Gentlemen of the UK, your love lives are in crisis. According to a recent study by women’s magazine Cosmopolitan, almost 40 per cent of women surveyed claimed that their other half is ‘not very often’ or ‘never’ romantic, despite 75 per cent of men thinking otherwise!
Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the special lady in your life requires by way of a romantic weekend, and even more so to surprise her with a gesture of your love. Perhaps, then, it is worth taking a walk on the Welsh side this year and celebrating ‘Dydd Santes Dwynen’, or the Welsh equivalent of Valentine’s Day, on the 25th of January.
THE STORY OF SANTES DWYNEN
Dwynen is the Welsh saint of love and, as is the case in many such examples, her tale is deeply rooted in folk tales and Celtic stories. She was the daughter of the king Brychan Brycheiniog and one of 24 siblings. The children were renowned for their good looks but one was more beautiful than the rest, Dwynwen.
During a banquet at court Dwynwen and a young prince, Maelon Drafodrill, met and fell head over heels in love. The following day Maelon rushed to ask Brychan for his daughters hand in marriage. But the king refused, roaring angrily that Dwynwen was betrothed to another, more suitable prince. Maelon left the court in disgust without saying goodbye to Dwynwen.
Heartbroken, Dwynwen fled to the forest where she prayed to God, asking him to rid her of her love for Maelon. When she eventually fell asleep Dwynwen had the strangest dream. Maelon was walking towards her through the treen when an angel, sent by God, came down from heaven and turned the young prince to ice. The angel then turned to Dwynwen to offer her three wishes.
Her first wish was that Maelon would be restored to life. Secondly for God to meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers, and finally that she should never marry and instead devote her life to the service of God.
The following day when she awoke, Dwynwen began her journey to North Wales. She settled on the quiet island of Llanddwyn and devoted the rest of her life to God.
Therefore, hapless romantics of the UK, treat your loved one to a romantic weekend in Snowdonia on the 25th of January and recounting this tale to your beloved may just be the key to success in the schmoozing stakes. Not only is it a fable of devotion simply oozing with lovey-dovey feelings, but it also gives you the ideal opportunity to explore a little more of the beautiful Welsh countryside.
ACCOMODATION: Ty Newydd
Hiring an adorable one bedroom country cottage for the weekend just south of Bala in North Wales, is the perfect opportunity to bag some of the ‘alone time’ your other half craves whilst also getting bonus points on the romantic front with the inclusion of a real fire (think of the snuggles!)
EATING OUT: Tyddyn Llan
Capitalising on the romantic boyfriend angle by booking in to the Michelin Star Tyddyn Llan restaurant is also recommended, it is considered one of Wales’ finest restaurants, with a string of accolades only building upon the quality and elegance afforded by its location on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. Sunday lunch here is particularly recommended, as the locally sourced meat selections and mouth-watering scents emanating from the kitchen are enough to put anyone in a warm, fuzzy mood!
WALK: Aran Fawddwy
Walking off the calories from a sumptuous lunch on a leisurely climb up Aran Fawddwy is the perfect activity for a relaxing day. Once again, the stunning views and peaceful setting are useful for those looking to inject a little romance into their lives, with the summit perhaps even providing the perfect location for a proposal?
RELAX: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel
The perfect end to a perfect day comes in the form of a spa package at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, especially if your dearly beloved happens to be feeling the effects of your earlier walk!
This beautiful stone cottage in Maentwrog provides some truly luxurious accommodation. There’s a log fire and exposed beams of the lounge, the bedroom is dreamily romantic and the bathroom comes complete with underfloor heating.
EATING OUT: Bistro Betws Y Coed
Just a short drive away the pretty little town of Betws-Y-Coed has a handful of nice restaurants. One of the nicest I think is Bistro Betws Y Coed. A mix of both modern and traditional welsh food.
WALK: The Woods Around Llyn Mair
The woods around Llyn Mair, just a short walk from your front door, is naturally the perfect setting for you to recount the tail of Santes Dwynwen. Here’s a map to help you find your around. [Llyn Mair]
RELAX: Portmeirion Spa
I doubt there’s a better location for relaxing in the UK. The famous Portmeirion Village now has it’s own luxury spa. The girls there are really friendly and I know Louise is a big fan of their treatments and therapies. Have a walk around Portmeirion Village first if you have time.
Springing romantic gestures on your partner can be difficult, but fortunately North Wales offers some of the finest locations in the UK to inspire even the most reluctant Romeo. So this Dydd Santes Dwynen pack up and head to a romantic weekend in Snowdonia with your loved one, just don’t forget to bring the champagne!
On the coast of Snowdonia, where the mountains meet the sea, Barmouth is perfect for walking, outdoor activity breaks, or fresh air getaways. The town has gift shops, restaurants, cafes and bars all located within a 5 minute walk from the harbour and promenade running alongside a blue flag beach. Here are the best things to do in Barmouth: ACTIVITIES THE HARBOUR The harbour is a great place to hang out with a collection of restaurants, cafes and ice-cream shops. Crabbing is also popular here if you’re looking for something to do with the little ones. STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING SUP Barmouth offer paddle boarding down the Barmouth Estuary which is something quite special. Great for all age groups, this is something definitely worth doing when in town. SERN WEN FERRY BOAT Taking you across the estuary to Fairborne, this makes for a great day out or morning excursion. ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES Snowdonia Adventures offer a great variety of activities including gorge walking, canyoning, kayaking, climbing etc. George and his team always provide a top class service and definitely one of the best things to do in Barmouth. DRAGON THEATRE Best known for their music nights, the Dragon Theatre puts on some great Jazz nights as well as introducing alternative music from around the world. They also put on film screenings and work shops so make sure you have a look to see what is on. BENDI-GEDIG An indoor soft play centre for kids – perfect for those rainy days! They also have a cafe on site. AMUSEMENT ARCADE As with all great seaside towns, there is an amusement park including all the usual fanfare of rides, soft toys, candy floss and sugar donuts!! SKATE PARK At the very north of the promenade, there is a skate park offering a couple of good ramps and a rail. BEACHES BARMOUTH Barmouth beach has a great promenade where there are a number of beach front cafes so you dont have to lug a great picnic bag down here if you’re not in the mood! A little train runs up and down the promanade throughout the day and the harbour at the south end is home to some great restaurants and cafes. The amusement park is also only a stone’s throw away. Part of Barmouth beach has a blue flag status and so needless to say, swimming here is good. LLANDANWG Llandanwg sas good facilities and easy to get onto. The carpark is just next to the beach, but if you are lucky you can get free parking on the left hand side of the road just before you get to the beach. A cafe offering light lunches, coffees and ice cream is just by the carpark as are the toilets. The beach itself is rocky which makes its perfect for rock pools and great for kids. DYFFRYN BEACH If you are early enough, you can get free parking on the side of the road. failing that, there is a carpark 5-10 min walk from the beach across the sand dunes. This beach is great for swimming and the sand dunes will provide hours of fun for the children. Limited on facilities, you will need to stock up before you go. There is a spar in Dyffryn Ardudwy village itself with...read more