PICTURE the glorious rolling hills of the west Welsh coast, miles of sprawling white sands and quaint country cottages.
Welcome to the often-overlooked Carmarthenshire, the charming Garden of Wales that would rival many European holiday hotspots, packed with hidden cove beaches, medieval castles and even vineyards.
Just east of the Coast National Park in Pembroke, the region is a paradise for all things outdoors.
Pendine beach stretches as far as the eye can see and, at low tide, visitors can walk for miles along the limestone boulders on the shoreline.
Llanelliâs Millennium Coastal Park, which spans 12 miles through marshland and green parks, is home to an extensive bird sanctuary with coastal species and flamingos.
The best views, though, are those of the magnificent valley which can be seen from Dinefwr Castle.
Itâs a challenging trek and youâll have to scale rolling hills, but the scenery makes the hard work worth it.
We rewarded our efforts with a hearty brunch at the nearby Wrightâs Food Emporium (shop.wrightsfood.co.uk), which serves bubble and squeak and freshly-baked cakes.
As well as walking routes, these lands are a haven for foragers.
A coastal foraging session with expert Craig Evans and dog Llew is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an absolute must for foodies.
Over several hours, Craig taught us how to locate prawns, crabs, and lobsters, plus coastal-growing fruit and veg.
Our fishy finds were cooked there and then in the sand, atop a hand-made stove, while we watched the sun set over the sea.
If youâre after classic Welsh grub that you donât have to cook yourself, grab a quick snack and a bottle of Welsh-brewed tipple from The London House Butchery in Whitland.
The shop stocks everything from pies made with local meat, fresh bread, home-made jams and chutneys to Welsh-brewed rum, wine and award-winning Carmarthenshire gin.
Sweet-toothed visitors should head to Frankâs Ice Cream Gelateria and Innovation Hub, whose products are stocked in supermarkets worldwide.
Guests can watch resident chef Georgio whip up a batch of Welsh cake or Turkish delight ice cream in a kitchen built for flavour experimentation.
Scoops are served in cones, on crepes, even inside cakes.
BLOOMING GRAPE VINES
Wash it all down with a freshly-brewed coffee, ground in-house at Coaltown, which sources raw beans from across the globe..
If thatâs not your thing, then across the car park is a Lleathdy Beynon milk vending machine which uses fresh milk from the local dairy to whip up milkshakes.
Looking for a tipple? Nestled among the hills of small town Whitland, Jabajak Vineyard offers a cracking cellar door wine-tasting experience beside their blooming grape vines.
The family-run firm creates up to six varieties of The White House wines, named thanks to the on-site hotelâs ties to the second president of the US, John Adams.
Jabajak also serves gourmet food and has eight bespoke rooms, each offering views of the Welsh countryside.
If you want to be closer to the National Park coastline, Picton House sits just minutes away from the beach, with dog-friendly rooms and a swanky bar downstairs.
Spain may get the hot weather, but Carmarthenshire has everything you would want in a holiday â and you donât need a flight to get there.
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