Hidden gems of wild west Wales

Ok, so they're not exactly secret, but they are places that perhaps few people know about, especially those who are visiting from faraway lands. As locals, we fforest elves love to explore the lengths of our coastline, vast countryside & woodlands, and if we happen to stumble across something quite special, the tendency is to keep it a bit of a secret! But some places are just too good not to share and with word spreading fast about a few of our top secret spots, we thought we'd tell you about some and, most importantly, how to reach them.

Traeth Bach

A short walk from Manorafon/ Penbryn, this spectacular coastal walk will bring you to Llangrannog eventually, but stop off half way and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful secluded beaches we know, 'Traeth Bach' (Little Beach), known to the locals as the secret beach. Its a difficult scamble down, but well worth it.

Walk time 45 mins Drive from fforest 25 mins /Manorafon 2mins Start Penbryn car park, head towards beach, then footpath past farmyard immediately on the right up to the hills. Notes take a picnic and spend the day in the most beautiful and relaxing surroundings, and have it all to yourself!

 

The witches cauldron

A high level coastal path walk with sheer drops and fascinating rock formations, you will arrive at the witches cauldron at the end of the walk- you can't miss it. A towering, collapsed cavern in which you can swim or canoe (both easily). Its a beautiful little sun trap on a good day; your own salty swimming pool complete with rock diving board. Take care with young children.

Walk time 1-2 hours Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path. Notes favourite spot for seals

 

Rosebush Quarry

Its only a very short walk to reach this spot. From the outside, you would never expect to find such a gem hidden at the centre of Rosebush quarry. Surrounded by rock and slate, the small freshwater lake is a calming and tranquil place. The translucent emerald green water is perfect for a swim but be warned, its pretty cold!

Walk time 10 mins Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 35mins Start at Tafarn sinc in Rosebush follow track for about 500m the quarry is nestled among the mounds to your right. Notes The quarry is equally as beautiful in rain or shine but visit on a warm sunny day and you will experience some truly magical scenery

 

Ffynone Waterfalls

Nestled deep in the Ffynnone woods is a beautiful clearing and impressive waterfall. Located in a secluded valley, ranging from fairly flat valley bottom to steep valley sides, the woods have four rivers and remnants of an ancient woodland - including veteran oaks - mainly located around the river system.


Walk time 30mins - 1 hour Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at The Nags Head pub in Abercych follow the lane with the pub on your right, you will reach a carpark enter the wood from here, follow the path & discover the waterfall deep in the centre of the woods Notes The falls are just deep enough to enjoy a chilly swim

 

baby seal beach

Also known as Pirate Cove / Rum Island, this beach is so secret that we don't even know how to give proper directions. Somewhere along the coastal path between Aberporth and Mwnt lies a tiny beach, home to many a seal and her pup. You have to choose the one and only way down to the beach off the path, very difficult to find, only a handful of walkers have dared to venture down the ridiculously steep cliff edge. If you do find the secret pathway, follow the zigzag all the way down where you will find yourself between two cliffs. A small waterfall trickles down from above, forming a river at the bottom that flows off the rocks, onto the beach and into the sea. Follow this river and you will find the beach. So if you see this seal, your best bet of finding the bay is to ask him for directions.



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fforest's favourite beaches on the coast of Ceredigion

If you're staying with us at fforest, you will no doubt have a busy itinerary already planned: Snoozing in front of the woodburner, sweating it out in the sauna, drinking welsh beers in the Bwthyn, eating delicious food in the lodge or venturing out to the Pizzatipi, exploring the surrounding fields & woodlands or staring blissfully into middle distance. Exhausting. Meanwhile, for the super energetic, all around us are some fantastic walks, beaches, places to visit and activities to try whilst you’re staying with us, so we've put together some easy guides featuring some of our favourite local spots to help you with your adventure planning.

Scroll down to see our chosen top 5 beaches on the Ceredigion coastline.

Penbryn


Penbryn beach is one of Ceredigion's most popular beaches. Owned by the National Trust, Penbryn lies between Tresaith and Llangrannog, two other popular coves linked by the Wales Coast Path, and a network of quiet wooded lanes. Walk time 30mins through the woods Drive from fforest 20mins /Manorafon 2mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head towards the woodland footpath and arrive at the beach at the end Notes On very low tide, explore the right hand side of the beach - beautiful rock formations, pools & cliff edges and a fabulous spot to watch the sun setting over the sea.

 

Mwnt


Visiting Mwnt's tiny secluded beach and climbing Mwnt is a highlight for many of our guests. Take a walk on the beach or climb Mwnt mountain, there are spectacular views all around. 
Walk time 30mins Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head straight up the hill or bear right and walk around the lower path for frequent views of seals and dolphins. Notes The sunset view from the top of Mwnt is something not to be missed.

 

Llangrannog


Llangrannog is probably the most picturesque seaside town of Ceredigion and the small beach there is just as beautiful. On low tide walk over to the right and discover Llangrannog part two, but be careful not to get cut off over there on high tide!
Drive from fforest 25mins/Manorafon 5mins Notes 'Carreg Bica' is the defining feature of Llangrannog beach. Its big, bold & wave-shaped, and is probably the most photographed rock of west Wales.

 

Ceibwr


A quieter beach just outside of Cardigan, its a perfect place to relax and have a picnic lunch with family & friends. If you're feeling adventurous, walk the cliff path to the witches cauldron, one of our favourite secret spots. Drive from fforest 15mins /Manorafon 20mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path to eventually reach the witches cauldron. Notes favourite spot for seals.

