We enjoyed our stay in Abergavenny, Wales, but we have to admit that it wasn’t the highlight of the trip we anticipated. Neither the Swanmeadow Holiday Cottages at Pantygoitre Farm nor Abergavenny itself lived up to our expectations.
Abergavenny was a bit of a disappointment. It was billed in the Rough Guide and local literature as the foodie center of Wales, and this certainly was true with respect to restaurants (although Newport could probably give it a run for its money). The much touted market, however, sucked. The nearby butcher (Neil Powell Butchers) was just OK and even the locals rapidly conceded that there was not a decent bakery to be found closer than Alex Gooch at Haye on Wye, some 45 minutes away by car.
We did find some of Gooch’s product for sale at the local Waitrose grocery chain, which was decent but hardly the high-end comestible emporium that the locals and the chain itself claims it is. The town had a few decent sites that could be covered in less than 2 hours, but was otherwise boring.
The staff at the Information Center was very helpful but gave us a very out of date map for a hike to a local Iron Age Fort that proved impossible to follow. We bought a couple maps for a pound that proved better, but still not fool proof.
Mago Tip: It is worth spending the money for and lugging around hardcopies of the relevant Ordnance Survey maps unless you like getting lost in pastures full of sheep and cow shit followed by forced marches on narrow roads with no sidewalks or any proper right of way and filled with people driving a bit too fast for pedestrian comfort.
Swanmeadow Holiday Cottages at Pantygoitre Farm
Telephone: +44 1873 840207
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Rostra rating: 3
Tracey Evans was a great host and here’s why… Our rental was ready early, she had freshly baked Welsh bara brith (speckled bread) as a welcome gift, and her recommendations for restaurants were very good: Cripple Creek Pub and The Hardwick Inn. And even more. She volunteered to drive us to and from a restaurant or pub if we were going to imbibe, so as not to fall afoul of Wales’ very strict drink driving laws. Tracy also volunteered to put our laundry in with hers and hang it up in the “drying room” (it rains a lot in a place where you have to dedicate a room to drying clothes).
The rental itself was fine for 3 to 5 days, but had some drawbacks:
- The master (queen) bedroom was upstairs with no bathroom. You had to navigate the stairs in the middle of the night for calls of nature.
- The bedroom was also right up against the roof making it difficult to stand upright in about 25% of the space.
- The slat-supported mattress was too soft.
- The ground floor single bedroom was tiny. We had originally rented the cottage for 3 people and this second bedroom would have proved too small to have another adult along with us. We used the room to store our luggage since carrying them up to the master bedroom would have been quite arduous.
- The kitchen was minimally equipped and counter space was scarce. The half size fridge did not work very well, even when turned up to the max. The stove, however, was good–particularly the dual oven (grill above, oven below).
- The internet was not great, either in terms of bandwidth or connectivity, but it was far better than the POS Vodaphone SIM we bought in Abergavenny.
- The shower box had plenty of room, but you had to take the removable shower head down from its peg in order to get it started and pay close attention to the build-up of water given a slow, partially clogged drain. But in general, it put out serious pressure and very hot water–much better than many European rentals in our experience.
Most of Tracey’s trade is from fishermen who can utilize her two miles of private Usk riverfront property for a fee of 25 pounds a day per rod. We had hoped to do just this and it was a major reason that we rented there. Unfortunately, I interpreted the language on her website to mean that we could rent tackle for that cost, only to find out just before we left the US that Tracey does not rent tackle. When we arrived we asked if she knew of any place nearby that did rent tackle, but she did not. And indeed we were not able to find any rental rods in greater Abergavenny. This was a major disappointment, but mostly my fault.
Bottom line: Given the sorry state of the market and other food purveyors in the Abergavenny, consider a 5 to 7 night stay at the The Hardwick Restaurant with Rooms.Abergavenny Castle
The Abergavenny Castle sits right in the middle of this pleasant town. The exhibits on the inside are informative, but go for the views across the river and a chance for a picnic on the beautiful grounds.Abergavenny, Wales
We enjoyed our stay in Abergavenny, Wales, but we have to admit that it wasn't the highlight of the trip we anticipated. Neither the Swanmeadow Holiday Cottages at Pantygoitre Farm nor Abergavenny itself lived up to our expectations.Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal at Llanfoist
This is an exceptionally beautiful walk along an historic canal. If you're lucky, you'll get to see someone maneuvering a boat through these calm, still waters.Neil Powell Butchers
We bought a dried cured collar joint that Morgan braised. It was very salty, but delicious. We also bought two small chickens that Morgan roasted on two separate nights.Parsons Bakery
Great pasties for a picnic. We took them up to Sugarloaf Mountain for a picnic. St. Marys Church and Priory
If you find yourself in Abergavenny, Wales, then you should stop by the St. Mary's Church and Priory. It's pretty and peaceful. Follow this by a walk through the main streets of Abergavenny and enjoy the shops.Sugar Loaf Mountain
This is a beautiful hike with a breath taking view from the top. Be prepared to walk through lots and lots of sheep shit, though.The Cripple Creek Inn
For an introduction to Abergavenny, you could do a lot worse than the Cripple Creek Inn.The Hardwick Inn
The Hardwick Inn in Abergavenny, Wales, was the best restaurant on the European part of MagoGuide's 2016 Grand Tour. This is one of those places where an accomplished chef “downshifts” and everybody wins. On top of that, The Hardwick boasts eight luxury rooms and a great little pub.The Swanmeadow Holiday Cottages at Panty Goitre Farm
We enjoyed our stay at the Panty Goitre Farm. Our hostess Tracey was especially nice.