A totally charming weekend at Groves Cottage in Talybont-On-Usk, one of Brecon Cottages’ handpicked places to stay in the National Park. We curled up by the wood stove, wandered in the woods and drank hefty amounts of mulled wine.
I’ve never arrived somewhere that felt so instantly cosy as Groves Cottage. The lovely housekeeper, Anna, had left the key for us as well as a hamper full of delicious local grub in the welcoming sitting room, which came complete with wood-burning stove and sofas heaped with soft blankets. We lit the fire, cracked open the heavenly Welsh cheeses, chutneys and other amazing hamper goodies (whisky-laced chocolate is my new obsession) and put Bing Crosby on full blast. I immediately felt a million times better about the world, and thus promptly fell asleep.
Adam and Clemmie, after a lot of convincing, took the double room, but I was very happy as I got to sleep in the adorable little attic, complete with skylight above the bed. Drifting off with the rain pattering above your head is wonderful.
We’d planned exciting, long-ranging walks for the next few days – there are few places more glorious to hike and cycle, after all, than Brecon and the Black Mountains. Unfortunately but not surprisingly for mid-November in the Welsh hills, it rained. And rained, and rained some more. This, however, turned out to be an excuse to have a pretty wonderful weekend hiding in the cottage. We kept the warm wood stove lit (there’s a beautifully stacked wood shed in the garden), ate our own bodyweight in cheese and drank mulled wine whilst the rain tapped away on the roof. Why, after all, leave such a glorious little cottage if you don’t have to? We had also brought a fiendish 1000-piece puzzle (because, you know, we’re that cool) which instantly took over the floor. I finished making my Christmas cards by the fire, my designs looking steadily wonkier with each glass of wine. The whole thing was sickeningly cute, really.
We did venture out into the village. At least, we made it across the road to the local pub, the Star Inn. Inside is cosy and unassuming, serving local tipples and a menu of traditional Welsh fare which turned out to be insanely good. Who knew you could make a Welsh cawl that tasty? Hands down the best stew I’ve ever eaten.
The next day was still pretty soggy but we braved the elements and headed out in boots and wellingtons. The joy of the village, and the cottage itself, is how close you are to the great outdoors. The Taff Trail is also easily reached, perfect for cycling weekends. We rambled along the canal and then up into the hills for a few miles and wandered back via the woods, which smelt amazingly fresh after all the rain.
Coming back to our snug cottage to warm up was perfect, and I was very gloomy at the prospect of having to head back to real life. It wasn’t, perhaps, the most outdoorsy weekend I’ve had, but it was one of the happiest, and one I’ll definitely be repeating – Groves Cottage is for rent from just £252 for a weekend, which is a steal.
Brecon Cottages have so many stunners on their books I feel like the hardest thing would be picking the next place to stay – I’m eyeing up tiny, romantic Anoushka’s cottage, also in Talybont and perfect for a romantic escape, or bigger houses ideal for getting together with friends like Llwynin house. Bookworms will adore Little Mountain Cottage in my beloved Hay-On-Wye, ideal for a family (and the dog).