The varied landscape and the three national parks of Wales atract many tourist all over the year. Popular activities include hill walking, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, kayaking and climbing. Some of the unique highlights of Wales include the world’s only continuous coastal path, hugging the shores for 870 miles; Europe’s longest zip line and the chance to explore over 600 castles. A more concentrated collection of turrets, baileys and moats can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Wales has a deep rooted history and culture. The Museum of Welsh Life, which focuses largely on the industrial past of Wales, is currently the most popular tourist attraction, with over 600,000 visitors annually.
No trip is complete without great food and drink. Wales’ offer has never been so exciting with plenty of chances to experience some of the best tastes the country has to offer not just in cafes and restaurants and by visiting the producers themselves but often by enjoying great Welsh breakfasts crammed with local produce.
Wales, particularly South East, is a big food destination. Monmouthshire is known as the Pear County, where there are many perry and cider makers. In the world of high quality food and drink, Monmouthshire punches way above its weight. Known as the Food Capital of Wales, the county is full of real, traceable food and drink, packed with flavour and perfectly presented.
Cider is called seidr in Welsh. Although alcoholic drinks have been made from apples in Britain since at least Roman times, cider-making as we know it today came over the channel with the Normans at around the 12th Century. It had swept across the border from Herefordshire into Wales by about the 14th Century. It became well established in the farming communities of the south-eastern part of Wales and in the region of mid-Wales adjacent to the English border, but the harsh Welsh mountains prevented its spread much further. The National Museum of Wales, St Fagan’s has a display bout the history of cider making in Wales and is an excellent resource for historical information.
The Heritage of Orchards and Cider Making in Wales was a Heritage Lottery funded project which ran for just over two years from 2016-2018, led by the Welsh Perry & Cider Society. Old unknown varieties of cider and perry trees were selected for DNA fingerprinting. This allowed us to gain genetic data and rule out any duplication of names/varieties. A selection of orchards containing all of the known Welsh cider & perry fruit trees was also monitored and reported on across the 2-year period for evidence of diseases, general tree health and cropping. Juice from the fruit was fermented in single variety trials for qualitative analysis – bringing this together in an online catalogue of ‘Welsh Heritage Cider and Perry Fruit Varieties’.
Smallhold production of cider made on farms as a beverage for labourers died out in Wales during the 20th century Cider and perry production began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this trend, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among producers. Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving cider from Wales a flavour noticeably different from ciders from nearby regions. As such, Traditional Welsh Cider was submitted for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and aproved in 2017.
Cider tourism is being developed in the past few years in Wales. Many producers wecome visitors and the Welsh Perry and Cider Society has published a guide book for visiting cider houses.
Welsh Perry and Cider Society also mantains a museum orchard at Llanarth, and they plan to plant 3 additional museum orchards in Erddig , Duffryn Gardens and the Aberystwyth University .
They are also developing cider trails” around Wales to visit producers and orchards.