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Carmarthenshire is peppered with castles and ancient hill forts, which punctuate its verdant, hilly landscape. With a stretch of sandy coastline to the south, the Brecon Beacons to the east, and myriad rivers, forests and gardens, this historic county is a delight to explore.
History and culture
For literary buffs, the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk is a must. Found in Laugharne, it is based upon his work Poem in October and features several lookout points. The wooden benches dotted along the trail have stanzas from the poem carved into the wood. Highlights include Thomas’ boathouse and writing shed, where he spent the last four years of his short life, as well as his local pub, Brown’s – which has since been visited by numerous US presidents and celebrities. Dylan died in New York in 1953, but his grave can be found here in Laugharne.
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The Dinefwr Castle and Park is an 800-acre National Trust estate complete with ancient ruins, a 17th century manor (Newton House), tea rooms, a courtyard shopping area and beautiful parkland walks. There are panoramic views of the Towy river from the castle, and a chance to get up close to the dragonflies buzzing around the pond. The trails are suitable for all the family, and tracker packs are available to help children discover their surroundings. There is an exhibition in Newton House telling the stories of times gone by. You can have a Hidden House Tour, play a Steinway piano, check out the Billiard Room and visit the China Passage Art Gallery. The grounds are home to a herd of rare White Park cattle and over 100 fallow deer.
25 miles south west of Dinefwr, Kidwelly Castle gives an excellent impression of how dangerous life could be 800 years ago when it was in its heyday. Visitors can try out climbing some of the walls, as well as appreciate the views down into the castle and surrounding countryside. Children are given swords and bows and arrows to ‘defend’ the castle, making it a fun and educational family visit. The castle was used in the very first scene of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Dolaucothi Gold Mines – the only known Roman gold mines in Britain – are a fun way to explore the natural surroundings and history of Carmarthenshire. As they take you down into the mine – with your headlamps and helmets, of course – guides explain how gold was extracted back in the Roman times, through to 1938 when the mine was shut down. They describe the dismal working conditions of the miners back in the day, which can be quite harrowing to listen to. You can even pan for gold after touring the spooky old caverns of the mine, before enjoying some coffee and cake at the café.
Wildlife and nature
Carmarthenshire is known as the garden of Wales, so it seems fitting that this is where you’ll find the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where plant species from all over the world are nurtured and researched. With 568 acres to explore, including a bee garden, fairy wood, play areas and arboretum, as well as the star of the show, the Great Glasshouse, there’s plenty to keep families happy and entertained. For a garden steeped in history, make time for Aberglasney, where grand manor ruins house subtropical plants and a unique cloister garden dating back to the Elizabethan era tempts passers-by with its colourful flowers.
Prefer birds to blooms? Visit Llanelli Wetland Centre to spot the resident Caribbean flamingos, little egrets and all five species of native owl to name just a few.
Carmarthenshire boasts some of Wales’ finest beaches, including the 8-mile-long Cefn Sidan Beach – the first in Wales to achieve blue flag status – and Morfa Bychan Beach, which was used during World War II for practising the 'D-Day' landings.
Walk or cycle along the Millennium Coastal Path to take in the highlights of the region’s coastline. In the towns of Burry Port and Pwll found along the route, you’ll find memorials to Amelia Earhart, who landed in the estuary close by after completing her first transatlantic flight.
Alternatively, the scenic four-mile loop between Llandeussant and Llyn y Fan Fach takes walkers to the very edge of the Brecon Beacons, offering fantastic views of the lake said to be where the folkloric Lady of the Lake resides.
Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Carmarthenshire.