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- Authentic 17th-century miller's cottage in the heart of the Black Mountains
- The pretty Grwyne river is at the bottom of the garden
- Enclosed garden
- Sleeps 2 adults, and 2 children (in 'shorty' bunks), plus an infant
- Great cottage for lovers of wood burning stoves, as there is one each end of this little cottage
- Lots of amazing hilly walks straight from the front door
- Beautiful views
About ten minutes from Abergavenny and from Crickhowell, directly below the Sugar Loaf Mountain, lies the delightful Pontescob Cottage. A rare gem of a cottage, simply furnished, and located on its own in a stunning position (a 'luscious valley' as one visitor described it), Pontescob makes a perfect retreat for a honeymoon in Wales, a romantic short break, or a lovely family holiday. You could walk all week straight from the cottage, exploring the hills and valleys of the Black Mountains. There is also world class mountain biking, and great riding and trekking. Nearby are excellent pubs and restaurants, such as the Michelin-starred Walnut Tree Inn. This self-catering holiday cottage is authentically restored without compromising on any comforts. Sleeps 2 adults and 2 children, plus an infant. Up to 2 well-behaved dogs welcome.
A journey of under three hours from London, 90 minutes from Birmingham, and an hour from Cardiff or Bristol makes this a perfect get-away. This romantic cottage is set beside a quiet single track country lane, and in a sweet little garden next to the clear waters of the Grwyne river, looking towards the distinctive Pen y Fal or Sugar Loaf Mountain: a great hill-walk for a splendid view of the surrounding Black Mountains and across to the Brecon Beacons. There are many lovely walks from the doorstep of the cottage, too. The well-renowned and beautiful church of Partrishow is a couple of miles away. After a hard day's walking, or relaxing in the garden, why not go out to one of the restaurants the area has become famous for.
The 17th-century stone-roofed miller’s cottage was restored and decorated in 2008, using traditional materials – oak windows, lime mortar and putty, casein distemper, sheep’s wool insulation, lime wash and beeswax – with an effort to be as environmentally responsible and historically authentic as possible. It is a simple, unassuming cottage - there's nothing fancy about it. But all the basics for a comfortable stay are in place, and the two top-of-the-range wood burning "Clearview" stoves make it cosy on cold winter days. It has an entrance hall-cum-dining room, with a perfectly preserved and historically very important wooden screen dividing it from the kitchen next door, which, by some miracle, has survived the centuries. A neat, well-equipped kitchen has all the necessities – a five-burner gas hob, an oven, a toaster, a good-sized fridge-freezer, roomy kitchen cupboards and a painted wooden dresser.
The garden room is the place to relax: in front of a wood burning stove in the winter, or in summer, with the French doors flung open, listening to the peaceful sound of the river running past. A winding, steep stone staircase takes you up to a large master bedroom with old wooden floorboards, an antique brass double bed and a view across fields to the hills. Through to a little corridor and straight on to a children's room, with ‘shorty’ bunk beds, and space for a travel cot for a baby or infant; left to a bright pretty bathroom with bath and power shower, loo and wash hand basin.
All the important elements are supplied so that you don’t have to overpack: washing-up liquid, tea towels, towels, bedding, loo paper and soap. The kitchen is properly stocked with kitchen equipment, crockery and cutlery. As there is no mobile reception in the cottage, there is a land-line phone, as well as good WiFi for laptop or smartphone use.
The picturesque turf-roofed cedar shed in the garden houses the washing-machine, hoover and ironing board, the boiler, and extra logs.
Pontescob Cottage (which is the Welsh for Bishop's Bridge, so-named because a Medieval bishop preached on the fording point or bridge) is a good example of little 17th-century 'end-entry' miller’s cottage, and is listed as such. Situated in the Black Mountains on the eastern side of the Brecon Beacons National Park, it has recently been restored with traditional materials. Five features in particular stand out as special – the stone roof, the stone-hooded porch, the original wooden screen dividing the dining-room from the kitchen (the former solar), the stone-flagged floor in the dining room, and the winding fire stair with its little gable end mullion window. Oak mullions in one of the kitchen windows have been restored, showing how all the windows would have looked in the cottage’s original state. Good heavy doors between the downstairs rooms and at the bottom of the stairs are typical, and there is a bread oven in the dining-room fireplace – essential for all at that time, but particularly for a miller. The garden room is a later feature, a 20th-century conversion of a former lean-to barn.
