Wales has formally been a part of the United Kingdom since 1536 and the Act of Union which bound the laws and thrones of England and Wales. However the country retains a fiercely independent culture and a deep respect for the past – even embodied in the national anthem “Land of our Fathers”. Here we discuss some of the unmissable attractions Wales has to offer.
5) Visit the Rugby: Football may be the English national game but over the border its all about rugby, or rugby union to be more precise. A nation of just over 3,000,000 people consistently produces one of the best national sides and when The Red Dragons crushed England 30-3 in a Six Nations game it sparked an unheralded wave of national jubilation. Although bookies Coral may have been ecstatic (most of their bets were from patriotic English fans expecting a rout), but it remains a painful memory across the border. If you get the chance see the Welsh side in action at the Millenium Stadium – the atmosphere will blow you away!
4) Go caving: Wales has an incredible natural geology which has been intertwined with history; gold, copper and tin mines have operated here since before Roman times. The Dan yr Ogof cave is an 11 mile long complex which is among the biggest in Europe. At times ducking and squeezing you’ll see huge natural caverns, eerie lakes and stalagmites which have been developing for millennia, far from human eyes.
3) See Snowdonia: The Snowdonia national park is named for Mount Snowdon – Wales’ tallest peak at 3,560 feet. The peak can be reached by foot or on the steam powered Snowdon Mountain Railway which will deliver you right to the “rooftop of Wales”. Snowdon was used as a training base by Sir Edmund Hillary and others in preparation for their first successful ascent of Everest. The Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, where Hillary stayed, reportedly still retains one of his mugs, and any child who summits Snowdon on foot is given the honour of drinking from it!
2) Relax in Pembrokeshire: The county of Pembrokeshire, on the south coast of Wales, has a beautiful rugged coastline which has been used in the films like Harry Potter and Robin Hood. Barafundle Bay is particularly noted as a local beauty spot – but at times it can feel like the entire coast is simply a succession of unspoilt, golden beaches. You’ll find plenty of hotels and campsites to stay and offers of walking tours and nature treks. The conditions are also perfect for sea sports – surfing, coasteering and windsurfing are all available.
1) Go to St. David’s: The ancient cathedral of St. David’s was founded by St. David, Abbot of Menevia, who died in 589BC, although the present cathedral was not finished until the 12th century. For centuries it was one of the most respected pilgrimage sites in Christendom – William The Conqueror came here to pray after his coronation. St. David’s is still in active use today and has been visited by reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II twice during her reign. Located at Wales’ most westerly point, in the county of Pembrokeshire, this quaint and lovely town has quietly been host to a beautiful, historic site which has drawn visitors since time immemorial.