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Review and video of Wern Watkin Bunkhouse, Brecon Beacons, Wales

Posted by Florence Fortnam at 11:42 on Thursday 23 January 2014

More beautiful barn conversion than bunkhouse, Wern Watkin is the ultimate pad for groups of walkers, cyclists and families looking for adventure in the surrounding Brecon Beacons.

>> For prices and availability, see our full listing for Wern Watkin

>> Wern Watkin Bunkhouse is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to the Brecon Beacons

A tranquil setting. Photo: Wern WatkinA tranquil setting. Photo: Wern Watkin

The Setting
It doesn’t come much more rural than this. Windswept, sheep-sprinkled mountains roads lead you up and up to this converted barn, plumb in the middle of ancient woodlands and rare marshland on the Llangattock mountain. As you climb higher you anticipate great views, and from the top you're not disappointed. The old barn has been recently refurbished by the Fryers, who live in the house across the courtyard.

Watch our video of Wern Watkin Bunkhouse:

The Rooms
Despite its name, this place is more lovely barn conversion than regular bunkhouse. You’ll be spending little time indoors, (so tempting is the surrounding countryside), but if you want to take a break from tearing about and stick your feet up for the day, then the airy interiors, thoughtful layout and original barn features (exposed walls, beams) offer very comfortable surroundings to while away a lazy afternoon in.

The open plan living area, which reaches to the apex, is light and, despite its size, still manages to be homely, with several long wooden tables on flagstone floors, a communal kitchen at one end and squishy leather sofas at the other. The bunk rooms upstairs (which sleep 30 in total) have masses of light and good en suite bathrooms.

The living area. Photo: Wern WatkinThe living area. Photo: Wern Watkin

The Food
The canteen-style set up in the living room lends itself to convivial meals around the long wooden tables, and the very well-equipped kitchen has everything you’ll need to rustle up breakfasts and evening meals. Outside, there are barbecues and a firepit for marshmallows round the camp fire. When we visited it was a fairly blustery autumnal day, but it didn't take much to imagine how perfect this setting would be on a glorious summer's evening.

The outside seating and barbecue area. Photo: Wern WatkinThe outside seating and barbecue area. Photo: Wern Watkin

Crickhowell is just under four miles away, where there's plenty of choice for eating out. The family-owned Manor Hotel, which has a '7-mile radius' lunchtime menu, is a good bet, or, a little further afield, there's the Gliffaes Hotel Restaurant, whose owners are members of Slow Food and serve up delicious seasonal dishes, such as their ever-popular Welsh black fillet.

The café by day, brasserie by night Number 18 in the centre of Crickhowell offers delicious local fare, such as Black Mountain ribeye steak and a gorgeous laverbread and leek burger. If it's proper pub grub you're after then the area has lots of traditional old inns. A particular favourite is The Bell Country Pub – the venison shepherd's pie and leek and lemon curry are worth the journey.

>> See our Greentraveller Guide to the Brecon Beacons for more suggestions of places to eat in the area

The Activities
There's a boot drying room, bike storage, and more than enough space for canoes, rock-climbing and walking gear. In short, the bunkhouse can cater for every type of outdoor pursuit you can think of, so bring your clobber – there's plenty of room. "You can do all the major outdoor activities within walking distance of here", explains Andy. "You can do rock climbing, abseiling, caving, walking, mountain biking, canoeing." The entrance hall features a huge wall map of the area and brochures on every conceivable activity in the national park, should you be short of ideas.

Immersed in ancient woodland. Photo: Wern WatkinImmersed in ancient woodland. Photo: Wern Watkin

The Green
Having been awarded a gold award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, you'd expect some impressive green features here, and you're not disappointed. With underfloor heating, solar panels, a ground source heat pump as well as a whole host of further eco credentials, the bunkhouse takes its carbon footprint very seriously. In 2013, they were awarded a goldstar for the greenest bunkhouse in the UK: an impressive accolade and highly deserved.

>> Andrew Fryer from Wern Watkin Bunkhouse is a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador

How to get to Wern Watkin Bunkhouse by public transport
Take the train to Abergavenny (roughly two and a half hours from London, changing at Newport), then hop on bus number 43, which runs between Abergavenny and Crickhowell, stopping off at Llangattock en route. The bunkhouse is a little walk from the bus stop uphill.

>> See our public transport journey planner

The barn. Photo: Wern WatkinThe barn. Photo: Wern WatkinTop Tip
If you’d like to give weary legs a rest for the day, why not take a spin in an electric car? The owners are part of the area's electric car charging network and can can arrange car hire from the cottage.

Verdict
Whether you’re on a school reunion, a family holiday, or you’re here with a group of scouts, ramblers, cavers or cyclists, the bunkhouse, says owner Andy Fryer, is a space which guests have the freedom to use how they wish. He explains the ethos behind his self-catering venture: “We very much leave our guests on their own to get on with it,” he explains. “Obviously we’re around to help but the focus is very much on people running their own event.”

>> For prices and availability, see our full listing for Wern Watkin

>> Wern Watkin Bunkhouse is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to the Brecon Beacons

Disclosure

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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