When Visit Wales emailed me and asked what I would pack for a trip to their fine country, it didn’t take me long to start putting together a not inconsiderable list. We’ve holidayed in Wales a couple of times before and we’ve each been on various trips without each other, so we know the country fairly well.
Visit Wales kindly provided me with a swish Berghaus rucksack and a few bits and bobs to inspire me, best among them a rather ace Uniglo padded jacket. When we go out we always take at least one rucksack with us, the bare minimum it always has is a water bottle for everyone, some snacks, a first aid kit, baby wipes, a spare pair of trousers and pants for Ned (who’s just toilet trained himself). This generally takes about 5 or 6 litres out of a 30 litre rucksack, so things can get a little tight with trip specific material going in- this might be a bit of a challenge then!
Fortunately the design of the Berghaus rucksack helps in this, it has the standard two compartments you’d expect from a 30 litre daysack but also has elasticated side pockets, and more importantly, a slip in pouch that you can stick stuff in for quick access (or in our case, stuff a nappy sack with a soggy pair of pants in). The Uniglo jacket will be particularly useful on our camping trips when we sit outside the tent with our friends after the kids have gone to bed. No matter the time of year, it’s usually only the rum that keeps me warm by around 11pm.
There are broadly three different activities we’d do in Wales, visiting some of their glorious beaches, going for walks in breath-taking countryside and visiting some of the ancient buildings and landmarks. Beeches like Broadhaven are glorious- it’s sandy white at low tide, very safe for swimming and even has an area that’s dog free for the summer, which means your picnic is safe from mutts that aren’t controlled properly. So the first things I’d pack would be our swimming cossies, the factor 50 suntan lotion and our rock pooling guide. When we go to the beach, we do a lot more than sit around and cook, the kids are very good swimmers, so we do a lot of swimming in the sea, we explore rock pools, play beach football, dig big holes, make pictures in the sand and generally revel in being outside.
When it comes to outdoors, nature and a good old fashioned walk that will definitely wear the kids out so they sleep and we can enjoy a glass of wine on the patio in the evening, Wales has pretty much every landscape imaginable, from forest walks, coastal paths to the mountainous regions of Snowdonia. We’ve enjoyed a walk around Cwm Idwal, a lake at Ogwen that’s accessible from a pay and display car park.
The walk is described as “moderate”, being 2 miles and taking around 2 hours. It’s not really pushchair friendly unless you have an off road buggy and a bit of muscle but it’s walkable for a three year old if you take your time. And it’s worth taking your time because the views are quite simply spectacular. We’d make a day of, so we’d take a picnic, a small tubular kite, a compass, some binoculars and our wildlife spotting book on this trip. There is nothing more enjoyable in letting the kids walk around at their pace, getting distracted by what they see and not even looking at our watches. This is the sort of freedom that childhoods should be made of, all without a screen or queue in sight!
And finally (for the purposes of this blog post at any rate), a trip to somewhere like St David’s to see the cathedral and the sights would be a great day out if the weather wasn’t so good. We often visit gardens, stately homes, estates and (ruined) churches when we’re out and about because i) it’s interesting and ii) it adds some variety for the children. We come from St Albans, named after the first English Christian martyr but St David came along a scant couple of hundred years later and was a proper Welshman to boot. Whenever we go to places like St David’s Cathedral we make sure we pack notepads, pencils, rubbers and a pencil sharpener in our rucksack. We ask the kids to do drawings or pictures of things that they like or find interesting, so in St David’s it might be their version of the croziers or Bishops’ staffs of office, a stained glass window or something else. The cathedral has a fantastic treasury that opened around ten years ago and coupled with everything else, gives an interesting insight into mediaeval Christianity. I think it’s important that the kids know about the history of our nation(s) and that includes the religious beliefs and practices.
So there you have it, a set of specific stuff tailored to each sort of day out to add on to our rucksack basics when we go out. With three kids aged 3, 6 and 8, we have to pack savvy to make sure we have enough stuff to cover every eventuality without packing too much so it looks like we’re off on some sort of major expedition. Trial and error has shown that a 30 litre rucksack pretty much holds all we need, so the question is, what would you put in yours?