Out and About in Wales: Castles, Ghosts and Rugby January 06 2015

Hello and a Happy New Year to you!!!

It's been a few months since my last blog post (oops!) but with family visiting us from South Africa and Christmas just after that, things got a little bit crazy and time ran out-fast.



So to start off, I thought I'd share with you some of the more interesting things that we have gotten up to in the hope that it will encourage you to visit Wales (unless you're already living in Wales) and explore this beautiful country!


Somewhere in the Welsh countryside


Wales is spectacular in its natural beauty, has so much history, and the people are amongst the friendliest I have ever met! Many tourists to the UK often make the mistake of solely visiting Scotland to see all the castles and other historically important sights, however Wales is home to over 600 castles with many of them still superbly preserved! Unfortunately I haven't been to many in West and North Wales, however I have been to quite a few in South Wales with some of my favourites being Caerphilly CastleChepstow Castle and Caldicot Castle. I'm always left in awe of their magnificence and the history behind them, especially since I'm from South Africa where its architectural history is only around 300 years old!



Caerphilly Castle


Moving on to a more eerie subject, if you are a believer in ghosts and the afterlife then Wales is where you need to be! I don't believe in them per se, but I do love doing ghost tours or visiting 'haunted' places and buildings. It's probably down to the fact that I'm a big horror movie fan and doing this gives me a bit of a scary thrill. But saying that, there have been a few incidents at these places that have left me questioning my disbelief in ghosts! For a bit of real ancient history, a good meal and a few pints of beer then I can definitely recommend a visit to the Skirrid Inn! The Skirrid has been an inn since 1110 and on the side acted as a courtroom for the 'Hanging Judge' Jeffreys during the rebellion. More than 180 convicted criminals were hung at the Skirrid, and rope marks can still be seen on the oak beam above the staircase! As a result, there are several spirits resident in the Skirrid Inn...



Inside the Skirrid Inn


Staying on that topic, if you are looking for something different to do on a Saturday evening, then the Llandaff ghost walk in Cardiff is a must! The tour around the beautiful but unfortunate Llandaff Cathedral at night is good fun and the guide for our particular tour was really informative, professional and set the mood perfectly. I won't give too much away, but there have been a number of historical and more recent sightings of various spirits, and you definitely get a chill down your spine when walking through the grounds (and no it wasn't because of the cold December air!).


Llandaff Cathedral at night


On a lighter note, another activity I really enjoyed doing that's also great for the whole family is Big Pit National Coal Museum. It is one of the few mining museums where visitors can descend 300 feet underground into the mine via the old pit cage. A guide leads you around teaching you about its history, and afterwards you can really picture what life was like for the thousands of men, children and animals that worked in the mine. It's good educational fun for all ages, and there is also a multimedia tour with a virtual coal miner, with more exhibitions above-ground in the Pithead Baths and colliery buildings. 




To end off, if you're going to visit Cardiff and you're a fan of rugby then catching a game at the Millennium Stadium should be on the top of your list! Having been to numerous games here (I even have a Wales rugby jersey so that I can show my support when South Africa isn't playing!), I can tell you that the atmosphere is amazing, the Welsh fans are polite, considerate and just good fun, and the stadium itself is incredible! If you aren't able to watch a rugby game, then there is the option of doing a stadium tour. I haven't done the tour yet myself and thought of saving it for when my dad visits, but I have read good reviews about it! 


Inside the Millennium Stadium, Wales vs. South Africa


So that's a little taster of what you can get up to when you visit Wales. There is so much more to see and do! The above activities are all located in South Wales, never mind the rest of the country! I have been to North Wales for a weekend and descended the Snowdon Mountains, and I've been to one or two towns in West Wales, but there is so much more that I still need to do and see! Once I have 'been there and done that' a bit more I'll include it in another post, and hopefully you can plan a lovely trip to this awesome country :)