Super-duper South Wales : 10 Family days out
1. One of my favourite places to visit year around is Cosmeston Lakes Country Park in the Vale of Glamorgan. There’s over 100 hectares of woodlands and lakes to explore and whenever we visit we always find something new to discover. My eldest loves the Medieval Village set in the heart of the country park. This reconstruction of a 14th century village is a brilliant place for children to enjoy and has free entry in the morning from 10am. It has been used as a filming location for Doctor Who and Merlin so my children love to try and spot parts of the village which have appeared on TV.
2. Cardiff Castle sits close to the heart of Wales’ capital city and is a brilliant day out for families, with a host of different areas to visit from the Roman Fort and Norman Tower to the gothic style Castle lodgings. There’s always a packed programme of activities for families to enjoy. The huge underground tunnels which are dug into the outer walls and defences are home to a massive exhibition of the castle’s life during World War 2. Its dimly lit corridors and rooms are filled with artefacts and the sounds of the war, which may be unsuitable for little ones, but older children will find the tunnels fascinating.
3. The power of the impressive waterfall at Aberdulais has been recognised since the sixteenth century when it was harnessed as the energy source to help smelt copper. We love this area for its mixture of inspiring nature and the waterwheel which now stands in the heart of the weir still generating energy. It’s a lovely spot for families to learn more about Wales’s industrial past and enjoy some of the area’s stunning scenery.
4. Coal mining and South Wales are inexorably linked and at the Big Pit National Coal Museum at Blaenavon you can join a miner and travel 300 feet underground to discover what life was really like for those who worked at the coal face. There’s also tunnels and original mine buildings to explore along with a multi-media tour lead by a ‘virtual miner’ who will guide you and your family through the workings of the mine and you will come face-to-face with the huge rock cutting machines too.
5. On the edge of Newport you’ll find a wonderful haven for wildlife which children will adore. The Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve has an abundance of birds including ducks and swans, through to lapwings and warblers which you can spot in the reed beds. There’s a specially designed children’s programme to help youngsters get the best out of the experience and a fun activity area complete with its own lighthouse.
6. Zoo, farm, vintage fairground and indoor play barn – Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Pembrokeshire has an enormous amount on offer. Each of the attractions would be worthy of a visit on their own merit, but Folly Farm brings them altogether for an incredible day out which cannot fail to entertain even the most demanding of children. There’s enough here for rainy days too.
7. We love exploring historical sites and one of the best we have visited in Wales is at Caerleon, the site of one of only three Roman fortresses in Britain. My children were wowed by the remains of the Amphitheatre where you can imagine the crowds gathering for their games and the nearby National Roman Legion Museum is home to collections of ancient gems, coins and a reconstructed Barrack Room where you can see how the soldiers really lived.
8. Techniquest is a brilliant science centre for children based in Cardiff. Celebrating its thirtieth birthday this year it has a host of interactive exhibits for little ones to explore as well as an inspired activities programme such as a toddler takeover day and workshops featuring computer coding and lego rolled into one.
9. For science fiction fans the Doctor Who Experience is a must visit. The exhibition hall at Cardiff Bay is home to interactive shows featuring the Doctor and lots of alien enemies. You can also see behind the scenes and get up close with the monster costumes and sets used in the television show. On selected days there are also opportunities to visit the studios where the programme is made and step inside the TARDIS. A great rainy day activity.
10. The remains of Tintern Abbey are a fascinating insight into the history of South Wales and the walls of the ancient structure are perfect for young imaginations. With a history dating back to the 11th century and much of the abbey walls and detail still in tact, it’s an incredible space to be able to walk through and wonder at the size and grandeur of the building which stood on this spot.