I have to tell you about the beautiful place where we stayed in Wales: The Slate Shed B&B at Graig Wen near Dolgellau in the South of Snowdonia National Park.
Owners Sarah and John bought this former slate works with 45 acres of land in 2007 and have made it into a truly wonderful place to stay. Graig Wen sits in a peaceful spot above the Mawddach Estuary and below one of the highest mountains in Wales, Cadair Idris. Besides the B&B there are some self-catering cottages and a campsite where you can bring your own tent, caravan or motorhome or rent a yurt (complete with a wood burner) in the wooded, rugged grounds. Below Graig Wen and running alongside the estuary is the scenic Mawddach Trail, a flat cycling and walking trail which stretches 9 miles from Dolgellau to Barmouth.
My kids (15 and 11 at the time) had never stayed in a B&B before this trip. In the car on the way there I tried to explain the concept of the B&B. I must have done a rubbish job because they became very anxious at the thought of staying in the home of strangers.
The Slate Shed B&B
When we arrived their nerves soon disappeared. Sarah showed us to our lovely, cosy rooms and I felt instantly at home. Each room had an eclectic mix of furniture ranging from pieces made of reclaimed wood to vintage mirrors to Welsh blankets. Our bathroom had a free-standing bath, power shower, gorgeous organic toiletries and white cotton waffle bathrobes. There were fresh flowers in a vase on the window sill and and a beautiful view of the Mawddach estuary from the window.
Milliseconds after our arrival the youngest worked out that, as well as a TV, each room had a small, glass jar containing a couple of squares of chocolate and there was also a packet of caramel waffles next to the kettle. In our room next to the tea tray was a decorated wooden peg holding a clutch of decaffeinated teabags. When I’d spoken to Sarah on the phone the day before she’d asked me if there was anything any of us couldn’t eat for breakfast and I’d mentioned that I avoid caffeine.
Once we’d settled in, Sarah invited us downstairs for tea and Welsh cakes in the dining room overlooking the estuary. I stepped over a black and white cat dozing on the stairs on my way down. As I sat at the wooden table drinking tea from a china cup I felt myself relax after our six-hour drive. Sarah gave us the code for the free wifi and we chatted about our plans for the weekend.
I’d taken up Sarah’s offer, made the day before, to book tables for us at local restaurants on the Friday and Saturday nights.The two restaurants she chose for us were The Meirionnydd in Dolgellau and Mawddach Restaurant on the opposite side of the estuary. Both were excellent and I’d definitely recommend them.
The Slate Shed breakfasts are just what you need before a day exploring Snowdonia. The ingredients are home-made or locally sourced as far as possible. Each evening we made our breakfast choices for the next morning from a menu left in our rooms. I had something different every day: a vegetarian cooked breakfast with sausages made by the local WI; homemade pancakes with berries and syrup; salmon and scrambled egg with homemade wholemeal toast. It was all delicious and there was also cereal, fruit, yogurts, toast, tea, coffee and fruit juices on offer. Packed lunches are available too if you order them the day before.
I loved our weekend at Graig Wen and would definitely recommend it as a beautiful, relaxing and homely place to stay. Children over 10 years old are welcome at the B&B but the self-catering and camping accommodation is open to all ages.
Family travel lowdown: There are five rooms at The Slate Shed all with en-suite bathrooms. My husband and I stayed in Bran, which costs from £110 per night including breakfast for two people. The kids stayed in Sidan which costs from £75 per night including breakfast for two people. Thank you to Visit Wales for arranging our stay at The Slate Shed.