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GREAT DAYS OUT in Carmarthenshire
Taking you to places where there's just so much to see, do and enjoy
Combine all the come-and-go-as-you-please freedom of self-catering accommodation with a terrific location for a holiday property in Carmarthenshire and you have more than just a holiday you have an unbeatable FBM Holiday! West and Southwest Wales is one of the most glorious regions in Britain (if not the world) for its remarkable repertoire of fabulous beaches, magnificent coast and countryside, breathtakingly beautiful hills and mountains, and a huge diversity of wildlife, which enriches land, sea and air. And these are just the wonders provided by nature! Add to this great outdoors all the man-made attractions from shopping to skydiving and youd be extremely hard pushed to name an interest, leisure pursuit or holiday activity that isnt well catered for, whatever your particular cup of tea. So the only question is, where will you find all the things you want see and do for a truly unforgettable holiday or short break? This brief FBM Holidays guide to great days out will help you find your way.
Carmarthenshire: the garden of Wales. And what a garden! Verdant river valleys tumbling into the dramatic estuarine landscapes of Carmarthen Bay and Cardigan Bay. Forested hills and mountains, steeped in legends of Merlin, King Arthur and conquering Welsh princes. Rich green pastureland rolling through mile upon mile of unspoilt countryside. And all the natural attractions of two neighbouring national parks Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons. Carmarthenshire is much more than a garden. Its the promise of endless opportunities for as much action and adventure as you can possibly pack into one holiday. Or two. Or three... Activities vary between such leisurely pursuits as fishing, golf, cycling and pony trekking to the rigours and challenges of mountain biking, quad biking, walking, horseriding, sailing and watersports. If youre simply looking to stay in trim, leisure centres across the county provide very good facilities. And theres one recently-developed location which combines a great choice of activities with a wonderful setting: the Millennium Coastal Park, 14 miles from end to end (Llanelli to Pembrey) featuring lakes, harbours, wildlife, marinas and activities such as offroad cycling, walking and golf. Pembrey Country Park (see parks & gardens) also offers a wide choice of activities. Heres a brief A-Z guide to other activities in and around Carmarthenshire and where to find them.
Carriage driving. A chance to experience something different and exciting! The award-winning track is at Crychan near Llandovery. Carriage driving on forest roads is currently permitted in Crychan and Halfway Forests. Brynffo: the recommended access point, where there is ample purpose made parking for carriages. Halfway: Open access available here, but less space for parking. Cefn Farm: Open access with ample purpose made parking for carriages. Esgair Fwyog: No access. For details of other carriage driving opportunities within Llanymddyfri Forest District contact 0300 068 0300, or visit www.forestry.gov.uk/wales.
Fishing. A Welsh county that hosts undiscovered beaches and rocky coves, miles of top class salmon and sea trout rivers, trout streams, scenic lakes and bespoke fishing accommodation, is one not to be bypassed by any angler or their family. Carmarthenshire is perfect for all angling requirements - from a day on one of Carmarthen Bays Blue Flag sandy beaches with the family catching prawns in rock pools, to trout fishing on the remote and wild Usk Reservoir, to an anglers treat on a beat of the River Tywi, there are endless opportunities to fish this beautiful and unexplored county.Choice of sea (Carmarthen Bay and Cardigan Bay), freshwater (rivers Tywi, Teifi, Taf, Gwendraeth, Amman and Loughor, and their rich estuaries) and coarse. Coracles can still be seen on the Teifi and theres a coracle museum at Cenarth Falls, a very picturesque spot famous for its salmon.
Golf. Venues include the classic links course at Ashburnham (Burry Port) and the nearby Machynys Peninsula Golf & Country Club the only Nicklaus-designed course in Wales both of which enjoy stunning sea views across the Gower Peninsula. Other courses: Glynhir Golf Club, a mature parkland course near Ammanford; Carmarthen Golf Club in the Gwili Valley; Derllys Court Golf Club near Carmarthen; Glyn Abbey Golf Club near Kidwelly; and Parc Garnant Golf Club overlooking the Black Mountain near Ammanford.
Horseriding and pony trekking. With riding schools, centres and stables such as Marros Riding Centre (near Pendine), and The Pembrey Riding Centre catering for all ages and abilities, there are plenty of options from cross-country exploration of moorlands, forests and mountains to beach rides on the fabulous sands at Pembrey and Pendine. There are numerous horse riding and pony trekking centres in Carmarthenshire. Spread across the county, most centres offer horse riding lessons for all abilities. Those who'd like to learn to ride a horse - or experienced horse riders can explore the beautiful coast and countryside of Carmarthenshire on horseback.
