Top of the morning
I’ve been lucky enough to film all over Wales. It’s amazing how varied the landscapes are, but on a clear day, the view from the top of Snowdon is unrivalled. If you had to show a visitor just one thing, that would be it. If you can, it’s best to walk up rather than take the Snowdon Mountain Railway. If you go at your own pace, the climb is achievable for most people with a little bit of planning. Reaching the top and having a cup of tea from a flask, with that view... that has to be the sign of a morning well spent.
The best drive in Wales
I used to drive a lot up the A470 – the Cambrian Way to North Wales. You start out from Cardiff and go through Merthyr, and when you hit Brecon it just becomes so spectacular. The most scenic part is when you’re about an hour away from Caernarfon. The mountains become very steep, you rise right to the top and then drop all the way back down through winding passes. The first time I took my husband, who’s a Kiwi, he was so taken aback by the beauty of the scenery. It’s as dramatic as anything in New Zealand!
My favourite beach – and it has been for years and years – is Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire. It has actually been rated among the best beaches in the world in newspaper polls. It’s quite a trek to get there. After you park the car, there’s quite a narrow path to walk down, but it’s 100% worth it.
A while ago, I started to go riding at Ogmore-by-Sea in the Vale of Glamorgan, and it’s one of my favourite things to do. Someone asked if I could ride a horse and I fibbed that I could, so I had to learn quickly. There are stables at Ogmore, and I’d go there with a friend – you can just turn up without booking. You get led through a pristine nature reserve which then opens out on to the sands. For me, riding on the beach is up there as one of the best things you can do in Wales.
Brunch and bric-a-brac
If you want lunch and a look around a small town, Llandeilo is so nice. It’s very close to where I grew up. The Ginhaus does a great brunch, and there’s a deli section there as well. Then you can look around all the antiques places in Llandeilo – and there’s an auction there once a month on a Saturday, which is really good fun. We’ve picked up bits there that would sell for thousands in London, but they were cheap as chips.
While you’re in the area, there’s no place nicer than Carreg Cennen Castle for a walk after lunch. You can see all across the Black Mountains from the top, and there’s a lovely café at the foot of the mound for a cream tea. Between Llandeilo and Carmarthen, there’s Wright’s Food Emporium. It’s a super-trendy place where a group of young chefs serve up great organic food and wine. We rented the cottage next door for a friend’s 40th birthday, and it was terrific fun.
The Eisteddfod will always be super-important to me, and I was made a member of the Gorsedd of the Bards three years ago. I think it offers a real window into what we’re all about in Wales. From when you’re little, you get the chance to be on stage, singing or reciting in Welsh. It doesn’t happen in any other nation; I’ve taken people from all over the world and they’ve not seen anything like it.
Tafwyl is a newer festival that has grown into a big thing. It now takes place in Cardiff Castle – a special place for us, as it’s where we got married. There are bands, great food stands and a unique atmosphere. It’s all about celebrating the Welsh language and giving young people a chance to show their pride in our culture. I’m an ambassador for Tafwyl and I always try to come back for it.
The eisteddfod is unique: no other nation has anything like it."
A taste of adventure
I used to film a series on adventure [Chwa, on Welsh television channel S4C] so I’ve done quite a lot of climbing – not just walking up Snowdon or Pen y Fan, but proper rock climbing. I had to prepare for a massive climb in Utah, up a rock face that would take three days, and the training climb was on the Cardigan coast. That was properly scary. We were hanging over the sea and the weather wasn’t kind, but my goodness, it was an experience. We tried out all kinds of things for that series. More recently, I was booked in to do the zip wire at Zip World in Bethesda Quarry, but we had to cancel when I found out I was pregnant. That’s firmly on my bucket list.
I can’t imagine a better place for evening drinks than the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel. You can relax with the view over the lake and a G&T, or a nice, chilled glass of rosé in summer. Another terrace where you can sit out and watch the sun go down is Gwesty Cymru, on the seafront in Aberystwyth. It’s a lovely spot for dinner and the food is great.
Of course, Aberystwyth has changed a lot since I was a student there. It’s certainly more upmarket, though I think it still has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in Wales. We used to do crawls that would include 10 or 20 of them in a night. At the time, that would be our idea of fun!
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