Magic Fforest:  a new kind of family holiday

Man burning logs in Fforest

Fforest by Cold at night
The people at Fforest have been quietly creating something utterly magical over the past decade. They operate family ventures in three locations around Cardigan, and in August they hold week-long gatherings – Fforest Gather - that bring together the best of Fforest’s unique ethos for a holiday that’s full of creative engagement. It’s got the vibe of a festival, but without the … well, hullabaloo. Numbers are limited to 300 each week, so everyone gets to know each other. It’s a gathering of kindred souls, with all kinds of activities thrown in, set in a very beautiful place.

Where does it happen?

Relaxing on bean bags in sunshine at Fforest

Fforest by Cold at night
Fforest Farm is set in 200 acres near Cilgerran, tucked between the Teifi gorge and Welsh Wildlife Centre nature reserve, a few miles up-river from Cardigan and the coast. Add the adjoining reserve, and there are 500 acres of unspoilt pasture and woodland in which to gambol freely. In their words, it’s ‘… a place to rediscover the luxury of simple.’

So what goes on?

Fforest by Cold at night
Gather takes place over two weeks: Monday 23 July to Sunday 5 August. The ‘festival’ element comes courtesy of a revolving cast who provide workshops, creative play and outdoor activity in the day; films, live music, DJs and performers in the evenings. This year’s activities include foraging, charcuterie, beer and bread making, willow weaving, drumming, wood carving, pottery, illustration, den building, tree climbing, canoeing, wild swimming… something for everyone, then.

What is included?

Children drawing on blackboards

Fforest by Cold at night
A week at Gather includes access to all workshops, talks, walks, performances and activities; accommodation and food are extra. They’ve got on-site accommodation in various cabins, shacks, lofts, domes and bell tents, and also tent/campervan pitches. Although you can bring your own food, it’d be a shame to miss out on theirs: lots of home-grown veg, local meat and fish barbecued over charcoal they make themselves in the woods, bread and pizza from the wood-fired oven, guest chefs, campfire cookouts, Mexican street food. Y Bwthyn, the on-site stone pub, serves up Welsh craft ales and ciders. You can book here.

Anything else to do in the area?

Canoeing in tranquil lake

Fforest by Cold at night
Loads. The Welsh Wildlife Centre is next-door, and the county town of Cardigan a few miles downstream. The coast between Fishguard and Aberaron is one of the best stretches of coastline in Britain, with the Preseli mountains as a backdrop. On top of the activities provided at Gather, there are canoe trips up the Teifi Gorge, and all kinds of active adventures with Fforest’s partner company Carigan Bay Active. You can see Fforest’s own suggestions for days out here.

Who’s behind it?

Log fire in barn

Fforest by Cold at night
Sian Tucker and James Lynch, a pair of art school graduates who helped pioneer the East London creative scene in the 1980s and 90s, decamped to Wales in the 2000s, and set up a series of home-grown businesses around Cardigan, which they now run with their sons. They run Fforest Farm, where Gather is based, and also own the best bits of Cardigan’s historic quay buildings, where you’ll find the excellent Pizzatipi, a café and bar. Up the coast, Manorafon is what they describe as their ‘sea camp’, set around an old dairy farm tucked into a valley behind the National Trust beach of Penbryn.