It costs £4.50 per car to cross the Severn Bridge into Wales from England. When my husband first took me to his homeland he told me the fee was only for the English (and even jokingly informed the person at the tollbooth that he had one English person in the car). I said I hoped the trip would be worth the money or I would ask for a refund on the way out.
After many visits I can now honestly say that the toll is well worth it. Spectacular scenery and a fairly temperate climate make Wales a good holiday destination in both winter and summer, and tourism is now a big industry in the principality. From walking holidays and mountain climbing to visiting ancient castles and enjoying the beautiful coastal areas and beaches, there is a wealth of activities available. You may even enjoy watching rugby football – though it may not be appropriate to discuss the current state of the national game. I won’t repeat what my Welsh friends have to say about this topic!
Wales is a small country with a land area of just over 8,000 square miles and is approximately 160 miles long by 60 miles wide. It has extensive regions of high plateau with mountain ranges and river valleys. The coastline is almost 750 miles long with many glorious beaches. Wales has a fairly turbulent history. Though the Romans occupied Britain for 400 years they never succeeded in entirely conquering Wales. Their efforts to do so can be seen at the pretty town of Caerleon, just over the border in South Wales, where a Roman town wall is still being excavated. Following the Romans came the Saxons, Picts, Vikings and Normans and the history of struggle against invaders from within and without mainland Britain has left Wales with more castles per square mile than any other country in Western Europe. These great castles, most still standing though some are in ruins, contribute enormously to the beauty of the Welsh landscape.
Although English is the everyday language for most Welsh people, the Welsh language still flourishes and to hear it spoken is like stepping back into some bygone age when legend has it that fairies and enchanted beings once walked this magical land. How many non-Welsh speakers, for example, would even dream that the mystical words “cyfrifon cyfredol” translates into English as “current accounts”!
I have just spent ten days in Wales. Spring was in the air and the national flower, the daffodil, was in full bloom. Long sunny days (though a trifle chilly) made for enjoyable excursions and during my visit I spent a day at the South Pembrokeshire coastal towns of Tenby and Saundersfoot. Tenby is a beautiful old town with two magnificent beaches and is a popular holiday destination. With a wealth of good restaurants, hotels and guesthouses, it’s extremely busy in the summer months so Spring is a good time to visit. Saundersfoot, its lesser-known neighbor is approximately ten minutes drive from Tenby, and has a large sandy beach with a small harbor. There you can join the Pembrokeshire Country National Park coast walk if you’re feeling particularly energetic.
To find out more about Wales visit the national tourist office web site at www.visitwales.com.
There is also a very innovative web site using audiovisual presentations at www.worldwidewales.tv. Subjects range from towns and their histories, through to local sports, biographies of famous people, scenic locations and events of national importance.