Wales Fam 2011
Sept 8th - 13th, 2011

September 11th
After a hearty breakfast we were off to visit not only a garden but a Relais & Chateaux Country House Hotel.
Ynyshir Hall means Long Island

After our welcome by Joan Reen, we were ushered into the parlor for some tea and cookies. Can I tell you how good these Chocolate chip, Ginger and Flapjack cookies were? Fitting cookies for a R & C establishment. Then it was time to visit the gardens. Along with the glorious lawns in that Welsh green, there were dogs to play with and horses to watch…so restful to the eye.

Solitude is precious and readily available at Ynyshir Hall, once owned by Queen Victoria and set amongst breathtaking scenery in the secret heart of Wales. Cradled in 14 acres of glorious gardens, this luxury hotel in Wales sits midst the splendour of the Dyfi Estuary, surrounded by mountains that were once the refuge of the Celtic princes and has been cherished by a succession of eminent owners.

Parts of the hall date back to the 15th Century, but its first recorded owner was David Lloyd, who lived here in the 17th Century. Ynyshir Hall was later owned by three High Sheriffs and later acquired by Queen Victoria who loved the abundance of birds on the estuary part of the estate. She had the hall refurbished and put a lot of effort into establishing the gardens, with many of the trees she had planted still being in evidence today.

In 1928, it was sold to William Hubert Mappin of Mappin and Webb, Jewellers, who did a great deal of work on the gardens. On his death in 1966, he sold 1,000 acres of the estate to the RSPB, to establish the bird reserve that still exists there today, much to the disgust of the shooting parties who had visited the area for generations.

This luxury country house hotel in Wales has the good fortune to share its Dovey estuary location with one of Britain's finest bird reserves, the RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve. The walk to the estuary from the hotel is a magical ramble. The Dovey estuary is also the only Welsh Biosphere Reserve.

It’s little wonder Queen Victoria loved these beautiful gardens, stunningly located between the mountains and the estuary. A fairytale landscape, now 14 acres, the gardens contain many rare varieties of exotic and native trees and shrubs.

Snowdrops and crocuses carpet the gardens during February, followed in March by carpets of daffodils. You’ll marvel at the breathtaking display of bluebells throughout the woodland gardens surrounding the house, and at the vibrant blaze of the Azaleas and Rhododendrons for which the gardens are renowned, a magnificent explosion of colour, in April and May.

There are also large collections of Camellias, Magnolias and Hydrangeas. Splendid examples of Sequoia and Wellingtonia trees flank the drive; in fact, the gardens play host to the definitive collection of Wellingtonii in the UK and Queen Victoria is reputed to have planted the Persian Ironwood (Parrotia), famed for its autumn colour.

The rocky woodland garden climbs steeply up behind the house. Follow the path through the trees to the blue gate on your way to the bird reserve and you’ll cross the babbling stream that then cascades down to a delightful water feature at the bottom. The large rocky mound in the middle of the garden is an idyllic setting for quiet contemplation and meditation.

We returned to our parlor to just sit and enjoy the time together and as we were talking some stories were shared about some of the people who had visited there. Wonderful stories and you will just have to go there to hear them for yourself!

After this visit we headed to Llanerchaeron where we enjoyed a quick lunch before our visit. This is another National Trust Property and a rare example of a self-sufficient 18th-century Welsh minor gentry estate has survived virtually unaltered. The villa, designed in the 1790s, is the most complete example of the early work of John Nash. What I loved about the house were the ceilings and trim. Each room was different and in some of the rooms the drawers were custom made to fit the rounded corners..really cool. It has its own service courtyard with dairy, laundry, brewery and salting house, and walled kitchen gardens (with all its produce for sale when in season). The pleasure grounds and ornamental lake and parkland provide peaceful walks.

What gives Llanerchaeron its unique historical value is the fact that later owners allowed the farm and household service outbuildings to languish out of use, with no attempt to demolish or renovate them. As a result, we can clearly see exactly where and how essential tasks were performed with considerable attention to quality standards, and often aided by advanced technology, including electricity generated by a water-wheel.

Llanerchaeron's walled gardens are home to dozens of veteran fruit trees, some 200 years old, which are part of the working farm's ongoing organic production. These trees are also important hosts for all kinds of insects, mosses and lichens and, coupled with the traditional vegetable and herbaceous flower beds, they are a significant wildlife habitat. It was a real treat to walk through these gardens. Even at this time of year there were a lot of vegetables being harvested and still many flowers in bloom. The apples were so enticing too.

The parish church of Llannerch Aeron dates back to at least 1284 in the reign of Edward I, when there was a large medieval village in the adjoining parkland which seems to have been deserted around 1500. There is also a good possibility that Nash had something to do with that.

Tonight we are in Aberaeron and staying at the Feather Royal Hotel located in Aberaeron This was a bit different from the other hotels and I think a good idea to show us the different types of accommodation available throughout Wales. It was once upon a time in the 18th century a coaching inn.

The Feathers Royal has a strong tradition of hospitality. As the focal point of the small seaside port town of Aberaeron on the beautiful Cardigan Bay Coast, the Feathers was originally an 18th Century Coaching Inn offering food and shelter to travelers and locals alike. It has been restored but still keeping it unique coaching inn features that I have seen in other coaching inns…long and narrow, slightly sloping floors and doors…I loved it, truly a unique experience and the fact that I have gone from a tiny single bedded room the night before to this room with three beds was a hoot! Plenty of room for my suitcase now. Nice big bathroom, tea making again, tv and email! My room was a family room and we all could have had a party in it!

The charming town of Aberaeron is famous for its Georgian elegance with brightly painted town houses and an attractive seaside quay. This was most evident as we took a stroll out in the rather breezy weather to see the ocean and the boats. The houses surrounding the quay were lovely in all their finery of bright colours. They have a wonderful little walking map that you can use that guides you by all the famous buildings and tells you about each of them. A great walk to make room for dinner!

after another delicious dinner it was off to bed as we had another busy day planned and we needed our rest…


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row