Pembrokeshire makes for an idyllic staycation the whole family will love

On a staycation there are two things you can be pretty sure of – unpredictable weather and traffic jams. But we had a plan to combat the latter.

With a car full of luggage, mother-in-law and offspring, we set off at midnight for the six-hour journey to Pembrokeshire on the south-west coast of Wales.

And after driving overnight we arrived just in time to see the sun rise over our beautiful holiday – no wonder this place is called Joyful House.

Walking through the courtyard, it opened into a huge, dreamy kitchen and immediately exceeded my expectations: like all the best holiday homes, the images do not do it justice.

Even the teenagers labelled it ‘decent’ (emphatic praise when you’re 16 and 18).

Every room was packed with thoughtful luxuries, including board games (Scrabble’s a must for us), fresh eggs from the local farm and even locally-sourced toiletries.

Coffee poured, it was love at first sight. We were blown away by the quality of the house and the rugged scenery of the UK’s only coastal national park.

We had also lucked out with clear blue skies, so headed to our nearest town, St David’s, to stock up on supplies and start exploring.

Surprisingly this tiny city (it’s the smallest in the UK: really only the size of a village) managed to tick all of the boxes for our demanding tribe.

A cultural trip to the cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace ruins next to it won approval from the teens, and the dog, who was allowed into the grounds on his lead.

There were lots of pubs and cafes to choose from; we ended up in the pretty garden of the Cross Hotel – perfect for sitting outside and eating their fresh crab sandwiches and scones.

A local beer for Dad, G&T for Nan and space for everyone (who needed to) to run around – and all generations were content.

Parking as always in small towns is limited; there is a tiny car park in front of the cathedral which is free. From here, you can book family-friendly boat trips from £10pp to Ramsey Island to spot seals, harbour porpoise and sea birds.

We also wanted a traditional, put-up-the-windbreaks day at the beach, so headed to Whitesands where teen-friendly surfing lessons take place.

We lasted three hours of sand-in-face bathing but the kids loved the chance to build sandcastles and run in the sea.


There was plenty of parking (£5 a day), and the food hut serves up locally made ice-cream which was divine. In this area, you can take your pick of castles; we headed to Cilgerran as there is a wildlife centre there.

You can choose a walking route that leads you direct to the castle ruins. We didn’t see any animals on our trek apart from swans and cygnets, but the walk alone was worth it.

Definitely take a picnic if doing this with kids – there are wooden huts along the way for bird spotting, which they loved, and work as pit-stops on the two-mile route.

The car park is £3, coins only, and the Glass House Cafe has a great ­reputation. Beware, they stop serving hot food at 2.30pm (which we discovered at 3pm and kicked ourselves for not checking). Still, they were serving ice-creams and drinks, including a cheeky glass of wine for me and Nan.

We holiday in Cornwall often and had no idea this area of Wales was just as magical. Talking of magical: if only we’d conjured up a traffic-free drive home…

Book the holiday

BOOK IT: Quality Cottages has seven-night self-catering stays at Joyful House in Pembrokeshire from £844, for up to nine sharing. Up to two dogs welcome at a small extra charge.

TOP TIP: A car is an absolute must for getting around this beautiful coastline but don’t rely on your iPhone/satnav for directions as the signal is poor. We bought a local map – it’s more fun. Also stock up on pound coins for the car parks.

MORE INFO: For more information head to visitpembrokeshire.com.

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