A few months ago I asked Andrew to pick a place he wanted to go and visit – the first thing that came into his head. He said, a caravan in Aberystwyth. And so, that’s exactly what we did for August bank holiday weekend.
Having visited North Wales earlier in the year, we were looking forward to seeing what Mid Wales had to offer, so I booked us a 3 night stay in a simple caravan just outside of Aberystwyth. As a child, Andrew’s holidays, and many of my own, were spent playing board games in seaside caravans. So with that in mind, we packed the car up full of our favourite childhood games and planned a nostalgic trip for just us two.
Typically associated with family holidays, I wondered how we might make a caravan holiday romantic for two adults. Having done a little research I decided to stock up on warm fairy lights, vintage style bunting and pretty, colourful bedding.
Our caravan of choice was a simple one bedroom trailer at Clarach Bay Holiday Village just over the other side of Constitution Hill, from Aberystwyth.
Day One – Our caravan in Clarach Bay
We arrived a little early so decided to check out the view from the adjacent beach. Straight away I was blown away – what a great choice. I don’t really know what I had expected, but the dramatic coastline marking the bay was stunning. How lucky we were to have immediate access to this beautiful beach.
Perhaps it was the ebb and flow of it all but after marveling at the waves for a short while I suddenly had an urgent need to find a bathroom, so off we scooted to see if our caravan was ready yet. Thankfully it was!
Sticking to the very low end of our budget, we had reserved one of the park’s bronze caravans, so expected it to be a bit cramped and worn. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the caravan was in tip top shape, with more than enough room for the two of us.
The first thing to get unpacked was the bunting, oilcloth and fairy lights, followed by pretty bedding and a few cushions I’d brought from home. And what a lovely difference it made. Sure the caravan was nice and clean before, but now it had our own little stamp on it. A cute little vintage feel with warm yellow fairy lights to cast a romantic glow in the evening. We’d have to wait and see…
Being a nostalgic holiday we opted for simple hot dogs for dinner, so as dusk fell Andrew put his culinary skills to the test and heated the bad boys up! Now with satisfied bellies, time to get into my brand new PJs (obligatory caravan holiday buy in my opinion), and get down to some good old fashioned gaming.
We had a rule on this holiday… no TV. We watch enough of it at home, so instead this weekend we wanted to go back to basics, somewhat, and had packed a whole load of games to fill our time. First up…. dominoes.
As it grew darker outside, our caravan grew even cosier. Turns out the fairy lights had been a great call and made such a great difference to the whole mood and atmosphere.
First night ticked off – tomorrow we would explore Aberystwyth…
Day Two – Aberystwyth
6:30am called an early start for our first full day, and with a coastline as stunning as the one right on our doorstep, I had every intention of running straight into the sea to wake myself up.
By the time we had driven down to the shore (yes it was a 5 minute walk from the caravan, but it was cold and we were groggy), I lost my bottle. Instead we took a refreshing stroll up the cliff and watched the waves roll in.
There’s something so peaceful about the sea, especially at dawn when the gulls are out, silently gliding above the waves, and the rest of the world is just waking up.
Suitably refreshed, we headed back for breakfast, before setting off in the direction of Aberystwyth town.
The easiest way into town was by foot, just over the other side of constitution hill. Having felt the brisk air that morning, I left the caravan with 4 layers of clothes on. 5 minutes up the hill, and almost all of them were off!
It was pretty steep, especially for non-walkers, but there was a clear and even footpath which led you all the way up to the top. And how very worth it the incline was, when we were greeted with the most breathtaking view.
From the top you could pick out the pier, the distinctive curve of the promenade, lined with pretty coloured houses, the castle way off in the distance and rolling hills beyond. It was absolutely stunning.
By this time we had hoped to catch the famous cliff railway down into town but we hadn’t realised that it doesn’t start running until 10am. It was only around 9 so we took in the view a little while longer and descended down the hill. This was even steeper than the way up so we decided we would definitely not be walking back up this way!
We spent the rest of the morning meandering along the shore, losing money in the pier amusement arcades, pottering around the Aberystwyth Castle ruins and sipping coffees on the beach.
