Ahhh, Wales. A place I was virtually dragged to through a lot of my childhood and teenage years and it’s only now I’m starting to want to revisit and go back. For Ben’s Birthday and Christmas presents I booked a cottage for us and the dogs (our first official holiday with the dogs!) and over Easter we enjoyed 4 nights away in Snowdonia National Park. A few years ago Ben climbed Snowdon and since then he’s been wanting to go back with me *I shuddered at the thought for about 18 months* – and he definitely wouldn’t have expected that it would be something that I would have willingly booked for us (which made it a great surprise gift!).
I’ll start by saying I didn’t take my camera everywhere with me on our trip – the cottage we stayed in didn’t have wifi, and we took the opportunity to relax and properly switch off for the weekend. So as my travel posts normally go, which are normally packed with pictures – this set posts is likely to be a bit more low key.
We stayed in a two bed cottage in the town of Blaneau-Ffestiniog (pronounced blan-oh fest-ee-nee-og), a lovely mining town that sits right in the centre of the the National Park and provided great access to all corners of where we wanted to head to. The town had plenty to do – such as being close to Zip World but being semi-tied down to the dogs meant that we didn’t cover that this time around, but we plan to revisit without them at some point. Initially we thought that we might go with some friends or my sister and her partner, but in the end we decided we needed some time alone after a whirlwind few months.
My search for a dog friendly spot over Easter when booking in December was already limited, but I’m so happy I stumbled across the place I booked as it was a true home-from-home. I booked via AirBnB and I went off the reviews of the property being so high, despite the fact that the pictures didn’t really sell just how lovely the space was. Sidenote if you haven’t used AirBnb before you can use my referral code to get £25 of your first trip. Our particular cottage was this one here and we will definitely go back and use it in future.
The house was a gorgeous terraced house that had a cosy living dining room area that lead through to a modern kitchen which had all the essentials in. The front had a gorgeous Mountain view and whilst we were there we saw everything weather-wise – “The best and worst of Wales” – from sunshine and gorgeous sunsets to a short but heavy spell of rain, to waking up on the final morning when we were due to leave to snow!
Upstairs there were two large double rooms and a shower bathroom. It would be a fine place to stay with younger children who don’t mind sharing a double – but both being doubles it would also make a great pad for two adult couples too. Outdoors wise there was a small raised garden with seating to enjoy in summer – however, it has been quite a wet week in the lead up to our trip meant it was very wet underfoot and we didn’t do much other than letting the dogs get some fresh air first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
The house was filled with lovely ‘quirky’ details (I hate that word as it’s so misused, but it does fit in this case) and helpful information such as a cottage ‘guide’ and a box of local maps to help you find your way. The cottage leads you straight into the living room via a door that has some hooks to hang up coats and bags out of the way. Before the staircase that leads you straight up to the top.
The house is ‘off the grid’ sans-wifi and whilst it did have a TV, it was just connected to a DVD – we knew this going so took a small pile of DVDs with us, but there was also a big pile at the side. There was also a selection of family-friendly board games – of which we’d also taken a couple too. The room centred around a log burner and the dogs felt very cosy after long days out walking we basically didn’t hear from them for the rest of the night.
There was ample seating 2 sofas around the burner, the table and chairs which seated four as well as another sofa tucked at the back of the room that was perfect for reading out of the way.
The kitchen was lovely and bright, with white walls and duck egg blue cabinets and welsh slate counter tops. The kitchen was so lovely, we ended up having a takeaway one night – but the rest of the time we cooked and stayed in. At the far wall of the room there was a lovely postcard rack that contained so many thank you cards from people from all over the country and world – mostly hand decorated too and it was a lovely feature of the kitchen.
Upstairs the floorboards were painted white, with lots of colourful blankets which gave it that Skandi kind of feel. The beds were comfortable and large – we decided to sleep at the room at the back of the house as it was away from the road (whilst it wasn’t very busy!) and it was also easier access to get in and out of the beds.
