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Visiting Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire

Updated on October 25, 2014

In the footsteps of the poet, Dylan Thomas

Over the last four years we have explored many areas in the counties of Gwynedd, Powys and Ceridigion. This past weekend my family and I decided to explore a small part of the counties of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The quaint, little fishing village of New Quay was the furthest south we had been up to this point. The countryside heading down to Carmarthenshire becomes much gentler and more rolling and the quality of the roads improve. The once curvy roads have been straightened over the years which makes for a fairly fast and scenic journey into the heart of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

In this article I invite you to join us on our travels into new territory. We start our journey just outside Aberystwyth then continue to the Gwili Steam Railway in Bronwydd, on to Llanelli then to Dylan Thomas's inspirational village of Laugharne and ending with a visit to Tenby in Pembrokeshire before returning home to Mid-Wales.

All the pictures are the property of Christine Broster, the author of this article

The Journey Begins

Mid-Wales, Bow Street to Llanelli

The forecast was sun and mild temperatures so it was a bit disappointing to wake up to the pitter patter of rain on our sun room roof. Determined to not let the rain spoil the day we set off early getting to one of our favouirite coffee places just after its opening time at 10 a.m. The Pennau Craft and Coffee Shop in Bow Street has offered a welcome respite on our trips to Aberystwyth from our area in Mid-Wales. Coffee, tea and buttered teacakes sustained us for the next part of the journey.

Don't let the rain get you down.

Never forget that the weather is capricious in Wales.

Wait ten minutes and you could be blessed with blue skies and sunshine (maybe).

Gwili Steam Railway

Going back in time

We decided to make a short detour on the way to see the Gwili Steam Railway which was running a Hunslett Saddletank Steam train as part of its 1940s weekend celebrations. We parked at the Village Hall near the Cricket Grounds in Bronwydd and took advantage of the free 1958 circa bus which was put on especially to shuttle people from the partking area to the train and back again.

We were greeted by soldiers in World War ll uniforms.

As we boarded the bus we were asked if we had seen a man with a little Chaplin moustache wearing a German uniform and the ladies were told to beware of the American soldiers offering chewing chocolate and silk stockings on the platform at the next station

.

Many of the passengers riding the train got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in the clothing of the era. It is a lovely trip throught the countryside but decided to forego the trip this time and continue on our way as there was still so much to pack into two days.

Bronwydd Arms, the start of the Gwili Steam Railway journey.

Passengers leaving the train in Bronwydd Arms
Passengers leaving the train in Bronwydd Arms

Passenger dressed in 1940s attire. Could that be Sigmund Freud?

Llanelli and the surrounding area

The impressive Millennium Coastal Park

I am glad to say that, after leaving Bronwydd, the sun appeared so after checking into our hotel in Pont Henry, not far from Llanelli, we decided to get some fresh air and stretch our legs at the Millennium Coastal Park in Llanelli. The park, 22 kilometres of parkland, located on the River Loughar (Afon Llwchwr) is tidal. We arrived to see mudflats as far as the eye could see. Sandpipers and gulls foraged in the mud looking for tasty treats.

The sandpipers circled as one in precision performing aerial displays then landed back on the sand to peck once again in the mud. Children were digging with their spades to find little creatures buried in the mud and scooped up little guppies and crabs from the pools. Although the sight of the sea is wonderful there is something very appealing about the mud flats. It is almost like seeing an alien landscape on another planet.

Being a Sunday evening, the town was very quiet and many of the restaurants were closed but we happened upon a lovely Indian restaurant which served a very reasonably-priced Indian buffet. When we returned to the Millennium Coastal Park a few hours later, the landscape had transformed. We came back to a swollen river, waves crashing up on to the shore and people swimming.

The mud flats at the Millennium Coastal Park in Llanelli
The mud flats at the Millennium Coastal Park in Llanelli

We arrived to find mud flats, no water.

St. Martin's Church, Dylan Thomas' grave

Dylan Thomas and his wife, Caitlin, are buried in St. Martin's Churchyard. A simple white cross marks the place where they are buried.

A few hours later - quite a different scene.

Books About Dylan Thomas - His Life, His Poems and More...