 

Aberporth


Aberporth beach will always hold a special place at the heart of fforest; it being the home of fforest chief and Sian. With two separate beaches, the right hand side is our favourite. Its also the backdrop to fforest chief's office shed.
Drive from fforest 15mins/Manorafon 10mins Notes The sunsets over the estuary are pretty spectacular.



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fforest's recommended places to eat, drink & buy fresh local produce

At fforest we can offer simple, good very tasty food and the right drinks; from breakfast to supper across our camps, restaurants and pubs. But in the local surrounding area, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants, pubs, cafes, and local markets & producers that offer some of the best food & drink in the west. In no particular order we've listed a few of our recommendations:

El salsa

Mexican street food of the highest and tastiest quality, El Salsa create authentic flavours and wholesome meals all from their mobile trailer kitchen. They're pretty hard to pin down these days having been snapped up by a number of festivals all over the country, but we're privileged to have them based in west Wales providing fabulously tasty festival-style food throughout the season. The founder, Laura Elsaesser, a qualified professional chef, is committed to sourcing ingredients locally; from farm fresh welsh beef, chicken & pork from the local butcher Golwg y mor in Aberporth, to her own home-grown tomatoes, chillies, tomatillos, salads & herbs. You won't find a fresher, healthier, tastier takeaway than El Salsa's. Follow them on Facebook to find out where to catch them.

Telephone 07772610561 Website

Crwst: The welsh micro bakers

Organic breads & seasonal patisserie style bakes all handmade by one highly skilled baker in his home kitchen. The people behind Crwst: Osian (the baker) and Catrin (the brain) are a young couple with a refreshing creativity that shows in their baked goods but also their micro baker concept. When they say micro they mean one baker and small-scaled yet skilled production all from their home kitchen. Find their produce in local shops (Siop Cilgerran, very near fforest farm or The Carrot Cruncher, Newcastle Emlyn - to name a couple!) OR find them every Thursday & Saturday at the Cardigan Guildhall market from 10am. This is where you'll find the fforest office elves every Thursday, without fail!

Telephone 01239 842 338 Website
 

The beach hut

The best fish and chips on the west coast, The Beach Hut Llangrannog is a family run chippy & cafe/restaurant. Its location is as close to the sea as you could possibly get, sat inside the cosy restaurant you will feel as if you're dining right on the beach. Open daily throughout the season to grab your fish & chips, a wholesome lunch or a tasty supper, or a tea & a slice of cake if you're just passing through. If you're staying at Manorafon, you could walk the beautiful coastal path from Penbryn to Llangrannog, working up an appetite for The Beach Hut at the finish line.

 Telephone 01239 654642  Website 
 

bara menyn

A bakehouse in Cardigan town centre. One of our favourites - freshly baked bread, great food & coffee. Their simple menu is based around their freshly baked sourdough and is constantly changing. In fact, you rarely get the same thing twice. The bread has the crumb, chew and flavour of dreams and we would be lost without it. Daily specials range from seasonal veg-packed soups, fresh fish pâtés, exceptional sarnies & herby salsas, all accompanied by the trademark Bara Menyn breads.

Telephone 01239 621863 Website

cardigan bay brownies

Its hard to beat a good homemade brownie, but local baker Nerys brings all the warmth, comfort and deliciousness of great home-baking to the people of Cardigan and beyond. We love her brownies so much that we asked her to collaborate on a new flavour for the Pizzatipi, and so this season, we welcome the arrival of the beetroot, salted caramel & dark chocolate brownie. Nerys has a humbling approach to home-baking and even though she has ridiculous numbers of brownies to bake on a daily basis, she always calls in the help of her two sons to taste-test. Due to popular demand, her bakes are now available to buy online, CBB also attends a regular slot at The Guildhall market in Cardigan, catch Nerys there every Thursday & Saturday from 10am, or come to the Pizzatipi to sample our new flavour!

Telephone 07403624801 Website

Mandy fish*

*also known as Cardigan Bay Fish. Len and Mandy Walters have been processing fish and shellfish caught by their own vessels for the past 14 years. Cardigan Bay is home to a vast array of wonderful fish and shellfish, says Mandy: "Wild bass, lobster, mackerel and crabs are only some of the flavoursome and healthy produce that can be found on our doorstep." And she means that literally, their home in St Dogmeals often opens up to the public when a fresh haul arrives. Villagers listen out for Mandy's voice shouting, "I'm out the back!" But if you've been listening out and have still heard nothing, perhaps a more reliable place to buy from Cardigan Bay Fish is the Local Producers Market in St Dogmeals. There you will find Mandy from 10-1 every Tuesday.

Telephone 01239 621043  Website

Glebelands market garden

A six acre holding situated between Cardigan & St Dogmaels, Glebelands are experts in growing and selling veg. Think farm shop/allotment, this is the perfect place to buy seasonal, locally grown vegetables & leafy greens. Supplier of salad to the Pizzatipi, the freshest of leaves in all shapes, sizes & tastes. We eat the lovely edible orange flowers too. As well as growing and selling luscious produce, Glebelands are also committed to promoting sustainable food production. They offer information to those interested in the vital work of sustainable food production and can give sound advice to those setting up market gardens.

Telephone 07511 546701 Website 

bessie's

A hidden gem in the Gwaun Valley - Pembrokeshire's secret wooden valley.  Bessie's (the Dyffryn Arms) is like stepping back in time with beer served from jugs through a hatch in what feels like someones living room. Not the sort of place you'd necessarily expect to find in Alastair Sawday's Pubs & Inns of England & Wales, but that said it does make it into The Rough Guide to Wales, where it manages to rate even higher than St David's Cathedral as one of the places to visit in the country. No matter what time of year you visit, Bessie is always sitting behind the bar wearing a dirty apron and a black mitten (fingerless in summer), ready for a chat. "We are all just passers-by in this life and I am happy to talk to anyone," she says.

