In our latest instalment of ‘Holidays with Hounds’, we’re off to beautiful West Wales and Brechfa Forest Barns.
The barns are made up of 3 cottages as well as the owners’ farmhouse. As devoted pet parents to 3 gorgeous beagles, hosts Nikki and Jason know exactly what you’re looking for from a holiday with your hounds and as a result, the cottages are unbelievably dog-friendly.
Situated on top of a mountain on the edge of Brechfa Forest in Carmarthenshire, the first thing you’ll notice on arrival are the views – which are simply stunning! You’ll lose hours just gazing across the fields down the valley. And being Wales, you’re often treated to all 4 seasons in a day so the view is constantly changing. This, coupled with the stylish, cosy country interiors of the cottages, means you’re guaranteed a relaxing stay.
We spent a week at Bay Tree Barn in June and had 3 dogs with us (there are no limits on the number of dogs allowed in the cottages – I think the record is 10!). Only recently completed at the time, it now forms a semi-detached cottage with The Hay Barn. The Old Bike Shed adjoins the farmhouse and is a cosy retreat for 2. The latest addition is the BBQ Hut which is available to rent during your stay and looks amazing – an experience not to be missed!
Both Bay Tree Barn and The Hay Barn sleep 4 in 2 bedrooms. The cottages are not big but were certainly big enough for us and 3 dogs and the enclosed garden was a great size. One thing to possibly bear in mind is that the gardens are enclosed with stock fencing, meaning your dogs will be able to see any other dogs in the neighbouring garden. Only really a problem if you have a Basset named Sally who likes to bark at everything that moves!!
The walking opportunities here are endless. You can walk from the door around the neighbouring fields or go to the top of the lane and across the road and you’re straight on to forest paths. Nikki and Jason provide tonnes of information on where you can go with the dogs and the hardest thing will be fitting it all in in the time you’ve got.
Fabulous dog-friendly beaches can be found in under an hour’s drive. Over the border in Ceredigion, Traeth Gwyn beach, on the edge of New Quay, was fantastic. There are no dog restrictions on this mile-long stretch and even in June we practically had it to ourselves. The town of New Quay itself is a popular seaside resort sloping down to the harbour and makes for a nice womble around.
A bit further up the coast is Aberaeron, a picture postcard pretty town. There are a couple of beaches here but they’re quite stony and have partial restrictions during the summer months. Instead, have a stroll around the harbour which is surrounded by beautifully coloured Georgian townhouses – the perfect spot to grab an ice-cream and watch the world go by. It was in Aberaeron where, for the one and only time in their lives, the Bassets were mistaken for Dobermans by two elderly ladies. Easy mistake.
Heading south in to Carmarthenshire, again in under an hour, we were at Pembrey Country Park (http://www.discovercarmarthenshire.com/pembreycountrypark). There are a host of activities to be tried here including a dry ski slope and pitch and putt but we opted for the natural route and escaped in to the miles of forest walks before coming out on to 8-mile Cefn Sidan beach. The dogs had the time of their lives and my sister got all arty with her photography!
For supplies, there are a couple of local shops and Lampeter is about 30 minutes away for a greater choice of provisions. We organised an Asda delivery for arrival but with a bit of notice, Nikki will make the most delicious home-cooked meals for you to enjoy. Delivered the few metres from her kitchen to your cottage door, these provide a fabulous treat if you’ve had a busy day out exploring or just want a night off from cooking.
Nikki and Jason have worked very hard to create the perfect holiday retreat. They clearly love the area and want you to get the most from your holiday here. With a newly revamped website and unbelievable Pinterest boards, lack of information is definitely one thing you won’t be missing (and if you look closely, you’ll spot the aforementioned arty photograph on one of their boards!). You only need to look at their Trip Advisor reviews and the fact there’s very limited availability before November to recognise they’ve got something special here.
As with our previous guide on Dumfries & Galloway, the location here is slightly remote. There are no amenities within walking distance and a car is essential. But when you’ve got that view who cares?
Shropshire to Brechfa is approximately 100 miles and about 3 hours by car.
Prices for Bay Tree Barn range from £395 to £950 dependent on the season. Short breaks are also available. For more info visit http://www.brechfaforestbarns.co.uk