Category: Bargain ideas

Walking/hiking in Wales – a weekend itinerary

We don’t walk enough!

Sure, we walk to after school activities, from our car into work, to the park occasionally and, on a few bleary eyed Monday mornings you may have even spotted us running to the school gates, but in general we live in a stunning part of the country with beautiful fields, woods and hills just minutes from our doorstep.

We seem too caught up in our day to day hustle and bustle to take a minute and appreciate the beauty all around us.

With this in mind we took a short weekend trip to one of our favourite pockets of the world: the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Three days of beauty, nature and quality family time with no screens. Yes, you read that right. No screens – I even surprise myself writing that!

Have a watch of our video (below) and check out our full itinerary on this page. We’ve included links to maps – and other stuff – for you to click on.

Day One: Henrhyd Waterfalls

1mile – 20mins there, 20mins back

Our trip started out with a quick 2.5 hour drive to our hotel in Ebbw Vale in South Wales.

The kids slept most of the drive and we didn’t even need to resort to ear splitting car songs to pass the time.

The highlight of this road trip is the beautiful Severn Bridge separating Wales from England – it’s a visual marker that you’re going from one world to another.

We stayed at a modest Premier Inn, which you always know is clean, reliable and well priced, but the best part about this particular Premier Inn is that directly next to it is a Brewers Fayre pub – more on why this is important later.

We made a quick stop at the Festival Park retail outlet, a three minute drive from our hotel, for a quick lunch and some new walking boots (did I mention we don’t do much walking?!)

Plus, I wasn’t going to argue with David when he told me I needed a new pair of boots. “Yes dear, if you say so,” I replied with a wry smile.

So, once we looked the part we headed off to our first stop, Henrhyd Waterfalls, which was about 40 mins away.

How to get a 6-year-old adventurer up for his first hike? Inform him the Batcave (yep, the actual one from The Dark Knight Rises) is just beyond those trees…and watch him go!

Henrhyd Falls Brecon Beacons Wales Dark Knight Rises

We decided to save the mountain for the next day, just in case we realised we were out of our depth early on.

The waterfall trek was a great starter hike and a magnificent adventure in its’ own right. A gorgeous, winding and moderately steep path guides you over wooden bridges and bubbling brooks to a stunning waterfall within 20 minutes.

Be warned: it was definitely not buggy friendly but with a firm grip on both of the children’s hands we all walked there without any meltdowns or accidents.

Your first view of Henrhyd Falls feels as though you’ve hit the jackpot but being able to cross behind the actual waterfall was an extra special memory that we’ll never forget.

The deafening noise of the waterfall made it feel as though we were in a blockbuster ourselves!!

The only thing I would have done differently here is bring a picnic as it was much more scenic to eat here rather than at an outlet shopping centre!

Tired and happy from a great first day we went for an early dinner at the pub next to our hotel.

Now, this pub may seem like any ordinary chain pub with decent food and affordable prices but with one big difference to anyone who’s ever dined with children: THERE IS A SOFT PLAY INSIDE THE PUB!!!

This meant that we were able to eat in peace and actually have a conversation without the need to hire a babysitter.

The quiet meal, after a long walk, was probably one of the best parts of the trip – I’m not even joking!!

Day 2: Pen-y-Fan

4 miles – Two hours there, One hour back

After munching down an all-you-can-eat breakfast, we now had the energy to tackle the biggest mountain in the south of the UK.

Pen-y-Fan rises 2,907 feet (886m) into the sky but it’s very much a “beginners” climb during the spring/summer.

I froze a large bladder of water (camelbak) that attaches to a big straw which pokes out of your rucksack. This meant we were able to sip cold water during the hike. We may have shared some germs but it beat carrying a bunch of water bottles.

It took around 50mins to drive to the base of Pen-y-Fan but it didn’t feel like that as there’s some stunning scenery to enjoy.

We easily found parking and filmed our “before” shots (watch the video for THE best intro to one of our vlogs ever).

Pen y Fan Life of Reilly

The excitement of starting up the mountain made the early part of the climb easy but after encouraging breaks, snacks and lunch, Samantha was “done” after one hour – and one mile!

She got onto David’s back and Dylan was on foot, with mummy’s burden being to keep the inspiration and hydration flowing freely for all.