One of the main things Andrew had wanted to do during our trip was take a ride on the Vale of Reihdol Railway. We walked down to the station and found that we had just missed a train by 15 minutes! It would be another hour and a half before another one arrived, but fatigued from our morning walk up Constitution Hill, we decided to enjoy the sunshine and wait for the next train.
And I’m so glad we did.
I have never seen Andrew so excited (other than maybe our wedding day). We found a seat in the open side carriages at the front of the train, and as we moved further into the Welsh countryside, Andrew’s face was alight with excitement.
The views were spectacular. The train climbed further into the hills offering us the most unique vantage point of the surrounding landscape.
By this time, the weather had completely turned, which I didn’t mind too much as it gave us some great moody skies to offset the dramatic landscape. I was thrilled with the pictures we managed to get, but part of me wishes I had taken a bit more time just soak it all in, rather than trying so hard to capture it (consequently that’s what I did on the way back).
The final destination for the train was Devil’s Bridge, an attraction I had been keen to explore since seeing pictures of it on Pinterest during my research of the area.
As (bad) luck would have it, the rain poured and poured the second we descended onto the viewing path. This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue – we don’t usually mind a bit of rain – had it not been for how treacherous it would make the walk. One part of the trail – I believe it was called Jacob’s ladder – is incredibly steep. This combined with uneven, muddy steps and lashings of rain, made it all a bit – hang on for dear life! So much so that we found ourselves so worried about looking after our step, that we missed a lot of the view.
The falls we did see were lovely, and again the views from the top were stunning. But I’ll admit, we found Ingleton Waterfalls back home to be much more impressive, and having just seen the beautiful scenery from the railway, Devil’s Bridge Falls didn’t really give us anything new.
We were around the trail in under an hour, so just in time to hop straight back on the returning train back to Aberystwyth.
By now we were pretty peckish, so it was a good job I had booked us in at a quirky ping pong bar in town, Wiff Waff. Yes, I said ping pong bar. Such a fun concept. They have a menu of old school classics, burgers and pizzas, alongside a fun cocktail menu – the twist… they have 3 large ping pong tables setup next to the bar. So naturally we stocked up on cocktails with dinner and played a round of table tennis (terribly I might add!)
Uncharacteristically intoxicated at just 7pm, we found that our original plan of catching a bus back to Clarach Bay was scuppered as the buses (unbeknown to us) ended at 6. DOH! Taxi it was then, which cost around £7- not too bad.
Strong coffees on back at the caravan, we settled in for Monopoly…
Day three – more of the same
Enjoying our morning coffee on the third day of our trip, it became apparent to us that we had done most of what we had planned to do the previous day. In hindsight, we should have saved the railway for another day. We had crammed a lot into that first day, and our sore bodies and tired legs were paying the price for it now!
So for our last day we decided to just spend the morning playing board games. It can be tempting to make the most of seeing sights and doing new things when you’re visiting a new place on holiday, but we found that just giving ourselves some time to do things that aren’t part of our usual routine at home, like playing board games all morning, really helped us to relax and connect.
In the afternoon we decided to head back to Aberystwyth for a lighter wander around. This time, I left the camera at the caravan. Up until this point I’d felt I had missed a lot of the holiday just seeing everything through a lens. Today I wanted to experience it, take it all in for myself.
The weather was much cooler today so was wandered down Aberystwyth promenade with hot lattes in hand, stopping off near the harbour to watch surfers ride and fall among the waves.
Believe it or not, this was one of my favourite moments of the trip. So simple. But looking out to sea with my husband by my side, huddled into him against the brisk wind, I felt a complete calm wash over me. We had been so on the go the previous day, that a slower pace was just what we needed.
That’s one thing I love about seaside towns, and being by the sea. You can spend hours of nothingness and still feel like you’ve done something. Just watching the ever changing patterns of the sea can be hypnotic, and you can lose yourself in your own thoughts.
Back at Clarach Bay at dusk, I had that same feeling of calm. Huddled together on the pebble beach, we watched the sunset, reflecting on the trip, on ourselves, planning our next adventures both on holiday and in life.
We’re currently looking for our next chance to visit the sea…