Where to go during the Festival of Winter Walks

Britain’s Festival of Winter Walks is a great opportunity to take advantage of the stunning scenery Wales has to offer. With three national parks – Snowdonia, the Pembrokeshire coast and the Brecon Beacons – there’s plenty of choice when it comes to exploring and walking during this festive season.

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To celebrate this year’s Festival of Winter Walks, which takes place from 19 December to 3 January, we’ve put together six of the best walking trails for you to enjoy in right here in Wales.

 Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny

We’re starting with a walk right on our doorstep that our guests always enjoy. Energise yourself this New Year and join a group walk up the Sugar Loaf Mountain on 3 January. This 10 mile trail will take you along rivers, up mountains and through towns, showing you the best Wales has to offer. The walk ends in Abergavenny, so be sure to pop in and visit us here at Llansantffraed Court Hotel and tuck into a meal at our award winning restaurant, where we use only the best locally sourced Welsh ingredients. 

Boxing Day Pudding Pounder, Brecon Beacons

 If you want to work off your Christmas lunch this Boxing Day why not head down to the Red Cow Inn for a group walk around the Pontsticill Reservoir? This walk is roughly five miles long and lasts just a couple of hours so it’s a great opportunity to take in the reservoir and woodland views. It’s also a dog friendly trail so you can get the whole family outside.

The Gwyllt, Portmeirion

The Gwyllt wild gardens are the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. The unusually mild climate of the peninsula encourages growth reminiscent of a rainforest, with exotic plants and flowers sheltering the walkway; a significant contrast to the traditional Welsh landscape. While you’re visiting the village, you could pop in to the Portmeirion Hotel for afternoon tea on the terrace and enjoy the views of the Dwyryd Estuary.

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia

If you’re looking for something a little bit more hardcore then this walk might be for you. This trail runs over seven miles of rugged landscape including part of the Nantlle Ridge, which allows for fantastic views across the region. There isn’t a group walk organised for this route so you can enjoy it whenever suits you best – we’d recommend a clear day so you can make the most of the scenery.

Porthgain to Whitesands, Pembrokeshire Coast

This costal walk is a fantastic opportunity to take in the spectacular scenery on offer on the Pembrokeshire coast. If you keep your eyes peeled you might even spot the grey fins of porpoises feeding off the coast. Bear in mind that this particular trail is 10 miles long, but don’t worry if you’re more of a novice as there are plenty of other trails on offer along this stretch.

Lake Vyrnwy, Powys

Lake Vyrnwy is an impressive man-made reservoir built in the 1880s surrounded by beautiful woodlands and rolling hills. There are five different walking trails in the vicinity of the lake offering something to suit all abilities. The Llechwedd Du walk covers five miles and, due to its relatively steep climb, offers fantastic views of the lake as well as the heather moorland. After a day of exploring you could drop into the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa which overlooks the lake, to warm your feet by the fire.

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Mike Hendry’s ultimate pedal power recipe: Trio of Welsh lamb with asparagus and wild garlic

Did you know that cycling is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK? Every month just over three million Brits hop on their bikes, and go for a cycle.

Whether it’s to boost fitness, help the environment or save money, cycling in the great outdoors is an activity that can be enjoyed by all, particularly during balmy long summer days.

Here at Llansantffraed Court, we are blessed with having miles of beautiful countryside right on our doorstep. Whether it’s speeding along rural biking trails through lush valleys, or finding majestic castles, idyllic riverside picnic spots and hidden beauty spots, Monmouthshire is perfect for those who enjoy exploring Wales on two wheels. And if you fancy pedalling a bit further afield, a 35-minute cycle will take you to the border of the Brecon Beacons where you can discover all the national park has to offer.

Cycling all those miles can be hungry work, so if you’re planning on jumping on a bike and heading a long way this summer, it’s important to eat a hearty meal beforehand – or have a delicious tea to look forward to. Here our Head Chef Mike Hendry shares his favourite seasonal treat to give you that extra ‘oomph’ when pushing up the steepest of hills.

Trio of Lamb, Asparagus, Wild Garlic (Serves Two)

1 lamb loin, portioned to 150g

100g lamb sweet breads, floured

100g asparagus

500g wild garlic

250g butter

1 potato diced

400ml chicken stock

For lamb kofta

100g lamb mince

20g cumin powder

10g diced shallot

1 garlic clove

1/2 chili

20g coriander

Sauté shallots, garlic, herbs and spices and then mix with mince. Mold into balls that weigh approximately 40g each for the lamb koftas. Fry in a little hot oil until cooked through.

For asparagus

Cook in butter and 200ml chicken stock emulsion until tender.

For lamb

Place loin in hot pan, skin side down and sear for 3 minutes until golden. Turn and seal until all flesh has a little colour. Add some butter and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Take off pan and leave to rest. Meanwhile, add sweet breads and kofta into another hot pan and cook until golden brown in a little butter.

For wild garlic puree

Sauté wild garlic in butter until soft and then set some aside. Add 200ml chicken stock, bring to boil quickly then blitz in food processor until smooth.

For crispy potato

Deep fry diced potato in hot oil at 180 degrees.

To assemble

Spoon some puree onto the plate, arrange the sautéed wild garlic on top. Place the lamb loin, kofta, sweetbreads around and garnish with asparagus and crispy potato.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick a route, get your bike out of the shed and start enjoying the many benefits that cycling has to offer. Mike’s delicious lamb recipe will make sure that you have the necessary pedal power, no matter how challenging the ride.

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