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OutUK correspondent Adrian Gillan explores Wales' revitalised yet oft-neglected second city, Swansea - plus the beautiful and varied Pembrokeshire peninsula, just due west.

Wales' "city by the sea", Swansea, has a sizeable scene full of Welsh student studs and stunners; and is mere minutes from some of the UK's finest coastline on the gorgeous Pembrokeshire peninsula.

Sights

Swansea is a modern, vibrant and compact city, boasting castle ruins, a picturesque marina, the state-of-the-art National Waterfront Museum, the Dylan Thomas Centre celebrating Wales' most famous literary son, theatres galore (Grand Theatre, Dylan Thomas Theatre) and welcoming Café Quarter.
It also offers some of the sexiest, most unspoilt men in the British Isles. Be sure to check out their smouldering eyes, lilting tongues and jaws to well-nigh die upon!

A true area of outstanding natural beauty!

Castle Square Swansea Castle Square. © Crown copyright(2011) Visit Wales

Scene

The Swansea scene may have lost a few venues recently, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and the fit survivors all lie conveniently close to each other, smack-bang in the centre. Traditional stalwart, The Kings Arms in the High Street, is still as popular and friendly a community-led pub as ever - with regular bingo, karaoke and the like. Walk just a few doors down and you're at buzzing drag and dance joint Talk Of The Town heaving during its late night cabaret shows. Champers is a large pub and wine bar further up the High Street, whose adjoining Club 210 opens at weekends, busy from around midnight.

Stay

Swansea's premiere boutique hotel, Morgans in Somerset Place, is located in the beautiful maritime quarter, a short walk from the city centre. A grade 2-listed building, previously home to the port authority responsible for administrating Swansea's thriving seaborne trade, it is now a stylish and characterful 5-star hotel - including neighbouring Morgans Townhouse accommodation. Fab bar and eatery too - a winning combination of old and new!

Purely Pembrokeshire

The Pembrokeshire peninsula - little more than an hour's drive due west of Swansea, jutting out towards the Atlantic Ocean and Ireland - contains Pembrokeshire National Park, which is the only one of Britain's 14 National Parks to be almost fully coastal.

It's renowned for its rocky coastline, a National Trail footpath, plus pristine headlands and beaches. You can also enjoy picturesque towns and villages like true-gem Tenby or lovely little Saundersfoot; more Blue Flag beaches than any other county in Britain; medieval walled settlements, plus heaps of forts and castles, like those at Pembroke or Carew. Lying on the River Alun on St David's Peninsula, Wales' westernmost point, St David's itself is Britain's smallest city in both size and population (1700 people); the final resting place of Saint David, Wales' patron saint; and the 'Christian capital' of Wales, a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

Built in the 12th Century on the reputed site of St David's 6th Century monastic settlement, St David's Cathedral boasts a fine wooden roof, extraordinary sloping floor plus wonderfully restored cloisters. And its nearby now-ruinous Bishops Palace still likewise conveys the wealth and power of the medieval church.

Other attractions include the 14th Century Tower Gate, the Celtic Old Cross plus a modern Visitor Centre with art gallery. Whitesands Bay, scarce two or three miles west, is a popular water sports resort, also described as one of the best tourist beaches in Europe. Whitesands Bay Pembrokeshire Whitesands Bay © Crown copyright(2011) Visit Wales
Warpool Court Hotel in St David's is a peaceful privately-owned 22-room hotel set in 15 acres of coastal land and quiet secluded gardens in St David's - with views, due south, over terraced gardens, to the sea beyond. The first building on this site was constructed in 1870 to re-house the long-established St David's Cathedral School. The hotel boasts an excellent bar-lounge and restaurant, the latter with a top-notch chef and an especially fine line in locally caught fish! Warpool's unique, quirky - oft tad naughty - mythologically-themed decorative ceramic tiles, gracing many an indoor wall: the life's work of an eccentric and highly imaginative former owner. Enjoy one of several rather dramatic coastal walks right on the doorstep!

Great Western Rail runs an hourly service between London Paddington and Swansea, journey time 3 hours. To then explore St.David's, and wider Pembrokeshire, best hire a car.

Other useful websites: www.visitpembrokeshire.com; www.visitwales.com

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
The Kings Arms (26 High Street, T: 01792 642216)
Talk of the Town (21 High Street; T: 01792 449314); Website
Champers (210 High Street; T: 01792 655622)
Morgans (Somerset Place, Swansea; 01792 484848); Booking
Warpool Court Hotel (St David's; T: 01437 720300); Website

Revised August 2016.

 

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