Saturday, 23 July 2016

A holiday in Pembrokeshire with a toddler (and 2 dogs)

We've recently returned home from a week's holiday in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. It was one of the best holidays I've ever had and was definitely the most relaxed I've been since giving birth 2 years ago.
In the past we've usually gone to Devon or Cornwall but fancied a change, we weren't disappointed. 
For a start it's super easy for us to get to Pembrokeshire, we just whizz down the M4 then onto A48 and A40 then you're pretty much there. Much easier than all the wiggly, windy lanes on the way to Cornwall.

We are the kind of family that likes to be out in the sticks, somewhere quiet that we can let the dogs have a good run and let our hair down. We are not ones for going on lots of excursions or visiting lots of attractions. Our days are happiest spent walking in the countryside, visiting cafes and beaches, eating locally sourced foods and generally chilling out.
Baby D never goes in a buggy - we abandoned ours nine months ago, she either walks or we carry her in a Toddler Tula. This makes our lives easier in many ways as so many places in the countryside are not buggy friendly. And if you rely on buggy use this is definitely not the holiday for you!

But trying to find somewhere that allows two dogs and is toddler friendly is really quite hard!

After scouring the internet I found Hendre House Cottages which looked perfect for our needs. It's 3 miles from Solva - a small fishing village in Pembrokeshire. And even closer to the nearest beach.
They have 3 cottages that sleep various numbers of guests, we hired the Old Chapel which has one double bedroom with space for travel cot. 
It is seriously the most lovely place. You arrive (out in the sticks on a country lane) to a long, leafy, tree lined driveway which you follow past Hendre House and to the well kept car park then you see the beautiful cottages. It's slightly isolated, which is the way we like it and very quiet. All you hear is birdsong.
The Old Chapel & corner of pool house

The Old Chapel is an upside down house with the bathroom and bedroom downstairs and the lounge- kitchen-diner upstairs. There's a little enclosed yard which was great for the dogs and a big space under the stairs which also was perfect for the dogs' beds. 

The whole house was immaculately kept with tasteful decoration and everything you could possibly need. 
We arrived to a display of Spring flowers on the kitchen table, freshly baked Welsh cakes (super yummy, they lasted all of five minutes as we crammed them in our gobs) tea, coffee and milk and a full wood store ready for the open fire complete with fire guard.

As suggested by Michelle the owner we organised a Tesco grocery delivery for our arrival day so we didn't even have to go anywhere to get all of our food for the week.

The kitchen was equipped with extras such as scales, blender, dishwasher, washer-drier, high chair, baby/toddler cutlery, plates, bowls and cups. There were a good selection of cleaning products all of which were Ecover which made us very happy.

Something I found especially helpful was a list of optional extras they can supply if you have a baby or toddler. We asked for stair gates (definitely needed) at the top and bottom of the stairs, potty, bath thermometer, bath toys and various other bits and bobs. 

There was even a jar of dog biscuits and a ready filled poop bag dispenser so our furry friends didn't feel left out!

On site, about 5 steps from the cottage there is a lovely indoor heated swimming pool. We went in it every day. There was a good selection of inflatables, balls and toys to keep the younger ones entertained.
There's also a small playground area with swings and climbing frame which were a firm favourite of Baby D, a barbecue hut and a shed that's totally rammed with entertainments for all ages. There were books, DVDs, games, puzzles, toys. Baby D was in her element choosing which books to read next. She's a proper little bookworm.
They have grounds which are good for stretching the dogs' legs, not for a proper walk but they can play ball, have a sniff about and do their business.
playground and barbecue hut
The closest beach is a 5-10 minute drive away at Newgale. It's a gorgeous, huge, sandy beach and was virtually deserted. The dogs had the time of their lives running around the 2 miles of soft sands whilst Baby D made sand castles and drew circles in the sand using the biggest stick available.
It's not the easiest beach to get onto however. Had we been a family that relied on a buggy rather than a sling we would have really struggled. There's plenty of parking and toilets right by the beach but to get to the sand you have to climb down a very pebbly and steep slope. Anyone with mobility issues would find it very hard. And I would even bother trying with a buggy.
Newgale beach
We also enjoyed walking along the sand at Solva harbour. When the tide is out you can walk from the car park (National Trust members can park there for free) all the way along the river bed to the sea. It's really magical walking alongside the boats on the sand by the cliffs to the water's edge. 
There's also walks on either side of the harbour. Ones we did were along the footpath on the right as you look out to see leading to a cafe and another up on the left up to the cliff edge and Gribin headland. The latter being quite hard going for a toddler but our little trooper managed it...albeit a wee be slowly.
Another lovely walk is along Prendergast woods which is awash with bluebells in the Spring.
Looking towards Solva harbour from the sea
Pretty much every day...sometimes more than once a day we visited our favourite dog and toddler friendly café situated by the car park on the edge of the harbour called Thirty Five Café.
They were warm and friendly, the locally sourced food was delicious and the unisex bathroom with baby changing was clean, spacious (plenty of space for wheelchair or buggy/pram) and even had emergency changing supplies of wetwipes etc. 
Baby D in her toddler Tula in St Davids
We visited the city of St David's several times. It was about a 20-30 minute drive away. It's the smallest city in the UK and is more like a small town in size. Most places were dog friendly and we enjoyed walking around the cathedral grounds and around the city streets. There are lots of galleries, restaurants, cafés, and shops.

We had such a lush time. Loved every minute.

We definitely want to go back. It was fantastic and perfect for our little family.

Dawn x