Castles, Beer & Beaches

We were way more prepared this morning than the last time we moved campsites, having packed up most of our shit the previous night like ultra efficient packing machines. It wasn’t pissing rain either which helped massively with the whole not killing each other thing. Once we were packed we had a little stroll around the farm to gawp at some pigs and goats, bought some eggs because one of the perks of camping at a working farm is fresh, delicious eggs, then headed on our way to another farm that is also a campsite, but not to camp, we were just heading there for the beer.

This barn was an absolute trip saver. We would probably have been utterly fucking miserable if we didn’t have this and the woodburner.

Gwaun Valley Brewing was just up the road so it was still only 9.30am by the time we rolled in. Obviously it was deserted. There was a sign on a building saying it opened at 10am, but there was also a sign saying “You want some beer but we’re not here, come down to the farmhouse.” Ok. Right. How desperate for beer did we want to seem? I mean, we could easily wait half an hour but we had a lot we wanted to see today as well as well as harbouring hopes of getting to Brecon at a vaguely reasonable hour. It did say we could go to the house… fuck it. Let’s do it. We rolled the car down the driveway where I made Tarrant ring the doorbell and hid behind her, half expecting an irate Welshman to answer the door in his pyjamas and threaten us with a shotgun. That’s pretty much how I greet people at 9.30am anyway. But a very pleasant chap opened the door as we stuttered about the sign that said we could come down to the house and we knew we were early and we were sorry but could we please have some beer please thank you?

Good morning, goat face.

Well he was lovely. He told us of course we could have some beer and to head back up there, wait for him and he’d “be there now in a minute.” Welsh as fuck. I was wondering if we’d hear that phrase this holiday. Now in a minute. I’m still not sure if it means now or in a minute but I might adopt it in order to cover all bases when discussing my ETA. Sure enough he rocked up to the brewery and let us in. The brewery is right there at the back of the building for everyone to see, and the front part is a little bar with table and chairs and apparently they do live music on Saturdays. Part of me wishes we’d stayed here but to be honest I really liked the barn with the woodburner at Tir Bach. I think barn woodburner trumps brewery, especially as we currently owned enough beer to open our own off licence.

So anyway, off we went having not been shot by a Welshman adverse to early mornings to a little town called Llandeilo which is home to, you guessed it, another brewery. Evan Evans. There’s a brewery tap in town called the White Horse, not that we held out any hope of it being open at 11.30 on a Sunday morning when most sane people would be in bed nursing a hangover and counting down the hours until they could get pizza delivered, but we sidled up anyway to check out what time we could gain entry and were greeted by an open pub, several local blokes, and Wales’ most fabulous barman, Charles.

Gwaun Valley Brewing.

Not that we could get the bottles we wanted. They had them on the back bar sure enough, but as Charles picked them up with a flourish and showed them to us he told us that they kept them here for display only. He did insist we touch the label though because it was textured, and he advised us we could get them from shops.
“I’m thinking Morrison’s,” he mused, “Sainsbury’s. Spar.”
“Anywhere but the Evan Evans tap house,” piped up a local stood at the bar drinking lager. I looked around. Not a single bloke was drinking ale.
“But as you obviously have an interest, you’ve come to the brewery tap,” he poured out two halves of Cwrw, which is literally Welsh for beer, and Evan Evans’ flagship beer, “here you go.” He handed over the beers and said we could have them on him. “Or the bloke who owns this place anyway,” he added.

Take your pick!

We spent a bit of time there as Charles chatted to us and kept giving us stuff to take away like those flannel bar mats you don’t really see much of anymore, t-shirts, glassware. I have no idea what we’re going to do with any of it. Put it in a box and get all nostalgic when we find it in a few years time when we’re moving house? Whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever been made to feel more welcome anywhere, even if we couldn’t get what we came for. We headed back to the car feeling quite buoyed by the kindness of the Welsh.

The Evan Evans tap house.

Anyway, not far from Llandeilo are some ruins of a little castle called Carreg Cennen Castle and they sit atop a hill all romantic like, so we swung by to pay them a visit as the heavens opened and dumped enough water on us to end world drought. I’ve never been so soaked in my whole fucking life. The ruins are quite lovely though and the most badass thing is the fact there’s a natural little tunnel which was incorporated into the castle design. I’ve no idea why. Sheer awesomeness? You can explore the tunnel too but make sure you take a torch so the cave monsters don’t try and eat your face. We brought our own but you can rent them there.

