As the one-carriage train pulls out of Swansea and sets off across ever more remote Welsh countryside, my friend Sam and I breathe almost theatrical sighs of relaxation. Blanking out the cider-drinking uni students a few seats down, we are already settling into a holier-than-thou ‘I’m on a detox’ state of mind.
We’re en route to Bluestone, an eco resort in the middle of the Pembrokeshire National Park. Along this quiet track, the train stops by request only and we’re the sole people to alight at Narberth.
A short taxi ride later we’re at Bluestone, driving a golf buggy towards the timber lodge that will be home for the weekend.
Call me a snob, but the term ‘holiday park’ usually has me running for the hills. Bluestone, however, is already in said hills and goes a long way to breaking down some of my assumptions about this type of getaway. For a start, there’s the accommodation.
Roomy wooden cabins look out over the Preseli Mountains – on some days. these distant peaks are sharp and clear, on others they rise from the mist. Then, there’s Bluestone’s green pledge.
The resort operates on principles of sustainability and attempts to cause minimal impact on the environment – there’s no shortage of recycling facilities and the park aims to reduce energy and water consumption wherever possible.
We spend our first night in a pub located in the faux old Welsh village at the centre of the park. Despite the convincing stone exterior, the boozer’s authenticity is slightly dubious, but we don’t care. “We’re here to get healthy,” we say virtuously after a solitary bottle of wine.
True to our word, we’re up early the next day and are rewarded with glorious sunshine. And no hangover! First up is a session of laser clay pigeon shooting. Instead of a bullet, we fire a beam from a modified shotgun and a digital screen registers whether we’ve hit our flying target.
I suffer from the delusion that whenever I try something new, I’ll discover it’s my calling and be heralded ‘a natural’. As frequently happens, however, this isn’t so, and Sam wipes the floor with me, hitting as many clay birds as I miss. I make her swap guns in case the competition has been rigged. It hasn’t.
Somehow still friends, we make our way to Camp Smokey, a wooden bar with BBQ at the bottom of a wooded ravine.
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Lana Del Ray blasts out, but the forest is peaceful and I eat a delicious swordfish steak and feel holiday-ish. From time to time, great shrieks burst from overhead and people whizz by on the zipwire that runs from the top of the ravine and through the trees. It looks like brilliant fun and I wish we’d booked in for a go ourselves.
After a cross-country run in the afternoon, Sam and I meet local guide, Terry John, for a historical tour of the site. Again, I’m sceptical, finding it improbable that holiday parks and history coexist.
And, again, I’m proved wrong. It turns out Bluestone was built over a spring that bubbles from the ground and was once a sacred spot, worshipped by the Pagans.
Later, Christians, too, laid claim to the place, making pilgrimages to a holy well built over the spring. In a grassy field nearby, a large rock is really the witch Tanglwst, turned to stone as a punishment for making people dance on a Sunday, according to local legend.
The next day we’re feeling the effects of overindulging in Bluestone’s Carreg Las restaurant (we had to, the food and wine were that good). But no matter, we’re off to the spa to cleanse ourselves of all wrong-doing.
I spend the morning wandering between the eucalyptus-scented steam room, the salt room and the Celtic sauna.
I drift in and out of conversation with a group of Welsh women who are here on a girlie weekend.
They’ve been to the spa before and are big fans. After my afternoon treatment, which involves being wrapped, (nearly) naked, in melted chocolate and essential oils, I’m in absolute agreement with them.
Who knew holiday parks could be this fun?
Bluestone offers a four-night midweek (Monday-Friday) or three-night weekend (Friday-Monday) break from £249 for a two-bedrom lodge, sleeping up to four people, or from £99 for a studio, based on two people sharing. bluestonewales.com
How to get to Wales from London
Take a First Great Western train from London to Swansea. Weekend return tickets cost from £40 (firstgreatwestern.co.uk). From Swansea, take an Arriva train to Narberth. Return tickets from £26 (arrivatrainswales.co.uk).
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Where to drink, eat and sleep in Wales
Carreg Las is Bluestone’s fine-dining restaurant. Try the locally produced organic beef and lamb or locally landed sea bream. Great food and an extensive wine list. Two courses for £35.
There are several restaurants and cafes at Bluestone, but you can also have food, wine and beer delivered to your accommodation. Another alternative is to book an inclusive package, which includes morning and evening meals. From £30 per day per person.
Like camping but less hassle, sit around the BBQ pit with a cold beer at Camp Smokey. Some nights there’s entertainment, otherwise just enjoy getting drunk in the forest. Serves bottled beers from £3.50.
Bluestone’s pub, The Knights Tafarn, may not feel exactly like a local Welsh pub, but it’s unpretentious and there’s beer and an open fire. On a nice day, you can sit at tables outside. Pints from £3.50.