Year of Legends, we’ve asked Alwyn and Carl of Celticos to recount the story of Santes Dwynwen…

Image credit: http://www.visitwales.com/

On the far Western corner of Anglesey we can see Llanddwyn, the setting for the story of Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers…

Dwynwen was the fairest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. She fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, but as always seems to happen, he was not her father’s choice, and he forbade her from marrying Maelon.

The scheming father had lined up another man who would fit his ambitions for this most beautiful daughter. The distraught Maelon, believing that it was Dwynwen who had rejected him, attacked her in his jealousy and anger.

Dwynwen fled to the wild woods where she begged that God would make her forget Maelon. She fell into a deep sleep and was visited by an angel carrying a potion that could bring forgetfulness and would turn Maelon to ice.  As she woke, she heard God declare that her wishes would be fulfilled.

She wished that Maelon would thaw from his icy state but also that she would never marry. And finally her third wish was granted – that God would fulfil the hopes and dreams of lovers through her prayers.

She kept her side of the bargain and devoted the rest of her life to God. The ruins of a church dedicated to her still exists on the windswept island, a holy well and a cross bear her name, and all lovers in Wales lovers honour her memory on her feast day 25 January.

Image credit: https://www.celticos.com/

Celticos provide bespoke guided tours and have created a series of Legendary Tours specifically for the Year of Legends – head over to their website to discover how you can explore hidden places with a Drive, Walk and Explore Tour, learn about Wales’ most iconic legend The Red Dragon and experience first hand the land of myths and legends. Click here to find out more.

2016: Year of Adventure experienced by everyone

Visit Wales declared 2016 the ‘Year of Adventure’.  It was a year jam-packed with adrenaline sports like coasteering, riding 100mph zip wires and mountain biking.

For the more tame, Visit Wales wanted to make Wales a ‘place where you can stretch yourself – mentally, physically and culturally’.  The Year of Adventure also included wildlife watching, culinary adventures and experiencing cultural events and festivals.

Geocaching, a treasure hunt using GPS, became an outdoor adventure phenomenon the whole family could enjoy, taking them on unexpected journeys throughout the country. While country lovers explored the rolling borderland of Offa’s Dyke Path to the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks. Wildlife watchers revelled at dolphins in Cardigan Bay and witnessed endangered red kites soar above them. Foodies were well catered for too and plenty of culinary adventures were had from tasting cockles in Penclawdd to oysters in Anglesey.

Wales’ many opportunities for adventure needed to be shouted about. An ingenious way of doing this was through Visit Wales’ giant EPIC mirror letters – they travelled the country this summer, stopping at the most breath-taking spots – it’s aim to draw attention to some of Wales’ most spectacular places. Sioned and Sam, part of our very own Rarebits team, experienced the remarkable sight – Sam while it was within our Capital’s castle and Sioned witnessed the EPIC sign as a stunning backdrop to the UK Red Bull Cliff Diving World series in Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire.

Sam – “The EPIC art installation at Cardiff Castle commissioned by Visit Wales was truly spectacular! The giant mirrored letters forming the word EPIC certainly promoted Wales as an Adventure destination.”

Sioned – “This event completely personified #findyourepic. Not only were there world class divers competing at this epic location but during the day I saw groups coasteering nearby as well as spectators kayaking across the bay to watch the divers”.

Adventure came in all shapes and sizes in 2016 – where did you find yours? Did you find your inner Tarzan on a zip wire? Did you ride horseback through the surf? Share your EPIC adventures with us using #RarebitsOnTour.