Carmarthen Accommodation and Holiday Guide
Carmarthen – Caerfyrddin
Carmarthenshire is a green and pleasant county. Sometimes described as The Garden of Wales it offers green pastures, slow and fast running rivers, mountains and castle-topped crags. The county hosts The National Botanic Gardens and The National Wetland Centre. The county town is Carmarthen.
Brief History of Carmarthen
The most popular historical monument in Carmarthen is the castle, which was originally founded as a Roman fort and said to be the birthplace of probably the first spin doctor in history, Merlin. The infamous wizard of Arthurian legends, who engineered Arthur’s rise to the throne, created the Round Table and latterly accompanied the king to Avalon to die. Merlin, or Myrddin in welsh, gave the town its name. It is said that Merlin lives on beneath Merlin’s Hill, where he will stay until the country is in great danger and Arthur and his men rise up! Click here for Merlin’s Hill
In the 14th century, the town gained its first charter from Edward I, and subsequently flourished as important centre for wool. In the early 15th century, Owain Glyndwr took the town.
An oak tree planted in the centre of town in 1659 to celebrate the coronation of Charles II, became known as Merlin’s tree and was linked to the prophecy that Merlin made “When Merlin’s tree shall tumble down, then shall fall Carmarthen town”. The tree died in the 1970s and the town survived! A piece of the tree can still be seen in the Carmarthen County Museum, located on the A40, about a mile east of Carmarthen.
Attractions in Carmarthen
Carmarthen is the lively county town as well as being a truly country town. Market days Wednesdays and Saturdays, the indoor market is open every week day, an excellent place for local produce, as well as bric-a-brac and second hand books. Apart from excellent stores and outlets, there are alleys and lanes to explore, a riverside setting and, of course, a castle. The prettiest part of the town, lies at the foot of the castle, and is the town’s main shopping centre.
The imposing, County Hall above the river Tywi Bridge, was designed by the same man who built Buckingham Palace – John Nash. Apparently, the Shire Hall was originally designed as a jail, which may go some way to explaining its stern exterior.
Oriel Myrddin Gallery on Church Lane, is an excellent centre for showcasing local talent, it houses exhibitions of contemporary art and crafts. The King Street Gallery on the opposite side of the road, also shows work from local artists.
Just off Priory Street, on the way out of town, lie the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre, which were excavated in the 1960s. Although, there isn’t really much left to see.
Events in Carmarthen
The United Counties Showground just outside Carmarthen hosts a myriad of events throughout the year, such as the United Counties Show, or Carmarthenshire County Show, as it will be known from 2008, For further details of this and other events Click here for United Counties Show 2007
Despite being a country town, Carmarthen is also the setting for the Welsh Boat Show 2007. Click here for the Welsh Boat Show 2007
Wining & Dining in Carmarthen
Carmarthen offers plenty of variety when it comes to eating and drinking, there are the old traditional pubs such as, The Boar’s Head on Lammas Street, a fine old coaching inn, with great food and modest rooms. Dylan Thomas liked to stop off and drink here when he was in the area. The Rose and Crown also on Lammas street, has simple pub food and B&B accommodation. The Drover’s Arms, again on Lammas Street, is a quiet pub with superb beers.
The more discerning palate may want to head off to The Quayside Brasserie on Coracle way. A fantastic restaurant that offers great local meat dishes as well as excellent seafood.
Nearby Attractions & Towns
Carmarthenshire’s rivers are very special. The river Tywi runs from the Cambrian Mountains through the Tywi Forest into Llyn Brianne Reservoir then on to Carmarthen Bay. The forest is on Forestry Commission land and accessible to the public. Birds of prey are abundant; Goshawk, Merlin and Red Kites can be seen. The many wet areas along its route are home to Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew and Golden Plover. Travelling through a changing landscape it leaps into action as it crashes through a deep gorge near Rhandirmwyn and then calmly runs through farmland and country towns between Llandovery and Carmarthen before entering Carmarthen Bay at Llansteffan – Ferryside. Here is a wildfowl treat; avocets, white heron and little egrets feed on the sandy stretches of the estuary.
The tidal River Taf glides into the sea at Laugharne past the old home of Dylan Thomas.
The Teifi, a sometimes boisterous river runs through the north of the county. As the river makes its way through Llandysul it hosts a championship canoe slalom course, good fishing is available and the area has an excellent walking centre.
