Tooty Down for a Cwtch – And Other Welsh Words of Love

By Abi King | Inspire Me

Jul 23

Puffin on Skomer Island PembrokeshireCwtch, Pembrokeshire

To the uninitiated, cwtch does not sound like a pleasant word. For those whose heads swim with wandering rhyme, it bears – perhaps – too much similarity to words such as itch, witch and crotch. Yet despite the frightening absence of vowels, it is actually a word of love.

Not passionate, painful love. You know, the sort that leaves two teenagers dead in a tomb in Italy.

No, a warm, enveloping, safe love. One born of friendship, family and an open spirit towards mankind on one of the days when the milk of human kindness is fresh, frothy and white. Not spilled. Not sour. And not forgotten on the conveyor belt at the supermarket.

Cwtch – pronounced a little like “butch” – doesn’t have a direct English translation. It usually means a cuddle but others describe it as a kind of safe place, rather like its cheery cousin hygge in Denmark.

It’s also, as I found out last weekend, the name of a gastronomically sumptuous restaurant in Britain’s smallest city. (St David’s, since you ask. And yes, check it out if ever you get the chance. Especially the potted Solva crab. And have a Cwtch Sparkle for me. It’s prosecco with…wait. Why should I spoil the surprise? Head there and have one yourself!)

Cow on fields in Pembrokeshire As I roamed around the raw and rugged cliffs of Britain’s only Coastal National Park, scrunching toes through sand and stone and straw-parched grass, I thought how perfect the word cwtch seemed to be.

Like much of the country, it doesn’t dazzle when read about from afar. But when you get up close. When you live it and know the reality…both its sentiment and ancestry hail from among the most beautiful things on earth.   Approaching Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

Bird in Pembrokeshire

Coastal path in Pemrboke

Disclosure: tooty down for a cwtch means something like “bend your knees low enough so I can give you a hug.” It’s a phrase my grandmother used to say to me when I wore a younger girl’s clothes.

The other disclosure: I visited Pembrokeshire this time in association with Visit Wales. I’ll leave you to decide which relationship influenced me more…

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Looking for ideas for your own trip to Pembrokeshire?

I’ll be back soon with my own list of recommendations but in the meantime, check out the Visit Wales page on things to see do, love and enjoy  in Pembrokeshire over here.


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

Kirsten July 24, 2013

Wales through your lens is simply beautiful and I love this new word. For the life of me I can’t pronounce it but its meaning is oh so important to me. (And the puffin!!)

    Abi King July 30, 2013

    Ah, I’ll have to give you a cwtch and a pronunciation lesson the next time I see you! ;-)

Melissa July 24, 2013

If your goal was to make readers feel warm and fuzzy about Pembrokeshire, you’ve done your job. Your photos and description make it look and sound like a warm, welcoming, enchanting kind of place.

    Abi King July 30, 2013

    Hmm…I suppose if anything I wanted to balance out what people think about the place. It seems to me that Wales’ gritty, industrial side is all anyone hears about. And while it’s definitely there, it’s not the whole story…

Sophie July 25, 2013

Araf. That’s the Welsh word I’ve seen the most. I like it.

    Abi King July 30, 2013

    Slow?! I remember thinking that “gwasanatheau” was a place just after the Severn Bridge. It actually means “services”…

Just reading about the word (despite never hearing it before) made me feel warm and cuddly… thanks! :)

    Abi King July 30, 2013

    You’re welcome!

Hogga August 5, 2013

that cow looks like he
s laughing

    Abi King August 12, 2013

    I was actually pretty scared as his “laughing” eyes appeared on the horizon. My legs were spent by then and I didn’t fancy my chances of running away if he decided to go for me…

Gayla August 23, 2013

The photos are lovely! I hope to visit Wales someday…

    Abi King September 3, 2013

    Hope you get there too. Vastly underrated…

Carmen September 7, 2013

When we were little and went for walks/rambles in the woods and needed to relieve ourselves, we would also tooty down for that. I still use tooty down, meaning to squat.

    Abi King September 8, 2013

    Yes, me too!

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