What do you do if you fancy a quick, cheap and little travel in the winter that will help you burn those calories and revitalise that tired winter skin? Well, it must involve a lot of walking, some stunning landscapes, cosy fires and perhaps a splash of red wine. Somewhere in the countryside with a car and great company is pretty much all you need if you fancy taking a quick jaunt during these cold months! And for me, Wales lies so close and offers all of this.


Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, there’s that stretch of time that I like to call ‘No Man’s Land’. It’s a short period of days that usually allows you to roll around, soaking up the last of the Christmas wine or reluctantly stuffing those last few mince pies into your face.

You can sometimes feel a bit blue as Christmas has come and gone leaving you a bit empty from all the festive fun. Empty, apart from the epic amounts of turkey and cheesecake that still lie in your belly! A great way to avoid getting too deflated before New Year’s is to pack up a car and hit the road to escape the lethargy that always hits at this time.


On Boxing Day, we found ourselves huddled around the computer hurriedly renting a car and booking a quaint farmhouse airbnb location in the depths of west Wales. I’d only been to Wales when I was young for sun-soaked frolicking in meadows with my auntie’s numerous dogs. It felt like eons since I’d last visited the land of rolling hills and sheep and as I had never popped over there during the winter months, it seemed like a fitting choice for a quick break before New Year’s Eve madness.


Wales borders England and is a short drive over the Severn Bridge before you’re in the new country where many speak Welsh. It was quite bizarre to take the short drive from England and then hear a tongue that I just could not understand in the supermarkets and service station!  No passport required, and I was in a foreign country where I couldn’t get close to pronouncing those Welsh street signs!

Numerous national parks litter the land and high mountains tower in the north. Snowdonia, the Breacon Beacons and the Gower are world famous spots to explore and hike till your legs give way and never-ending views of an endless horizon greet you when you reach summits, taking your breath away at the Welsh natural beauty.



As we only had a few days for this getaway, we stuck close to the south of Wales and explored the Pembrokeshire Coast which contains sandy beaches, long walks and a national park with rocky mountains to clamber on. Pembrokeshire used to be called the ‘Land of Mystery and Enchantment’ and was voted in second place as the WORLD’S best coastal destination by National Geographic in 2012. Of course, we only found this out after the trip.

We stayed in Penparc in Cardigan; a quaint small village (well, more like a light scattering of houses) that had winding country roads that roller-coast deep into the woods. It felt like a true hidden retreat surrounded by leafy woodland with a magical scattering of frosty snow.


Our airbnb pad was a beautiful cobbled farmhouse with a roaring fire, a poodle snoring by the arger and horses snorting in the field. A bit of R&R and cosy times is exactly what the doctor had ordered – it was our escape from the chaos of the festive season, which had taken its toll!

After a lovely restful eve of cheese, wine and Scrabble, we ventured out and began working our way through the countryside to get to those epic coastal views. The Pembrokeshire Coast is situated on the piece of land that juts out towards Ireland and stands proud over the Irish Sea.


Mwnt Beach in Cardigan Bay is a lovely sandy cove that’s sheltered from the breeze. The cliffs stand tall and craggy around it, so after a walk on the National Trust beach collecting smooth pebbles, we climbed the surrounding hills. Sheep scatter the fields behind you with the odd frozen or running stream meandering through the green. It was a steep yet short climb to the top, but once you reached the narrow peak the sea views are surprisingly epic.




We began driving over to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and got to drop off in a few small towns for afternoon tea and wandering in the charity shops. These hidden little villages are the BEST places to pick up great pre-owned guitars, crochet or knitted blankets and cosy knits. I managed to pick up a billion wool jumpers for pittance between nibbling toasted Welsh Cakes.

Wildlife flourishes here so you’ll see wide open estuaries that are protected to ensure the birdlife are unharmed. Massive hills line the horizon with the odd craggy peaks, which we made a beeline for. A hilltop in the distance was our next destination, so we turned up the music and drove through the glittering sunlight.




Pembrokeshire National Park has over 950km of footpaths and bridleways that you can safely wander and explore. Paths that last from one hour to epic 9 mile cross-country hikes are available here, meaning that it can provide great days out for families and groups.


We climbed a craggy low mountain and accidentally went off piste. Well, off the clearly marked footpath. I blame our spritely ‘leader’ who could bound over the frozen rocks faster than a goat. I was soon left faaar behind, slippin’ and sliddin’ on ice and snow. I’m not going to lie, I did get a bit angry at my inability of keeping balance!




The history of this area is long and deep. Evidence of Neolithic life remain from thousands of years ago in the form of ancient burial mounds and shelters. They have been protected and untouched for you to witness. A burial mound dating to 2000BC can be found on the hilltop lookout of Foel Eryer, just south of Newport. It was an easy climb in the snow and we soon got distracted by the thick ice covering the large pools of water trapped in the soil.

When we finally meandered up to the top, again you could see for miles! You can understand why this dramatic spot was chosen as a burial ground.




After all that fresh air and walking, a hearty pub dinner is what really wraps up a countryside jaunt. We headed to The Ferry Inn in St Dogmaels on recommendation from our lovely airbnb host. The Ferry Inn looks out over water which people canoe up to for a quick pint in the summer.

As it was night, we settled for card games by candle light before salivating over the menu. The majority of their suppliers are local farm shops or fishermen, and their menu was inventive yet hearty. I settled for the seafood bonanza of ‘Cardigan Bay Bouillabaise’: tomato and fennel stew of salmon, prawns and mussels with a pan fried Teifi Bass Fillet. It tasted great, although I did kind of blank out and inhale it.



A must see is Pembroke Castle. It’s a majestic medieval fortress set on the banks of the river estuary; proud, strong and steeped with incredible history. It was the birth place of King Henry VII who inaugurated the line of Tudors, so that means it’s pretty damn old. You can explore the winding passages and caverns inside, and if you have a head for heights climb up to the 75ft high Great Keep.

It’s the only castle in Britain to be built over a natural cavern and all the rooms are circular. Walking the circumference of the castle makes for good photo opportunities as the reflections of the still waters make it picture perfect. We bloody sure got lucky with the weather at this time of year!


Before we knew it, it was time to head home and get geared up for a bit of a NYE boogie before back to reality. But having that breath of fresh air did us wonders and cleaned out those stale festive cobwebs!

Have you been to Wales? If not, add it to your bucket list, pronto!


all photographs by Sophie Saint




Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane