Discovering Carmarthenshire, Wales

Discovering Carmarthenshire, Wales

If, someone was to ask us a  month ago where to go for sandy beaches and pretty coastline our instant ‘go to’ destinations would have been the Aegean islands or Caribbean, however, after four days visiting the much closer-to-home Carmarthenshire coastline, I would now happily add it to my ‘go to’ list and these are the reasons why….

According to Discover Carmarthenshire ‘Carmarthenshire’s beaches have seen their fair share of adventurous endeavours over the years - from multiple land speed records broken on Pendine Sands to the touchdown of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, at Burry Port. Glorious Cefn Sidan,  is the longest beach in Wales with over eight miles of sand for visitors to enjoy. With fantastic things to see and do, plus wonderful places to eat and stay in each stretch of coastline, you’re spoilt for choice.

Have your own adventure in coastal Carmarthenshire, choosing from high-octane thrills, scenic coastal walks and traditional seaside fun!‘ Here is Yours magazine’s coastal adventure ….

Where we stayed....

We stayed at The Broadway Country House, located in Laugharne, the home of the renowmed poet, Dylan Thomas. The Broadway Country House  boasts nine en-suite rooms, a restaurant, bar and picturesque grounds. During our stay, we found a pretty, quiet spot, where we admired the countryside and Carmarthenshire coast in the background. Whilst we stayed a comfortable double room (with all the usual mod-cons you’d expect), if you prefer a spot of ‘glamping’ and self-catering, you can always stay in a ‘pod’ care of Pods at Broadway (the pods are next to the house).

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Overall, we found the staff at the Broadway Country House friendly and always happy to help. The breakfast was lovely and we especially enjoyed their Full Welsh Breakfast, with the best eggs we’ve tasted in a while! The Cockle and Lava Bread Cake which (included in the Full Welsh cooked breakfast) has to be given a try too. The location of the Broadway Country House is also perfect for a coastal adventure, as our main destinations to visit were all within 5 to 45 minutes away by car (we recommend travelling by car for this type of break).

Day One ....

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If you like history, with a spot of coastal and country walking, try visiting the Dylan Thomas Boathouse. As well as being beautifully preserved in honour of the poet, writer and broadcaster Dylan Thomas, the setting and views of the Taf estuary and the Gower beyond from the Boathouse terrace are, quite simply, stunning. We found sitting outside, enjoying a cuppa with some tasty, home-bakes Welsh cakes, so relaxing. It was easy to lose yourself in thought. We could fully understand why Dylan Thomas loved this house so much, as well as friendly and quaint Laugharne as a whole.

After the visit, we set about on the Dylan Thomas Birthday walk, a two-mile walk which follows the All Wales Coastal path. Remember to pack your camera and walking shoes for this outing!

Where we ate...

The Coran Resort and Spa.

Just five minutes from the hotel, we enjoyed the country setting of The Coran. It has a modern feel, whilst still being able to blend in with the surroundings  (it’s worth noting that part of building at the heart of this expertly restored hotel dates back to the 16th century). The restaurant staff were friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. From the al la Carte menu, Starters start at £5.95, Mains at £14.95 and Deserts £8.50. There is also an extensive drinks menu and the staff are on hand to help you make the best pairings with your meal. Using local ingredients, the food, as well as being good to look at, tasted beautiful and cooked to perfection. We were very impressed and although a little on the pricey side, you at least get what you pay for here.

If we come back to The Coran, we will probably treat ourselves to a dinner, bed and breakfast stay,  as prices are very reasonable. 

Day two .....

We really were not prepared for the setting of Dinefwr Park and Castle (about a 40 minute drive away) – it’s a huge! Set in a stunning 800 acre estate (on the outskirts of the old farming town of Llandeilo), you can take a walk to Dinefwr Castle (it is likely on the site that was probably built by Rhys ap Gruffydd, ruler of Deheubarth from 1155 to 1197) which boasts magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. You can also visit the 1850s Newton House (it was originally built in 1660 and some traces of the original house still remain) for a spot of hands-on history.

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You could literally spend the whole day at the park, admiring the beautiful deer we were privileged to see and White Park Cattle herd (they have been residents at Dinefwr for a 1000 years no less) who seemed just as happy to watch us, as we them! It is a fantastic place to visit for all the family (or on your own with the dog!) and we thoroughly recommend visiting this National Trust gem.