Carreg Cennen. I’m a sucker for a ruin on a hill.

Then it was on to the Gower Peninsula which is meant to be one of the most beautiful chunks of dirt and vegetation in Wales. Fortunately the sky had stopped trying to drown us by this point, and we’d heard tell of a boozer called The Greyhound that did a mean feed and had its own brewery attached to boot. We rocked up and spread everything that had been attached to our feet at Carreg Cennen along the parcel shelf of the car in a vain attempt to dry them. If the sight of my crusty socks didn’t deter anyone from breaking in the stench once they’d smashed the window in would drive them away quick enough. Seriously. My shoes were producing odours that could annihilate a small town.

Well you know you’re not in Brighton anymore when you can get a proper Sunday roast that’ll put your entire digestive system into a coma for less than a tenner. We chucked half a Gower Gold each down our necks and it wasn’t half bad, so we added a bottle of that each plus to our collection and drove on to Rhossili which is either a traeth, beach, or if you didn’t fancy getting sand on you, you can stroll along the cliffs and it’s a stunning lookout. You can walk out to a little island called Worms Head if you fancied it but I don’t trust my ability to get from A to B without getting distracted by something pretty, or deciding a sit down is in order. Knowing our luck we’d get stranded and have to spend the night there, trying to light fires with damp twigs and insisting that the other person go and check out the terrifying rustling noise. It would have been a perfect place for a sunset though but as we wanted to set up camp in Brecon before it got dark, that required us to be there way before the sun even thought about setting. Best head off then hey.

A selection of local Gower beers.

Tell you what though, if you do ever get a chance to drive through Brecon Beacons, do it in daylight. Myfanwy, our satnav, took us straight through the middle of it thus causing us to wonder if she was sentient and loved us and wanted us to be happy. Guys, it’s some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving through. I did that really annoying thing that tourists do where they drive really slowly because they’re too busy drooling on the windows. I wish we got more photos of it, I don’t know why we didn’t. Probably because if we’d stopped at every opportunity we would never have made it to Priory Mill Farm before the next ice age crept in.

It’s a bit of a looker, this peninsula.

Our campsites so far had been surprisingly quiet. We’d booked in advance because we were concerned we’d struggle to find a campsite in Wales in the middle of summer but we needn’t have worried. I don’t know if the weather had anything to do with it but I think even it it had been borderline tropical we wouldn’t have had a problem finding places to stay, Wales consists predominantly of hills, sheep, and camp sites. There were quite a lot of people at Priory Mill though, more than likely because it’s in the Lonely Planet, but our efforts to strike up temporary friendships with neighbours went unheeded. Fair enough. I guess if they wanted interaction with strangers they’d have booked a hostel. This was the most expensive place we’d stayed at so far but we chose it for its proximity to the town of Brecon should I decide I fancied an evening drinky in a pub without having to worry about driving, so we were a bit miffed when we discovered it was 50p to use the shower for 4 minutes. Are you actually shitting me?

Worms Head. You can walk out to it, assuming you’re confident that you can make it back before low tide.

Now, I have no concept of time so I have no idea how long I spend in the shower on average but I figured we’d probably need huge stacks of 50p’s that’d reach to the moon. Reception closed not long after we checked in so we couldn’t hit those guys up for change which resulted in a frantic scrabble for coins in pockets and the car. We managed to scrape together three coins each. Ok. That should do for a quick shower. I popped my coin in, turned on the shower, washed and rinsed and brushed my teeth because I brush my teeth in the shower because if I brush them over a sink I get bored, then figured I could just wait there for the toasty hot water to finish and get my money’s worth. And I waited, and waited, and waited so yeah, turns out my average shower time is less than 4 minutes including obligatory contemplation time. There was no need to jealously hoard 50p’s and orchestrate all purchases so I would definitely get a 50p in my change. And I do see their point with restricting shower use.

I’m not sure our poor tent will ever be dry ever again.

Apart from the shower situation it’s a perfect place just to chill by the fire. We camped by the river, watched wood burn and planned the next day’s driving adventure.

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np

Pembrokeshire to Powys, Wales
Stayed at: Priory Mill Farm, Brecon, Powys

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