Pontescob Cottage sits in a sunny little garden right next to the Grwyne river. You can sit on the stone terrace and listen to the peaceful sound of the water tumbling past. Sometimes cows escape into the river for a drink and come up to the garden wall for a good look at you. The lawn is full of wild flowers in spring - primroses, cowslips, celandines, stitchwort and Lady's Smock. A couple of old apple trees support the washing line, and the old stone walls are covered in succulents and little ferns. Look across fields to the Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pen y Fal and gather up some energy to walk up to its summit. You can drive or walk up to its base. It makes a lovely walk, and the view from the top, stretching across the Brecon Beacons, is superlative.
Things to do around Pontescob Cottage
Close to Pontescob (from the direction of Llanvihangel Crucorney) is a fascinating SSSI, Coed y Cerrig, an important National Nature Reserve. Part of this belongs to The Countryside Commission of Wales, so that some access is possible via raised walkways. It is a rare example of wet woodland or alluvial forest, with indigenous trees historically coppiced for charcoal (hence the origin of the name for the local hamlet of Forest (char)Coalpit - nothing at all to do with coal mining. Alder and willow enjoy the wet valley bottom, while the sides are clothed in hazel, birch and ash. Large beech and oak trees crown the tops of the valley sides. The SSSI is rich in fauna and flora: in spring, purple orchids and bluebells can be seen on the drier slopes, while marsh marigolds, mosses, lesser pond sedge and golden saxifrage populate the bogs. The SSSI is an important habitat for the dormouse, and many different kinds of birds and insects. On a fine day, an amble along the boardwalk is magical, the air filled with birdsong.
The famous Celtic Partrishow church is a delightful walk away from the cottage: it is situated on the southern slopes of the Gader Range with a wonderful panoramic view of the lower Grwyne Fawr valley. It has a simple, peaceful, timeless beauty: as you enter the church you are welcomed with that familiar smell of musty dampness associated with old country churches. One of the treasures of Partrishow is the exquisite rood screen, carved from Irish oak. At the back of the church, you will see an unusual dugout parish chest carved out of a solid tree trunk, with iron bands around it and three locks, once used for the safe keeping of parish valuables. The Rector and church wardens each held a key to one of the three locks, so that the chest could only be opened when all three were present. At the bottom of the hill, as you approach, is the celebrated wishing well of St. Ishow.
The nitty gritty
Live online booking
Changeovers are normally Mondays and Fridays. Weekends are set-priced from Friday 4pm to Monday 10.30am; so you can stay 1, 2 or 3 nights for the weekend price. Check availability and book online below, or check availability for all cottages.
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From the visitors book at Pontescob Cottage
"We've had an amazing time: completely fallen in love with the whole valley. The weather's been fantastic, walks exhilerating - and they're all on the doorstep. The cottage is fab - everything you could possible need. Thanks a million, and we'll definitely be back." Fi and Alex London
"We have enjoyed a wonderful week at Pontescob, which has included conquering the summits of Sugar Loaf, Skirrid, and Pen-Y-Fan. We also visited a number of the great and ancient places of worship in the surrounding valleys. There is a serenity that emanates from the surrounding hills and valleys- we will return." Mark and Veronica, Canberra, Australia
"I had a lovely time swimming in the river and playing in the garden with my brother. I loved feeding the lambs." Ewan, aged 6, from Bristol
"A perfect little hidey-hole in a luscious valley, complete with babbling brook and bouncy lambs. We even enjoyed the rain." Steve and Nicola, London
"Had an amazing, blissful time, and did not want to leave. Thought about squatting, actually. Loved morning dips in the river. A beautiful cottage, everything you need in the kitchen, great walk from the front door up the Sugarloaf mountain ...." Leo Karl Colton from Barnsley
you for a wonderful relaxing weekend. Sometimes holiday cottages never
quite live up to expectations from the brochures or website, but not
Pontescob. It is beautiful and had everything we needed including the
location." Samantha and Pete, Bethan (aged 8) James (aged 5), Bristol