The Bush Inn is described by some as the best pub in Wales. Maybe that’s why it’s so busy on Sunday, when I pop in for a pre-lunchtime drink with Chris and his father. I soon realise, however, that it’s full of local men who’ve escaped their womenfolk for a Sunday pint, so I decide to make an escape of my own. An excellent decision, as it turns out, for the village of St Hilary offers up a lovely walk taking in a treasure trove of a church and the surprise discovery of an eco-retreat.
|Round the bend|
Tucked away off a footpath round the back of the village, the Roundhouse Project is an alternative home built by archaeologist Dafydd Wiliam, modelled on a Celtic roundhouse. It has a timber framework, mud walls and a thatched roof (made from water reeds donated by the National Wetlands Centre in Llanelli) and it has taken Dafydd and three friends four years to build. Inside it’s open plan and cosy, thanks to the addition of glazed doors and double-glazed windows. The project aims to demonstrate the concept of low-impact and low-cost development, using only locally sourced materials – a wow factor that has been educational as well as enchanting, with hundreds of schoolchildren visiting the site over the years.
|It can also be flat-packed and moved|
I walk on to St Hilary’s little church, which dates back to the 14th century, and was restored in the 19th by that master of Victorian Gothic, Sir Gilbert Scott (St Pancras and the Albert Memorial). The church is surrounded by a leafy, tranquil graveyard, while the stained glass inside is elegantly restrained. I notice the Basset family tomb – the Bassetts used to run things around here – as well as the armour-clad effigy of Thomas Bassett, who died in 1423, his face a strangely haunting sight in the silent gloom of the church’s interior.
|Knave's in the hood|
It's all in peaceful contrast to our excursion the previous day, to Nash Point lighthouse on the the Vale's south coast. The skies were the brightest blue, but the ice-cold, gusting winds almost blew us off the cliffs and into the Bristol Channel. This time, when someone said ‘I’m off to the pub’, I was only too happy to follow.
|Perfect conditions for photography...|
|...but not for staying out of doors|