You've heard of Scandinavian hygge; now how about an authentic Welsh cwtch (pronounced ‘kutch’, to rhyme with ‘butch)? ‘Cwtch’ has no literal English translation, however it is best described as a significant embrace, a cuddle, or the second meaning is a cubbyhole where you store things safely. So, combine these meanings and we come up a word which evokes a sense of cosiness.
The Cwtch up in Carmarthenshire guide gives you tips on the perfect winter’s breaks where you can wrap yourself up in comforting experiences, drink in breath taking landscapes and invigorating outdoor adventures, followed by delicious comfort food by a crackling fire.
So, dig out your woollies and embrace the elements to find your cwtch this winter, a warming Welsh hug for the soul…
Take ten cosy winter breaks
A value cwtch
Cosy comes at great value at Calon Y Fferi where the rooms are less than £100 a night and they welcome everyone. That means friends, solos, families and dogs, as well as offering accessible rooms at this community-led initiative in the quiet coastal village of Ferryside. There’s a café, restaurant and all sorts of wonderful community activities like the repair café and Men’s Shed. It’s walking distance from the mainline station at Ferryside and the Wales Coast Path is on your doorstep making this is a great car-free option. There’s tons to do including free activities such as visiting the National Wool Museum or Carmarthenshire Museum or simply enjoying a winter picnic at Paxton Tower or a short walk up Dryslwn Castle for incredible views over the Tywi Valley.
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Embrace the Wild Cwtch
Embrace the long nights on an adventure with a difference by joining a guided ‘Moon Walk’ with Lisa Denison of Quiet Walks. It’s a 90-minute walk up around an iron age hill fort taking place once a month to coincide with the full moon. Or, embrace some Scandinavian exercise with Nordic Walking which exercises 90% of the body and is great for all levels of fitness by joining NordicCymru who offer beginners workshops in various places in the county including Llyn Llech Owain Country Park and The National Botanic Gardens. For extra muddy winter fun there’s always mountain biking, or how about touring a few cosy pubs on an e-bike. Getting cosy in a remote cabin or yurt can be extra magical so don’t overlook winter glamping with yurts at Embrace the Space or a cabin at Under Starry Skies which is the perfect base for the Quiet Walks programme. If a luxury B&B is more your thing then check into Glangwili Mansion and book into their ‘Stargazer Log Cabin’ for a private meal and some star gazing.
You can feel at one with the rugged beauty and edible delicacies of the Carmarthenshire coast at Pendine by joining Craig Evans, master of all things coastal foraging as he hunts for clams, cockles, sea vegetables and more on one of his wild-food courses. At the end, he will cook up your finds over a handmade candle stove on the beach taking shelter in one of the many caves. Check in for the night at Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne, the favourite watering hole of Wales’s favourite poet Dylan Thomas where you can enjoy rare-breed heritage Welsh beef at Dexters at Brown’s, or spend a few nights in a luxury lodge at Dylan Coastal Resort with hot tubs and views of the Taf estuary. The next day, explore the haunting ruins of Laugharne Castle, tuck into tapas at The Ferryman Deli and walk a section of the Wales Coast Path, stopping along the way for waterside afternoon tea at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse.
An artisanal cwtch
It may be winter, but the Teifi Valley will bring green to the colour palette of this mini break where you can experience the crafts and traditions that make Carmarthenshire so special. Learn about textile-making and buy soft Welsh blankets at the National Wool Museum, then head into Newcastle Emlyn to browse its antiques and bric-a-brac shops and indulge in a slab of homemade brownie at Petit Biarritz, Newcastle Emlyn’s latest opening. From there, it’s a 3.5-mile wander up the river, past deep pools and weeping willows, to the cascading Cenarth Falls. Treat yourself to afternoon tea at Tŷ Te Cenarth and book ahead so you can visit the Coracle Centre to find out about another local practice, moonlight salmon fishing in handmade boats, before your return walk. Apple Shack makes the perfect romantic retreat for two nearby, where in winter the owners will light up the wood burner before guests arrive. And make sure you take a short detour to Caws Cenarth for their famous artisan cheeses, and where there’s a new apartment above the dairy available for a small group of five or a family to rent.
The craft scene in Carmarthenshire is thriving meaning there are wonderful winter woollens and blankets to buy as well as superb makers to visit such as Tim Lake Ceramics , Rural Kind and traditional brush maker, Rosa Harradine who even offer half day workshops. Combining a pottery course with their own accommodation Siramik hold weekend courses every month and Small Holding Secrets, near Kidwelly offer Peg Loom Weaving. The Forest Arms at Brechfa (rooms and food) is a short drive from West Wales Willows who offer Willow weaving courses (baskets, bags, trugs and plant supports) for a day or two. Or to combine a felting workshop with a hideaway cottage stay on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains book into Cambrian Escapes in the same village, where a woodfired hot tub is perfect for making the most of the dark skies.
