Heritage Tours of Wales

Wales

Wales holds enchantment in its history, heritage and language that is unmatched elsewhere in the British Isles. A unique driving tour of the entire country can be planned for a fantastic vacation to remember.

Begin with a visit to the National Museum in Cardiff and then travel north through the fantastic valleys of Rhymney and Taff. The Brecon Beacons National Park makes a great sightseeing stop. It can be visited by car or guests can take the opportunity to trek through a multitude of trails. Continuing north takes the traveler to the Penderyn Distillery which provides tours. Farther along this route lies Coerphyily Castle, Wales' largest existing fortress. Walking through this Castle takes visitors back into medieval times.

A variety of places should be included when visiting. The Heritage Coast is a 14 mile long drive from Aberthaw to Porthcawl in south Wales. This drive showcases the country's coastal scenery with waves crashing on low cliffs. Dunraven Bay provides an expanse of golden sand when the tide ebbs. The stunning beach ends as jagged cliffs rise more than 200 vertical feet. The cliffs are visibly lined with layers of shale and limestone. A walk along the top of the cliffs gives a fantastic view of the bay.

Continuing along the coast road brings visitors to Ogmore Castle. It rests on the flat bottom of a valley that perfectly encases this relic of the Norman Conquest dating from 1100 C.E. Wales contains over 400 castles some of which should be included in any self-drive tour. Most mark the border with England and were strongly fortified fortresses protecting the Welsh people. Ruthin Castle is an enchanting structure situated on more than 30 acres of lovely parklands. The Castle is surrounded by a walled moat, now dry. The parkland and woods lead to a secluded section of the River Clwyd. From there it is an easy drive to the coast in north Wales and the towns of Snowdonia and Betws-y-Coed.

Narrow-gauge steam railroads still puff their way through amazing scenery. A self-drive tour provides the opportunity to explore market towns steeped in history, glorious castle gardens and idyllic villages. Overnight stays at bed and breakfasts, manor houses or even some castles can become highlights of an independent trip.

Forty-one Blue Flag beaches run along the 750-miles of coastline in Wales where dolphins and seals swim. That is more top-rated beaches than anywhere else in Britain. On land butterflies, graceful red kites, warblers and kingfishers provide entertainment soaring in the skies along the coast and into the hills.

Welsh cathedrals, abbeys and standing stones similar to Stonehenge add to the mysterious history of this unusual country. Stopping alongside the road to enjoy the fast-moving, clear water rivers is one of the advantages of a self-drive tour. Travelers can rest on the bank with their feet in the cool waters, fish from the riverbank or spend more time canoeing or boating. The "Lake District" of Elan Valley consists of rivers, bogs, moorlands, woodland and reservoirs. It is a wild, mostly untouched area that brings to mind the Wales of centuries gone by.

Wales offers some of the greatest mountain biking trails in the world for those who want to stop their drive and get some exercise. Hiking is another favored sport. Snowdon Mountain stands as the highest point in England and Wales. It rests in the heart of Snowdonia, one of three Welsh National Parks. Vistas on the mountain are breathtaking whether they are seen while hiking or riding the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Most small towns and villages have their own choirs in this country where songs were the way history was passed on to the next generation. They welcome visitors to their rehearsals that give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the concert to come. Time should also be scheduled to visit the local pubs, markets, tea rooms and village shops to chat with the local populous. Welsh people are known for their friendliness and willingness to spend time visiting with strangers who soon feel like friends.

Llanwrtyd Wells may be the smallest town in all of Great Britain, but is also the site of the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling Championships. This unique, physically challenging and downright wacky event consists of cycling along the bottom of a 6-foot deep peat bog wearing a mask and snorkel to enable breathing. It is a timed event using bikes with water filled tires and a lead-filled frame to keep the bike on the pond bottom. Snorkeling cyclists also wear weighted belts so the contestant doesn't float off the bike. Lifeguarding scuba divers insure the safety of the "crazy" riders. If one's holiday schedule includes the contest dates, don't miss it.

It is easy to see why a self-drive tour of Wales makes a fantastic holiday choice. This country contains adventures for all ages!

To find a heritage tour for Wales click here.