ON the Friday before a Bank Holiday or any weekend which promises a scorcher, the roads in and out of Gwent fill with mile upon mile of queueing traffic.

You can join the throng heading west and sit in a steaming car somewhere past Bridgend or spend some stationary time before the Severn Bridge.

But there is an easier way. It’s a way of making sure you really get your money’s worth for your weekend and making a couple of day’s break seem like a proper holiday.

You take your weekend break on your doorstep – or within half an hour’s drive from home.

This is what we did last weekend.

Instead of driving for three hours and arriving in the dark, we had our tent pitched in a delightful spot just outside Abergavenny less than an hour after setting off.

Set in the grounds of a real-ale pub (what a brilliant idea!) the site was the base for a weekend which was by turns chilled and strenuous.

Sat almost in the shadow of the Skirrid, with the Blorenge and Sugar Loaf mountains nearby, the campsite in Pandy was slap-bang in the middle of some stunning countryside.

Grosmont, Skenfrith and White castles were ten minutes drive away – there was plenty to see and do within a five-mile radius.

I spoke to a family from Pontypool, who’d had an even shorter journey than we had to get there. As we gazed around our Monnow valley home for the weekend, we agreed that you could be ‘in another world’ a mere 30 minutes from home.

My daughter took up residence in the playground, while I decided to run up Skirrid in the sun.

We followed this up with an amble round the stately grounds of Llanvihangel Manor, but we could have done much more.

There are so many places in Gwent where you could do this.

Blaenavon, somewhere picturesque along the Wye, like Tintern or you could even camp in the grounds of Tredegar Park. These are all attractions people travel miles to see. Some of the other campers on our site had come from South-East England to paraglide off the Blorenge.

And if it does pour down – you're only 30 minutes from home. It just goes to show you don’t need to go far to get away from it all.