Cookery, Cockles and Cawl Cwtch
Comfort and warmth are often winter cravings best satisfied with steaming hot food and buttery bakes. Quite literally comfort in a bowl is Cawl, a traditional Welsh hearty soup made with either lamb or beef and crammed full of root vegetables and leeks. The White Hart Inn offers Cawl on its menu as well as roaring fires and is one stop on the Cawl Crawl, a trail highlighting all of the best places to feast on this delicious warming stew. Or, learn to cook Welsh dishes yourself and book onto one of the new Family Cookery Workshops at Y Sied Cookery school, where families can learn together to cook Welsh Cakes and Cawl, a perfect way to celebrate St David’s Day! Alternatively start the day in a truly Welsh way head to Flows on Market Street in Llandeilo for a breakfast of cockles, laverbread and spinach topped with a fried egg. After all that cake, cockles and cawl, rest your head at Picton House, a small hotel and restaurant near St Clears.
A botanical cwtch
Chilly winter weather is the perfect excuse for focus on some self-care. Head over to Eden Soap School in Carmarthen where you can learn how to make your very own treats using natural botanicals and essential oils. Come back laden with homemade soaps, diffusers, bath bombs, creams, balms and more to your roll-top tub at rustic-chic farmhouse Ardderfin. Just ten minutes from Llansteffan, this little slice of heaven sleeps eight so you could even gather a group of friends for a pampering break, dining around the fire. Or, for a fine dining restaurant with rooms book into Mansion House Llansteffan for local seafood and sea views at their Moryd Restaurant. A lunch treat not to be missed is within half an hour’s drive at Y Polyn where saltmarsh lamb, Dinefwr venison and other local ingredients await, a cwtch on a plate if ever there was one. The next day, discover botanicals of a different kind at nano distillery Jin Talog (pre-booked visits only), where Anthony and David will show you their secret award winning gin formula, home-grown herbs and Welsh spring water.
A cwtch with your pooch in tow is easy and fun, whether you head for the beaches or hills with lots of dog friendly cafes, attractions and walks. In the shadow of the Brecon Beacons, Basel Cottage is a great base for dogs and their owners who like to self-cater. Dogs stay free, there are enclosed gardens, wood burning stoves, walks from the cottage and a dog sitting service. Most local beaches and attractions are pup-friendly, so a race along the pristine sands of Cefn Sidan is definitely in order, Wales’s longest beaches. And, if you have any energy in reserve a walk through the woods at Pembrey Country Park is a much as well as making the most of the National Botanic Garden of Wales’ regular ‘Doggy Days’ a short drive away, or take in some history at Llansteffan Castle. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, tasty treats and crackling fires await you at the Inn at the Sticks on the coast.
A forest cwtch
Let the forest give you a hug with some time spent forest-bathing in Brechfa Forest, where conifers and pines mean you can soak up year-round greenery. It’s bewitching on a cold winter’s day when mist entwines the trees and beams of sunshine filter through the canopy to the mossy ground below. Hike or mountain bike along the waymarked trails and visit the Forest Garden to see giant redwoods and firs. Stop for a flask of coffee at the woodland picnic site in Abergorlech, where the Gorlech and Cothi rivers meet, then warm up over a fireside lunch at the Black Lion. Located on the river in Abergorlech, the welcome here is warm, the ciders and ales are from local breweries and the beef from surrounding farms. Or, head over to the British Bird of Prey Centre, take a Woodland Walk through the forest at National Botanic Garden of Wales with an owl or falcon flying along side you, coming to your glove as you stroll through the trees. Winter forest bathers will be right at home at Tŷ Mawr Country Hotel where the owners provide mapped walks for those who want to give it a go. With Brechfa’ s 16,000 acres of forest on the doorstep it is the perfect place to practice and experience forest bathing and then retreat to the hotel for fires and tasty food with local ingredients.
Basing yourself in the market town of Llandovery on the edge of the Brecon Beacons positions you perfectly to head off on a cobweb-expelling walk in the footsteps of the drovers from bygone times who made the town famous. Or, if you prefer to tour by car then spend a few days exploring the new scenic route – the Wild Drovers Way. When it comes to dining in Llandovery choose between cocktails, burgers and Asian veggie food at the Bear Inn, and game pie or a ‘Drover’s Lunch’ (ham-hock terrine, Scotch egg, Welsh Cheddar and chutney) at the Castle Hotel. Once you’ve had your fill, rest your head in Jacobean elegance at 17th-century guesthouse The Drovers B&B, and wake to delicious breakfast treats such as Carmarthenshire cheese and leek cakes lovingly home-cooked by owner Jill. Make sure you pop into La Patisserie for a sweet or savoury treat and for top notch coffee go to Penygawse Tea Rooms For an epic walk head to Llyn-y-Fan, a lake, which lies in the shadows of Fan Brycheinog and Bannau Sir Gâr and learn about the legend of the Lady of the Lake, who married a local farmer’s son and whose children became the famous physicians of Myddfai.