Take a walk on the wild side; Jane Haase and her family find fun and fresh air in North Wales.
IAM a real city girl at heart but occasionally I do feel the call of the wild when I long to see mountains and rolling hills instead of high rise apartments and road blocks.
Sometimes it's not just your computer you need to reboot but yourself.
When that happens one of the easiest solutions is to get in the car and drive the hour-and-a-half it takes to reach North Wales from Liverpool.
My husband and I, along with our two children James, six and Nina, four, did just that and it wasn't long before we left the city behind us and were travelling along the A55 admiring the wonderful Welsh coastline.
For our weekend of fun and fresh air we stayed at a lovely farmhouse in the village of Bontnewydd, two miles from Caernarfon.
It was big (four bedrooms and two sittings rooms) but surprisingly cosy with a Rayburn in the large kitchen which keeps the house toasty, whatever the temperature outside.
Cefnwerthyd farmhouse was stylishly decorated with touches of tradition: a Welsh dresser, framed Welsh poems and even a Welsh dragon apron hanging up in the kitchen.
The owner's mother, who lives in the barn conversion next door, left us fresh eggs and some delicious homemade lemon cake which made for a warm welcome.
Set in farmland it boasts stunning views of the countryside, with the spectacular Snowdon in the distance, and James and Nina were delighted to wake up in the morning to see cows right outside their bedroom window. We could also hear the whistle of the Welsh Highland railway train, the newest railway in North Wales, which restores a long-lost link between the towns of Caernarfon and Porthmadog (www.welsh highlandrailway.net).
Cefnwerthyd farmhouse was a fantastic base for our stay with a host of great places to visit on its doorstep.
Caernarfon Castle, built by the invading Edward I from 1283 onwards, was just a few minutes drive away.
James enjoyed exploring what is one of Europe's best examples of medieval fortification and the grassy arena within its magnificent polygonal towers was the setting for the investiture of the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, in 1969.
We were also a 15 minute drive from Llanberis, the lakeside village at the foot of Snowdon, Wales' highest mountain, which is well worth a visit. We adults enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of Padarn lake and the slate quarry while James and Nina occupied themselves in the waterside playground. There's also a lakeside steam railway, visitor centre and National Slate Museum or if you have time either walk or take the train 3,560ft up to the peak of Snowdon.
Driving through the heart of Snowdonia National Park from Llanberis to the picturesque Betws y Co'ed you see the most spectacular scenery: rolling hills, mist topped mountains and trickling streams punctuated by the silhouettes of walkers.
Betws y Co'ed was an ideal place for spending an afternoon with its beautiful stone buildings, tasteful shops, cafes and art galleries and impressive waterfalls.
While we adults took pleasure from admiring the views the young ones wanted a little more action so we decided to visit nearby Greenwood Forest Park.
Set in acres of woodland it is as far away as you can get from a noisy, garish theme park. It boasts an eco-friendly Green Dragon roller coaster, a fantastic Great Green run slide, archery, go-karts and a host of attractions which have zero or low power needs. James and Nina also got to build a den in the woods while I walked the barefoot trail which gives your feet a great workout.
Revitalised and refreshed from our weekend amidst the beauty of Wales we headed back to the city, hoping it wouldn't be too long before we heard the call of the wild again.
TRAVEL FACTS CEFNWERTHYD farmhouse is one of 100 properties offered by Best ofWales, which specialises in luxuryWelsh cottages.
Prices for Cefnwerthyd start from pounds 177.50 for a short break and pounds 365 for a week's holiday from www.bestofwales.co.uk Book before October 31 and ECHO readers can get an exclusive 5% discount on all Best ofWales cottages by using the voucher code LIVECHO.
For details about Greenwood Forest Park visit www.greenwoodforest park.co.uk
IDEAL: Cefnwerthyd farmhouse was the perfect base for exploring the beauty of NorthWales