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 cwtch under the stars
Embrace the long nights on a magical stargazing break in the Cambrian Mountains – home to some of the darkest skies in the UK. Hit the road by night to take in the 50-mile Astro Driving Trail which tours the very best Dark Sky Discovery Sites such as the breath taking Llyn Brianne Reservoir. Your nearby base is Brynglas Cottage in the village of Brynglas, as cute a button 19th century stone cottage overlooking the river Towy full of period charm and a roaring fire to warm up in front of after your explorations. By day, walk to the waterfall at Cwm Rhaeadr then linger over steaming Welsh cawl (a cwtch in a bowl!) at the nearby Neuadd Arms, or sample some Welsh alms and cider your local, The Royal Oak Inn, in the village of Rhandirmwyn.
A cwtch with a view
Perched above the meandering Tywi Valley is the imposing Neo-Gothic folly Paxton’s Tower. It’s the perfect winter picnic spot where you can take in the incredible views whilst sipping your hot chocolate from a thermos. Stay next door at the former caretaker’s lodge, now an enchanting holiday cottage. Once you’ve taken in the view on your doorstep, admire the tower from afar by venturing over to Dryslwyn Castle, at its best first thing in the morning as the mist creeps across the hills. Afterwards, stop in Llanarthney to pick up provisions from Wright’s Food Emporium, whose Myrddin Heritage pork belly Cubano sandwich with Teifi cheese is the stuff of legend. Stock up on one of their incredible home-cook meals and other spoiling bits and bobs from the deli counter and bakery, meaning less time self-catering and more time playing board games by your cottage’s open fire.
A coastal cwtch
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 Steak House & Grill before snuggling up in your Welsh-wool bed. 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. Nantgronw Cottage makes the perfect cocooning retreat nearby, but make sure you take a short detour to Caws Cenarth for their famous artisan cheeses to enjoy by the wood-burner.
An indulgent cwtch in Llandeilo
Pretty Llandeilo is hard to beat when it comes to retail therapy, the perfect pastime for a winter’s break. Stay at The Cawdor, a landmark historic coaching inn with spoiling rooms (the loft suites need to be checked out) and hit the town’s boutiques such as the kitchen shop Peppercorn, an interiors treasure trove at Davies & Co and Toast’s original store (the successful brand was born in Llandeilo). When the feet need a rest, treat yourself to one of Heavenly’s decadent chocolate creations or pick a bottle of Welsh gin to take home from Ginhaus’s impressive ‘Wall of Gin’ with over 200 varieties. For dinner, head back to the hotel for the ultimate comfort food, pulled Welsh lamb-shank shepherd’s pie, followed by glass of Penderyn, Welsh whisky, in front of the fire. The next morning, refuel over brunch at The Hangout, their seed-to-plate approach using the best local ingredients makes for a tasty menu, then walk it off with a ramble over to Dinefwr nature reserve and castle.
An off-grid family cwtch
Immerse you and your little ones in nature at Under the Starry Skies, in one of two green-roofed cabins set on a farm which is now totally devoted to conservation. Spot badgers, birds and deer in the woods and meadows and remember to look up and look out for Red Kites with their distinguishable tail. By night marvel at the dark skies and get cosy as owners Adam and Lou have thought of everything to make your stay toasty whatever the weather with a woodburner inside and BBQ and firepit outside at the ready and marshmallows to be toasted. Even better pre order an organic food box from Gardd Sadwrn for an outdoor winter cook-up. You can also pick up goodies from small local suppliers at nearby market garden and independent bookshop The Dragon’s Garden, where there are ponies and chickens to meet, or at the Sunday morning pop-up market in Talley.
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, walking out to 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
A cwtch with your pooch in tow is not a problem if you head to the village of Ferryside on the Tywi Estuary. Pets are welcome at community-led initiative Calon Y Feri, where several rooms have enclosed patios, perfect for a quick sniff around and your canine chum can join you in on-site café Pryd o Fwyd (‘A Bite to Eat’). 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 pub with hearty pies, chops and burgers on the menu as well as the catch of the day.
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 Forest Arms. Come nightfall, wrap up for dinner at Glangwili Mansion‘s semi-alfresco ‘Stargazer Log Cabin’, then sleep like a log in one of the B&B’s two forest-view rooms.
A fable and foodie filled cwtch in Llandovery
The market town of Llandovery on the edge of the Brecon Beacons awaits for you to head off on a cobweb-expelling walk in the footsteps of the drovers from bygone times who made the town famous. When it comes to dining, choose between field-to-fork food at the Old Printing Office, vegetarian Asian cuisine 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 to pack for later and a seriously good coffee at Penygawse Tea Rooms where the barristers are top notch. With another walk in order head to Llyn-y-Fan, a lake, that 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.