It says The Dyffryn Arms over the door, but everyone knows it as Bessie’s. The pub in Pontfaen has been in the Davies family since 1840 and Bessie has worked here since she was 20 – she’s now in her eighties. Bessie has no truck with gastro-bar gloss and you’ll find a single room with wooden settles and plain walls stuck with banknotes sent from around the world. Jugs of beer from the barrel are served through a hatch, and the food options are pickled eggs or peanuts. A glance at Tripadvisor shows this place isn’t for everyone: there’s no music or TV, and while the floor was freshly mopped when we visited, it can get dusty around the edges. But most people relish the fast-vanishing chance to drink in a traditional rural pub and if you stop by of an evening you’ll find it lively with local chat, much of it Welsh. If you’re not fluent in Cymraeg you can still raise a glass with a iechyd da ( cheers). The vale is also home to two micro-breweries, both open daily. Pontfaen’s Gwaun Valley Brewery ( www. gwaunvalleybrewery.co.uk) captures the tints of autumn in its ruby-red Blodwen bitter and golden Light Ale, while the range at the Bluestone Brewing Company ( www.bluestone brewing.co.uk) in nearby Cilgwyn includes a locally-themed Preseli Pils.