Inclusion and warmth – Emily’s stay at Bwthyn Creigiau
On the 9th February, I was invited by the Vickridges family for a three night stay at Bwthyn Creigiau, inclusive accommodation for holiday makers with additional needs and their families. After an incredibly sunny drive from Leeds to Llangain, Carmarthenshire via the A483, I was to discover that I’d gain much more than an accessible stay in beautiful surroundings.
On arriving at Bwthyn Creigiau in the evening, I was greeted by Clare and Monty the dog, who was delighted to meet me, if slightly confused by my wheelchair! Clare and David Vickridge have converted the gorgeous Bwthyn Creigiau, a former barn and piggery dating back to the late 1700s, after noticing the niche that needed to be filled for families requiring a holiday with a greater level of access and inclusivity due to disability or illness. One thing is for certain: this place definitely delivers. Only ten minutes’ drive away from the stunning Llansteffan beach and Scott’s Bay, Bwthyn Creigiau offers tranquility and space, with the city of Carmarthen only a stone’s throw away for restaurants and attractions. But one thing that really impressed me, aside from the peacefulness that forced me to stop and appreciate everything around me, was the real focus on luxury that the Vickridges have dedicated so much time and effort to. I have visited many places offering inclusive accommodation, but none have made me feel quite as special as my time at Bwthyn Creigiau did. It is rare that functionality and aesthetics go hand-in-hand without one being ignored for the preference of the other, but I truly felt that I could live in this amazing cottage and a month later, I still do. For someone who makes a living out of visiting these places, that’s saying something.
On entering the cottage, one thing that really struck me was how airy and bright the space was. With large windows and doors scaling the walls on either side of the cottage, it is easy to feel as though you are part of the beautiful natural surroundings and colourful flowers, even when inside! The Vickridges’ attention to detail also became apparent very quickly; there was something about Bwthyn Creigiau that upgraded it from well-planned and welcoming holiday accommodation to a luxurious home. They’d gone the extra mile to ensure comfort and enjoyment, and it immediately showed.
The cottage is mostly situated on one level, with just one of the three bedrooms on the first floor, up a flight of wooden stairs. The kitchen/dining/living room is a vast open space, filled with colour and comfort. The worktops and tables accommodated my wheelchair seamlessly, and I found I was able to fry a couple of eggs for breakfast without having to peer into a frying pan above me – a rarity! I was able to reach and use all equipment with confidence and ease, and such simple situations like this continued to provide me with a welcomed ‘boost’ throughout my stay; there’s even a bath AND a wheel-in shower in the bathroom, giving visitors a choice that won’t necessarily depend on their ability - result! Another thing that I was happy to see was that one of the three bedrooms (the cottage sleeps six adults in total, plus a cot if necessary) had a king size double bed, something that is seldom seen in accessible or adapted accommodation. I could quite envisage my boyfriend and I having a romantic weekend away, proving again that Clare and David really have achieved their goal of providing for all, regardless of ability.
It wasn’t just the accommodation that made my trip a real winner. Clare and her son Joseph had great knowledge of the surrounding areas, and provided many leaflets and suggestions so that I could find something to do that tickled my fancy. I helped to take the dogs on a walk on Llansteffan beach, which has a flat, easy-access pavement so that all can breathe in some fresh air. Clare and Joseph were also desperate to take me to Xcel Bowl, where Joseph works part-time in between his college studies, and what a great decision it was to go. Xcel is much more than a bowling alley, it’s a community hub based upon the value of helping others. The alley itself is fully adapted, with ramps, toilets, and bowling slides to enable everyone to hit as many pins as possible. However, the alley also has a restaurant, and runs community groups throughout the week to ensure that all have a place to feel safe and meet others. In addition, Xcel has a discounted furniture store, to assist those who find themselves in difficult personal situations or financial crisis, and the kindness of the staff really blew me away. To know that anyone who visits Bwthyn Creigiau will also receive a warm welcome at Xcel is fantastic, and all the more reason to enjoy a peaceful, luxurious break here.
The Vickridges are truly a wonderful family to stay with, and I feel as though I made solid friendships during my stay in Llangain. Their warmth and willingness to help did not go unnoticed, and what is really amazing is the fact that the Bwthyn Creigiau venture grew out of the family’s own experience when Joseph was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia at a young age and they were unable to find holiday accommodation that suited their additional needs. I was inspired by their practicality and attention to detail in all they offered, and truly appreciated their openness in sharing their lives with me for a few days. It’s definitely not the last they’ve seen of me, and I hope many more visitors will come away from Bwthyn Creigiau feeling as recharged and thankful as I did.
To find out more and book, please visit: www.westwalesholidaycottages.co.uk/bwthyn-creigiau
Emily Rose Yates – Accessibility Consultant and Travel Writer.