Address Gwaun Valley Road, Pontfaen, Pembrokeshire, SA65 9SG Telephone 01348 881305



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Who knew you could ski in west Wales?! Discover days out in the area with friends & family

Castell henllys

Evocative Iron Age settlement set in the rugged, magical landscape of North Pembrokeshire. You can see how people lived in the Iron Age, what their houses looked like, how they dressed and how they went about their daily life. Enter the roundhouses and step back into the past, soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era and imagine what life must have been like for our ancestors.  

Telephone 01239 891319 Website

Heritage Canoes

The River Teifi has some of the most breathtaking otherwise unreachable stretches in Wales, Heritage Canoes has the only commercial contract to take you there. Winding towards the sea, the deep, tidal Teifi Gorge is a unique environment where fresh and salt waters meet and the species it is home to forms one of the most varied aquatic landscapes in the country. The gorge offers safe, gentle river paddling in open canoes for people of all ages and abilities. With the river flowing lazily past ancient woodland and wildlife habitats, a canoe trip should be high on your list of must-do’s on your holiday. 

Telephone 01239 623633 Website

Urdd centre

Fancy skiing in West Wales? You can do just that! Not far from Manorafon, the Urdd Centre is just outside of Llangrannong & has a dry ski slope, horse-riding, go-karts, indoor swimming pool & lots more.

Telephone 01239 652140 Website

National Wool museum

Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding history. Re-opened in 2004 following major re-development, this flagship museum is a exciting place to visit with something for everyone to enjoy. Families can have fun following the specially designed trail, 'A Woolly Tale', and create their own guide to making and using woollen cloth, trying their hand at carding, spinning and sewing along the way.

Telephone 0300 1112333 Website

THEATR MWLDAN

Mwldan is a vibrant arts and entertainment complex situated in the centre of Cardigan. It presents a year-round diverse and eclectic professional programme of national and international artistic activity across a wide range of artforms, including drama, music, dance, film, literature, opera, visual and applied arts. They also have one of best film programmes in Wales, offering over 3,000 screenings a year including both mainstream and specialist film releases.

Telephone 01239 621200 Website

Folly Farm

Folly Farm is a fun-packed day out for families with toddlers & young children. It's not just a farm either - it also has a zoo with penguins, lions, zebras & giraffes. For those wet days that we occasionally get in West Wales there is plenty to do indoors here too including the jolly barn & adventure playground.

Telphone 01834 812731 Website



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The brothers of fforest Pizzatipi in Cardigan

It started with cardboard dough and good times...

2009
The Pizzatipi started in 2009 between the 2 warehouses across the river from the Pizzatipi. Outside the then Cafe, now our offices, Mum & Dad (Sian & James) invited some friends over to make pizzas in an oven local craftsman/baker Tom Bean built. Really, no one had a clue what they were doing (see image of rolling base with a wine bottle) but the pizza was amazing and they had a laugh.

2010
We broke that oven pretty quickly so the next year we bought a new one from a man in Gloustershire and set it up in the now Pizzatipi courtyard offering people to make their own pizzas... Terrible idea, absolute mayhem. Dad was on the paddle raging infront of a fire hotter than the sun. The pizzatipi nearly died an early death.

2011-2013
We got another oven, the same ones we have now and we went from just friday nights to Thurs-Saturday nights with a small menu booze license. We had bar in the corner of the room that's still the bar with a cool box full of Pen Lon beers and Gwent Y Ddraig ciders.

2014
A top Aussy bloke called Josh joined us and we opened from Mon-Saturday, got a fridge for the beers and started to get pretty busy, constantly not making enough dough.

2015
We took over where Josh left off and merged the cafe and Pizzatipi into 1.

2016
We opened 7 days a week through the summer and we hardly slept.

2017
We're buying our first proper oven! Hopefully we'll be just as busy as last year.

We love pizza. Everybody loves pizza. We had the space and the willing, so we moved the cafe over to the other side of the river to our bigger riverside courtyard. Soon after, we decided that pizza was the way forward. We erected two giant hat tipis, created a covered outdoor space to house our two clay, woodfired pizza ovens and built a small bar, that would eventually become a big bar, all in one comfortable, beautiful, tranquil space by the riverside. That's when the brothers took over and they've been in charge of project pizza for the past 5 years.

We make everything on sight at the Pizzatipi and source ingredients locally. We have been perfecting our secret dough recipe since the very beginning and after 6 years, we might just have nailed it. Our dreamy daily baked focaccia is as light as air, hence its nickname 'cloud bread' and our fresh leafy greens are picked up daily from Glebelands market garden just up the road. The pizza sauce, the toppings, the salads, the breads, the bases are all made or prepared by our own fair hands... a process and approach passed down by Pizzatipi's elder: fforest.

Each year we are so pleased to welcome back and recognise some familiar faces; from friends & family to holiday makers & fforest dreamers, and never forgetting our loyal local customers. We love to bring you a great day/ evening out which is why we have some great events planned and live music every weekend over the Summer holidays.

