Hoewal, Rhydolion Holidays – a guest reviewer!

Take a look at this fab review by a guest writer – the lovely Jools telling us all about her trip to stay at Hoewal Cottage at Rhydolion Holidays on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, a really detailed and helpful review for those with accessibility requirements!

Time of stay: 2019.
Staying – 4 adults, including one permanent wheelchair user.

We booked through the “Best of Wales” holiday cottage booking site, looking specifically for an adapted cottage. We booked their six-bed cottage, though our party comprised of only four adults. Our daughter and son-in-law have stayed in adapted accommodation multiple times before, and have noted that for some people, the word “adapted” can be a very loose term. However, the booking gave the option of three different shower chairs for the wetroom, as well as a hoist for the bedroom attached. It also promised level access throughout, so it looked as though our wheelchair user would be accommodated for.

We were heading for Rhydolion from two different places in the UK, and although the booking form stated that parking was available on site, we thought it as well to check that there would be two spaces available. Rhydolion is a working farm, as well as being a holiday site, but we were assured there would be ample space to put both vehicles without compromising the day-to-day running of the farm.

We arrived at Rhydolion on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and were utterly delighted with what we found. As promised there was more than enough parking, and right outside the door of “Hoewal”, the cottage where we were staying. It was part of a complex of four cottages and a games room, ranged around one half of the large yard, which were clearly converted sections of the farmhouse and farm outbuildings. “Hoewal” had evidently had an extension which, it transpired, was to facilitate the inclusion of the wetroom.

The front door opened into a large lounge, which included a log burner at one end of it. This space opened into a dining area, from which access to the enclosed yard was gained via patio doors. At the other side of the dining area was a galley kitchen, which had plenty of space for wheelchair access and a large larder-style fridge-freezer, as well as a modern, well-appointed kitchen supplied with a washing machine, dryer, microwave and toaster, as well as a halogen hob and electric oven.

The bedroom with wetroom was accessed via a door from the lounge, and the double bed in the room had the advantage of being an electric adjustable bed. The large wetroom opened up off this bedroom, giving privacy and ample space for changing etc.

The other bedrooms and a second bathroom were accessed from the opposite side of the lounge, via a short hallway. The double room had access for a wheelchair at one side of the bed, and the twin room easily accommodated a wheelchair as well. The second bathroom contained a jacuzzi bath and the toilet in this bathroom had adjustable grab rails around it.

Our wheelchair user immediately set about exploring the cottage, and was delighted to be able to access every room with ease. He was pleased to see how much space there was in all the rooms, as he has found in other accommodation that it hasn’t been possible for him to get about everywhere within the building.

The cottage was beautifully decorated and very comfortable. The gas central heating boiler was in a wooden cupboard in the corridor towards the second bathroom, and the cottage was cosy throughout the cool evenings in early May. On arrival, we found a plate of home-made bara brith waiting for us, along with a jug of fresh milk alongside tea and coffee – a lovely, thoughtful touch from the owners. On reading Rhydolion’s own website, it transpires that Kathryn makes celebration cakes to order, for anyone booking the cottages for a special birthday or anniversary.

There was free wifi in the cottage, of sufficient capacity to accommodate the usage required by all four of us. The views from the adapted bedroom and from the enclosed yard were gorgeous, uninterrupted vistas of Llyn Peninsula farmland. At night it was so quiet we could hear the waves crashing on to Hell’s Mouth beach (Porth Neigwl on the maps) about a mile away across the fields, and the skies were so dark it felt as though we could see halfway across the galaxy. We watched shooting stars and satellites most nights, as the weather was kind to us and stayed sunny on most days.

The farm also has a field across the lane from the farmyard for camping and for touring caravans, the laundry room for which is at the other end of the run of cottages from “Hoewal”. The games room is a shared facility for the camping/caravanning area and the cottages. Behind the enclosed yard at “Hoewal” is the play area for both sets of visitors, but as we were staying during term time we didn’t see or hear many little ones.

There was an extensive information folder in the cottage, giving details not only of the cottage and its facilities, but the history of the area, and places to visit and eat in the locality.

Abersoch village is an easy five-minute drive away through the lanes, but due to its restricted parking and lack of grocery shops (it has become a tourist village in the years since I visited with family as a child), we shopped in Pwllheli, about a quarter of an hour away by car.

Pwllheli’s central carpark has free parking for blue badge vehicles, and is the site of the weekly market on a Wednesday. It is well served with shops, having a good mix of big brand retailers (Lidl, B&M, Home Bargains, Subway) as well as smaller local shops. “Buffers” café at the railway station was soon a firm favourite, and the staff there were very accommodating for the large motorized chair our wheelchair user employed to help him travel around when we went out. They have a large undercover area behind the café, between the café and the railway station, supplied with fleece blankets for cooler days if you want to sit outside, but which had plenty of space and was easily accessed from the main building. Note – this area is not completely enclosed, and is part of the access for the railway station. Small or adventurous children would need close supervision in the outdoor seating area.

Rhydolion’s owners were very friendly and solicitous, chatting with us whenever they saw us, and always mentioning that if we needed anything, we should feel free to knock at the farmhouse door.

We can thoroughly recommend Rhydolion. Indeed, our wheelchair user stated that he had never before stayed in such ideal accommodation, and that he would be happy to move in there at a moment’s notice.

Sunshine in Port Sunlight

The hunt for somewhere a) fun for all 4 of us, b) somewhere that isn’t linked to cricket or basketball but is interesting to an 11 year old and c) accessible, is a regular challenge… Looking for something to do for an hour or two on a rare cricket-free Sunday, we decided to pay a visit to Port Sunlight Village on the Wirral, only a short distance away from us. There was some access information on the website, whether or not it would entertain an 11 year old and 7 year old remained to be seen….

What a lovely little place, as soon as you turn off the main road across the Wirral, you are transported back in time. Port Sunlight is a quaint and peaceful village built in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever to provide housing for the workers in his ‘Sunlight Soap’factory. Today the village has a museum, art gallery, beautiful gardens and a thriving community.

We started with a visit to the Port Sunlight Museum, parking was brilliant as we easily found a free spot outside the museum. There is level access to the museum, and the reception, exhibitions and shop are all on the ground floor. There is an accessible toilet and a lift to the tea room on the first floor. Entrance fee is very reasonable and there are carer/disabled visitor concessions.

The museum is fab for all ages, and you can take as long or as little as you like to wander around. The history and story of Port Sunlight is absolutely fascinating, I can honestly say I am a bit hooked *obsessed* and want to find out more…I won’t spoil the story too much by giving detail of all the exhibitions but not only will you find out more about Port Sunlight’s fascinating history including the architecture and the lively social scene, but also find out more about The Beatles, World War II and early marketing strategies for soap!

There is plenty for children to do with interactive activities. Our 2 were overly mystified by the concept of a phone that you couldn’t walk around with or check the cricket scores on…

After a wander around the shop we paid a visit to Number 22 next door, an opportunity to take a step back in time to a worker’s cottage furnished as it would have been in Edwardian times.

I think recreated spaces are wonderful at helping children really get a feel for history, and a trial run of wash day gave them an appreciation of the modern day washing machine!

After visiting Number 22 we were ready to hit the tea shop. The café at the Port Sunlight Museum was closed for a private function but the friendly staff directed us to the café at the very accessible Lady Lever Art Gallery directly across the road. We then had a wander around the open areas outside the museum and gallery just as the sunshine finally made an appearance, before (reluctantly *for me*) heading back into the 21st Century.

Next stop Portmeirion and Bournville to satisfy my new model village obsession….