Earlier this year I spent 48 hours chomping my way around the foodie delights of Carmarthenshire, flitting from restaurant to restaurant on a jam-packed press trip organised by the local tourist board, Discover Carmarthenshire. A hard gig, but someone had to do it…
The base for the whirlwind weekend was the gorgeous Glan-Yr-Afon cottage, an idyllic riverside retreat in a former Welsh wool mill, recently renovated by outdoorsy couple, Tanya and Duncan. Though I didn’t get to spend as much time in it as I’d have liked, the cottage still left a lasting impression and I knew I’d be booking a return visit very soon (in fact, this is where I’ve booked my escape-from-it-all mini-moon later this year).
Fast forward a few months since our first visit, and there’s a secluded new hideaway waiting to be discovered at Cambrian Escapes
. Tucked away in the rafters of a 19th Century rambling stone barn, The Reading Room
is a quirky hayloft set amongst acres of lush, green countryside – full of exposed A-frame beams, luxurious soft furnishings, and beautiful reclaimed wood flooring.
When I messaged Tanya and Duncan to ask about available dates, they insisted that I play the guinea pig again and give their new DIY B&B
offer a try; a short stay at The Reading Room, coupled with a fridge full of local goodies to cook up a storm for breakfast. Oh go on then…
The Reading Room
The ‘room’ itself is entered via a solid stone staircase at the side of the barn, which leads straight into a large, open-plan living space, incorporating a kitchenette, small dining table, and cosy seating area. Big Chesterfield chairs and Welsh wool blankets practically beg to be enjoyed with a good glass of wine, and in the corner, a 1920s Gramaphone in perfect working order is a nice touch.
The hayloft has an airy feel and gets loads of natural light, but the place still manages to feel very warm and cosy.
It’s an environment that’s best enjoyed without turning on the TV or checking your phone – which was just what I needed after a mad couple of weeks in work.
By far my favourite feature of The Reading Room was the ‘bedroom’; a snug but luxurious, enclosed double cabin bed with carved scrolls, a stained glass window, and views into the barn below. Originally converted to allow the artist-owner to keep an eye on her horses in the foaling barn underneath, there are no longer any animals, but we did see plenty of barn swallows flitting about in the rafters.
Pete’s favourite part of the Reading Room wasn’t technically in
the Reading Room. In fact, I had the almost impossible task of trying to drag him away from the large balcony on the side of the loft to have dinner with me. To be fair, I can see why he wanted to sit and admire the views for as long as possible…
At night you can also enjoy stargazing here (as this is a designated dark skies area
), with plenty of blankets and cushions provided – the log burner comes in pretty handy, too.
One cosy night of drinking-wine-on-the-balcony later, and we were looking forward to a decent breakfast. And it’s a good job, because Tanya and Duncan are not messing around with the portions here, oh no!
As a rule, their DIY B&B breakfast will always include a healthy, homemade fruit shot, cereal (e.g muesli or granola), artisan bread from Iechyd Da in Llandovery
, and a selection of preserves. And once the continental course is out of the way, then there’s a cooked breakfast to tuck into; with meat sourced from Matthews Butchers in Llandovery
, and homemade veggie and vegan options available too.
My cooked breakfast included homemade baked beans, scrambled tofu, Irish soda bread and four delicious veggie sausages (two of which were also vegan).
Meanwhile, Pete tucked into local sausages and bacon from the butchers, along with two huge, organic eggs from the ducks in the garden.
The best part? You don’t need to worry about the washing up, because there’s even a built-in dishwasher 😁
Stay at The Reading Room
Prices for a one night, DIY B&B at the Reading Room range from £105 to £150 depending on the season.
Check in is available from 4pm meaning plenty of time for countryside walks before you arrive, and check out is at noon – meaning time for a lie in, too.
Not really interested in creature comforts? Is Bear Grylls is more your vibe? You’re in luck; Tanya and Duncan also have a variety of private, secluded and absolutely beautiful wild camping spots, they were kind enough to give us the guided tour.
Some of the pitches are in private fields, others perched amongst trees or next to the river. To find out more about their wild camping pitches, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on local woodland walks and cycling routes, you should also check out the Cambrian Escapes’ blog: www.cambrianescapes.co.uk/Blog
My stay at the Reading Room was complimentary, courtesy of Cambrian Escapes.