The Brothers

Teifi (youngest,18yrs) is the dough boy, everyday he prepares each individual pizza base ready for rolling. He is also in charge of baking the daily cloud bread. Teifi's favourite pizza is a meatball & chilli with a few bits of red onion. Calder (20yrs) is king paddler. As well as being top dog in the pizza shack, he is mostly in charge of not burning your pizza. His pizza of choice is a simple with blobs of fresh pesto. Robbie (21yrs) is the leading pizza topper, he can top a pizza in a record time of 4.6 seconds. Robbie's preferred pizza changes daily as he always chooses from the specials board. Jackson (oldest, 26yrs) does a bit of everything but is mostly seen carrying a clipboard around and checking everything is in order. He enjoys a simple mozzarella with fresh basil & a burnt crust.

In July 2016, our friends from Flatspot visited fforest and the Pizzatipi. They took a good look around fforest farm and the Tipi, took some great photos of the brothers at work and even collaborated on a limited edition Flatspot pizza (meatball, red onion, gherkin, chilli + a sesame seed crust - wow). See the photos below...

The Pizzatipi is open seasonally from 12-9pm everyday.
Come and say hi!

Visit the website here



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Looking to trees, flowers & seaweed, Hazel Stark uses all natural dyes for her textiles

Hazel is a London based designer-maker creating unique textiles through natural processes. In researching and developing her natural dyeing methods, Hazel has tried and tested formulas that can produce exquisite colours. She works with only natural ingredients: from trees, plants & flowers to seaweed.

Hazel decided to leave the big smoke to spend a Summer with us working as a Pizzatipi chef; helping to come up with tasty salads, desserts and pizza specials. That was three years ago and she's been a great friend of fforest ever since. We are huge admirers of Hazel's work. We got to learn lots about it during the time she spent with us at the Pizzatipi, so it was a no-brainer that we should invite her to share her knowledge and artistic skill with us and our fforest Gather guests.

Last year, Hazel led her brilliant natural dyeing and indigo dyeing workshops at fforest farm; foraging for plants and flowers to then be used to dye fabric. Hazel's workshops are insightful and fulfilling as a result of dyeing fabrics naturally with plants and flowers foraged by your own hands. You learn so much and are astonished at the array of beautiful colours you can produce from natural dyeing recipes. We're very excited to have Hazel back with us for both weeks of Gather this August.

Nettle, blackberry & ragwort



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Illtud Llyr Dunsford: A humble Welsh farmer sharing his passion for charcuterie 

Illtud Llys Dunsford is not only an award winning Charcutier and a Nuffield scholar, he is committed to and passionate about conscious food production. 

Recently made chairman of the slow food movement in Wales, his products are delicious and wonderful and of the highest quality. We are very lucky to have had him at fforest to teach us all about charcuterie and sausage making at Gather last year, he will be joining us again for both weeks in August for his second year as a fforest Gather contributor - we cannot wait! 

Read a short history of Illtud's first steps in starting his now thriving business...

'So how did this little business come about? Well, firstly I should introduce myself – I’m Illtud Llyr Dunsford, it’s a bit of a mouthful I know! I’m sometimes known as Illtud, sometimes as Llyr and quite often known by my nickname ‘Bob’ too. I’m from a farming family, and we’ve been rearing animals here in Carmarthenshire for a couple of centuries now. Although I was born and brought up in Cardiff, my weekends and holidays were spent on the family farm, and when the opportunity arose, I moved to the farm to live in 2004.
As a family we’d always reared animals for ourselves – turkeys, chickens, ducks, lamb, beef and pork. Having a real passion for cooking it seemed like a natural progression for me to take over the reigns when it came to processing our animals. One animal in particular had a special place in my heart – the pig. We’d always salted our pork in the traditional Carmarthenshire method, encasing the animal in salt in a slate tray before hanging and air drying. Using traditional family recipes as a base I expanded my repertoire of produce and developed various new processes. Some things worked and some didn’t, but I loved the thrill of experimentation.
One year I salted a leg, but unfortunately I hadn’t managed to get enough salt around the bone which resulted in a miss-cure – the following year I decided to de-bone the leg, splitting it in two prior to salting. Unbeknown to me, I was making a variation of Culatello, one of the most prized Italian air dried meats. I was heartened to think, a few years later when I found out about Culatello, that at some point an Italian farmer had probably had the very same problem as me and had decided to take the logical path of splitting the leg.
My working career couldn’t have been further from charcuterie production – I’d initially trained as a photographer, then moved to work in the film industry for the Wales Screen Commission, attracting film productions to Wales. During my time there I worked on over 150 different productions and was very fortunate to work on some pretty big projects including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 and Pt 2, Robin Hood, Stardust and Doctor Who.
For a few years I’d been looking to start a business from the farm – it’s where I’m happiest, so during the winter of 2010 I made the decision to leave my job and start up Charcutier Ltd. That’s when the work really began, I spent the next twelve months researching processes, developing products and attending every kind of training event I could find. I’ve been a devotee of the St John mantra – Nose to Tail Eating and I wanted to find a whole gamut of products that would make use of ‘everything but the squeal’. Thanks to the Welsh Government’s Re-Act Scheme I secured grant aid to attend a series of training courses including attending the 33rd Annual Sausage and Processed Meats Course at Iowa State University in the USA. There I got to rub shoulders with a range of professionals, ranging from small producers like myself to the biggest meat processing companies in the World. Later in the year I returned to the US as part of a Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales Livestock Scholarship, I spent just over four weeks looking at both livestock rearing and pork processing and blogged about it during the trip. I also managed to squeeze in a trip to the Parma Ham Festival in Langhirano in September 2011, a must see for any air dried meat devotee.
I’ve continued to research and undertook a further Italian trip to Perugia in 2012, specifically to the famed town of Norcia renowned throughout Italy for its butcheries. The trip also allowed me to look at some bespoke equipment for the Italian salumi industry and later that same year I visited Germany for that same purpose. I continued with my studies in 2013 with a visit to see Kate Hill at her cooking school in Gascony, and took a tour of the French Basque region to learn about Bayonne Ham and the Basque Pig. Thanks to a Taste Local bursary I also visited Denmark to look at the full pork supply chain from small niche Organic pork units to intensive systems.
So what of the future? A range of products have already been developed at the Food Centre Wales and we’re still working on a few others to get them ready for the market. Planning permission has been secured and our new on-farm facility will be built in 2014. We’re already doing direct deliveries of fresh produce and selling at Farmers Markets, so if you fancy trying the produce, get in touch!'

