Carmarthen Things to Do

  • A South African Protea
    A South African Protea
    by MikeBird
  • Wildflower meadow. Look out for Orchids.
    Wildflower meadow. Look out for Orchids.
    by MikeBird
  • The small Japanese garden
    The small Japanese garden
    by MikeBird

Most Recent Things to Do in Carmarthen

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    Beautiful gardens in July

    by MikeBird Written Jul 21, 2014

    These gardens are truly wonderful! The National Botanic Gardens of Wales were opened in 2000. They are tucked away off any major roads and our Satnav finished at a point in a country road that was clearly not the gardens but we carried on and found the entrance without any problems.

    There is a wealth of different things to see and explore in these gardens and even if you're not particularly plant oriented you will probably find something of interest to you - even if it is only to enjoy a cup of Welsh tea and Tea cakes.

    The main feature, and the garden's landmark exhibit is probably the single span domed glasshouse featuring displays of 'Mediterranean' plants. I've used quotes here because the plants are actually from Chile, Western Australia, Cape Province of South Africa and the Canary Islands. All of these regions display a Mediterranean style climate and habitats even though they do not border the Mediterranean Sea. In here you'll find Proteas from South Africa and their amazing equivalents from other southern hemisphere countries. One photo below shows these impressive large flowers.

    There is the usual Tropical house which has a fine mist spray automatically released every few minutes to simulate the dampness of a tropical rainforest. The orchid display in there was particularly impressive.

    There is a replica of an Apothecary's shop filled with all of the paraphernalia of their trade. This is located near to the shop, restaurant and the theatre which shows short feature films about plants and the gardens ( although I didn't stop and watch any of them). These would all be ideal locations for you if the weather turns bad and you need to take shelter. Luckily for us the weather in early July was very favourable and we enjoyed exploring all over the site.

    Tucked away in a little corner was a delightful Japanese themed garden. That's what I liked about the whole site; you can turn a corner and find something lovely and unexpected.

    For me, the most spectacular parts were the wild flower meadows. These were in full bloom and the array of colour and variety was amazing.Unfortunately I don't think my photos do justice to it.

    Beyond these meadows is a display of roots of hardwood trees from Ghana. Their size convey the grand stature of these trees and how they would have stood in their native rain forests. The explanatory plaques next to this display would make you think twice about buying any hardwood products. Indeed the gardens have a strong conservation message for the public.

    Further on and beyond the large lake is a nature reserve but sadly I didn't have enough time to explore it although I did manage to see a Spotted Flycatcher. Their numbers are sadly in decline in the UK so it's good to find them here in this reserve.

    I hope I've managed to convey a sense that there really is something of interest for everyone in these gardens. We could easily have spent another full day there.

    Details of Entrance fees ( there is a range of different options) and how to find the gardens are available from the website below. The gardens are strongly promoting the use of public transport and will allow access at half price if you can prove that public services to reach the gardens have been used on the day.

    Have a great day out.

    A display in the Mediterranean glasshouse A South African Protea Inside the Apothecary's shop Wildflower meadow. Look out for Orchids. The small Japanese garden
    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Photography

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    The ancient Village and Mill of CENARTH

    by ranger49 Written Jun 16, 2011

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    This ancient village lacks a VT destination listing of its own so creeps in here to assert its claim for a visit. There is plenty to see and do here!
    The oldest part of the village is clustered around the 3-arch bridge that crosses the River Teifi. The present structure dates from 1785 but there was a bridge on this site in the C12th.
    The mill on the banks of the river close to the bridge was recorded as long ago as 1180 but the present Mill dates from about the same time as the bridge. It remained in constant use until 1939. Post-war renovations and attempts to revive the mill were short lived. I remember visiting it in the 1960s when it was beginning to look very neglected.
    Further renovations in the 80swere made but its success as a working mill was impeded by changes in the water flow of the river and low tides over the weir mean that it now operates infrequently.
    A new use was found for the Mill when it became the National Coracle Centre. Salmon fishermen used these tiny crafts regularly back in the 1960's - they are now very popular for hobby boating.

    Take a walk upstream to see the falls particularly after snow or heavy rain.

    Below the Bridge see the Holy Fountain.

    Stop for refreshments in one of the local cafes or pubs.

    Buy your stamps and cards at the Post Office.

    Enjoy your visit!

