The Carmarthen Bay coastline is sculpted by the deep estuaries of the rivers Towy (Afon Tywi) and Tâf with dramatic castles in dominant positions above the shore at Laugharne, Llansteffan and Kidwelly. Carmarthenshire Coast offers not only some of the longest stretches of sandy beaches in Europe but also the most stunning coastal walks, scenery and family activities.
Llansteffan lies between the estuaries of the Towy and the Tâf, facing the expanse of Carmarthen Bay. Over the years, its inhabitants would have watched a variety of ships waiting for the tide to take them up the river Towy to Carmarthen - once the most important port and town in Wales. Bathers must take great care in Llansteffan as the tide rushes in and out, adding drama and a constantly changing beach-combers’ paradise of shells and other ocean treasures.
Laugharne is known for its association with Dylan Thomas, who wrote 'Under Milk Wood' in the Boat House above the estuary, preserved just as he left it. This whole area has connections to Dylan Thomas as he spent many childhood summers at family farms around Llansteffan – including the inspiration for two of his greatest poems, Fern Hill. One of these sums up the atmosphere of the place in a tantalising way: 'Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs, About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green'...
Thomas’s favourite pub in the area was the Edwinsford Arms, Llansteffan, run by relatives, Thomas and Catherine Thomas, and now a restaurant ‘Yr Hen Dafarn’. Dylan enthused about its ‘...sabbath-dark bar with a stag’s head over the Gents‘.
In Under Milk Wood the name of Captain Cat's boat is the S.S. Kidwelly, and many people will be familiar with the name as a result but perhaps unaware that the town is home to a magnificent castle which was originally built by the Normans but subsequently altered several times.
Pendine, on the west side of the Tywi estuary, and Pembrey on the east have particularly long sandy beaches and both have the advantage of being south-facing. The 7 mile stretch of Pendine Sands was where Malcolm Campbell set a 1920s world land speed record in his car ‘Blue Bird’. The firm, flat surface of the beach was a perfect race track - straighter and smoother than many roads of the time. It was also used for the annual Welsh TT motor cycle event and in 1933 Amy Johnson took off from Pendine Sands in her De Havilland ‘Seafarer’ to fly non-stop to New York.
Today Pendine Sands is a popular beach for less speedy activities such as kite buggying – although there is an annual weekend of racing by The Vintage Hot Rod Association at the end of June.
Pembrey Country Park
Within the park, the 8 mile stretch of golden sand called Cefn Sidan is quite spectacular due to the fine structure of its sand granules – great for building simple sand castles but not for more stable structures. Activities including sand yachting, kite flying and para sailing are popular here, and Pembrey Country Park also offers cycling, a dry ski slope, horse riding and acres of beautiful walking through the forest. Fabulous rides across the sands can also be enjoyed with Marros Riding Centre.
It is a beautiful beach for holiday makers, but not so for sailing ships from the past, for which the sands proved treacherous. Many were lost around Pembrey, including a French ship on its voyage from the West Indies to France, blown badly off course in 1828. One of the many drowned was the 12 year old niece of Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She is buried at St Illtyds Church, Pembrey.
The Millennium Coastal Park
Covering about 10 miles of coastline on the Burry Estuary, between Pembrey and Loughor, the park offers superb views along its length of the Gower Peninsula and Burry Inlet.
It has transformed the area of industrial dereliction into a place of beauty and interest for recreational use, featuring a level 18-mile landscaped cycling/walking track, a championship links golf course and the National Wetlands Centre for Wales.
The 450 acres of The National Wetlands Centre is a wonderful habitat of lakes, ponds and reed beds providing refuge for an abundant and varied bird-life. With over 600 species of the world’s most spectacular birds, including the bright pink Caribbean flamingo, it is a great place to bring the family. Open all year, the centre provides a range of facilities and activities from canoe safaris to hand feeding some of the rarest birds in the UK.
Some of the best things to do on the Carmarthenshire Coast
We love to celebrate a special occasion with lunch or dinner at Sosban Restaurant, Llanelli. A most impressive grade II listed Victorian building, dominated by its 90 foot tower, this great restaurant is keen to showcase the best local, seasonal produce, serving a delicious menu.
Cycle the Millenium Coastal Path
Visit Kidwelly Castle
Enjoy the activities at Pembrey Country Park
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