Half way up the mountain David’s back was still holding strong but Dylan started to flag.

Going into it we told ourselves we had no problem making it halfway and turning around – it was meant to be fun after all – but while taking a break we saw a lovely group of people trudge past us literally carrying a man in a wheelchair.

It was one of his goals to make it to the top, and his friends and family were determined to make that happen for him.

We all looked at each other and even Dylan thought if he can do it so can we!!! Shout out to that guy – what an inspiration?!

Part of the way up Dylan hit another wall when we saw an obelisk dedicated to a little boy named Tommy Jones just one year older then Dylan, who got lost on the mountain and lost his life there. Pen Y Fan is beautiful and manageable but not to be underrated. We also found that the SAS use trails along the mountain on its hottest days weighed down with all their gear as a training exercise. This inspired Dylan once again and after 10 minutes of convincing and almost quitting he declared “come on then. Let’s just do it!” And off he went ahead of us!!!

Pen y Fan Life of Reilly Wales

It was a sweet sweet victory when we made it to the top and got our picture at the peak. We made it! An out of shape family with two little kids made it to the top of a mountain as a team. What an accomplishment!

As excited as we were to make it to the top we had totally underestimated the journey back down. What must go up must come down. And our four year old little trooper was not impressed with this inevitability. With lots of breaks and promises of a hot dog and ice cream at the bottom we made it!

Our pack mule Daddy made it in good spirits surprisingly until he realised that when Sammy said she “needed a wee” it meant she’d already done one… all down his back. His positively seemed to fly away in the wind after this point as well. We made it back to the bottom and got our promises hot dogs and ice creams and had a lovely wade in the ice cold streams. You may even find our carrier still sat there if you choose to go yourselves! *face palm emoji* Please can we all take a moment of silence here. RIP trusty carrier. You served us well.

Exhausted and hungry we headed back to the hotel for showers and a lovely long meal and run around in the soft play until we crashed in our bed. With kids being kids they somehow still had energy to play for hours happily in the soft play while David and I had a proper date night and a 3 course meal with drinks at a great price. As the hotel and activities we chose were so cheap we didn’t mind treating ourselves to whatever we wanted on the menu, after all, we earned it.

Day 3: Super-tubing

After our big adventures and a drive awaiting us we knew we needed something a bit lower key to fill our day. We found a place that did tubing, like a big slide on an inner tube down a hill, minutes from our hotel at the same Festival Park Retail Outlet. We were able to all have a go for a reasonable price but often there are Groupons available so be sure to check this out first. Although our legs were tired from the days before we had a great time taking turns speeding and spinning down the mountain before our drive home.

Tubing at Ebbw Vale Wales Life of Reilly

We managed to get away with a memorable weekend trip for the 4 of us with meals, hotels and activities for under £300. Not even including the priceless memories and relaxing quality time spent together far away from the normal stressors of everyday life. What started off as a daunting feet I wasn’t sure we would complete because a proud achievement we accomplished as a family. This little trip is one of my favourite hidden gems of England and Wales and if you have a few days to replicate it yourselves we’d love to see your pictures and hear your stories. You may even see us there as I’m inspired to try it again, this time with three kids in tow!

Be that annoying person that pays LESS for the same trip

Find cheaper flights and holidays – Seven Top Tips

January. It’s the month that no-one really likes: Christmas is over, you’re broke, you’ve eaten too much and you’re back at work, depressed – searching for something to look forward to.

January can put most people into a glass case of emotion. Source: Jalopnik.com

January can put most people into a glass case of emotion. Source: Jalopnik.com

What adverts do we see in the middle of every TV show?

Tanned people, skipping in slow-motion across an idyllic beach; Arnold Schwarzenegger “vel-coming” everybody to California from a table on a rock-pool; or the latest “viral” idea from a package holiday company with an annoying kid dressed as a shark dancing to a cool song that won’t stay cool for much longer.

They all make you want to throw your remote at the TV!

It’s time to go hard, or…go on holiday!

January? Really?

Booking a whole year ahead is the best time to get a good deal but it’s pretty hard to afford, and plan, another holiday while you’re still kicking sand out of your shoes from the last one.

