Tag Archives: Wales

Tea For Two in Cardiff

Traditional Tea Rooms in the Heart of the City

Finally someone in the refreshment business is prepared to StarBuck the coffee trend. The Pettigrew Tea Rooms are, instead of being a pale pastiche of an Italian coffee house produced on a Seattle drawing board, a traditional British tea room.

David Le Masurier has taken the bold decision to open this marvellous venture in the wonderfully iconic old West Lodge at the entrance to Bute Park. This 177-year-old building has seen many uses over recent years, rented out and more recently used as a canteen for the parks grounds staff but now has been reborn as a classic afternoon retreat.

Along with the tea rooms development of this part of Bute Park there is also a gift shop that provides a home to a collection of old Victorian press clay floor tiles that were originally used to mark out the foundations of the old Blackfriars Monastery site,whose ruins you can also visit in the park.

The tearooms are a perfect jump back in time to a gentler age, sipping proper loose tea; that has been brewed in a teapot and strained, out of elegant porcelain cups. You also have the luxury of dropping your sugar cubes into your chosen brew with tongs while an extra pot of water allows you the opportunity for a second or third cup, should you so desire. Show me a coffee house capable of providing such elegance.

In keeping with the traditional motif, as well as a good selection of teas, you can also nibble on some delicious homemade cakes and scones, or toasted teacakes and crumpets dripping with butter.  But it’s not just the cakes you can sample as they also have a very good selection of light lunches for you to enjoy.

The tearooms offer the weary shopper an idyllic spot to catch their breath or an excellent place to take tea before boarding the nearby river taxi to Cardiff Bay. Bute Park itself is a gorgeous piece of city centre greenery and well worth a walk around. No matter for what reason you find yourself at Canton Bridge you are guaranteed to have your thirst quenched and taste buds tickled at the Pettigrew Tea Rooms. Forget your double decafe, frothy macciato frappuccino lite, this is drinking in complete style and elegance.

Five Nature Trails in the City

Cardiff is a great place for walking and outdoor exploration; even right up into the town centre itself. The course of the river and the Taff Trail, which stretches from Cardiff Bay, 60 Km north to Brecon, provide some gorgeous Welsh scenery to walk around and its numerous parks, gardens and nature reserves are a joy to stroll through. So for nature enthusiasts, spending time in the capital where can you go to get a spot of fresh air?

Cardiff Bay Trail

Cardiff Bay Trail – Since its rejuvenation the bay has been steadily growing as a destination for walking. When the Ponte Werin People’s Bridge was opened last year it completed a circuit that circumnavigates the fresh water lagoon of Cardiff Bay. Over its 5.5 miles of track you can follow the shoreline, walk through the old docks area and take in the Nature Reserve at Windsor Esplanade, explore the Sports village and marvel at the wonder of the barrage itself. If you don’t feel quite up to the full circuit there are regular river buses along the route that could cut your journey in half and still leave you feeling like you’ve explored this historic area of Cardiff.

Bute Park – Situated behind Cardiff Castle forms a marvellous gentrified country walk in the heart of the city. The trail has footpaths that criss-cross the landscape and traverse the playing fields, then you can meander through the riverside woodland which gives you a peaceful journey along the River Taff, across Blackwier, past the football pitches on Pontcanna Fields to the County Cricket Ground at Sophia Gardens. This is a surprisingly tranquil stroll considering you are in the middle of a busy city.

Wenallt Hills – Looking north from Cardiff you will see the majestic hills of the Wenallt framing the skyline, stretching from Tongwnlais with its beautiful Germanic looking Castell Coch right the way over to the suburbs of Newport. The hills are an area of unspoilt natural beauty that have been preserved and left in tact for people to enjoy. A walk here covers ancient forests, pastures and rugged scrubland. It has steep challenging runs and easy flat sections, a destination for walkers of all abilities. And from its peaks you have unsurpassed views across Cardiff, the Severn estuary to the Somerset Levels.

Glamorganshire Canal Nature Reserve – Below the Coryton roundabout on the M4, just off the A470, you will find this mile long stretch of the old abandoned Glamorganshire Canal that once linked the city to Merthyr and the Rhondda valley. This area of natural wetland has long been the perfect city habitat for many birds, animals and plant life native to the area.  There are plenty of hides and trails for visitors to view the wild life and take stock of  this natural setting in the city landscape. Along with the remnants of the canal is a section of the old coal tramway and the pastoral pleasure of Forest Farm Country Park, all nestled neatly along the banks of the River Taff.

Roath Park – This is a 130-acre, classic Victorian park on the eastern suburbs of Cardiff, laid out in 1894 it has four distinctly different green spaces. The southern edge holds “The Rec” playing fields, this is followed by a formal garden, glass house conservatory and arboretum. The main feature of the park is the large lake with its lighthouse memorial to Captain Scott and the crew of the Terra Nova, which set sail on its fateful voyage from Cardiff Docks. The area to the north of the lake has been left unspoilt as a natural woodland habitat. The park still has an elegant feel to it and has a traditional café, paddleboats and rowing boats for visitors to enjoy during the summer months.

