Unveiling the Magic of Wales – a day in the life of a driver guide

The rooster crows haven’t yet faded, but the aroma of freshly brewed tea and the gentle hum of the engine are my morning symphony. As a driver guide in Wales, every day unfolds like a new chapter in a well-worn storybook, filled with familiar landmarks and unexpected encounters.

Today’s adventure begins in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, where mist still clings to the emerald valleys, promising a day brimming with hidden treasures.

My first stop is a quaint B&B nestled amidst the rolling hills. A group of American tourists, their faces etched with anticipation, pile into the car, their chatter a mix of excitement and nervous curiosity. As we wind our way through narrow lanes, I weave tales of ancient Celts, brave dragons and mystical landscapes, transforming the journey into a time machine.

Our first destination is Dolbadarn Castle, a formidable sentinel overlooking the glassy expanse of Llyn Padarn. As I share stories of medieval battles and royal intrigues, the tourists become knights and damsels, their imaginations ignited by the castle’s weathered stones. The crisp mountain air carries their laughter, blending seamlessly with the caws of crows circling the battlements.

Next, we embark on a scenic drive through the heart of the national park. Jagged peaks pierce the azure sky, while sheep graze peacefully on verdant slopes. I pull over at a hidden viewpoint, allowing the panorama to wash over my passengers. Cameras click, capturing the breathtaking beauty, but the true magic lies in the gasps of awe and the shared silence that speaks volumes.

Lunch is a hearty affair at a local pub, where we savour traditional Welsh dishes and soak in the warmth of local hospitality. The owner, a wiry man with a twinkle in his eye, regales us with tales of folklore and hidden waterfalls, adding another layer of enchantment to our day.

The afternoon takes us to Portmeirion, an Italian-inspired village nestled on the coast. The tourists marvel at the pastel-coloured houses and manicured gardens, momentarily transported to a Mediterranean dream. As the sun dips towards the horizon, casting the village in a golden glow, I can almost hear the murmur of gondolas on the tranquil waters.

Our final stop is a sheepdog demonstration on a working farm. The skilled dogs expertly herd the flock, their movements a mesmerising dance of instinct and training. The tourists erupt in applause, their appreciation echoing the respect for tradition that permeates Welsh culture.

As the day draws to a close, and we return to our starting point, a sense of accomplishment washes over me. It’s not just about driving people from place to place; it’s about igniting their curiosity, stoking their imaginations and creating memories that will linger long after they leave these shores.

Back at the B&B, as goodbyes are exchanged and promises to return made, I know that tomorrow will bring a new set of faces, new stories to tell and new corners of Wales to explore. For a driver guide, every day is an adventure, a chance to be an ambassador for this beautiful land and its rich tapestry of history, culture and natural wonders. It’s a responsibility I carry with pride, knowing that I play a small part in weaving the magic of Wales into the hearts of those who choose to discover it.

And as I settle down with a mug of tea, the day’s stories swirling in my mind, I can’t help but smile because, for me, being a driver guide in Wales is more than just a job; it’s a privilege, a passion and an endless source of inspiration.

Sean Westlake is chair of the Wales Official Tourist Guides Association and is based in Aberystwyth. He provides driver guided tours of Wales as well as unique motorcycle and sidecar tours around Mid Wales.