This Year’s UK Travel Wishlist

Sundays are weird.

My knee-jerk instinct was to write “last week I posted bla bla bla” but then I just checked the dates and it was actually just five days ago, on Sunday, that I published This Year’s European Travel Wishlist. So is it, like, factually correct to say last week if it was still technically this week? Because Sunday is the first day of the week, right? Or wrong? I don’t know.

Calendars are super ambiguous these days, I just don’t know where I stand with them!

Anyway, another post I published recently (avoiding saying last week as much as I can for fear of offending Sunday/Monday) was me going on and on about how I don’t give my own backyard enough credit and I plan to explore it more this year.

And in case you haven’t gathered from the name Wales to Wherever, I’m from Wales. South Wales to be precise. The real South Wales, not this fancy new one I’ve heard about that has some kind of big opera house or something.

So if we’re branching out further than the Leekes and train station behind my house, my backyard would be Wales. Branch out even further, it’d be the UK. Further again would make it Europe, which we’ve already covered. Spread my wings any further and I may as well up sticks, buy a yurt and move to Mongolia.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my UK travel wishlist (also known as bucket list but whatevs).

Cardiff Castle

If you’ve been to Cardiff you may have noticed that there’s this huge castle just BAM right in the middle of the main city. It’s surrounded by walls with stone-carved animals on it, which, believe me when I say look absolutely terrifying if you happen to be walking past at night. Despite having grown up 40 minutes down the road, lived and/or worked in the city for the past 5 years and spent almost every single weekend wandering about, I have never been inside the castle. If you live or work in Cardiff (I work, woohoo!) you can even get a “Key to the Castle” for £5 which lasts 3 years. Hopefully I’ll get around to doing that some time soon and then just call me Sansa Stark because the castle won’t be able to keep me away.

caerphilly castle in the UK

Not Cardiff Castle (It’s Caerphilly – pretty, right?!)

Plymouth

A bit of an odd one, I know. What’s even in Plymouth? Well apparently a church that was bombed during the war (which war, I do not know) so the insides were completely gutted, but the outside still stands to this day. There’s also a farm with cute goats. Oh, and my best friend. Yeah, I just want to go see my best bud who’s studying how to be a nerd in Plymouth Uni. I can use it as an excuse to travel though, right?

Freshwater West

Everything you think you know is a lie. Dobby was not buried in Cornwall. In the film he was buried in Cornwall but in real life? The deed was done at Pembrokeshire’s own Freshwater West! This may seem super weird, but I’ve been saying I want to go on a pilgrimage to this beach ever since I watched the film. But then, what do you do when visiting the imaginary grave of a fictional house elf? Leave a sock? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a situation anyone in the history of the world has been faced with before Dobby came along!

burying Dobby at Freshwater West

Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter

Are you sensing a pattern yet? I went to the Warner Bros. studio tour a few years ago with my then-boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. We didn’t go on the actual day, choosing instead to go a few weeks later. Obviously I didn’t do enough research because we ended up going a few days before the Hogwarts Express was added to the attraction. I was heartbroken. And to make matters worse my little sister then visited on a school trip and saw it all!!! She’s not even a real fan seeing as she’s never even read past the first line of the first book. Bitter? Me?! Never. So yeah, I want to go back just so I can say I’m better than my fourteen-year old sister. I’m so childish.

London

Brace yourselves for another shocking revelation…
I’ve never done the tourist thing in London. I’ve seen Buckingham Palace, watched a few shows in the West End and very randomly once had a brief conversation with Denzel Washington at the premiere of Flight (by brief conversation I mean he said something while looking at me and I choked because DENZEL WASHINGTON!!!). But all the rest of the tourist things you’re supposed to do? Never done ’em. Don’t know if I exactly want to partake in them, but there’s a lot of London I do want to see.

Bath

This is where someone out there unfamiliar with British geography makes a joke about a shower, right? When I was a kid I used to get Bristol and Bath mixed up as well as thinking they were both in Wales. FYI neither of them are in Wales. When you search it in Google the intro thing it has on the side reads “Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture.” Need I say more?! It also has Roman baths and other super old historical stuff. Wow, I’m really selling this. 

Edinburgh

Shortbread and kilts and deep-fried mars bars. That’s not me making some stereotypical assumption, merely a list of what I’m most looking forward to! Especially the shortbread, I love me some Scottish shortbread. Edinburgh is beautiful and I’ve wanted to visit for years now, but the slight problem of a train journey costing a minimum £150 return was a bit off-putting to be honest. Enter Easyjet and their wonderful, marvellous, fantastic £40 return flights from Bristol and it looks like this is the year! Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Zoo, all the different places that inspired JK Rowling to write the greatest book series to ever have been invent (sorry Georgie boy, you’re a close second), I want to see it all!

Not my picture. DUH, I haven’t been there.

