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Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

Washington, DC
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Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

I would love any guidance on whether this is a reasonable itinerary. We (2 adults) will have a car, and will be traveling with 2 toddlers. We like to have base points that we return to, rather than changing where we stay each night, and we like to keep our drives to under 2-3 hours, where possible so that the kids don't go nuts. Travel is planned for this summer. Thanks very much for any input you can provide!

Are we missing anything huge? Have we put too much or too little time in any location? Also, we have plenty of sandy beach time at home, so we're hoping that coastal time in Wales will be more about tidal pools and that sort of thing rather than just sunning ourselves and building sand castles.

Day 1 - Arrive Heathrow; train to Cardiff

Day 2 - Cardiff area (pick up rental car)

Day 3 - Cardiff area

Day 4 - St. Fagans; then make way to Brecon Beacons (Abergavenny?)

Day 5 - Brecon Beacons

Day 6 - Brecon Beacons; then make way to Pembrokeshire Coast (Fishguard area? Newport?)

Day 7 - Pembrokeshire

Day 8 - Pembrokeshire

Day 9 - National Wool Museum; start making way north - maybe stay in Machynlleth area

Day 10 - Harlech; Caernarfon; stay around Llanberis area

Day 11 - North Wales; stay around Llanberis area

Day 12 - North Wales; stay around Llanberis area

Day 13 - Conwy Castle; stay around Llanberis area

Day 14 - Start making way back to Heathrow; may stay around Shrewsbury

Day 15 - Continue back to Heathrow; maybe stay around Oxford

Day 16 - AM flight from Heathrow

1. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

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Removed on: 18 May 2013, 01:42
Edinburgh, Scotland
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2. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

I think OP is referring to Newport Pembs not Newport (used to be Mon, used to be Gwent). Also, there's no need for OP to double-back on the way to Pembroke &c, as the A40 is a pleasant drive west from Brecon (and these days, a safer road than it used to be).

Abergavenny is a good centre not so much for the Beacons as the border ("Marches") areas of north Monmouthshire and west Herefordshire - lots of pleasant small towns, gorgeous countryside, and more castles than you dare shake a stick at. If it's really the Brecon Beacons National Park you wish to explore, Brecon itself, Builth, or even Llanwrtyd Wells would make a better centre. But I suspect that with toddlers, Abergavenny is a better spot.

Similarly I doubt that Llanberis will prove a particularly good centre with toddlers. Like Betws and Beddgelert, it's in the middle of the Snowdonia mountains. These are not hills that you can safely walk with toddlers, so there won't be an awful lot left to do in the immediate vicinity once you have taken the train to the top of Snowdon. The other places you might want to visit can be as easily accessed from the north or west coasts, or places to the south, such as Dolgellau.

I would suggest including Aberystwyth and the area inland (Tregaron, Strata Florida &c) in your itinerary, and spending a day or two at one of the coastal resorts just north of the Barmouth estuary. Indeed, you might sensibly base yourself for several days in the Harlech - Duffryn Ardudwy coastal area, from which forays into Snowdonia are practical. There are several beach areas and small entertainment parks directed at children in that area. You might also adjust your programme to spend a day or two based in Caernarfon or Bangor as well, so as to see a little of the north coast (again, several spectacular castles).

3. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

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Removed on: 18 May 2013, 01:41
Bucks, UK
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4. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

Miss C, OP referred to Newport in the context of the Pembs coast, not Gwent. The A40 is a great way to cross that part of rural Wales and is not the slow road you make out. Yes it will be slower than a motorway most of the time but it is a lot more interesting and affords plenty of places to stop, follow detours and admire the views.

To the OP - Crickhowell might be a nice base for the Beacons - it is smaller and more up-market than Abergavenny and the Bear makes a nice place to stay. Whilst in that area you should make time to visit Carreg Cennen castle, which lies just to the west of the Beacons. Nearby are the National Botanic Gardens at Llanartne which the kids may also enjoy.

Newport Pembs is a great place for a family holiday and has a nice safe beach at Newport Sands and the Parrog. St.Davids would be another great option from where you can do boat trips to Ramsey Island. Fishguard is not such a good base as Newport or St.Davids. John's tips on the North are good; from Aberystwyth you could take the Vale of Rheidol steam railway to Devils Bridge which the kids may enjoy; you might want to factor in a trip to Portmeirion whilst near Harlech, or the Whistling Sands at Porthor.

