“ Located in the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, this campground is ideal for nature lovers wanting to cycle, walk, canoe etc... „
My other half and I decided we would go camping for our holiday last year. I had been camping before, only in back gardens really, as a kid of course. He had never been and we were unsure as to whether he would actually like it or not. We both like our creature comforts. Luckily I am not one of those women, which uses hair straighteners every morning or worries about slumming it a bit.
So we decided to buy a tent and an air bed and booked a pitch.
Then came the next decision, only this one was more important, where were we going to go camping. We thought about the Lake District and Forest of Dean but finally Wales was our choice and the search for the site we wanted to stay at began.
My other half took charge of this side of things and found a couple he liked the look of but Pencelli blew them out of the water!
Pencelli is pronounced pen-keth-lee
At the time of writing this review they have 43 awards! I wont bore you by telling you about every award but they won campsite of the year in 2002 and 2006. They have even won loo of the year several times! What an accolade! Also among the awards is a David Bellamy conservation award.
Their website shows everything you need to know to decide if this site is really for you and can be found at www.pencelli-castle.co.uk I will give you my experience and views on the site more than too much of the technical side, if you want that look on the website.
When we decided on this campsite I called to ask a few questions that we had. My other half wanted to check if the car would be in a car park or right next to our tent. Not having been before we were rather unsure of these things. The man who answered the phone was extremely helpful and friendly and answered all my questions without hurrying me or making me feel like I was in any way wasting his time.
We booked a pitch for the beginning of June and kept our fingers crossed that the weather would be good and that the site would be as good as it had seemed.
The season is divided into the following periods:
Low - 1st November to 31st March
Mid - 1st April to 31st May; 1st September to 31st October
High - 1st June to 31st August; Bank Holidays & New Year
Costs vary depending on which season you visit as shown below.
Motor home and caravan
------------------------------------- Low -------Mid--------High
2 people sharing---------------£16---------£17--------£19
Extra Child (5-15 years)------£4.50-------£5---------£5.50
Under 5 years------------------------------ Free ------------
Gazebo- if space permits------£3----------£3----------£3
Tents (per person)
Child (5-15 years)-------------£4.50--------£5 -------£5.50
Under 5 years-------------------------------Free --------------
Gazebo- if space permits------£3-----------£3----------£3
At the time we were living in Essex and it was a long drive all the way to the Brecons! When we got there, we pulled in to a small car park with a reception and shop in one as well as a toilet and shower block and other facilities next to it. We went in and found out about where to pitch up and how things worked. The woman working at the time was helpful and friendly.
The site is in three sections, two of which are caravan pitches, the orchard and the oaks. Where we would be is the tent area known as the meadow. We drove down to what we had expected to be just a field but were pleased to find a lovely grass area surrounded by trees and plants next to a hill covered in sheep. There was a section in the centre of the main part of what essentially was a field, with more trees in for cover and four picnic benches dotted around. There were only three other tents pitched so we decided to go to an area which had no tents and have peace.
We pitched our tent under a huge oak tree which we later found out is the oldest oak in the area. It was by an embankment going down to the canal. Those with young children would probably not want to camp near there though.
The tent went up pretty quickly for our first time! Not even any swearing!
We were comfortable and warm enough as the weather was actually very kind we only had one iffy day and it was very warm, we even managed a bit of a tan!
We couldn't get over just how quiet it was apart from the sheep. It is so relaxing hearing nothing but an occasional baaa. That said, about once or twice a day military aircraft go overhead rather low, which is rather noisy but it isn't often and it could be far worse!
I am sure that during the school holidays that the campsite is nowhere near as quiet as we found it. The social side would be quite nice, children can play together and the adults get to talk.
The shower block was a few minutes walk away from where we were camping, no more than five minutes. Not all that far at all, until you wake in the middle of the night needing to pee! I know too much information but my bladder didn't like that part much but it was worth it! The site is well lit at night so walking about isn't that bad but we found torches useful.
The showers and toilets are amazingly clean, far better than we expected even though we knew they had so many awards (which are on the wall outside reception) they don't smell and are cleaned twice a day to make sure the standards are kept up. These times are the same each day and you are asked to try and avoid using them at these times but there are always toilets available if you should need them in the shape of the two family rooms, which double as disabled (category 2) facilities.
The showers are in cubicles with plenty of room to make sure you can change easily and keep your clothes dry. I had no problems with having to wait for a free one but as I said it was not during the school holidays. Where people shower at different times it shouldn't be too much of an issue though. There are also wash cubicles so that you can have privacy.
There is also an information room, there is plenty of local information, bird species posters and leaflets about attractions in the surrounding area. In this room there is also Internet access but this isn't free. A wash room to do your dishes, which has about 6 sinks from memory. A laundry room means that you can pack less and just do some washing during a long stay this makes life much easier.
The reception doubles as a small shop. There are the essentials such as bread, milk, cheese, ham (which was gorgeous!), tins, chocolate and ice cream. You could easily manage on just what is sold in the shop but it is more expensive than buying in a supermarket, as you would expect.
The bread they sell is ordered from a local supplier and delivered daily. This sells out pretty quickly as it is popular, you can place an order the day before to make sure you get your loaf or rolls.
The shop is open for a few hours in the morning and the afternoon but shut for several hours midday so that work around the site can be done, as there are only a few members of staff and a lot to do.
The staff were very nice, two elder gentlemen and an older lady who could not have been more helpful, warm and talkative. They were always asking about our plans and making conversation and seemed genuinely interested. They made the visit far better because of their sunny dispositions. The site is owned by a couple that are also very nice and seemed to love the place and be very proud of all they have achieved there.
There is a small play park and grass area for the children to use but they should be supervised obviously. Right next to this is a high wire fence that encloses some red deer. They come right up near the fence and are a lovely addition to the park. On alternating days it is either the does out or the big stag with his amazing antlers. Even though we have no children we went and had a good look and were really taken with them.
Our stay was really enjoyable and we are planning to go back again this year for a few days as we cant face going anywhere else and finding that it just doesn't live up to Pencelli castle.
Just down the road from the site entrance is a lovely little pub with fantastic staff. They do a gorgeous menu that is not expensive and the pub wasn't crowded and noisy. We went back twice and we only stayed four nights.
Pencelli itself is a small village, which is very picturesque. There are major towns nearby, Abergavenny, Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil.
The park is open almost all year round, they only shut for three weeks and that is in December!
There is a lot to do in the surrounding area, as if the Brecon Beacons wasn't enough of a draw itself! Military Museum, Brecknock Museum, Theatre Brycheiniog, Tretower Court & Castle, Brecon Mountain Railway, Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre and Canal Barge trips.
I highly recommend this campsite to anyone. It is clean, reasonably priced, friendly, has good facilities and is situated in a fantastic place. What more could you possibly want!
If I have made you a little curious look at their website and you will be sold!
(The prices are those listed on the website 06.08)