Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.

Planning a First Visit

Craig Wen, Capel Curig, Conwy, Wales

When I first went to Wales on a day trip a few months after I had moved to England, I did so after consulting a guidebook from the Rough Guides series. Without that act of book perusal, the day in question might not have been the success that it became. Many a Scottish escapade was informed by the web so my having gone non-digital for that first Welsh incursion may come as a surprise, especially when you get to perusing the websites that I have collected below.

The same themes seem to recur for a visit to any place: what to see, what to do and where to stay. This bunch below should help with those needs and I can vouch that Wales does have a lot of to offer and it somehow manages to evade the attentions of other parts of the U.K. so quiet spots away from both the beaten track and the madding crowds are there aplenty, especially if you keep away from the epicentres of attention in its National Parks. As it happens, I still am exploring so that may allow me to keep adding to what you already find here.

Practicalities

Visit Wales

In Britain these days, it seems insufficient to title yourself as a tourist board or agency so monikers like "Visit x" or "Enjoy y" pop up all over the place; the practice may have started in Scotland and spread from there. This was formerly known as the Wales Tourist Board so that should give the general idea as to what you might find here. It's just as well that it probably as good a place to start as any if you are picking somewhere to see in Wales, especially since satellite sites dealing with hill walking and other outdoor pursuits are also featured. Not only that but the site has regional sections too.

Walesdirectory.co.uk

Started in 1998 when country directories were commonplace and I found a good few of them on the web for Scotland, this mainly is a visitor information source these days. Hotels and other forms of accommodation are very prominent on the front page but there is a lot more here even if the breadth of subjects is on offer looks a bit higgledy piggledy this days when a hint of specialisation tidies many an appearance. The presence of sections on jobs, businesses and others like them may appear incongruous but there is a lot here with towns and visitor attractions having their own spots for you to survey. It even might change you from being a visitor to being a resident in fact. What must have begun small in Conwy must have grown.

Welcome to Wales

This has been around for a good while now and once fell into the trap of making an Internet Explorer specific website. That has changed so this network of websites can be viewed by all without irritation. Descriptions of various towns around Wales is what is on offer and there's some good reading to be found too. During 2013, there was an attempt to overhaul some of the entries and that remains in progress for places like Brecon and Dolgellau has lost its own entry with Barmouth's one not mentioning the place either when the link takes you there. All in all, this is a labour of love that is worth frequenting and that I hope will continue past the rebuilding stage.

The second of these was the one that I spotted first and it then appeared to cover all of Wales with the exception of its northern areas. Looking again at its interactive map, it is clear that it still does but the firs website makes up for this. Both now provide the expected information on places to stay and things to see and do. Shoe Me Wales has an eShop attached to it while Show Me Mid Wales has a holiday deals section. Both look useful.

Here is a varied selection of websites collecting up a wide range of visitor accommodation in Wales. Everything from holiday cottages to hotels is included so you surely must find a place to stay on a visit somewhere among them.

Attractions

Cadw

This is an agency of the Welsh Assembly Government that manages many heritage sites around the principality. That makes it a good port of call on the web when it comes to finding places to see on a visit to Wales. For instance, they manage Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen and the ruin is well kept with a charge for entry in the high season and access free of charge at other times. Of course, there's much more than this and a leaflet that I picked up in Swansea over the summer revealed that there are numerous sites in the south of Wales alone.

Monastic Wales

Wales has its share of monastic sites and here is a list of them. The website expresses an opinion that Welsh monastic ruins are not as well known in other countries like nearby England. However, I can name Valle Crucis near Llangollen and Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire from the top of my head and there are many others to survey.