In January, the travel industry applies pressure everywhere you look to “help you” beat the January blues, but I think it’s a pretty good month to book your tickets – especially with everyone in ‘sales’ mode.

Dylan cockpit web ready

Dylan found a cool way to save money: become a co-pilot!

You see, the big airlines (British Airways, Virgin Atlantic etc) usually have their sales on in January – it’s nearly impossible to find seats cheaper after this. The smaller airlines try to compete and the package holidays are still well-priced for the summer and will only get more expensive (unless you’re going to go for a late 1990s ‘Teletext Last Minute deal’ where you turn up at the airport with just a passport and a suitcase).

As I’ve said before, I always look around for the best deal on everything because I like using the money that I’ve saved to help pay for the next big purchase.

I’ve booked at least one long and short haul trip every year since I met Mrs R on a revolving dancefloor in Mexico in 2004 (that story will need its own blog post) and I’ve never paid the full price.

If you’d rather not have the hassle of spending a couple of hours on your computer to save a few hundred quid, go and book your holiday now (or skip to Tip 6) but to be fair, if you’re that kind of person you’re probably not still reading this article, anyway!

For everyone else, here are the Life of Reilly tips to help you save some hard-earned cash:

Top Tips to save money on any trip

1. Grab a beer or glass of wine

Good tip, huh?! You’re going to be on your computer for a little while, so get relaxed and settle down for some super-searching.

If you’re looking at a long haul trip, I think it’s best to book your Flight and Hotel separately (there are exceptions) but if you’re going for a two-week, all-inclusive trip in Europe, then stick with the package holiday theme.

2. Go to a big-name travel company/airline’s site

If you’re flying long-haul find a guide price at the airline that you’ve got most Air Miles with, whether that’s British Airways, Virgin Atlantic or Delta.

If you’re looking for a package holiday, go to a major holiday company website, like Thomas Cook or Thomson. They usually have a really nice, user-friendly layout with great photos, videos and easy to understand pricing so you can pick a resort that you want to search on some no-so pretty sites.

Note down the prices of the dates that you want to travel. Make sure you check a midweek flight, as these are normally cheaper.

3. Check the comparison sites – and ours!

You may have found a good price for your British Airways flight in their sale but you can usually buy it cheaper through a smaller travel company. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to put the flight you found – and dates – into a Comparison site, such as Skyscanner (flights only), Travel Supermarket (flights and packages) and LastMinute.com (flights and packages).

This should have knocked a couple of hundred off the total flight price, and maybe more than a grand from a package. They will tell you the company that the cheapest offer is with: note that down.

Our website also gets sent loads of great offers every month. So make sure you check our Voucher Codes page to see if you can save some money with our help!

4. Go to that cheapest site

Now you know where the cheapest flight is from, head on over and see if it’s even cheaper via their own website. Sometimes they give the best deal to the comparison site, but quite often they don’t. You may not have heard of this company you’re looking up but the comparison sites should only send you to legitimate companies. If you’re worried, keep an eye out for the ABTA and ATOL logos.

You should now know where your  best deal is. Don’t get the credit card out yet, we can still save more!

5. Check the online big-boys (flights only)

Quite often, the internet travel giants, Expedia, Opodo, eBookers, Booking.com etc, will have special exclusive deals with an airline, so just check one of these to make sure you’re not missing a bargain.

6.  Get some cashback

Did you know you can get cashback on most major purchases? We’ve got more than a grand back via Top Cashback in the last few years. There are others out there too, Quidco is the other big one.

Choose one of these providers – unless you’re more thrifty than even I am and you want to check both – and search the name of the company that offered you cheapest deal, whether it’s Virgin Atlantic, Thomson, lowcostholidays, they’re usually all on there!

You could get anything between 1% and 15% cashback, just for clicking through this site and then booking in the normal way! We got £65 ($95) off our flights to California last summer – and money off hotels, car hire, airport parking etc.

7. Seal the deal

Now it’s time to book your dream holiday! Congratulations – think of us when you’re spending that extra money at your swim-up bar!

You can go through the same process again to add a hotel, car hire, airport parking and Travel Insurance and more.

Let us know how you get on and how much you save on our next trip!
**CLICK HERE TO GO TO OUR HOLIDAY/FLIGHT DEALS AND VOUCHER CODES PAGE**

 

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