I haven't spent much time in Wales so I was excited to be off on a long September weekend away with my partner. I was looking forward to walks through the beautiful countryside and then getting warm with a toasty fire in a cosy eco lodge.
The long car journey to Denmark Farm Conservation Centre, Lampeter, had left us tired and frustrated, so it was lovely to be welcomed with a fresh, bright and cosy new home for the weekend.
Freshly picked flowers from the wildflower meadow, tea, coffee and biscuits were waiting for us on the table, our preordered butter and cheese and complimentary milk were keeping cool in the fridge and our delicious preordered local veg box from The Organic Fresh Food Company, was awaiting us on the side. What a brilliant arrival.
It was still light enough to see the views from the lodge. We were in the Owl lodge which is situated at the end of the three apartments, with a beautiful view across the valley. Through the bay windows in the bedroom, cattle roam and trees are filled with bird boxes. It is the perfect space for a peaceful and relaxing weekend.
The next morning we visited the People's Market in Lampeter. We found Simply Caws cheese stall immediately, and tried a good variety which resulted in us buying three different cheeses to the ones we had waiting for us in the fridge at home. (Can you tell we like cheese?) There was a fantastic choice, all from around 20 miles of Lampeter. Other stalls held local vegetables and fruit, bread, fungi and fungi pate (which is delicious), handmade cards, postcards and paintings and lovely woolen garments. It was great to see such choices of local produce.
We also visted a lovely cafe for a hot drink and some cake and found our way into an amazing organic shop called The Mulberry Bush. It had everything you imagine, including Permaculture magazine. We found shelves of dried fruits and nuts, local and organic honeys, herbal teas, herbal remedies, beauty products and so much more. They even had a small cafe. We bought some locally made organic mead that sat amongst a great selection of local fruit wines (they were all very tempting).
After our little shopping trip we drove north for about 25 miles through the magnificent green countryside to Devil's Bridge in search of a fearsome waterfall. And what a waterfall it was. After the recent rainfall, the Mynach River was roaring.
We took the nature trail that lead us into the gorge, where the Mynarch meets the River Rheidol. It was a beautiful walk through sessile oaks, bilberries, mosses and rocky paths. Throughout the descent are stunning views across the valley and the two rivers meeting. There's a steep Jacob's Ladder to descend which takes you 300 feet into the gorge, before you ascend the other side, with the falls gushing past. Even though the rain had set in by this point, the walk was brilliant and we kept fairly dry under the tree canopy. It is only around a 45 minute walk but the path is made up of slippery and jagged rocks so it is suggested that elderly people do not take the route.
We gulped down a well earnt Welsh cider in a cosy pub at the end of the walk and headed home for another cosy evening in. The lodge has a TV, a few board games and books so it is easy to keep the evenings filled if you don't want to venture out to a local pub. We enjoyed another delicious meal from our veg box (stuffed marrow) with a glass of mead and played scrabble in the warmth of fire.
The lodges are actually amazingly insulated with local sheeps wool and a biomass heating system that uses locally sourced wood pellet fuel, so we didn't need to get the woodburner going - but who can resist a blazing fire. These spacious but cosy lodges are built from local timber with a bio-diversity boosting wetland treatment system and PV solar panels that generate the electricity. Each room is painted with Earthborn organic VOC free paint, and wood is treated with environmentally friendly products. Even the curtains, cushions and blankets are organic as well as being locally made by Jane Beck's Welsh Blankets which is only a mile away in Llwyn y groes. The furniture is locally made or second-hand, the bed linen is made from organic cotton and the beds are built by Alphabeds are sourced only 13 miles away, in a water powered workshop with sustainably sourced timber. It is fantastic how the entire lodge is environmentally friendly, with every detail considered to keep the the carbon footprint of the building as low as possible.
Denmark Farm is a conservation centre run by the Shared Earth Trust charity. The farm has transformed over the last 30 years into a hugely biodiverse ecosytem across 40 acres. The magnificant meadows are carpeted with flowers and butterflies, now with over 60 plant species. The woodlands have been replanted, hedgerows are brimming with wildlife and the various ponds provide an extra depth to the whole ecosystem. It is a beautiful area to take walks and admire nature.
The four lodges are available all year round and Denmark Farm also have camping facilities, a bunkhouse and dormitories for a variety of holidays. They hold courses ranging from natural and kitchen gardening to willow sculpting, plant identification, wood dyeing and much more. There is plenty of walking to be done in the area, the coastline is only 20 minutes drive and plenty of towns and villages to explore.
For more information about Denmark Farm Conservation Centre visit www.denmarkfarm.org.uk
The Organic Fresh Food Company provide a wide range of organic and sustainably sourced foods from fruit and veg boxes to beef, fish, bread and more. To find out more visit www.organicfreshfoodcompany.co.uk
For more on Simply Caws cheese visit their Facebook page HERE.
Rozie Apps is assistant editor at Permaculture magazine.
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