There was once a Wales known mostly for coal mines and poet Dylan Thomas. These days, Wales seems like another country, attracting a new generation of hikers to Snowdonia’s rugged northern mountains and Pembrokeshire’s coastal seacliffs, a place where history (ancient standing stones and more castles per square miles than anywhere else in the world) has taken on new importance.
The Welsh border, just two hours west of London, is also the gateway to some of Britain’s finest beaches (starting with the Gower Peninsula) and a culture where rugby is a passion (especially in the capital, Cardiff) and walking is much more than a stroll to the grocery. (One of the country’s famed seven long distance walks, the Cambrian Way, is a 274-mile, sea-to-sea trek across one mountain range after another.)
A long-standing cottage industry in Wales is… cottages. Renting a slate-roofed cottage for a holiday is a good way to spend a quiet holiday, explore backroads and those always-green valleys.