Beaches at Borth and Ynyslas
One of the things we enjoy doing most as a family is spending the day in Borth and Ynyslas, on the Mid Wales coast. My little one just loves running along the promenade and skimming stones (or at least trying to!) at Borth and then making the short drive to the dunes and huge sandy beach at Ynyslas.
Borth is a friendly seaside village with a small range of shops where you can pick up essentials for a picnic, bucket and spades, ice creams and fish and chips. There are also three pubs along the High Street where families are welcomed and even a mainline train station. The beach is a mixture of shingle and plenty of sand at low tide and a long promenade runs the length of the main stretch.
Our dog is not so keen on the sea itself, so the restrictions on allowing dogs on the beach in Borth during the summer months suit him fine. However at Ynyslas dogs are allowed all year round; although, as this is also a nature reserve, they do need to kept on leads in some areas.
Ynyslas is simply a most beautiful dune backed beach and I am always amazed that whenever we go there it is not packed with people. If you remember the BBC advert with the people flying the red kites, this was filmed here!
For small charge you can park right on the sands at Ynyslas and there is a small visitors centre, open Easter to September, which explains the importance of the reserve to the rare wildlife that make the dunes their home. There are also good toilet facilities which, let’s be honest, do often make a big contribution to the success of a day out with small children!
From the centre you can take the walkways up and over the dunes to another section of the sandy beach. There are quite a few steps so not great for pushchairs but my little girl loved the adventure of making her way through the dunes. She only has little legs, but even just past the age of 3, she managed the walk there and back. Spotting lizards and birds along the way helped as well!
At either beach, at low tide, you should be able to spot the remains of forests that have inspired many myths throughout history of the lost lands of Cardigan Bay. The earliest record of one such myth, the Cantre’r Gwaelod (Lowland Hundred), dates back to 1250 and tells the tale of a kingdom lost beneath the waves when the floodgates are left open one night by a negligent courtier!
For enjoying the simple pleasure of being by the sea, and for a traditional seaside holiday, this area of Cardigan Bay is great. Where did everyone else go when they were little and where do you enjoy visiting now?
Hay on Wye
Wales does draw many people in and I was delighted when my oldest friend also made a permanent move to this wonderful country. We met when we were seven years old and haven’t been able to get away from each other since!
With busy lives, and living about a 3 hour drive apart, we don’t always get the opportunity to meet up as often as we would like but a few weeks ago we spent a glorious day in Hay on Wye. I must say that book or antique enthusiasts could spends days (and a lot of money if so inclined!) in this picturesque town.
Hay is pretty much equidistant from where we both live and I can’t imagine why we have never thought to meet there before. We are both voracious readers (not that we agree on the same reading matter that is) and my friend is a published poet so the thought of spending a day browsing book shops filled us both with glee. We were not disappointed.
After a quick perusal of the craft centre by the main car park, and with me feeling a bit smug after purchasing some Christmas presents, we made our way down through the maze of streets to The Poetry Bookshop. I don’t pretend to understand or know a lot about poetry but while my friend made agonising decisions on which books she just absolutely had to have I lost myself in a world of medieval ballads. The romance of the language is beautiful with such a mesmerising rhythm.
With tummies rumbling, we just peeked through windows of some of the other fascinating bookshops on the way back up to find some lunch. The outrageously decorated shop Murder and Mayhem, dedicated to horror and crime fiction, and Rose’s Books, specialising in rare and out-of–print books we decided would have to wait for another visit to the town as we didn’t want to rush.
After a lovely simple lunch at Oscars Bistro (with absolutely scrumptious cakes) we headed to the antiques market in the centre of the town. Made up of 2 floors of little rooms, filled to the brim with eclectic collections of items for sale this was another great opportunity for present buying and for marvelling at the tastes and fashions of past generations. We did resist the temptation of trying on the most wonderful assortment of 60s hats but the rail of coats did capture my attention for quite a while!
A few more bookshops and we ended back up at the castle. Even here in the gardens there are outdoor covered shelves with a completely random selection of books (50p paperback, £1 hardback – contribution to be put in the box in the wall) and we had a real giggle at the titles on offer. The view from the castle over the town to the countryside beyond is stunning and I’m afraid my photography skills don’t really do it justice. My excuse is that it was so sunny I couldn’t really see what I was taking a picture of.
I would recommend a visit to Hay-on-Wye without hesitation. Who else love this part of Wales? I’d love to hear about your experiences!