Welsh departures

The transport innovation for 1997 is the Freedom of Wales Flexi-Pass, an unlimited-travel ticket valid all over the principality. A week's travel costs pounds 64 in peak season or pounds 57 off-peak, with reductions for railcard holders and children. It is valid on seven train operating companies, plus Crosville Cymru buses between Bangor and Aberystwyth, and the Ffestiniog Railway. Other private railways offer discounts to Flexi-Pass holders. More details from the train inquiry bureau on 0345 484950.

Butlin's (0990 011 011) has some low prices at its Starcoast World site at Pwllheli before the school holidays begin; until 21 July, prices are cut by 15 per cent. Haven Holidays (0990 233 111) is offering a rate of pounds 104 for a three-night weekend stay at its "All-action centre" at Presthaven Sands in north Wales; the price applies on 4 or 11 July for a group as large as seven people - making the cost less than pounds 5 per person per night.

Even cheaper accommodation could be yours later in the year, if you rent an entire youth hostel for a year. In winter, families or friends can hire one of 34 hostels in locations throughout Wales and England. Most are simple hostels with what is termed "background" central heating, which loosely translates to "spartan and cold". Pentlepoir hostel, near Tenby in Dyfed, is typical. It sleeps 26, and the charge is only pounds 3 per person per night if you fill it. Book well in advance. Information from the YHA National Office on 01727 855215.

Two Welsh beaches made it into the survey of Paradise Beaches around the world in the current edition of Stuff magazine (pounds 2.50). Abereiddy Bay in Dyfed is described as having "stunning deep blue water, a tiny harbour barely breached by the sea, and surrounded by magnificent cliffs". The other Stuff selection is Warren Beach, at Abersoch in Gwynedd.

Wales Tourist Board: 01222 499909.

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