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 Welsh Rarebit recipe

As many people across Wales will know, today is Welsh Rarebit Day. As treasured as rugby and Brains beer, what better way to celebrate one of the country’s most iconic signature dishes than by cooking it yourself?

Dating back to the 18th century, and reflecting a time where meat was a scarce luxury in Wales, lots of people say that Welsh Rarebit originated from Welsh rabbit, but there is no real evidence to actually support this.

Welsh Rarebit is so much more than fancy cheese on toast, and is made with high-quality ingredients, including Welsh cheese, beer, mustard and freshly baked sourdough bread. With the Autumn months just around the corner, this dish really does hit the comfort food spot.

Over the years, many families have developed their own recipes for this traditional Welsh dish, our Head Chef Mike Hendry included. Here, Mike shares his favourite Welsh Rarebit recipe, with an extra cheesy twist!

Ingredients- Makes 8

20g butter (Welsh unsalted)

20g flour (plain)

150ml milk

80g Welsh cheese (Gorwydd Caerphilly works well)

½ bottle of Brains beer (or dark)

2 egg yolks (Medium free range)

8 thick slices of sourdough bread

Parmesan cheese

Method

Begin by melting all of the butter in a non-stick saucepan over a medium heat but don’t let it colour. Slowly add the flour and stir until the mixture becomes a smooth paste that leaves the sides and base of the pan. Then, add the milk a little bit at a time to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth between each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix together the grated cheese and two egg yolks. Then add this mixture into the roux in the saucepan, turn the heat down a little and stir until the cheese has melted. Turn it off and leave it to rest.

In another saucepan, add the beer and boil until it has reduced by half. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of English mustard. After stirring, add this mixture to the other cheese mixture, and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Slice fresh sourdough into 8 slices, and toast lightly under the grill. Spread the cheese sauce thickly over the toast, making sure the slices are completely covered. Put the toast under the grill for 2 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Then add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and grill for another minute until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.

Whether you whip up Mike’s Welsh rarebit recipe for lunch, or even as an afternoon snack, it’s quick to make and bursting with traditional flavours. Why not send us pictures of your Welsh Rarebits to @LLCHotel?

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As seen on Wales Online. To see the article, please click here.