For a more relaxing activity, you could try one of our favorite places we visited, the pretty Aberglasney House and Gardens, located in Llangathen (we passed it in the car en-route to Dinefawr).

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The restoration of Aberglasney (the house and gardens) was made famous by the BBC television series “A Garden Lost in Time” which followed its restoration. It is an inspiration and a testament to the love, dedication and pride of those who worked so tirelessly to make it what it is.

As visitors, we felt it a privilege to visit and help support the continued work that goes into maintaining it.

The landscaped gardens were pretty and there were plenty of little paths to lose yourself in. We particularly enjoyed the restored Cloister Garden (originally build about 1600) and sunken garden, which appeals to the senses, having a bespoke water feature and pretty plants guiding you through the walk way. We really did appreciate this peaceful, more ‘stripped back’ garden. 

The café overlooking the Pool Garden (another gem restored) was lovely and boasted the best Afternoon Tea we had had in a while (no pompous cakes here but good old-fashioned cake slices and tasty sandwiches). As well as the staff being friendly, so were the birds! We were delighted to watch Great Tits and Robins happily hop around as we enjoyed our tasty treat.

Unlike a lot of historical gardens and properties, Aberglasney is solely supported by public and The Aberglasney Restoration Trust and not by any local or central government funding, so they appreciate all the more the visitors that support them.

Where we ate ....

For lunch one of our favourite eateries the whole trip was Ginhaus Deli, situated in the pretty little town of Llandeilo. The Deli, in keeping with its name plays homage to the beverage of choice for many, Gin. As you enter, you are surrounded by bottles of different Gins from all over the world.

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As were chose our lunch from the delicious choices on the menu (it was hard to do but we did it), we asked the waitress for any gin recommendations. We warned her to choose wisely as our tipple of choice was rum and we wanted to see if she could sway us! She had vast knowledge of what there was to offer and after careful consideration, we decided on ‘G&Ts’ by the Welsh Gin producer Aber Falls. The waitress even knew which tonic water would best suit our choices! She did her deli proud because, to our surprise, we were swayed! As for the food, it was well priced for what you received – the portions were a good size and the quality of the fresh produce, excellent.

We really enjoyed the overall feel of Ginhaus Deli. The staff were friendly, it was full of locals, the food and drinks lovely and the deli, a great touch. We can’t wait to taste our Raspberry Gin Jam we just had to buy!

Day three .....

A 45 minute drive away, near Llanelli is Pembrey Country Park. Set in 500 acres of woodlands and alongside eight miles of golden sands, it can provide a happy day out for the whole family.

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There us so much to do there – you can take a walk or cycle along Millennium Coastal Park, enjoy the sandy beaches, a spot of golf or for all adrenaline chasers, try a spot of dry-slope skiing, snowboarding or speed down Wales longest Taboggan run! We went to Pembray mid-week just before the peak season starts and enjoyed the calmer flow of people (the representatives there told us it got very busy on Bank Holidays and during the summer holidays). We thoroughly recommend Pembrey National Park for the whole family, as there is so much to and no one will be left wanting.

After spending the day at Pembrey, why not try visiting Llanelly House.

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We really enjoyed the interactive tour of this house, which was involved in historical intrigue for the best part of 300 years. There is much to discover in terms of exhibits, dressed rooms and artefacts over the three floors of the house. We recommend finishing off the historical trip with with a tasty High Tea in the Llanelly House café.

Where we ate ....

On the way to Llanelly House (a 15 minute drive from it), we lunched at Whitfords Café, in Burry Port.

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The staff and food were friendly and knowledgeable, the café clean and tidy and decorated with tasteful home items, which could also be purchased (Whitfords Cafe has a kitchenalia shop attached to it and given half the chance and budget, we would have bought the whole contents!). The food was well priced, the food portions a good size and so very tasty! We were surprised to also learn that you could also stay at Whitfords Café, as they have four loft conversion rooms and one apartment to rent, all of which a well priced. We would definitely be coming back again to eat and also stay!