The River Cothi passes the gold mines at Dolaucothi; gold from this mine has been traditionally used for Royal wedding rings. Gold was mined from Roman times until the 1930’s and now, Dolaucothi offers an exciting exhibition of gold, machinery and underground workings.
The unique National Coracle centre at Newcastle Emlyn, is well worth a visit. Click here The National Coracle Centre. Rides are available and demonstrations for organised groups can be arranged.
Beaches such as Pendine Sands 7 miles long where some years ago land speed records were run and even longer Cefn Sidan Sands, are the longest in the country. Access to Cefn Sidan Sands is from Pembrey Country Park which comprises 202 hectares of wonderful parkland which has been transformed into a major attraction encompassing coast and countryside. Attractions include a 130metrelong dry ski slope – the longest Toboggan Run in Wales – 9 hole Pitch and Putt course – Crazy Golf – Miniature Railway – Viewpoint Car Park – Large Adventure Playground – Cycle Track – Nature Trails and Orienteering Courses – Diner, Beach Kiosk and Park Restaurant. There is complete access for the disabled. Ranger service provides help and information.
The Millennium Coastal Park offers a variety of recreation facilities; walking, cycling, mountain biking, sailing or canoeing and fishing. Elsewhere, golf is well catered for; there are many well-designed golf courses set among diverse landscapes to choose from. Two examples; The Machynys Peninsular Golf and Country Club which is a modern course with stunning sea views and The Carmarthen Golf Club which is set within the green Gwili valley. For further details: Click here for Machynys Golf Club or Click here for Carmarthen Golf Club
Gwili has the only standard gauge steam train railway in Wales. An almost complete family entertainment in itself it provides not just rides – a ticket and you can travel all day - but, ‘Jazz and Rock ‘n’ Roll on a train’ where you ‘can dance the night away’ is available during July and August. Birthday parties are catered for, you can hire the train. Click here for Gwili Railway.
Walkers have plenty of choices, steep climbs or gentle ambles are here. Part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, The Black Mountains, shadowy, beautiful, an ever changing landscape is just waiting to be explored. Two beautiful lakes, Llyn y Fan Fawr, and, Llyn y Fan Fach, lie hidden until you top a ridge and, sun permitting, they glisten below you. The views are fantastic. For those not up to the steep climbs, on the lower slopes, most river banks and woodlands have foot and cycle paths clearly marked, not just walking and cycling to tempt you out but several farms offer B&B and horse riding facilities. If you prefer the coast, horse riding on the beach at, Pembrey is stimulating.
Wales is renowned for its castles, Carmarthenshire has many good examples.
Kidwelli Castle is so well preserved it is easy when walking through to put oneself back in time. The castle was first mentioned in 1114 and was made of wood, but what you see now is a stone castle from the 13th century. Set on a ridge above the river Gwendraeth which flows into Carmarthen Bay, the position made convenient access to supplies from the sea.
Carreg Cennen Castle near Llandeilo may not be in as robust a condition as Kidwelli but it has an interesting feature. You need a torch, which can be hired from the ticket office, to walk through the passageway cut into the cliff to a cavern below the castle foundations. Probably completed in 1299 it stands on the edge of a great limestone crag in the foothills of the Black Mountains. Its strength and power dominates: from the battlements, the view to the Black Mountains and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking.
Perched on a hill a mile from Llandeilo is Dinefwr Castle, the keep is one of the best preserved examples of a native circular keep in Wales. In the 14th and 15th centuries castles were built up and pulled down as lords fought for power so that by the 18C Dinefwr was in decay. It was restored as a romantic ruin in Dinefwr Park and landscaped by ‘Capabilility’ Brown. The oak woods have 700 year old trees. Newton House, just half a mile from the castle and also in the park, was lived in after the decay of the castle and has been restored to its former glory, one can experience life in a grand home as it would have been then.
By Coach and Rail
Trains and bus services are quite good although some do not run frequently. The Heart of Wales train which runs from Swansea calling at Llanelli, Amanford, Llandeilo, Llandovery and many smaller stations to Shrewsbury is not to be missed, although running only four trains a day, the journey needs planning.
Guv's Taxis Tel: 01267 233311
Adrian Taxis Tel: 01267 234861
Gilligan Taxis Tel: 01267 223200
Furnace House Surgery
Furnace House, St. Andrews Rd, Carmarthen, Dyfed SA31 1EX
Tel: 01267 236616
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015