find out more about Gather and book your tickets here

Visit the Charcutier website here



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'Evil' Gordon finds exciting ways to share his love of bread, beer & fire

A very good friend of fforest, Gordon (a.k.a 'Evil' Gordon) works for the revolutionary company,
Beer Bods, and is also a keen home-baker. 

At Gather, Gordon has lead workshops involving bread, beer & fire, effectively combining his love of all these three things simultaneously. From beer-cocktails to sourdough taster sessions, he has exciting ways of sharing his passion for food & drink in a setting where he feels most comfortable: the great outdoors. His baking workshops focus on cooking with fire and include dough-making tutorials & baking breads in fforest's outdoor, woodfired clay ovens.

Gordon will be joining us again for both weeks of Gather in August and we couldn't be more excited!

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Discovery & adventure in the great outdoors; Gather brings the best of fforest together

For 10 years fforest has been creating great family adventures, hosting great events, building creative workshops and promoting the outdoors in our magical kingdom. In our big tents or barns, we’ve had incredible speakers, performers, adventurers, artists and renegades. We’ve looked after thousands of people at over 100 events; intimate events where everyone knows, or gets to know, everyone else. It’s time to create an event that brings the best of fforest together, a holiday full of creative engagement with the vibe of a festival...

The fforest Gather.

Two week long family friendly gatherings with emphasis on engagement, exchange and fun. The great outdoors, activity for mind, soul and body, creativity and simple pleasures have always been bound to what we offer. At Gather, a revolving cast will provide workshops, creative play and outdoor activity in the day; films, live music, DJs and performers in the evenings. 

Details:
Choose between one of two weeks (or come for a fortnight!) 
Gather 2016 weeks are:
Monday August 14th to Sunday 20th &
Monday August 21st to Sunday 27th

Daytime:
All workshops, talks, walks, performances and activities are included in the ticket price. First come, first served but without the worry of missing out:
Illustration; painting; writing; field recording; fly-tying; printmaking; cooking with fire; axe & knife craft; yoga and wellness; drumming; beer cocktail classes; fforest garden lessons; chocolate making; forest school sessions; den building; tree climbing; canoeing; wild swimming.

Evening music:
Heard, overheard, listened to, talked about, spun, performed. 
Music and DJs form the backdrop to the Gather evenings.

fforest accommodation:
Pitch a tent or treat yourself to a bit of luxury, every aspect of your good night’s sleep has been thought of at Gather. For just 2 weeks of the year we offer you the chance to bring your own tent to fforest. Tent Pitches are a massive 5x8m and you are welcome to have as many tents in your pitch as you like. 
OR, have a look through our range of accommodation to decide which is best for you. We have Domes, Crog Lofts, Katacabins & Campshacks, find out more here.

Staying at fforest is always an event. Gather will make the best of all fforest has to offer.

book here



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Nick Hand revives & celebrates the artisan craft of letterpress printing

Nick brings age-old machinery, technique & skill to his Gather workshops. Now considered an artisan craft, letterpress printing is beautifully revived and celebrated by Nick and his letterpress team, and then shared with our eager Gather guests.

Nick will be joining us for the 2nd time at Gather this year. He will teach you all about the art of printing with presses, an authentic mode of printing that is often overlooked in today's digital world. But it is an art-form that should never be forgotten. Printing in this way creates more than just a beautiful finished product, it becomes an art from start to finish. Every element of the process needs artistic attention: choosing your paper, letters, ink, composition... a satisfying and utterly fascinating workshop with beautiful outcomes.

A bit more about The Letterpress Collective...

Bringing slumbering presses back to life to engage with artists, writers and community projects in Bristol. The Letterpress Collective teaching both type composition and printing skills.
The Letterpress Collective has spent 2013 gathering beautiful wood and lead type as well as collecting amazing printing presses including a lovely Heidelberg Windmill Platen (winched out of the store MShed by dockside crane), a Stephenson Blake proofing press and a set of nice little Adana hand presses.
Silently, and without anyone really noticing, the last commercial letterpress printer shut its doors in Bristol in 2012 after maybe 600 years of continuous work in the city. This is our chance to learn from the last of the printers and compositors in the city so that a new generation can understand and learn the thrill of working a small press and seeing your creation in ink on paper.

find out more about Gather and book your tickets here

Visit the letterpress collective website here



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In 2016, the BBC named St Dogmaels local producers' market the best in Britain

'The word community, when you hear it often, starts to lose its meaning. But here, in this small car park by the ruins of St Dogmael’s Abbey, you get it.'

- Diana Henry, food writer

We love the St Dogs market. Just up the road from the fforest offices & Granary Lofts, the office elves pay a visit every Tuesday to buy breakfast (the biggest croissants you'll ever see) and sometimes lunch too. Winner of 'The Best Food Market' at the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2016, St Dogmaels local producers market may be small but to be voted the best in Britain, it has to offer more than just great produce, and it does. 