Finally the shower room – with a slight nautical beachy theme – it was light and bright with a lovely powerful shower in the corner. We come from an area in the country that’s really hard watered and this was lovely soft water.
Like I said the house was the perfect escape for us for the 4 nights that we stayed. We were nervous about how the dogs might end settling in the evening, they can be very fussy dogs when we go to different houses, My Mum and Dad’s house they love – but Ben’s Mum and Dad’s they’re virtually waiting at the door and barking to go home – luckily this was a house that they clearly loved and there were many a rug slept on throughout our stay.
Once we had driven across to Wales, stopped off for a food shop and we’re at the cottage we didn’t do much in the evening apart from settle in, cook ourselves an easy pasta dinner, unpack, watch a movie and get ready for commencing busy days ahead with lots of walks.
Our first walk of of the trip was down to Cynfal Falls – a waterfall that saw us cross through farmland. Of course with it being Easter it was the start of Lambing season and whilst we saw them around the Ewe’s were very protective over them with our boistureous dogs bounding through the fields with excitement.
It was clear early on that we were overdressed for the occasion and the weather was on our side as I soon started delayering and was down to a single top with my hoodie tied around my waist within about 30 minutes. It took us around about an hour to reach the waterfall from our car, and whilst it’s certainly not the most impressive waterfall we’d ever seen – it was pretty dramatic, unfortunately I only had my superzoom lens with me which meant capturing it was difficult.
Once we’d seen the falls, we continued walking through the woodland for a while hoping to find a loop back round. The signs as you can see below wasn’t quite clear as to what direction was which and whilst we did debate turning back around and heading back the way we came, we decided to embrace a bit of “I don’t know where the heck we are, but let’s presume we end up in the right spot!”.
What wasn’t clear was just how long this walk would take and my guess is the entire loop back to the car took around 3 hours start to finish. As we reached the end of the woodland, we ended up crossing over the river via a bridge and walked back down the other side – a walk which was nice but I imagine even more lovely in summer as the heathers which were barren would have been covered in flower. The views over the valley were lovely, and made more enjoyable by a rare sunny Spring day. Charlie enjoyed some free reign off his lead for a bit and was having some fun running circles around us all, looking absolutely crazy like usual.
I get very shaky on walks when I start getting low on sugar and I needed much more lucozade than what I had on us, so was rationing it on our walks and was definitely flagging by the end of it and we were greeted with a steep set of narrow slate stairs followed by a large hill to walk up. I was also still not fully over a chest infection which definitely wasn’t on my side for most of the weekend. Luckily Ben was fine, took the dogs off me and they all patiently waited at the top of the hill while I was mentally crawling up the hill. From there it turned out to be pretty easy to find our way back the car where I loaded up on sugary drinks before a drive over to our next stop for some lunch.
Whilst the weather was still seemingly on our side we decided to head over to Bala Lake. It was one of our planned stops over the weekend which we were going to slot in when the weather was good due to lack of tree protection if it did start raining at some point.
We found a carpark to set up shop in, and with a Co-op close Ben went to go and grab some sandwiches for us to eat in the car. Whilst it stayed dry the weather did start to become a little more overcast and moody as the clouds came over. Bala Lake is the largest lake in Wales and it was very calm and serene. Once we arrived though we realised it wouldn’t be something that would keep us busy for too long and I’m glad we’d not decided to dedicate a whole day around it as we’d initially planned.
One side of the lake has a steam train railway running alongside it whilst the other had a busy main road – so both of the longer stretches of walks weren’t off-the-lead dog friendly areas, so we had a good walk around one edge of the bay. Charlie was itching to get into the water and was soon playing fetch and splashing as dramatically as he could.
We sat and watched the world go by for a little bit once we’d reached the edge of the railway line before heading back. From Bala it was about a 30 minute drive back to our cottage and we arrived back about 30 minutes.
Once home the dogs were well and truly worn out and we had to basically force them to eat in the evening they were so sleepy!