In the footsteps of Dylan Thomas - Laugharne and the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

It was with great anticipation that, the next morning, we drove to the village of Laugharne, one of the places that inspired Dylan Thomas's greatest works. We were blessed with a beautiful day so after our caffeine fix at the, 'Cafe Culture,' we started down the path from the Grist Car Park (which was free) to Laugharne Castle. Laugharne Castle overlooking the Taf Estuary dates from 1116.

Dylan Thomas

A very Welsh poet

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, South Wales and is considered by many to be one of the great writers of the 20th century. He lived in several different places but always returned to his beloved Wales, particularly Carmarthenshire, which gave him his inspiration. Dylan, rather than putting himself on a pedestal beyond the locals, he mingled with them and gave them a voice. 'Under Milk Wood', his most famous work a play for voices, is constructed from characters he met in the various places he lived in Wales, particularly Laugharne.

Dylan Thomas, like Dickens, went on many speaking tours particularly in the U.S. to promote his writing. We are fortunate enough to hear Dylan Thomas' reading his works in his rich, dramatic Welsh voice due to recordings he made. See the video below.

Photo of Dylan Thomas courtesy of Amazon.co.uk

Dylan Thomas Reading 'Fern Hill' - His mesmerizing voice captured forever

The poem, published in 1945, is a remembrance of happy days in the 1920s at his Aunt Annie's and Uncle Jim's farm just outside of Llangain in Carmarthenshire.

Laugharne Castle, a Norman Castle, overlooking the Taf Estuary.

The Boat House and Writing Shed

Where Dylan Thomas found inspiration in the seascape beyond

Dylan Thomas lived in the Boat House on and off for many years and spent the final four years of his life here with his wife, Caitlin and their children, Aeron, Llewellyn and Colm. The house is set in a cliff . His Writing Shed is built on stilts and is located above the Boat House. He must have spent many hours here scribbling lines for his poems then scrunching up the sheets of paper containing lines that didn't come up to his expectation. There is evidence of that kind of activity when you peer through the window of the shed. It is set in such a beautiful, inspiring location it must have been difficult for him to leave on his many speaking tours. He left the Boat House in the autumn of 1953 for just this kind of tour never to return. He died in New York in November of 1953.

Dylan Thomas's boathouse in Laugharne on the Taf Estuary.

A walk around Laugharne and environs

Remember to wear sensible, waterproof footwear for this walk. One member of the family, naming no names, found out the hard way and had very wet socks!!

The walk continues

The Town Hall, The Clock Tower and Brown's Hotel

Our walk continued past the 18th Century Town Hall and the Clock Tower then to Brown's Hotel, Dylan's favourite drinking establishment. He spent hours here, not only drinking, but gathering the material for his poems by observing and talking with the locals. I wonder how many of these characters appear in his famous work, 'Under Milk Wood'? Of course, we had to go in and get a pint of the exceptional Brown's Hotel Ale and soak in the ambiance.

Links to interesting resources - Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire

Links to the Gwili Railway, A Dylan Thomas site and information about Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

The Birthday Walk

Fit and feisty at 30!

On October 27, 1944 on Dylan's 30th birthday he walked along the estuary then up to Sir John's Hill, where you can get some wonderful views of the estuary and even as far as Devon and Tenby. As mentioned, it can be a little muddy if there has been a spell of rain and the climb is steep in places. Dylan was obviously a fitter and slimmer man in those days.

Tenby (Dinbych-y-Pysgod) - 'Little Town Of the Fishes'

To end off our trip we decided to visit Tenby, a walled seaside town, in Pembrokeshire. I had avoided visiting Tenby in the past because of its reputation as a prime tourist hot spot. Yes, there are the bucket and spade shops, ice creams on the beach, the smell of fish and chips but I was pleasantly surprised to find a superb sandy strand, St. Catherine's Island with the fortress only accessible at low tide and the beautiful, colourful, Georgian Houses. I discovered that the famous Welsh painter, Augustus John, was born here. Dylan Thomas visited Augustus John, his good friend, on many occasions.

I have made a note that Tenby is truly a place that needs further looking into and we will return but, for now, it is time to get on the road for our trip back home taking along many pictures and a host of memories of a grand weekend in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Laugharne Carmarthenshire Wales

Does this article make you want to visit Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire? - Thank you for joining me on my travels.