Established in 2009 with some financial backing from the Rural Development Project, the founders of the market started their journey by purchasing authentic, high quality market stall units. This is perhaps the first thing you notice upon arrival: the pretty green and white tents that look like they belong at a 1960's fair-ground. Its a welcoming environment thanks to the quaint stalls and happy faces manning them.

But of course, the main attraction at this market it the produce on offer. With 18 stalls + additional during the busier Summertime, the market offers a wide range of local produce including quality meats, dairy products, organic vegetables home-baked goods and a variety of plants & flowers.

'The market is 'local' in its truest sense, in that the produce is all grown, reared or manufactured within a 30 mile radius of St Dogmaels.'

As well as bringing together great local producers and great food, keeping food miles to an absolute minimum, its also a vital social hub for the locals of the surrounding area. A great place for socialising as well as doing your weekly shop, there are volunteer musicians providing live music, cookery demonstrations and outside craft workshops that often feature at the market. These days, its not just the locals that are benefiting from the St Dogs market as people are coming from much further afield to experience the unique atmosphere and to sample some of the best quality local food. 

 


Read cookery journalist Diana Henry's article for the Telegraph here



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Gather Cook Feast: Recipes from land & water by Jessica Seaton

'I only ever wanted to live in nature. I grew up in fields, messing about in streams, learning about flowers, nestled in a hedge bank with a book. As soon as I could after graduating I moved with my husband, Jamie, to West Wales, one of the wilder parts of Britain, where the coast is tortuous, long and never far away, the population sparse and the wooded river valleys full of wild flowers. There I learned to forage, to gather mushrooms in the woods, to make nettle soup and to pick wild garlic.'

- Jessica Seaton

Jessica Seaton, a friend of fforest and co-founder of Toast, is launching her new book on the 6th of April.

This is a book about landscape and food. About imagining food that, in some way, both comes from and represents landscape. Gather Cook Feast celebrates the connection between the food that we eat and the land where we live in over 120 recipes. Jessica is inspired to create meals that feel like a place, using the food from our seas, our rivers, our farmland, our gardens and our wild places. Full of simple, seasonal and nourishing recipes like braised shortribs with horseradish, courgette fritters with minted yoghurt, mackerel escabeche with wild fennel, smoked venison sausages with piccalilli vegetables, alongside puddings, preserves and cakes such as bramble and bay jelly pots, apple and walnut soft cake and rose macaroons, this is a book full of recipes to savour, to share, and to sustain.

In a recent entry to her blog, Jessica shared a recipe from her new book: Nettle soup with horseradish & chives. This is the best time of year to be experimenting with nettle recipes, something that Sian @coldatnight has been busy doing too...



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Owner of Noma restaurant, chef René Redzepi shares his top ten books

As the chef behind Denmark’s Noma restaurant, recipient of two Michelin stars and of the San Pellegrino Awards’ “best restaurant in the world” honour four times since it opened in 2004, René Redzepi is widely considered the godfather of New Nordic food.

With a menu rooted in foraging, fermenting, and smoking, Redzepi incorporates plant and animal ingredients such as lichen, beach mustard, pine needles, and musk ox, and turns them into a culinary experience for which diners will pay handsomely. Embedded in his work is a simple philosophy—that we don’t need food “to be delicious or great or all these things if we’re just to survive,” as he told Interview, “But it’s one of those things that makes life fun, livable. And the more I submerge myself in it, the more fun I seem to have.”

Below is a list of the chef's top ten books:

1. EL BULLI SABOR DEL MEDITERRANEO

- Ferran Adrià

"Ferran has authored many books but, to me, this is one of the most important restaurant cook books of the last two decades. You can trace back several of the modern culinary movements of the last 20 years in the pages of this book, and it’s laden with beautiful and inspiring images."

2. KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAl

- Anthony Bourdain

"You could argue that this book was the real moment of “the chef” as we know it today. I think before this came out, chefs were simply cooks hidden in the basement. This book sparked a new appetite for understanding how, and by whom, our food is prepared. This book (along with Marco Pierre’s “White Heat”) is one of the two books that propelled professional cooking into the pop culture phenomenon that it is today."

3. ALL THE ODES

- Pablo Neruda

"I love these odes, they are a brilliant reminder to consider seemingly unimportant everyday objects and moments, and to enjoy the present."

4. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"This was one of the books that I started reading as Noma was opening. I was sleeping on the couch every night, coming home from work completely exhausted, way too stressed out and slowly sinking into some sort of depression. I became totally absorbed by the writing and universe that Dostoyevsky creates; it is the perfect escape."

5. DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON

- George Orwell

"This might be the best book I know of that describes restaurant culture. In general I am a very big fan of George Orwell, I could have selected half of the books on this list to be authored by him. But I particularly enjoy this one because it tells me something about my industry."

6. BABETTE'S FEAST

- Karen Blixen

"This is a Danish classic. As a cook in Scandinavia, reading this book makes you understand why Scandinavians have such a strange relationship with the act of pleasure. It makes you think about the impact religion has had on the enjoyment of things, particularly food. In other words, after I read this I understand why it can be so bleak here up in the Protestant north."

7. THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE

- Charles Darwin

"Lost on a desert island, having a book like this to inspire you, and to learn, would allow you to still dedicate your life to something. Find yourself a little beetle, or a tiny ant. Maintain a sense of curiosity and thrill of exploration."

8. THE SELLOUT

- Paul Beatty

"My friend Daniel Patterson gave me this book and told me it is one of his favourite books that he’s ever read. Beatty’s use of language and humour is complex and layered, unfolding more and more each time you read it. It is also a book that has taught me—as a Dane—a great deal about the predominant culture in the West — America."

