A Welsh Bucket List

Foreword – Kat Mallett

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine at university, and forget to explore the amazing local landscapes (minus the bars). Wales is no exception and the surrounding areas are full of areas of extreme natural beauty. We have put together some of the must-see spots, that are finance and fresher friendly, of course.

Tenbywords by Joshua Allen

Wales is a country of extreme natural beauty and contains many hidden gems amongst the hills and valleys. However, Wales has an undisputable crown jewel within its landscape: Tenby. Located on the South-West coast of Wales, most people from Wales will already be aware of Tenby, perhaps some from England will be too. For those not acquainted with Tenby, it is a beautiful countryside town with luscious beaches and colourful houses that almost makes the town feel like a fantasy. Tenby is rich in history too, with the town’s castle walls dating back to the 13th century. Despite the age, Tenby has plenty to offer in the way of attractions, with 4 beaches, an arcade, and plenty of pubs to explore!

Tenby provides an interesting culinary experience, with plenty of options available for those looking for quintessential pub food. The Coach and Horses is a prominent pub within Tenby, located on Upper Frog Street, it’s a pub that has nearly as much history as the town itself. Famous poet Dylan Thomas is known for having been a regular customer, once leaving a manifest of ‘Under Milk Wood’ on his stool. In comparison to this, if you are looking for more modern street food, then both Indie Burger and Sandbar, located in The Mews on Upper Frog Street, will be perfect! Indie Burger specialises in a wide variety of burgers and dirty fries, whereas Sandbar focuses on serving excellent street food, from chilli and nachos to enchiladas and ramen! Finally, a visit to Tenby is not complete without an ice cream? Lollies Ice Cream and Traditional Sweet Shop is worth a visit if you are looking for the best ice cream in town!

Tenby’s attractions are plentiful and are also very student friendly! With 4 beaches all a short walk away from the town, numerous historical points of interest and plenty of shops in order to keep that retail desire in check! What is better than splurging in some shops, then heading to the beach for a walk?

Overall, Tenby is perfect for a day trip away from Cardiff! It is just under 3 hours on the train and only costs £23 with a 16-25 railcard. It certainly is an excellent option for those students who are looking to have a day away from Cardiff, every once in a while!

Abergavennywords by Katie Waits

Just outside Brecon Beacons National Park sits the historic market town of Abergavenny. With independent businesses, an abundance of coffee shops, and cosy pubs, it is the ideal place for a student to escape the busy city atmosphere of Cardiff for a little while. To get there, you need only take a train from Cardiff Central, and you’ll be there in roughly 40 minutes. 

Ever since I was little, my family and I have been going to Abergavenny for weekend day-trips, and we always enjoy visiting. There’s constantly something to see or do. A lively town, before lockdown, Abergavenny is known for hosting an annual food festival. This year, it took place online, early in September. If you’re a fan of trying new food and want to support local businesses and creators, then it is definitely worth visiting in the future. 

For those who like history, Abergavenny Museum is the place to go, situated amongst the remains of a Norman castle. You could also go to the Big Pit Coal Museum, where you can learn about Wales’ mining history, and go on an underground tour. I’ve been a couple of times and it is a fantastic day out. You have to pay for parking, but it is free to visit as long as you book in advance! 

In the town centre, Bailey Park is a brilliant picnic spot, especially during the summer months. However, if the weather isn’t on your side, which it usually isn’t in Wales, there are many different cafes to go to instead. I’d personally suggest The Coffee Pot and The Trading Post, both wonderful places to sit and try some great food and drinks. You can also look around the shops – smaller versions of those in Cardiff, as well as independent businesses such as Broadleaf Books, The Art Shop, and Nicholls. Abergavenny Indoor Market is also a lovely place to wander around, and you never know what you may find amongst the stalls. 

If you want to explore slightly further, you can visit Hay-On-Wye, a town north of Abergavenny. Home of the famous yearly Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye is a marvellous place. Perfect for booklovers, there are so many amazing independent bookshops where you could spend hours and hours on end browsing. 

So, if you find yourself wanting somewhere to go, when it’s safe to do so, I would definitely recommend a trip to Abergavenny. There’s no doubt that you’ll have an excellent time! 

Pen y Fanwords by Rhianna Hurren-Myers

Located in Wales’ stunning Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan is the perfect Cardiff day trip for budding walkers, nature enthusiasts and anyone who can appreciate a cracking view. It is this area of Wales’ tallest peak at 886m above sea level (don’t stress, you’re already pretty high when you begin the climb!). I climbed Pen y Fan with my family – we are all at varying fitness levels, and similarly there were all kinds of people making the hike to the top, from families with young children to serious walkers. For this reason, many have claimed that it is the perfect beginner climb if you are not familiar with this type of walking. We drove to the Brecon Beacons from the direction of Cardiff and it took us just over an hour to get there, but we did stop briefly in Aberfan during the journey to pay our respects to the mining disaster of 1966. 

There are a couple of routes you could take, the path straight up and down takes a couple of hours but can be busy in peak seasons which earns this route its nickname of ‘the motorway’. I would definitely suggest doing your research and checking the weather before you go, especially if you are considering the longer, more circular walk. I would also recommend wearing sensible walking gear – a good pair of boots, comfortable clothing and a windproof jacket as it can get cold at the top. Also on your packing list should be energy-inducing snacks – think fruit or haribos depending on your snack tastes! – and a bottle of water for each of you making the climb. 

It is an exhausting climb, but the views of the Brecon Beacons at the peak of Corn Du and Pen Y Fan are a hearty reward. Take some time to soak in the surroundings before walking down because they are so worth it. 

Photo Credit: Rhianna Hurren-Myers

Feature Image: Samuel Thompson