Winterfell (& Northern Ireland)

It seems that all my travel plans for 2017 revolve around my favourite fictional worlds. Nothing wrong with that, right? Edinburgh, London and Freshwater West for good ole HP, as well as Croatia and now Northern Ireland for Game of Thrones! All I need now is Hobbiton and I’m good to go. To be honest I don’t exactly know where Winterfell is filmed, but I know there are an absolute ton of filming locations in and around Belfast, so I’m sure I’ll find something!

Brecon Beacons

Of all the places mentioned, this is the one closest to being my actual backyard. I’m asked for advice quite frequently on how to get there, the best trails to take, the best time to go etc etc and despite always answering, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been myself. Dun dun duuun. It’s one of those places that’s just murder to get to if you don’t drive. And I don’t drive so yeah, murder. I’ll probably make more of an effort now that I’ve grown accustomed to UK public transport again. And look at it… it’s so pretty how could I not?!


And that’s a wrap!

Clearly with all the precedence given to fictional lands, I’m not exactly at one with the UK yet. So if anyone has any recommendations on where I should go, be it big or small, I’m all ears!

Interested in the whole concept of exploring your own backyard more this year? LC is planning on doing the exact same thing but on the other side of the world. You should check it ouuuut.

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32 Comments

  1. 13th January 2017 / 2:24 pm

    Nice article! Scotland is fantastic though, Edinburgh is a great town to visit with great bars filled with nice people! If you go that far I would recommend a day trip to Callander and go hiking in the Trossachs Mountains. Go on the top of Ben A’an to get the view over Loch Katrine this is gorgeous!

    • rhiydwi
      13th January 2017 / 3:13 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look into it as and when I finally book my trip! 😀

  2. 13th January 2017 / 3:28 pm

    I was just in London for NYE and can say that you have to go! No matter what time of the year it is, its an awesome city to explore. Aside from all the touristy stuff, I reccommend going to ABQ London, its a spin off of Breaking Bad and you get to mix up cocktails in a beat up RV wearing yellow jumpsuits! Pretty cool!

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:07 pm

      London on NYE looks amazing! Super packed though. Oh that sounds really interesting! I’ll definitely look into it, thanks for the recommendation 🙂

  3. 13th January 2017 / 4:19 pm

    I love Edinburgh! If only the weather wasn’t so terrible I could see myself living there.. Cardiff is on my list for this year.

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Yay Cardiff! Definitely the most underrated city in the UK..

  4. 13th January 2017 / 6:41 pm

    In summer South Bank is a nice place to hang out in London, in Bath you can take a free tour which is very interesting (they start somewhere near the pump room). Would love to go to Edinburgh one day!

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Ooh, I like free tours! I’ll look into it, thanks for letting me know! 😀 Doesn’t Edinburgh just look amazing?!

  5. 14th January 2017 / 4:12 am

    Shucks, thanks for the mention! Quite a commendable list, I reckon. I might have to write an Aussie version. I super appreciate all your Potter-related aspirations and Edinburgh is amazing. If I ever lived in the UK again, would want it to be there.
    PS. The fancy new South Wales is quite nice! I think so, anyway. 😉

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:17 pm

      No problemo 😀 Ah you’ve been?! See that’s my point, sooo many people visit the UK and see Edinburgh but hardly any actual UK people do. Madness! Hahaha, I’m just bitter that the new one has sun, I’m sure it’s lovely 😉

      • 17th January 2017 / 1:15 am

        I have to say it worked in my favour quite a lot. I had some people in England ask me if I’d been to New Zealand and I’d reply in the negative. They’d say OMG HOW COULD YOU HAVE NOT GONE TO NZ IT IS RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR COUNTRY and I’d calmly say “Have you been to Scotland?”… and tumbleweeds and then I could say WELL THAT IS ACTUALLY ATTACHED TO YOUR COUNTRY and I would win.

        • rhiydwi
          17th January 2017 / 2:06 pm

          HAHAHA! I learned my lesson with that. I’d always say to my Indian friends something like “How can you have lived YOUR WHOLE LIFE in India and NEVER been to Taj Mahal?” and they’d just look at me and go “Scotland”. That’s me silenced.

  6. 14th January 2017 / 8:29 am

    That’s a cracking list Rhiannon! Also, that “Key to the Castle” initiative is ridiculously good value – how do we not have equivalents of that where I am?! Not that Chester Castle is hugely exciting, but you get the gist… I went to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour four and a half years ago, as my 18th birthday present from friends, and loved every moment – but like you, it was a pre-Hogwarts Express trip, so naturally it needs a revisit. My sister’s currently studying in Bath so at some point over the next few years I need to make a point of visiting her – the Roman Baths are well worth a visit even if the entry price is a little steep (though my jammy little sister gets free entry as a student at the University of Bath!) Edinburgh is somewhere I absolutely love. Calton Hill (where the photo you included is shot from) has a good view of the skyline and is only a 5 minute walk from Princes Street; Arthur’s Seat is approx. a 2 hour round trip on foot from the Royal Mile, equally worth doing if the weather is good/ there are clear skies. I could probably go on for yonks with places to see in the UK, but here’s the shortened version… In terms of national parks, my three favourites are the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Yorkshire Dales (you can continue getting your Harry Potter fix there at Malham Cove, as featured in the Deathly Hallows Part 1). City wise, I like Liverpool (being a Beatles fan, but I also love the waterfront and the regenerated Albert Docks), York (a generally picturesque town centre, especially the Shambles) and, being biased, Chester (for it’s walls, two-tiered shopping streets known as The Rows and the riverside).