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5. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

Whilst in North Wales I would suggest that you stay on the coast say in Llandudno rather than in Llanberis.

I say this for two reasons

1. The weather can vary over a short distance, it can be wet around Llanberis and yet be dry and sunny on the coast

2. A wider selection of accomodation, restaurants and activities for the children.

Any which way you will have a great time

Washington, DC
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6. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

Thank you all so much! We'll take all of this into account. FYI, we wanted to start in Cardiff so that we'd be in a hotel when the kids are recovering from jet lag rather than a little place.

Scunthorpe, United...
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7. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

I like your itinerary. You have plenty of time and aren't rushing around from place to place.

Somewhere in your itinerary try and make time for a trip on one of the narrow gauge steam railways in Wales. There are lots to choose from:

Brecon Mountain Railway

http://www.breconmountainrailway.co.uk/

Vale of Rheidol Railway

http://www.rheidolrailway.co.uk/

Ffestiniog or Welsh Highland Railway (same website for each.

http://www.festrail.co.uk/

The trip on the Ffestiniog is slightly shorter. The steam locos are a bit smaller and therefore seem more child friendly. You can also break journey half way at Tan y Bwlch where there is a cafe and children's play area,

We first took daughter on the Ffestiniog Railway when she was two and a bit and she was hooked.

Don't forget the other Welsh Castles - Cricieth is one of the smaller ones and possibly the best place for the children to run , climb on the low walls and let off steam.

Is their any particular reason you chose LLanberis area for the last few days? Like leuca I was wondering if Conwy/Llandudno might be more child friendly. LLandudno is a sea side town and there is beach to run off steam at the end of the day. Just a thought.

The other alternative is to head a bit further down the LLyn peninsula and stop somewhere there. Criccieth is a good choice . It has two beaches as well as the castle AND not forgetting Cadwaladers ice cream parlour below the castle - just follow the crowds! Being away from the mountains it is also slightly drier and LLanberis isn't too far to drive for the day. It also means you can explore down to the tip of the peninsula at Aberdaron. Drive up to the old coastguard station for views across to BArdsey Island. There is some good easy walking round here. Porth Oe'r whistling sands beach is about 4 miles from Aberdaron and one of the best beaches. At low tide there are rock pools to explore and there is also a small cafe on the beach....

Don't miss Beddgelert and do the short walk to find Gelert's grave and tell them the story...

http://www.beddgelerttourism.com/gelert/

For the Pembrokeshire area, have you thought about the St David's area. It is beautiful with the old cathedral and ruins of the Bishop's Palace. Whitesands is a glorious beach and there are some lovely walks along parts of the coastal path. You can also do a boat trip to or round Ramsey Island. Fishguard is a ferry port for Ireland. I don't know much about Newport.

When in Cardiff do take them to Castell Coch which is a real fairly tale castle and just a short drive:

http://www.castlewales.com/coch.html

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8. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

I agree your itinerary is remarkably intelligent for a trip advisor post! I agree about the North. I would go for two locations. Porthmadog/Criccieth/Harlech area for one and then Conwy/Llandudno - or maybe Beaumaris, for the second. I would not risk going right down the Lleyn Peninsula - if it rains you are really out on a limb.

Criccieth has sort of rock pools on the east beach. - really very safe. You should look up the cleanlines of beaches - most are fine - but just check them out on line.

Sorry to be a downer but if it does not rain you will be extremely lucky, so plan a bit for that. One day I will write a book about North Wales in the rain with todlers, but for now, do some research into houses, trains, caverns churches and places near where you are staying that can be reached quickly between showers. Also remember that you can drive out of the rain in North Wales - if only you know which way to go!

Scunthorpe, United...
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9. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

Having spent 25 years holidaying in North Wales at Easter our experience is that the Llyn peninsula has much better weather than Snowdonia. Porthmadog seems to be the cut off line. It can be raining there but the sun will be shining on the peninsula. Having said that, there aren't many things to do on the peninsula if it is raining!

The advice to have a list of 'bad weather' activities up your sleeve is very sensible. Hopefully you won't need them.

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10. Re: Itinerary help, please - 2 weeks in Wales with 2 toddlers

When you are in North Wales. Head towards Caernarfon and take the A489 I think to Pwllheli. You will find a place called Park Glynllifon which is free entry and the best outdoor play area for kids and most relaxing for you. It has a superb cafe - the Black Cat Cafe (stay away from the restaurant at the mansion house itself) with all homecooked food and a fantastic welcome.