I couldn't agree more Michael McIntyre that the last week of the year is the most confused one. You don't know what day it is, you don't know what is expected from you, this week and if you are in UK you obviously don't know how the weather gonna be. Although all the above were true, we actually knew one thing for sure, an escape definitely on the cards. After some deliberation and debate over location we found our escape: Talybont-on-usk, a small village near the bank of River Usk in South Wales. A small quiet village with loads of walks did fit our bill. So we packed our bags and started our journey...
Its ages since I wrote a travelogue. Hence let me say things have changed. "Us" now means its me and my wife along with others! and now in this land I can drive hence, the choices of escape has improved. Its nearly 2.5-3 hrs. drive to South Wales from Caversham. It was on Boxing day and we set off bit late in the day and found relatively empty M4. We took the toll road, and went straight to Wales. A40 to Usk valley was quite scenic.
|Malt house in Talybont-on-Usk|
|Loft room in this 1820 built house|
We had booked a family run B&B accommodation, Malt house in Talybont. Its a nice place, and river Caerfanell flows almost through the property, we could hear noise from the flowing river sleeping on the cosy bed. Weather on this part of UK during winter is quite unpredictable and we had prepared ourselves to the fact that we might have to stay indoor for few days. However to our surprise it wasn't that bad when we arrived in Talybont-on-Usk in the afternoon.
|Remains of 200 years old Tramroad|
Its a village with loads of activities: few pubs, one river, one old Canal and several bike and walking routes and with some rich history. One particularly interested me, the history of tramways and the train road around the the valley, none of them are there at present but their existences are wrapped around the village. Tramways ran before 1850s, as popularity of the train grew, the tram line came to an halt in the second half of the 19th century, the train line experienced the same fate in the second half of 20th century when running train services in that part of Wales became non profitable! The waterway canal is also very old and heard stories about breaches once in a while, still its a tourist attraction and probably that is still keeping it alive.
|Walking route (map here)|
|Valley from Binnore Tramroad|
|Valley from the reservoir|
Although few, pubs in Talybont are quite well known. On the first evening we had food in the All star inn, appeared to be quite a popular place among the locals. Food was almost home cooked, fresh and tasty with very friendly staff. We had supper in white hart inn the next day. Food was as good as the all star. We dont know it was especially for that specific day, we were told the kitchen would close at 19:30. Price in both places were similar and we felt pretty reasonable.
Description of wonderful food wouldn't be complete if I dont mention the awesome breakfast that we had in the Malthouse. Heavy English breakfast with fresh juices, eggs and Honey from the farm, you cant ask for more. Thanks Mike for that.
Storm Frank had hit the shore in the night and the only option for us was to head back to Caversham. Although I thought drive through treacherous roads wont be nice but wasn't that bad. Because they were mostly empty untill we hit M4.
we ended the year filled with tranquillity, it was a trip worth making and would love to come back to one of the breathing space of Britain