9. GUNS, GERMS & STEEL

- Jared Diamond

"A monster of a book, where you get to learn about the world and the people that we are. It is a book that I tried to read several times before finally reading it through, each time wishing I didn’t have a couple of kids on my shoulder or the roaring engine sound of a modern kitchen in my ears. It is simply the perfect book when you have time to really focus and think."

10. TINTIN IN THE CONGO

- Hergé

"I spent many hours as a child and teenager digging into Tintin. Actually, it was a difficult choice between Tintin and “The Little Prince,” because that is another old favourite. Despite being classified as children’s books, I believe these can easily be read and enjoyed by adults."
 

This list is adapted from One Grand: a curated bookstore in which celebrated thinkers, writers, artists, and other creative minds share the ten books they would take to their metaphorical desert island. 

Visit the website here



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Portmeirion: A small piece of the Mediterranean in the North of Wales

Bold colours, Italianate architecture & beautiful sea views, the captivating town of Portmeirion in the north of Wales still attracts thousands of visitors 90 years after its creation.

If you haven't been to Portmeirion, you would probably guess that the postcard town was far, far away somewhere on the Mediterranean coastline in the blazing hot sun. In reality, the picturesque town can be found somewhere in the not so blazing hot sun and relatively close by on the Welsh coastline. Portmeirion is the dream and vision of famed architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who acquired the unique site in 1925 for around £20,000. Near his own family home, Plas Brondanw, he began work almost immediately:

'Portmeirion was built in two stages: from 1925 to 1939 the site was 'pegged-out' and its most distinctive buildings were erected. From 1954-76 he filled in the details. Several buildings were salvaged from demolition sites, giving rise to Clough's description of the place as "a home for fallen buildings."'

Portofino, Italy

It is no coincidence that the town is reminiscent of the Med. Portmeirion is often said to be directly inspired by the small fishing village of Portofino in the North of Italy, although this has been repeatedly denied by Sir Clough. The architect stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean, but he has never denied his love of the Italian village, stating "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site."

One notable Portmeirion visitor was world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright who stayed in the town in 1956. Interestingly, this visit marked the architect's one and only trip to his ancestral country of Wales. Portmeirion today still attracts thousands of visitors annually, 90 years after its creation. What undoubtedly makes this town one of Wales's top tourist destinations is its location in an unspoiled natural landscape, complete with exotic plants and vast woodland, on a stunning Welsh coastline combined with, of course, the phenomenal architecture. Even though the town functions solely as a tourist destination, a collective desire to keep this small corner of Wales in its best condition means that both tourists and staff endeavour to maintain the town's original beauty and charm.



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Barley Saturday: A unique event in the Cardigan calendar

We all love Barley Saturday. An event that attracts all the locals as well as others not so local; from kids to grown-ups to dogs, its an occasion for everyone. 

Since 1871, it has been held on the last Saturday in April to celebrate the end of the crop sowing season, with barley being the last cereal to be sown after the wheat and oats, this year it falls on the 29th of April. Originally it was a day when farmers from the surrounding area came to town to hire workers, it also gave stallion owners the opportunity to display their beautiful Welsh Cobs, advertising the stallions for stud. These days it is the horses that are at the centre of attention and it's not just cobs on show, there are horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes, from Shetlands to Shires. 

After the 11.30am judging of various horse competitions, the crowds gather to watch the horses parade around Cardigan and down the High Street at around 2pm. The best bit is when the horses are trotting out in all their glory, manes flowing and nostrils flaring, quite a spectacle. Horses are followed by vintage cars, motorbikes, tractors, carriages, milk floats and gypsy wagons, plus plenty of flat caps! It’s a special day of the year in Cardigan town.

We like to celebrate Barley Saturday in our own way, so on the night of the 29th of April, we will be hosting our famous "Dawns Barlys" (Barley Dance) at the fforest Pizzatipi. We'll have live bands & DJs, woodfired pizza & beer, good & bad dancing. Its the (un)official Barley Saturday party - don't miss it! For more information have a look at our Facebook event.



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The best outdoor shower in Wales? fforest shower block inspired by Australian architect Glenn Murcutt

'Layering and changeability: this is the key, the combination that is worked into most of my buildings. Occupying one of these buildings is like sailing a yacht; you modify and manipulate its form and skin according to seasonal conditions and natural elements, and work with these to maximize the performance of the building.' 

- Glenn Murcutt, 1996

Known for his smaller scale residential buildings, Australian architect Glenn Murcutt's projects blend a modernist design approach with an ever-present consciousness of the environment; qualities that have inspired fforest chief his entire career. The picture shown above is probably his smallest work, but the simplicity, modesty and respect for context make it a personal favourite.

A hero and reference point for Chief, the shower block at fforest is a 'homage' of the most humble sort. Choosing materials that can be produced easily and economically; from glass to stone to concrete, brick and metal, Murcutt's buildings evoke a distinctive Australian flavour that are in constant harmony with their natural surroundings, much like the majority of our buildings at fforest. Murcutt has resisted expanding his staff and has remained as a sole practitioner with the minimum of assistants. 

fforest chief invited Glenn to the 'Do' lectures at fforest in 2009 but unfortunately he was unable to travel the long distance due to old age. His hand-written response to the invitation will continue to be a prized possession. 

 



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Rich Landscapes: 2 Welsh brothers creating beautiful & practical gardens

'We believe in a fusion between landscape and architecture. An important relationship that encourages a more rounded approach to an outdoor lifestyle, creating not only beautiful but practical spaces, inspiring people to use their gardens.'

