It is not unusual for families to use the Welsh Marches cottages as a place to get together. Some hire all three cottages while others like Laura Shields and her family from Bolton hired the Sugar Loaf and Skirrid to accommodate mum and dad Pat and John, Laura and her sister Lucy with partners Paul and Daniel, and the third generation April, 10, and Harriet 6.

What was a first for us was the family hired a hot tub for the week.

We found a good local company who installed the tub for a week outside of the Skirrid with a gazebo over the top. A gas bottle provided the fuel to heat the water. It was positioned in such a way that the television on the wall in the Skirrid could be viewed while having a soak and a glass of their favourite tipple.

Laura and Lucy spent one indulgent evening watching “Love Island” from the comfort of their tub.

If you are staying in the Skirrid or the Sugar Loaf and you fancy taking the plunge, please give us a call (07850 758201) and we’ll help arrange the hire.

Outside of the tub Laura and family found plenty to do including a visit to Tintern Railway Station.

The Wye Valley line closed to passengers in 1959 and to goods trains in 1990 but the station is now a popular tourist attraction and youngsters April and Harriet enjoyed a treasure hunt around the station and trains on display.

Just across the road there was time for a visit to Kingstone Brewery. This is an excellent micro-brewery and after a tasting session they came away with a few bottles to sample and a few presents.

Tewdric’s Tipple, named after a former king of Gwent, is a smooth honey-coloured brew which is popular locally but my favourite is Llandogo Trow, named after the flat bottomed boats which used to sail down the River Wye to Bristol.

I was on the Wye Valley railway route myself in the week exploring a stretch of the line which has recently opened between Tintern and Sedbury near Chepstow. The five mile long Greenway is extremely popular with families as a safe footpath and cycleway along the banks of the Wye.

Centrepiece of the route is a walk or cycle down a tunnel which has low level lighting to guide you while not disturbing the bats that live in the tunnel. More than a quarter of Britain’s Lesser Horseshoe bats live in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean so it is a very important habitat.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk through the tunnel so its an exciting trip and different from your normal walk.

Travelling from Tintern you emerge into the daylight close to the National Diving centre where there is a café, toilets and free parking. Take a look into the old quarry while you are there to see the aqua park and zip wires. It might tempt you to have a go at plunging on a larger scale!

John, Paul and Daniel played a round of golf at St Pierre on the Mathern course which they were able to book in advance online without a problem. Its less than 20 minutes away.

Meanwhile Pat took a trip to the out-of-town discount shopping village at Swindon where she picked up a £100 pair of shoes for one of her grandchildren for £19. Bargain.

Foodwise, they enjoyed two BBQs outside; ate at the street market in Chepstow on the Sunday; had a takeaway from Sitar Balti, an Indian restaurant in Chepstow; a meal at Mythos, the Greek restaurant in Chepstow and on the last night a meal at Una Vita, an Italian restaurant also in the town. Laura said the food and cocktails were great and the service brilliant.

Once again, the Welsh Marches cottages proved a great base for a family holiday. The accommodation was “smashing” said Laura. “Thanks for everything. It has been brilliant”


Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

Hot tub, Love Island on TV and a glass of what you fancy

Sugarloaf and Blorenge holiday cottages under construction

Lots of fun at the old Tintern Railway Station

Sugarloaf and Blorenge holiday cottages under construction

Cheers: Sampling at Kingstone Brewery

Sugarloaf and Blorenge holiday cottages under construction

It takes 20 minutes to walk through the tunnel

Sugarloaf and Blorenge holiday cottages under construction

The family had four meals from Chepstow: Greek, Italian, Indian and street food from a veggie van at the market.