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    • DvdMovieGirl profile image

      DvdMovieGirl 4 years ago

      Enjoyed reading through your travels. I live in the place made famous by Gavin and Stacey - yes BARRY!

      Dylan Thomas my favourite poet and glad you got to Laugharne :-)

    • winter aconite profile image

      winter aconite 4 years ago

      Love that part of the world!!!!!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      Excellent lens. I love this part of Wales, but must explore it in detail one day. Your images are great.

    • futureme lm profile image

      futureme lm 4 years ago

      Definitely. Beautiful country. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you. I loved hearing (and to read) Dylan Thomas. Wish I could visit there.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for inviting us to travel with you to the new to you territories of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, I feel amazingly rested and not at all tired from the walk...maybe it was the proper footwear. You've shared your adventure very nicely in photos and in your insights along the way...I love the one that Dylan Thomas must have been more fit in the day for that birthday walk.

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 4 years ago

      I love to visit these places.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      This article does make me want to travel to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire! They sound like great places of quiet where you can hide away and paint or write.

    • neotony profile image

      neotony 4 years ago

      absolutely. i really want to get over there.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      You know it makes me want to visit. It is very beautiful. This is a truly amazing lens!

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 4 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Wow, what a great job you've done here! Your photos are excellent. They say so much that I want to go!

    • petelovestoread profile image

      petelovestoread 4 years ago

      Wonderful Lens with beautiful pictures!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 4 years ago

      I've always wanted to visit the UK and your pictures are amazing.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      Yes - again! I visited Wales but was pretty lost. Had a really tough time dealing with the Welsh signage - it was difficult for me to read, so we circled the roundabouts a few times so that I could figure out where to go! It is truly beautiful, though. Loved the Brecon Beacons. We visited before there was web information available. Thank you so much for all of the information - it will help when get back. :)

    • shineall profile image

      shineall 4 years ago

      Really great places. I want visit there one day.

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 4 years ago from USA

      A beautiful place. Someday I may get to Wales!

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 4 years ago from WNY

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing, I would love to visit one day. :)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Yes, they are great places, and you describe the very well. Thanks

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 4 years ago

      Yes, I can't hardly wait :)

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 4 years ago

      I most certainly did!

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 4 years ago

      Thank you for the wonderful virtual trip. Blessed and pinned to my SquidAngel board.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      Nice lens, itâs very well done, thanks for sharing. The photos are amazing!

    • Holly22 profile image
      Author

      Christine and Peter Broster 4 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      @dahlia369: Thank you for your encouraging comments.

    • Holly22 profile image
      Author

      Christine and Peter Broster 4 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      @SheilaMilne: Thank you, what a lovely thing to say.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      I've got so much more travelling to do...I'm aching to explore more of Wales, and would so love to visit these areas in particular. One day!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      We used to visit south Wales quite frequently but now we've moved further away and it seems unlikely, but I feel I've visited through your eyes. :)

    • Holly22 profile image
      Author

      Christine and Peter Broster 4 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      @anonymous: Thankyou for the encouragement.

    • NinaFowles profile image

      NinaFowles 4 years ago

      A lovely part of Wales, my mother lived in Llangranog, not far from Newquay until a few months ago.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Lovely and very soothing.. I must say that I enjoyed reading your lens.. :D

    • octopen profile image

      octopen 4 years ago

      I have family in Pembrokshire and we visited them last month. They live in Tenby and Pembroke Dock, Wales is a beautiful country. Great lens, well done.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 4 years ago from Somewhere in England

      It's a beautiful part of the world, I've not been quite so far as this. I should go the extra few miles nest time.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 4 years ago

      Absolutely! i LOVE Wales. Visited there about 30 years ago...and want to go back. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes, no doubt.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes it does . . . beautiful!

    • profile image

      Amystuwart 4 years ago

      very nice pictures

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      Very much so, and until I can your lenses have graciously taken me there. Thank you.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 years ago

      Lovely places. I have been to Aberystwyth and spent my honeymoon in Newquay, just down the coast. Spring comes earlier in West Wales than it does further inland.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 4 years ago

      Another virtual trip to an intriguing place I enjoyed very much. Thank you for introducing ti so well!! :)

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      SquidAngel blessings.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      Yes, it does make me want to visit. Your pictures and descriptions are wonderful. Maybe some day...