Motorsport. Three great attractions all in one place! Pembreys famous racing circuit, between Kidwelly and Burry Port, is close to the many facilities of Pembrey Country Park and the 7-mile Blue Flag beach. The circuit is also popular for testing, due to its varied corners and its secluded location. Formula One teams have tested at the circuit in the past including McLaren and their drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s. Arrows, Benetton, Jordan and Williams have all tested at Pembrey in the early 1990s with BAR being the last Formula One team to test at Pembrey in 1998. The Seat and VX Racing BTCC teams have also recently tested there as has Nigel Mansell in a GP Masters car. These cars are likely to have set times far faster than the official lap record, However, convention suggests that lap record is the fastest lap set under racing conditions. Therefore, that honour goes to Argentine Formula 3 driver, Brian Smith, who drove a Dallara F397 HKS Mitsubishi.
Mountain biking & cycling. Tests of skill, endurance and stamina include the exciting 14-mile all-weather Gorlech mountain bike route at Brechfa, north-west of Carmarthen. In contrast are easy circular day rides centred around Cardigan on either side of the Teifi, suitable for all ages and abilities and provide a leisurely, enjoyable way to explore the Teifi estuary a haven for wildlife and a designated conservation area.
Arts & crafts. Studios, galleries and workshops across the county include the National Wool Museum near Newcastle Emlyn (a traditional working woollen mil and shop where you can see expert weavers at work), West Wales Centre for the Crafts at St Clears, the Myrddin Gallery (Carmarthen), and Parc Howard Art Gallery & Museum (Llanelli). Culture and visual and performing arts are also well represented throughout the year at numerous country fairs, shows, markets and music festivals. Theatres include The Lyric (Carmarthen), Miners Theatre (Ammanford) and Theatre Elli (Llanelli)
Best beaches. Carmarthenshire boasts two of Britains most outstanding beaches both regularly flying the prestigious international Blue Flag award. Cefn Sidan Sands at Pembrey is the longest beach in Wales (7 miles), and the beach at Pendine (close to Amroth, Saundersfoot and Tenby) is only fractionally shorter. Theres a lot more to Carmarthenshire than just its gorgeous green countryside, as it has some of the most glorious sandy beaches in Europe. The county is bounded to the north by Ceredigion, to the east by Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, to the south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the west by Pembrokeshire.
Dylan Thomas Country. Born in Swansea, poet and writer Dylan Thomas lived in Laugharne for several years, most famously at the Boathouse on the lovely Taf estuary. The house, and the nearby writing shed to which he retreated, are now a museum of his short life and work. Opinion is divided on whether it was Laugharne or New Quay (where he also lived for a time) which provided the inspiration for Under Milk Wood. His memory and writing are also celebrated at the Dylan Thomas Centre on Swanseas waterfront. Laugharne, a small ancient town overlooked by its medieval castle, enjoys a relaxing and picturesque setting on the estuary and is a popular visitor attraction in its own right.
Food, festivals & events. Carmarthenshires rich green farmland and pastures produce meat of the highest quality, notably Welsh Black beef, succulent Welsh lamb and sweet Carmarthen ham. Carmarthen Bay is also renowned for its cockles and seafood, and the River Tywi for its salmon and sea trout. These and other treats, such as award-winning Carmarthenshire cheeses, are served up at country pubs, restaurants and many other places, which pride themselves on good food and hospitality. Delicious local produce also features prominently at many events held throughout the year from shows and fairs at the United Counties Showground, Carmarthen, to a whole variety of festivals, carnivals and sporting challenges hosted at venues across the county. Carmarthenshire even boasts its very own chocolate farm!
Carmarthenshire County Museum is in a parkland location at Abergwili near Carmarthen. The many fascinating displays reveal much about a variety of subjects, including the Roman settlement at Carmarthen (known as Moridunum) during the occupation of Britain. Find out more about Carmarthenshires past in the county museum. A range of fascinating artefacts from mammoth bones and Roman gold are on show along with treasures like Welsh dressers and paintings portraying the county over the years.
Kidwelly Industrial Museum is situated just a mile from the historic castle town of Kidwelly, and just five miles from the town of Llanelli, which, at the end of the 19th Century was the Tinplate manufacturing centre of the world, giving the town the nickname of Tinopolis. The locality around the town of Llanelli, including Kidwelly, was once home to around half the worlds production of tinplate. The Industrial Museum itself is the site of the second oldest recorded tinplate works in the UK and some of the remains of this works can still be seen today. The museum is unique as it is the only museum dedicated to the interpretation of the tinplate industry in general and specifically the individual processes involved in making tinplate. After a visit to the museum you will go away with an understanding of this complicated and fascinating process.
