A French visitor once described Wales as his “favourite part of England”!

This is a forgivable and almost traditional error for some overseas visitors, many of whom find the relationship between the home nations of the UK rather difficult to understand. Wales is though, as every Briton should know, a unique and distinct country with its own people, culture and language

Wales is different

The origins of Wales’ origins go back to the late Roman period. As the empire declined and new German invaders arrived in England, the original Celtic Romano-British were pushed back across the country until they made their successful stand in Wales.

Of course, modern Wales is a richly diverse country but it retains a link to those distant times through its culture and language. If you’re visiting for the first time, you’re going to find something that’s so much more than just “England with a different accent”!

Geography

Wales along its border with England is typically very hilly and peppered with valleys. Rivers and forests are everywhere and some of the border towns are a delight.

In the south, you’ll find the characteristic Welsh ‘hills and valleys’ of legend. They’re beautiful and a mixture of  proud rural and industrial traditions.

In central Wales and the north, the countryside becomes wilder and more mountainous – with the magnificent Snowdonia being a world-famous example.

It’s also sometimes forgotten that Wales has a long coastline. So, fishing towns and villages are everywhere and there are some exceptionally picturesque seaside locations to explore, such as Conway / Conwy.

The language

Wales managed to retain its own language in spite of much pressure (often unintentional in modern times) from English.

An ancient tongue, today its use is expanding both in southern and central Wales as well as its traditional heartlands of the north. Learning a few words is great fun and the locals will appreciate it (though don’t forget, not all Welsh people can speak Welsh!).

The weather

When one talks about caravanning holidays in Wales, the north of England or Scotland, sooner or later someone will mention the weather.

This country sits on the west coast of the British Isles and yes, that means it can catch Atlantic squalls and showers. If you’re looking for guaranteed hot sunshine and tans then nobody in Wales would put their country forward as a candidate!

However, it can also get some stunningly beautiful weather too and when it does, you won’t find a better place to enjoy some marvellous natural beauty. Even so, be sensible and make sure you have some basic rain jackets with you.

History

Even if you’re not big on ancient history, when visiting Wales you simply must visit some of the castles.

They’re everywhere and indicate an ancient warlike past but they’re also some of the best examples of mediaeval military architecture you’ll find anywhere in Europe.

Tips

So, if your appetite has been whetted, here are a few tips before setting off:

  • if you’re heading into higher ground in winter, early spring or late autumn, do make sure your destination site is fully open and supervised. It’s also worth making certain that you have specialised winter clothing and you follow local safety advice;
  • just like almost everywhere else in the UK, try to avoid travelling to or from Wales on bank holiday Fridays or Mondays. The roads can be particularly busy and some roads in the rural parts of Wales can be narrow.