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spires from Carfax

an Easter in Wales: gypsy caravan + owl cabin

Travel, , — April 2016

We had a lovely Easter outing, spending three nights in a caravan and cabin combo just into Wales, a little northeast of Abergavenny, and using that as a base for trips into the Brecon Beacons.

The gypsy caravan was basically just a detached bedroom and the cabin had all the other facilities: a kitchenette, a bathroom with shower and bath, an electric heater (enough at this time of year) and a wood-burning stove (which we used for one rainy day, mostly for fun), a table and sofa, and so forth. So this was really glamping, though the gypsy caravan was rustically atmospheric - there was a curtain and no door, we could hear the rain on the roof, the whole caravan rocked if one moved around, and so forth - and also a little cramped (I wouldn't recommend this if you're above average height, though not having a three year old as well would give you a bit more room), with the only real concession to modernity being lighting and an electric heater (the wood stove is usable too, but would have been awkward and a little dangerous).




We took the A40 route and hit some traffic jams on the way, so it took three hours (even with only a brief toilet and snack stop at a petrol station) to get to our destination, but Helen stayed happy for most of the trip and napped towards its end.


on Twyn y Gaer: Helen is in charge

On the Friday we had good weather, so we drove up to the National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus and did the walk out to Twyn y Gaer. This is pretty flat except for a bit of a climb at the end, and though it wasn't warm it was pleasant in the sun. The only downside was the wind, and that's what Helen liked least, but she made it all the way up to the remnants of the hill fort at the top and back down to the road - maybe 1.8 miles - where she and Camilla waited while I walked back to the Centre and got the car. We drove back via Brecon, where there's a bookshop cafe that's more cafe than bookshop (though Helen found, and made us read her, some Miffy and Moomin books), and the scenic route through Talybont-on-Usk.

On Saturday the weather wasn't so nice, so we went for a trip on the Brecon Mountain Railway. It was clear on the way up and we had nice views, but then started pelting on the way back, and we got a bit damp at the stopover. We then stopped in Abergavenny for afternoon tea, and I enjoyed a browse in the excellent Broadleaf Books (a nice selection of books, accessibly laid out), picking up a fine copy of Jane Hissey's Old Bear Stories for Helen for £5, while Camilla and Helen hit the yarn and gift shops.


Brecon Mountain Railway

reading Old Bear Stories in our owl cabin

On Sunday there were clear patches mixed with some quite heavy rain. We went to Monmouth and had lunch, then went up to the Kynin and walked in the woods there a bit. When we got to Tintern Abbey it was raining, so we had afternoon tea; then it cleared in time for us to play hide-and-seek amidst the ruins before a non-stop drive back to Oxford.


the woods around the Kynin

hide-and-seek around Tintern Abbey
(Helen hasn't really got the hang of hiding yet)

On the Monday we had a lazy morning at home, but the sun came out in the afternoon and we went for a late outing. We walked across Donnington Bridge, fed ducks, sat around on the riverside for a while, and then walked home. That was another 1.8 miles, and this time Helen only really complained (about her feet hurting) right near the end, when we were maybe fifty metres from home.


  1. It all sounds wonderful! You've become completely acclimatised and a bit of rain and wind add to the flavor. Good photos to show the caravan and for memories for Helen.
    All very familiar sounding names and places. Did you remember any of it from 1979 ?

    Comment by Vera Yee — April 2016
  2. A very pleasing story. It reminded me of my hiking holiday in Brecon in 2006 - beautiful weather and many delightful walks. A phone call to Oxford told me that Alexandre was born.

    Comment by Peter Krinks — April 2016

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