English - Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen / Saint Dwynwen's Day - South Wales Family Photographer
Happy St Dwynwen’s Day! On the 25th of January, Wales celebrates the patron saint of lovers - Dwynwen. Although some people call it ‘Welsh Valentine’s Day’, it’s sooooo much more than that. St Dwynwen’s story is tragic, there’s no getting away from that! But the 25th of January has become the day to celebrate being in love in Wales. It’s a great excuse (if you need one!) to go out for a posh meal, take a long walk, or just spend time with someone you love. Listeing to Tudur Owen (Radio Cymru) talk about Llanddwyn last week got me thinking. It’s the place most associated with St Dwynwen (it’s where she built her church), but is it really the best location to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day?
As a child and family photographer who works all over Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, I spend a LOT of time location scouting, looking for perfect spots for my photoshoots. You can’t get much better than Wales’ coast and country (when it’s not raining!) and sometimes there’s almost too much choice. I feel really fortunate to be able to spend so much time outside in these gorgeous locations, and for this blog I've tried to bring to mind some of the more alternative of locations which I think would be perfect for celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day.
I’d better not start with the alternative though. I’ve got to start with Llanddwyn. If you asked anyone who’s celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day where the number one place associated with this day is, chances are, they’d say Llanddwyn. Llanddwyn beach, on Anglesey is a gem of a beach. If you’ve never been there, go. Go now. There’s an adjacent forest, golden sands, turquoise waters and views across to Eryri (the Snowdonia mountain range). O my, it’s beautiful there. But on St Dwynwen’s Day it will be very, very, very busy. And mind you don’t get caught on Llanddwyn island when the tide’s on its way in…
So now to the altternative. If you’ve ever been to Anglesey, you should have crossed the Menai Bridge. The pretty one, the one built by Thomas Telford. One of Wales’ most romantic spots is under that bridge. Not in the water (that would be really dangerous), but if you walk through Menai Bridge, along the edge of the Straits and on the Belgian Promenade, then you will pass under that majestic bridge. And guess what? That path is actually a road, an actual road that you can fit a car down! And if you’re lucky (and you don’t drive a massive car), there won’t be anyone else parked in the one parking spot directly under the bridge. And you can sit there watching the water and eating a Chinese from the Jade Village. Perfection.
Over in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, there’s a beach called Marloes Sands. Wales is of course full of beaches, but there are beaches and there are beaches. And, just like Llanddwyn, Marloes is a beach. One of the reasons that it’s so romantic is that the nearest car park is about a mile from the beach itself. From the car park, walk through a farmer’s field and down a narrow lane, and you’ll be met with a beautiful beach that’s quiet for most of the year. And if you manage to get there in September, and walk along the coastal path there, there’s a good chance you’ll spot seals and their cubs. How cute is that?!
While we’re on the subject of beaches, Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan is a very romantic beach! I mean I might be a little bit biased as this is where I got engaged, but… If you park at the top of the hill, you can walk down to the beach and see the gorgeous views over to Somerset. And in my case, see “Clare, will you marry me?” written in huge letter in the sand below. He didn’t do badly did he?! The sunsets from here can be amazing too. If you time it right, you can sit on the rocks at low tide and watch the sun setting over the horizon.
You may have guessed by now, but I have a bit of an obsession with beaches! There are of course plenty of other romantic places in Wales that are nowhere near the sea. One of these places is Betws y Coed. It’s got all the things that the tourists come to see - quaint shops and tearooms, beautiful forests and enchanting waterfalls. But if you cross the bridge away from the villlage and turn left, you can follow the path along the river and it will bring you to one of my favourite fields in Wales. In summer, it’s full of long grass and has a gorgeous view of the river. In the winter, take a flask of hot chocolate (or a hipflask?! Anything to keep you warm!). In summer take some sunscreen - you could be there for hours watching the clouds and the river and before you realise it, you’ve fallen asleep…
The last location takes us back to the sea (there’s somthing about the sea…), Nant Gwrtheyrn, Penllyn (Llyn Peninsula). You might have heard of Nant Gwrtheyrn as a Welsh Language centre or maybe as a wedding venue. But it’s also on the Llyn coastal path, and the views from there are absolutely stunning. Driving down the winding road to the centre (it feels a little bit like being in Switzerland!), you get glimpses of the sea, but as you near the bottom of that hill, the views are breathtaking. Go for a walk, enjoying each other’s company, and then stop for a pint in Tafarn y Fic, the local pub in Llithfaen. They might speak Welsh when you walk in, but I promise you they will have been speaking Welsh a long time before you got there ;)
I obviously can’t name every romantic place in Wales (I’d be here for days on end), so if you’ve got somewhere that you love, let me know in the comments section below! Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!
Hi, I’m Clare, a South Wales family photographer who loves working outdoors with natural light. I cover Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for maternity, newborn, child and family photoshoots. Get in touch if you’d like to book your family’s photoshoot, I can’t wait to meet you!