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:15 pm

      It’s awesome isn’t it?! They don’t really advertise it though, so had I not paid a bit too much attention to a random poster on a bus stop one day I never would have known about it! It’s not valid for all areas of the castle so you have to pay extra sometimes, but the main parts are all included. If you and your sister look even remotely related could you not borrow her student ID and nab yourself a free visit? 😉 Bit cheeky but you never know, it might work!
      Liverpool is kind of floating around my head a bit too (mainly for the Beatles!) but my stepdad and brother are HUUUUUGE Man Utd fans and I think they might disown me if I go anywhere near haha! I’ve never heard of Malham Cove! Maybe I just need to finally learn to drive and go on one big huge Harry Potter UK expedition..

      • 15th January 2017 / 5:53 pm

        Still, entry to most of the castle for free is better than having to pay for everything! Unfortunately, although you can tell we’re sisters in person, we look nothing like each other on ID card photos! The Beatles are definitely a big draw to Liverpool; the Magical Mystery Tour is fab for those without their own vehicle who want to see some of the out-of-town sites (like the members’ former homes, Strawberry Field, Penny Lane etc.) and get a bit of background info. A HP road trip would be the road trip of dreams…

  7. 14th January 2017 / 8:50 am

    Just in time. I have been to to UK few times and planning to visit this year. I plan to visit many of these places you mentioned here 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:12 pm

      Awesome! Look forward to seeing your posts on them in due course 😀

  8. 14th January 2017 / 12:10 pm

    I adore Scotland so much! I visited it a few times and ever since I’m like: OMG I need to live in Scotland. My husband says it’s too cold haha. But I will secretly make plans to get him to live there hehe, you just wait and see.
    Love this list, it’s a great reminder how many great places one could visit in the UK. I noticed you added Bath! We loooved Bath so much because we always get a cheeky afternoon tea and we feel like royalties.
    Btw, I love your writing style. Bookmarking your blog!

    • rhiydwi
      15th January 2017 / 4:28 pm

      I’d have to side with your husband there! I can barely function in Wales’ winter temperature, I can’t imagine what it’d be like all the way up North! Thanks Cory 😀 Massive fan of your blog, so let’s just pretend I’m not completely freaking out that you commented right now…

  9. 16th January 2017 / 9:49 am

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour sounds amazing. I have it on my bucket list too. Wish your 2017 wishes come true and you are able to cover as much as possible!

    • rhiydwi
      16th January 2017 / 1:31 pm

      Thanks a lot! 😀 Same to you, all the best!

  10. 18th January 2017 / 10:08 am

    A great list! My family and I will also be doing a similar thing and Cardiff Castle is near the top of our list! You won’t regret the HP studio tour, it’s amazing. And we live near Bath and that is definitely work a visit (it has some great shopping as well as the sights). If you’re an Austen fan don’t miss the Jane Austen museum and tea rooms (once I saw some people there dressed up in bonnets and everything and I’m dying to go back and do the same while my husband pretends he doesn’t know this embarrassing woman). Look forward to reading about how you get on!

    • rhiydwi
      20th January 2017 / 12:41 pm

      Ooh thanks for the Jane Austen rec.! Not a huge fan but a fan nevertheless so I’ll probably enjoy 🙂 Although I might skip out on the bonnets myself haha.

  11. 19th January 2017 / 11:10 am

    Nice selection! I’m going to England this year for few times and also Scotland so i’m gonna tick off some of these places. Can’t wait for that! Enjoy your visits to these cities. 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      20th January 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Thanks! Same to you 😀

    • rhiydwi
      20th January 2017 / 12:54 pm

      No I haven’t but would love to!

  12. 20th January 2017 / 8:09 pm

    “Wishlist” is a Pearl Jam song. Of all the places in your list, I’ve only seen Edinburgh & London. Never knew UK had a Warner Brothers studio!

    • rhiydwi
      23rd January 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Oh really? I had no idea! Yeah, it’s not like the kind you get in the US, but it has a lot of film props and sets from the HP films so it’s great!

  13. 22nd January 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Freshwater West is one of my favourite beaches but if you’re in that area (and haven’t already) check out Broadhaven South too. It’s not the final resting place of any much loved house elves but it’s pretty nice.

    Amy – http://fourcatsplusus.co.uk

  14. 29th January 2017 / 9:43 pm

    Cardiff Castle is brilliant. I got my key in 2014 when I lived there which was brilliant, though they do take your photo!

    I really want to get to Bath too this year! If you need a travel buddy give me a shout! I only went years ago to look round the university which is a waste!

  15. 10th February 2017 / 8:11 pm

    United Kingdom is fascinating because there are so many places to visit. Definitely Edinburg and Brecon Beacons are my favourites!

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