For dinner, we headed to Ferryside to dine at the recently opened Pryd O Fwyd.  Working behind the scenes is Guy Lamble. He's been a chef for nearly 25 years - training, and running sections in the kitchen of Claridges and the Savoy, before taking on positions as Head Chef and Executive Chef in restaurants across the country. He is now totally dedicated to Pryd O Fwyd and it shows in the food.

For budget value, we recommend the three course set menu, which suits a range of tastes. It was fresh, beautifully presented and above all delicious. We couldn’t fault it! A word of ‘warning’ if you decide to visit. The restaurant is set back from the road you use to get there, so keep a keen eye out for signs indicating where it is. Keep the phone number of the restaurant handy in case you need directions.

Our final day (day four) ....

We took a trip to Carmarthen, the oldest town in Wales. As we had done so much on the trip, it was a relief to take things slower as we strolled around the old quarter King Street and popped in to its variety of unique shops. We visited and shopped in the Indoor Market. There you can find a range of Welsh food products, art and fashion items. We stopped off at the Richardson Home Baking Stall and tried Etta’s Royal Cake (ordered for the reception at Prince Charles’s wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles). Needless to say, we brought home a tasty cake or two!

For our final activity, we had to visit the National Botanic Garden Wales. Set in over 500 acres of beautiful, pollution-free countryside, the garden is dedicated to plant conservation, especially to native plants.

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We enjoyed roaming around the beautiful gardens, enjoying the beautiful water features and appreciating the aerel acrobatics of a pair of nesting swifts. You cannot walk around the garden, without being ever conscious of the presence of The Great Glasshouse. The largest single span glasshouse in the world, the Great Glasshouse appears like a guardian of the park, spectacular outside and in. The Great Glasshouse contains stunning examples of plants, some of which are the most endangered on the planet. Divided up into five Mediterranean climate regions (California, Western and South Australia, Central Chile, the Western Cape of South Africa and the Mediterranean), you are not just impressed by the beauty of the plants but you are educated too. Should you ever visit and of the regions featured for the first time, at least something will be familiar now.

There is so much to do at this garden that all that remains is to say that it provides a great day out  for all the family (children and adults alike might enjoy visiting the Butterfly house, bee house and historical apothecary) and is definitely worth a visit!

Where we ate .....

Our favourite restaurant where we would happily have eaten lunch and dinner, was a Y Polyn. Nestled in the lush, green Towy valley between the county town of Carmarthen and chic Llandeilo, it is worth the drive there. The pub/restaurant is decorated in pure country chic. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the menu suits all sorts all tastes.

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Although not a vegetarian, one of our party tried a vegetarian main and she could not stop talking about how tasty it was and how she didn’t regret her choice. From our starters, to our main, to our desert, the food was well presented (without being pretentious) and above all delicious. The menu prices suit all budgets (especially the set-menu) and the food is worth what you pay for. This was our favourite evening restaurant and we can’t wait to come back and try their lunch menu!  

In summary ....

We travelled in the car for three and half hours to Laugharne and did not regret the travel time one bit. Carmarthenshire is rich in history and beauty. Whether you are young, old, like to relax or like to be active, there is something for everyone. Next time we are asked where has good beaches and things to do, we will remember to add Carmarthenshire to our ‘go to’ list.

Useful Information ....

Broadway Country House - Double Rooms at Broadway Country House are available from £90 (B&B) or £125 (DBB) based on two sharing. The glamping pods at the hotel are available from £89 based on up to four sharing on a self-catering basis. Book via http://www.broadwaycountryhouse.co.uk or call 01994 427 969. For more information on the pods please visit www.podsatbroadway.co.uk

The Dylan Thomas Boathouse - www.dylanthomasboathouse.com

The Coran Resort and Spa - www.thecorran.com

Dinefwr Park and Castle - www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dinefwr

Aberglasney Gardens – http://www. aberglasney.org

Pembrey Country Park - www.pembreycountrypark.wales

Llanelly House - www.llanelly-house.org.uk

Ginhaus Deli - www.ginhaus.co.uk

Whitfords Café - www.whitfords.wales

Pryd O Fwyd - www.pryd.co.uk

Y Polyn – www.ypolyn.co.uk

The National Botanic Garden of Wales - www.botanicgarden.wales

Discover Carmarthenshire - www.discovercarmarthenshire.com