- The Rich brothers

Brothers Harry and David Rich (professionally known as Rich Landscapes) are leading representatives of a new, younger generation of landscape gardener.

In 2013, the Welsh siblings made their first appearance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Drawing inspiration from their formative years, their extraordinary ‘Un Garreg’ show garden featured a 425 million year old sandstone. Arranged to form decorative boulders and supporting a floating timber bench, they added lengths of dry stone walling as a subtle reference to the Welsh hills. Awarded with a gold medal for their installation, the pair were then invited the following year to create a full scale show garden. Titled ‘Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden’ their show garden was granted a silver gilt medal.

This year, the Rich brothers have created a design for the Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand, which they discuss in the accompanying video. They have a very clever way of blending architectural elements within natural surroundings. Their 'Shack' element of the garden is added to close the gap separating buildings from nature:

'The shack is constructed from raw, native materials made in an honest fashion. For us it needed to compliment the garden and blend organically within the space, not to be seen as a separate element.  We wanted to create a piece of architecture that could adapt, reform and re-orientate. A translucent sculpture that, with the change of direction could become a solid form, constricting views from and into the garden.'

We are patiently waiting to see what's next for this talented pair. In the meantime, their website provides a catalogue of beautiful past projects for you to look at.

Visit their website here



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Foraging with Jade: Gorse Flower cordial

Wild Pickings is a small rural business based in West Wales and run by professional forager, Jade Mellor. 

As well as selling her seasonal foraged foods at farmers' markets and food festivals, Jade runs wild food walks and courses throughout the year. We have worked with her before at fforest and this year she will be foraging nettles and wild garlic for our Fools Feast on the 1st of April. We are delighted that Jade will also be joining us again at fforest Gather in August.

Jade has shared with us a fantastic seasonal recipe for gorse flower cordial. This time of year is the perfect time to have a go, when the gorse has come into flower most strongly and the vibrant yellow petals are at their brightest. Gorse flowers have a slightly bitter, floral flavour, with a hint of coconut. They make a delicate, refreshing cordial. Read Jade's ingredients list and method below:

Ingredients:

As many gorse petals as you can pick! Ideally, at least a litre jugful.

Water

Sugar

Juice & zest of two oranges

Method:

Pick the gorse flowers on a dry sunny day, ideally when you can smell the coconut fragrance as this will give a more flavoursome cordial. Put the blossoms in a pan and cover with boiling water. You want to add just enough water to submerge the flowers. Leave to steep overnight. Strain through a jelly bag or piece of muslin. Add the zest and juice from the oranges. Measure out the liquid and pour back into the pan. Add 700g of sugar per litre of liquid and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into hot sterilised bottles if you want to keep it for a few months, otherwise bottle into clean containers and keep in the fridge.

Thank you for the recipe Jade! For more information about courses and workshops, visit Jade's Wild Pickings website.

some more foraging photos from fforest farm...



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Matt Sewell: A career in illustration and writing sparked by his love of birds

Artist, illustrator and author Matt Sewell is a keen ornithologist and friend of fforest. His eye for capturing the beauty of birds through his unique illustrations takes the act of bird watching to new heights...

Matt has built a brand around his birds; selling his designs in big name department stores and smaller independent shops across the country as well as on his own website. His illustrated bird books are a delight for the eyes but are also informative so appeal to bird watching enthusiasts and illustration fans alike. He brings his birds to the masses in his 'Spotting & Jotting' workshops, a feature at fforest Gather 2016 that was a huge success. Bringing together grown-ups and little ones to learn about the surrounding bird-life at fforest and to learn how to draw and paint them with Matt. He will be joining us again this year at fforest Gather to share even more of his expert bird knowledge and artistic ideas. 

We asked Matt a few questions about where his love of illustration (and birds!) came from...

Did you do a degree in illustration or did you just have a passion for drawing and birds in particular?

I did a degree that focused on animation and illustration and have been a freelance illustrator since the late 90s. Nature and birds in particular have always featured in my work but it wasn't until I wanted to have a bit of a break and a new direction that I started focusing totally on birds, after a year away in Australia in 2007. 

If you were a bird which one would you most like to be and why?

Swallows are cool, they have fun together, are great flyers, look very cool, travel lots and hang out together in a big communal family.

Where would you like to travel to study the animals or birds?

India!

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline you would like us to mention?

My first children's book called 'The Big Bird Spot' published by Pavillion, I have created loads of amazing landscapes to lose yourself in and spot birds and other wildlife. It will be out this spring and I can't wait to see how it goes down!

Matt will be back with us at Gather this year, to find out more and to buy tickets click here

Pre-order Matt's first children's book here



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Alice Holden: How to start growing your own veg

'Cooking the food you've grown and sharing it: that's an emotional and creative thing to do.'

- Alice Holden

Alice single handedly set up the fforest garden that now flourishes year round back in 2008, during the 3 years she worked for us. With strong beliefs in permaculture and organic growing, the garden was designed to provide fresh produce for our kitchen.

We first met Alice when she called into fforest with her green fingers holding a basket of homegrown strawberries to sell. It wasn't so soon after that, that she started working for us at the farm. 

She built the raised beds, put up the poly tunnel, started the composting systems, planted and set the seeds in motion. Her preliminary work in our fforest vegetable garden started what has become a thriving patch, providing a great range of different edible flowers, herbs, fruit and veg that we use for many delicious suppers, events and occasions. It really is special to know that some of what's on your plate has been sown and grown just yards away.

In an article for the Guardian, Alice provides the basic knowledge to encourage everyone to start growing their own vegetables. Just like we needed a bit of help starting our veg patch, she can give you a hand with yours. 



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Book here