Museum of Speed (Pendine Sands). This small but interesting museum stands close to the beach and is home to the beautifully-restored Babs the car in which Parry Jones suffered a fatal crash making an attempt on the world landspeed record in 1927. The Museum of Speed in Pendine was opened in 1996. The museum focuses on the use of the sands at Pendine for land speed attempts and racing. Other record breaking and fast vehicles can be seen at other times. In the early 1900s the Pendine Sands were used as a venue for car and motor cycle races. From 1922 the annual Welsh TT motor cycle event was held at Pendine Sands. The firm flat surface of the beach created a race track that was both straighter and smoother than many major roads at the time. Motor Cycle magazine described the sands as "The finest natural speedway imaginable".
National Waterfront Museum (Swansea). An award-winning, state-of-the-art interactive museum, which tells the story of Welsh industry and innovation. The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years. Our vast industrial and maritime heritage is ready to explore via cutting-edge, interactive technology married with traditional displays. It means a unique, captivating and involved visitor experience lies in wait at Waless newest national museum.
Aberglasney (at Llangathen near Llandeilo) is one of the finest gardens in Wales and one of the most fascinating in the UK the subject of the BBC TV series Garden Lost In Time. Dating back to the 15th century, the ten acres contain an amazing variety of plants and trees, providing colour and interest all year round. Spectacularly set in the beautiful Tywi valley of Carmarthenshire, Aberglasney House have been an inspiration to poets since 1477. The story of Aberglasney spans many centuries, but, the house's origins are still shrouded in obscurity. We will share with you our discoveries along the way and hopefully unravel some of the mysteries that surround the house and its gardens.*Please note that dogs are not allowed in the gardens (except guide dogs)
Millennium Coastal Park is a breath of fresh air a traffic-free seafront leisure and recreation area, starting at Pembrey and stretching 14 miles east along the Loughor estuary to Llanelli. Walking, cycling, golf, wildlife and first-class marina and harbour facilities are just some of the attractions. A walk in the park has never been quite like this before! Millennium Coastal Park occupies approximately 10 miles of coastline on the Burry Estuary. The park runs adjacent to the towns of Llanelli and Burry Port, the park offers superb views along its length of the Gower Peninsula. The Gower was the first designated area of outstanding natural beauty in the UK.
National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne is not something youd want to mow or tend to every Sunday morning 568 glorious acres of an 18th-century estate. Taking centre stage in this beautiful green landscape is the Great Glasshouse the worlds biggest single-span creation of its kind and boasting a permanent computer-controlled Mediterranean climate. Housing plants from several Mediterranean climate regions, the plants are divided into sections from Chile, Western Australia, South Africa, California, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean itself.
Pembrey Country Park is 500 acres of forest and parkland with a very special extra feature the magnificent Blue Flag beach of Cefn Sidan Sands. Other attractions and activities include a toboggan run, dry ski slope, train ride, pitch and putt, bike hire, horseriding trails, adventure playground, crazy golf, visitor centre and cafe. The land which the park is located served industrial uses in the 20th century. Railway lines, World War II bunkers and pill boxes still remain
Other parks and gardens of interest throughout Carmarthenshire, include Gelli Aur Country Park (near Llandeilo), Hywel Dda Gardens & Centre (Whitland), Llyn Llech Owain Country Park and Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park (both near Cross Hands), Norwood Gardens (near Llandysul), Swiss Valley (the local name for the Cwm Lleidi reservoirs near Llanelli), and Ynys Dawela Nature Park (Brynamman) to name but a few of the marvellous sites available to visit.
Fans of railways and rail travel always find plenty to interest them in Carmarthenshire and west Wales from regular services along dramatic scenic routes (such as between Carmarthen and Kidwelly, for much of the way hugging the shoreline of the Tywi and Gwendraeth estuaries) to preserved and narrow-gauge railways which have become very well established as family attractions in their own right. Gwili Railway (at Bronwydd Arms near Carmarthen) is one of very few surviving standard-gauge steam railways in Wales and features a riverside picnic area.
National Wetlands Centre near Llanelli brings you close to ducks, geese and swans from around the world. Some will even feed from your hand, much to the delight of children. This attraction is a Wildfowl & Wetland Trust centre part of the network which naturalist Sir Peter Scott helped create when he established the first site of its kind at Slimbridge, on the Severn estuary.