Map showing the locations of the Parks in Cardiff

If you would like to find out more about exciting day trips and tours around Cardiff or the Welsh  countryside or the many other memorable festivals, please contact Travelling Content for more information.

Great Days Out – Romantic Castle Coch near Cardiff

Castell Coch – Red Castle 

Castle Coch, Cardiff

Location:- One mile north of Cardiff’s boundary in the village of Tongwynlais.

An exciting family day trip can be had at the majestic Castle Coch, surrounded by dense woodlands, full of trails, paths and adventure. This fairytale fortress peaks out above the tree line and offers a tantalising view of the past.

The Beautiful Gothic, nineteenth century, revivalist castle just outside Cardiff on the hillside above Tongwynlais is a marvellous example of Victorian romanticism and splendour. The castle is based on the ruined foundations of a former Welsh Lords Keep that was built to protect and defend the wide valley opening of the River Taff.


By the time of the 13th century the site had been claimed by the De Clare family but with the construction of the much larger Caerphilly Castle, 5 miles north. It soon fell into disuse and ruin and historians in the 16th century were already describing it as being in a ruinous state.

The 3rd Marquis of Bute, Cardiff’s 19th landowner, decided to clear the site and recreate a representation of the original fortifications, as they would have appeared in their heyday. The architect, William Burges however took some liberties with the design by the addition of fluted roofs on the towers, of which there is little evidence of in Britain but felt it added to the overall look of the project. Lord Bute is reputed to have only slept at Castle Coch on four occasions saying he found the apartments cold, damp and uncomfortable.

Castle Interior

The small castle is a wonderfully romantic vision of a building that probably never really existed but it serves as a great example of constructional abilities of the early castle designers. The interior applied decorations provide a marvellous exhibition of the art of stencilling and are well worth the visit. There are also spectacular views down across Cardiff towards Penarth Head and the Somerset countryside beyond the Severn estuary. The surrounding woodland Fforest Fawr on Caerphilly Mountain also presents nicely laid out parkland with well sign posted walks, cycle paths and picnic sites to enjoy.

Aerial View

Anyone looking for a fairytale wedding venue can hire this castle for the occasion. Its size however does restrict the numbers attending, as it can only accommodate small parties.


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Tranquil Canal Boat Cruise in Wales

Take things easy by hiring a narrow boat and take a relaxing canal trip along the Welsh Brecon and Monmouthshire canal. Nothing can be more peaceful than to sit on the deck of a canal barge as it drifts slowly along these old waterways.

Brecon & Monmouthshire Canal

Peaceful canal holiday


In today’s modern, stress driven working week it is ever likely that when people take a holiday and the canals provide the perfect calming way to kick back, take stock and relax. To recharge the batteries and get away from it all.

Well if you fall into the later category you should give a canal barge holiday a whirl. Travelling at a break neck speed of 4 miles an hour through some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside, taking your time to appreciate the world around you rather than indulging in road rage and letting the scenery rush past. This is the perfect way to calm the corporate beast.

Canal History

 At the beginning of the nineteenth century Wales was the world’s industrial powerhouse, the first industrialised country. These tranquil waterways were the M25 motorway of their day, linking the industrial centres around the country. They brought the raw materials and finished products to towns, cities and ports for distribution around the world.

Canal barges tied up

These days it is hard to imagine them as anything but a peaceful haven from the pressures of the modern age. Gone are the noxious, fume spewing iron works, the slag heaps and the lime kilns and in many instances the countryside has been reclaimed by mother nature.

The 33 miles of Monmouthshire and Brecon canal provides the prefect escape solution. Set on the borders of the Brecon National Park, the canal was originally opened in 1797 with work finally reaching Brecon in 1800. The course from Pontymoel junction is level for the first 23 miles and then at Llangynidr raises through a flight of five locks. As you near Brecon the canal crosses the river Usk on the Brynich Aqueduct and then you travel through a half mile tunnel to reach the Theatre basin in Brecon.

Border Country

As you gently slide along the canal you can explore the market towns of Abergavenny with its museum and Norman Castle, pastural Crickhowell and Brecon with its Cathedral and Georgian splendour. The area you casually cruise through was once the heartland of the industrial revolution with the nearby steel producing towns of Ebbw Vale, Pontypool and Blaenavon with its world heritage blast furnace and the Big Pit Museum.

All were linked to the canal by tramlines and the remnants of their loading wharves, coal basins and factories are now lie abandoned and scattered along the towpath, like ghosts from some past age. Much of the length of the canal winds its way through the reclaimed countryside of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, giving you ample chance to simply enjoy the beauty of the Welsh landscape.

Going back in time, does not necessarily mean sacrificing your treasured crutches of the twenty first century as many of the modern barges and even the retro fitted old narrow boats are equipped with all the mod cons you expect to find. Despite the cosy surroundings these caravans of the waterways contain excellent kitchen facilities, central heating, showers or hip baths and TV, DVD players. Traditionally having between 4 and 8 berths, with either double beds, bunkbeds or foldaway beds, these compact but elegant craft are the perfect mobile getaway.


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