South Wales is a land of contrasts and caravan holidays can take full advantage of these
Things To Do
On your caravan holiday in South Wales, why not go stargazing in the Brecon Beacons National Park. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and meteor showers. As an International Dark Sky Reserve, there are numerous stargazing events that take place throughout the year, often in the presence of an astronomer that will help you to appreciate the night sky.
Go deep underground – 300 feet to be precise – at the Big Pit National Coal Museum to discover all about the Welsh mining industry. Visitors descending the mineshaft wear the very same equipment – helmet, cap lamp, belt, battery and ‘self rescuer’ – that were used by miners.
Swansea is where author and poet Dylan Thomas was born and raised. The Dylan Thomas Centre, in the city, is a permanent celebration of his life and work. On your caravan holiday you can also visit the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in the tiny village of Laugherne in Carmarthenshire, where Thomas spent the last four years of his life.
Visit the medieval walled town of Pembroke, where you can enjoy the impressive Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. A castle moat extends around much of the town.
If rugby is simply not your thing, then have a go at Cardiff’s International White Water Centre. There’s family rafting, canoeing and kayaking and even indoor surfing if you don’t want to get wet from the rain!
When To Visit
No spring is complete without the annual festivities on the first day of March to celebrate St David’s Day – you’ll find something going on in most Welsh towns, with a big celebration in Cardiff. Neither would Hay-on-Wye be the town that it is without the internationally renowned Hay Festival for literary lovers, held every May.
Rugby fans can, of course, be kept occupied with Six Nations matches in Cardiff between February and April, while walkers should head to the Gower Walking Festival, held during June. And for music lovers, there’s the Brecon Jazz Festival followed by the Green Man Festival, a folk offering, both held in August.
Wales is renowned for its fabulous local produce too, and this is celebrated throughout the region, whether with Pembrokeshire Fish Week at the end of June, the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival in July or The Big Cheese, Caerphilly’s take on foodie revelry – free of charge, too. Though the biggest day in the rural/food calendar is the Royal Welsh Show, held at the national showground in Builth Wells, which takes place in July.
The M4 crosses into South Wales north of Bristol, with access from the south west and north via the M5. The M4 travels as far west as Pontarddulais, seven miles west of Swansea, where the A48 picks up to Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire.
Crossings on the two Severn Bridges are tolled westbound only, i.e. you have to pay to get into Wales on this route, but you can get out for free! There is no extra charge for towing a caravan. The ‘old’ Severn Bridge (the M48) is best for heading to Chepstow and the Wye Valley while the Second Severn Crossing (the M4) is direct to Newport and Cardiff.
The M50, a spur off the M5 near Tewkesbury is a useful alternative route to Monmouth and the Brecon Beacons, with the A40 and A449 dual carriageways providing a, usually quiet, and very picturesque route.
The main routes passing through the Brecon Beacons National Park should not cause any problems for caravanners, as the roads tend to follow the river valleys. There is one significant incline at Bwlch (on the A40 Abergavenny to Brecon road) but this is still passable for caravans.
The roads across and within the Cambrian Mountains are narrow and steep in places and should be avoided when towing a caravan. Many of the routes in Pembrokeshire are rural and twisty, so extra time should be allowed for journeys here. The best route to reach Pembroke Dock for ferries to Ireland is along the A48 and A477.