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Review and Video of Aberhyddnant Farm Cottages, Brecon, Mid Wales

Posted by at 09:00 on Friday 26 July 2013

Lucy Symons appreciates the splendid hospitality and family-friendly convenience of the eco-aware Aberhyddant Cottages set in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons National Park.

>> For contact details and availability, see our full listing for Aberhyddnant Farm Cottages

>> Liz Matthews at Aberhyddant is a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador

White painted exterior of Aberhyddnant main house. Photo: Lucy SymonsWhite painted exterior of Aberhyddnant main house. Photo: Lucy Symons

The Setting
Right in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park you will find a lovely spot near Crai comprising of 220 acres of organic hill farm, the farmhouse originally dating back to 1640 but was significantly added to in 1860. Cattle, pigs, sheep and some chickens are farmed here by Liz and Paul Matthews who take great pride in conserving this little corner of Wales.   

Watch our Greentraveller video on Aberhyddnant:

The Rooms
There are two self contained cottages in a barn originally converted in 1992 and then updated again in 2000. One cottage is named Nyth Y Wennol (Swallow's Nest) and has three bedrooms: one double and two twins, comfortably sleeping six, plus two infants. The other cottage, named Bryniau Pell (Distant Hills), has two bedrooms: a double, a twin and a nursery (comprised of a single cot and cot bed). The two cottages have the most amazing shared outdoor playground and playroom so visiting families can interact and the children can muck about together. If you need lots and lots of indoor space for your kids to run around then be sure to ask for the more traditional Nyth y Wennol. This is the perfect place to visit with small children, most things that you might need are provided: cots and cot bedding, fireguards and stair guards, high chairs. Liz is obviously a very thoughtful, natural mother (having two almost grown up daughters of her own) and has filled the play room with wonderful games and toys and a chest full of dressing-up clothes decorated with a star chart on the wall. For the young (or young at heart) there are egg collecting baskets, friendly dogs and lots of animals just waiting to be fed.

View into bright, cosy bedrooms. Photo: Lucy SymonsView into bright, cosy bedrooms. Photo: Lucy Symons

The Food
In the visitors’ porch of the cottages is a freezer which contains a range of pork, beef and lamb, either in joints, chops, or home-made casseroles with veggie options and soups for you to purchase using the honesty box. In addition, Liz can supply a breakfast hamper – made up of 10 products, including local butter, cheese, jam and honey, bread, bacon, sausage and eggs (for a very reasonable £25) which would be more than enough for breakfast and a packed lunch for a family.

For vegetables and fruit, anything in the garden at the farm is available for you to purchase, or perhaps you would prefer to pop along the A40 towards Brecon where the Penpont Kitchen Garden Shop can be raided? It sells fantastic, interesting and tasty fresh produce from their own organic walled garden, as well as a range of local produce and crafts. There is also a Co-op and Morrisons in Brecon (15 miles) or Llandefry where you can buy locally made delicatessen items. There is also a surprisingly good Spar in Sennybridge which is closer and supports the local economy.  

View down to the light kitchen area. Photo: Lucy SymonsView down to the light kitchen area. Photo: Lucy Symons

The Activities
You are perfectly placed here for any number of walking or cycling adventures. You can take off along the farm trail with the map provided (although you are free to walk anywhere on the farm as long as you leave the gates as you find them). Sky (the resident lurcher) will always accompany you and, knowing the farm as well as she does, has been known to direct guests on their way. On the back of the provided map is lots of information and top tips for your walking enjoyment, including a list of activities to engage your kids, in case you are running short of ideas. 

If you do decide to wander further afield, then you can visit the Red Kite feeding at Llanddeusant or go underground and see the National Showcave: Dan Yr Ogof, the largest explorable complex in Europe which is only 4 miles away. Liz said it is a little expensive, but wonderful (and you can print a money off voucher from their website). Craig Y Nos Country Park, a national park visitor centre, is brilliant for those restricted by push chairs or wheelchairs as there are level paths throughout. At Abberhydnant cottages there is absolutely no wifi (really!) and very little mobile signal. Liz told me with a twinkle “Teenagers have even been known to walk up a hill, voluntarily, on their holidays here!” She added a little slyly, “Although perhaps only to get a mobile signal...”  Pay a visit to the waterfalls at the Waterfalls Centre in Pont Nedd Fechan where you can walk behind the falls and follow a trail around the old gunpowder works. 

 Children's play area in the garden at Aberhyddnant. Photo: Lucy SymonsChildren's play area in the garden at Aberhyddnant. Photo: Lucy Symons

The Green
First and foremost, this is an organic farm, producing all its own electricity using a micro-hydro scheme. The Matthews family only use about a third of what they produce, selling the rest back to the national grid. They have also installed two electric vehicle charging points for guests. In addition, a biomass boiler, burning timber produced on the farm that is constantly replanted with broad leaf woodlands, replaces the old oil boiler. Thermal solar panels have been installed to heat the water in the summer or on particularly sunny winter days (which, Liz reassured me, has been known to happen). Liz and Paul support the local economy as much as is possible – vintage furniture is used in both the cottages and even the duvets are made using recycled plastic bottles! All the bedding is fair trade and organic. Low energy or LED lighting is used throughout and everyone is encouraged to recycle. There is a wood burner in each of the cottages and wood is free. In fact, everything here is included in the price except the food you may choose to help yourself to in the shared freezer. If you do decide to take advantage of the electric vehicle charging points, charged using Welsh rainwater, be reassured that there is a network of free electric charging points locally for your vehicle.  Original works of art adorn the walls, some of which are truly inspiring.

How to get there by public transport
Jump on a train to Swansea and catch a bus up the valley. Liz and Paul can pick you up in Crai in the car or bikes can be rented and left there for you (and your luggage can be collected). Horse drawn carriage transfers are currently being investigated. 

Top Tip
Liz says you really should go to Myddfai, a local village and recently the star of ”Village SOS”, with its amazing village hall, a craft shop and tea room, with fun trails for kids. From here it is a short journey to the Red Kite Feeding station (about 4 miles) and then come across the hills to Llyn y Fan (famous for “The Lady of the Lake” story, a cautionary tale against wife beating) but do be sure to take the back road over Llanddeusant Hill, a very beautiful spot which is part of the Geopark, Great Forest. 

Come here to enjoy "the natural beauty of the countryside during the day and the the pristine sky at night with pure clarity of air" – Liz's favourite quote from the guest book which sums up Abberhydnant for her. And really do look at the night sky – Brecon Beacon National Park International Dark Sky Reserve is only the fifth in the world and in this particular part of the park you are in the darkest area with the darkest, clearest sky. It is out of this world.

Picturesque views from Aberhyddnant. Photo: Lucy SymonsPicturesque views from Aberhyddnant. Photo: Lucy Symons

>> For contact details and availability, see our full listing for Aberhyddnant Farm Cottages

>> Aberhyddnant Farm Cottages is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to Mid Wales

Posted by Lucy Symons


Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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