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Only 3 days:

Princeton, New...
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Only 3 days:

My family of four wishes to come to the Vale in the last week of August (2010) to drop our teenager off at St. Donat's Castle. We can only spare three days (ahead of that drop off) to go around the area. I always dreamed of walking the Welsh countryside but, alas, we won't have the time. What must I not miss. While I have pastoral interests, I'm also a history buff. (Is talking on Bath too ambitious?) My wife is a tourist. The 10 year old boy loves the countryside like me and wouldn't mind watching a game a of cricket. As for the teenager (the one we'll drop off), "whatever"... ;-) He's going to live there for 2 years so we can discount him. Any ideas will be appreciated.

We're of course open to just canning the idea of a car and using local buses. But what if we have to get back from a meal in town to a remote cottage we're staying at? Or, what if we wanted to hang around some remote place longer before heading back into town to the hotel...?

Also, we'll be flying into London from New York. I'm thinking of renting a car because that would allow us the freedom to move around. Is a budget of 50 pounds per day for the car (incl. fuel) for a small car like VW Golf a reasonable amount? Would you recommend B&Bs (which I prefer) or hotels if our per night budget were 70 pounds?

Thank you!

Barry, Wales, UK
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1. Re: Only 3 days:

check out the website for the vale of Glamorgan. The small town of Llantwit Major is near St Donat's castle. cricket is played at the swalec stadium in cardiff. there is also the welsh national museum and lots and lots of shops.

Just off J33 of the M4 ( where you leave motorway for St Donats) is St Fagins museum of welsh life.Another website to checkout is valeways which gives information on walks.

You could get a coach to Cardiff but would probably be better having a car from there.

Bath is about 11/2 --2 hours drive away.

I just noticed that no one had answered your request . I am not an official guide.

Princeton, New...
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2. Re: Only 3 days:

Thank you, Pete! I noted the spots you pointed to. The car idea is great (picking it up in Cardiff). Given the fuel costs in the UK, it might just be the way. I check it out too. Cheers!

Barry, Wales, UK
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3. Re: Only 3 days:

Some web sites for you to look at which may help.






Scotland, United...
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for South Ayrshire, Glasgow
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4. Re: Only 3 days:

If you do decide to rent a car, then definitely go with the suggestion of visiting St Fagans just outside Cardiff.

A particularly fun thing to do it visit Llancaiach Fawr. Kids and adults are thoroughly entertained by the costumed guides who stay in character and make the history fun. I thoroughly recommend a visit. It's not too far out of your way and easy to find:


Cardiff, Wales
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5. Re: Only 3 days:

Hi there

For starters DO NOT go to Bath. It will take up an entire day and will be heaving in late August, plus there is so much fabulous history in South Wales which goes back much further than the (admittedly beautiful) Georgian terraces of Bath, and shares with Bath the ancient Celtic and Roman origins.

if you want to see Roman remains, you can do so almost free and undisturbed in Caerleon - a very pretty village, with narrow streets, a castle (a private house though so not open to the public) and some of the best preserved Roman remains in Britain:


South Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in Europe: rumour has it that we Welsh have a bit of a temper - as if!! ha ha! - whatever, our constant battles against the Normans and English meant that we drained the English Treasury to build castles to put us down - they won the war then but now we have a legacy of the most spectacular medieval fortresses in Europe. In South Wales you can see great examples at Chepstow and Caerphilly plus dozens and dozens of smaller castles besides on practically every other hilltop or town:



Don't forget too that Cardiff itself has three castles, all of which were lived in until the twentieth century, masking their medieval (and older) origins. The most specatcular in Cardiff is Cardiff Castle which holds pride of place in the city centre and is now owned by the City of Cardiff and open every day of the week. It was once owned by one of the richest families in the world who fantasised about medieval castles and so recreated it in gold, marble, stone and wood:


It is so easy to get into the countryside. From Cardiff the Brecon Beacons are 45 minutes away by car and you can climb the highest peak in the southern half of the UK (Pen y Fan) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pen_y_Fan

or do a waterfall walk through forest where at one point you can walk behind a waterfall:


Finally, as for the "teenager" - they are so so lucky! I am green with envy! 15 years ago I had the most amazing experience of a week long residential course at St Donats castle where you lived in and ate meals and had freedom to wander around. Firstly, the building is magnificent and a hidden gem closed to ordinary members of the public, but packed out with medieval artefacts, secondly it was bought in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst who imported substantial medieval fixtures and fittings, and thirdly - yes, it is one of the most haunted places in south Wales. My tutor on my course (an ex rugby player so a no nonsense kind of person) saw the ghost of a stately lady, possibly Lady Stradling, the year before I did the course - he was a total non believer in spooks before that point. It is poised on the shore with the cliffs and the waves. we often go walking along that coast - filled with fossils, and striking rock strata.

Also - you are in a place that is more like the west cost of Ireland at times - old, stone walls, windswept, where you can hike along ancient paths to ancient pubs which serve very strong ale!.

Also, the Vale of Glamorgan is scattered with ancient burial sites:


As for somewhere to stay - I am afraid I am not too hot on Vale of Glamorgan venues but you can get to all of those places very easily from this place which I know well:


Yours, in envy!


By the way I took part in a "vigil" in the Great Hall while I was there -absolutely nothing happened - but the atmosphere is fantastic!

Barry, United...
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6. Re: Only 3 days:

Hi sourland.

For accommodation have a look at this site


St Donats is on the Heritage path coastal walk so you could combine a walk while dropping your teenager off.

St Donats has a great reputation as a seat of learning, **** years ago I was lucky enough to be offered the job of lifeguard at the college and it is a beautiful place to work. I’m sure your teenager will enjoy the experience.

Barry, United...
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7. Re: Only 3 days:

I forgot about the Cricket

Here is the fixture list for Glamorgan (it looks like there are no home games in the last week of August unfortunately)


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8. Re: Only 3 days:

Hi there, I'm sure your teenager will love Atlantic College.

Have you already booked accommodation near St Donats? St Donats is an easily driveable distance from Cardiff (it's about 20 miles), so one option for you would be to stay in Cardiff and do daytrips around South Wales from there.

The outdoor museum at St Fagans is great, as others have said. Plus you have the various castles to choose from. If you are happy to venture a bit further afield, you could go over to Blaenavon and visit Big Pit (free entry) which is another site of the National Museum. You can do an underground trip, which gives you an insight into the life of the miners.

If you have a hire car, you could also head over to Swansea / the mumbles / the Gower for some lovely coastline. Or even hit the M4 and get as far as the National Botanic Garden of Wales, which is an hour's drive from Cardiff.


There is also fab scenery if you head north of Cardiff for about an hour to the Brecon Beacons.

Princeton, New...
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9. Re: Only 3 days:

Thanks to everyone for the extraordinary tips, the details and all. Your responses confirm my fears - it's wrong to spare only 3 days to the Vale.

Edited: 8:24 am, May 16, 2010
10. Re: Only 3 days:

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