    Towards the Falls and the Mill 16th Century Village Pub with coracle Village Shop & Post Office The Salmon Leap Cafe & Gift Shop The Old arched bridge across the Teifi
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Darwin, Wallace and the Mendelian Inheritance

    by ranger49 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The UK release on 25 9/09 of Jon Amiel’s Film “Creation” which I look forward to seeing, is reviving awareness of another scientist - Monmouthshire born Alfred Russel Wallace. In a couple of previews I have seen of the film he is referred to as a largely or utterly forgotten pioneer in the field of evolution and the origin of species. But he is certainly not forgotten or neglected at the National Botanic Garden of Wales where a whole garden is dedicated to him and his work.
    A man of much learning and many talents Wallace worked in the south Wales area both as an engineer and an architect before devoting himself to science and botanical research, concentrating on evolution and natural selection.
    There was intermittent contact between Wallace and Darwin but the latter was shocked to receive from Wallace a copy of the findings he proposed to publish - which so closely mirrored Darwin’s own theories. Their two papers were presented to the London Linnaen Society in 1858 ; the following year Darwin published -On the Origins of Species.
    Afterwards Wallace continued his own research, travelling extensively and concentrating on biodiversity and geography.

    The top of the Wallace Garden

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    Carreg Cennen Castle

    by Balam Updated Aug 9, 2010

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    Carreg Cennen castle is a fabulous castle that sits high on a craggy hill overlooking the Brecon Beacons national park and Black Mountain.
    A short walk from the carpark will bring you to the old farmyard and buildings that house a tea room and shop where you pay the entrance fee, then a walk up the hill you have to go up a steep slope with no path to reach the castle.
    Like the great castles built in North Wales by Edward I it consists of an inner and an outer ward.
    The castles Inner ward and dominant gate house is it's earliest part.
    Extra protection was given to the inner ward by a barbican consisting of a stepped ramp along the edge of the ditch, leading to a square tower in front of the gatehouse which had a drawbridge, portcullis and door.

    A great feature of this castle is a cave, consisting of a long gallery at first it then runs into the hill by about 45 meters, you can explore it but you will need a torch and it can be quite slippy so good shoes and free hands are essential.

    Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle Cave at Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle
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    • Castles and Palaces

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    Dinefwr Castle

    by Balam Updated Aug 9, 2010

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    After a walk around Llandeilo we went to the National trust park were Dinefwr Castle is. You can park all day for £2 and if you have the time you could spend all day here just walking around the lovely country park and exploring the castle ruins and the magnificent country house that was built to replace the castle.

    It is a good 30 minute walk from the carpark to the castle and it is up hill most of the way. The path takes you through some lovely blue bell woods before it opens out at the top of the hill to the castle which like nearby Carreg Cennen has some great views of the surrounding country side.
    The castle is free to enter and although not massive it is still impressive with it's great circular keep and curtain walls parts of which date from the long struggles with the Anglo-Normans. The castle was the seat of Lord Rhys, Prince of South Wales.

    Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle
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    • Architecture

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    Dinefwr Castle

    by Myfanwe Updated Jul 18, 2010

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    The ancient ruin of Dinefwr Castle is managed in partnership, between the National Trust, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and Cadw. It has panoramic views of the Towy valley and water meadows. Since 1775 the castle, Newton house, gardens, woods and deer park have been integrated into a vast and beautiful landscape.

    There are footpaths through the park leading to the castle and bog wood and access to Castle . The footpath leading to the Castle is a little steep at the beginning but the views once you are there are out of this world. During our visit in May we were rewarded with the sights and smells of a carpet of bluebells in the woods leading to the castle.

    Entrance to the Castle is free but there is a small charge for use of the Car park near the National Trust Visitor Centre.

    Dinefwr Castle - Stunning views from the wall-walk Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle Dinefwr Castle
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    • Historical Travel

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    Dinefwr Country Park

    by Myfanwe Updated Jul 18, 2010

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    Dinefwr Country park is situated just a few miles from the market town of Llandeilo. Here you'll find many waymarked footpaths taking you through the acres of glorious countryside, past the fallow deer herd and if you're lucky you'll find some of the rare white cattle which roam the park.

    Dinefwr Country park has some great historical buildings for you to explore too; Newton house and Dinefwr Castle to name but a few.

    There are some great waymarked walks around the Park, details of which can be found at the Visitor Centre in the main car park.

    Dinefwr Country Park Dinefwr Country Park Dinefwr Country Park Dinefwr Country Park Dinefwr Country Park
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Carreg Cennan Castle

    by Myfanwe Written Jul 7, 2010

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    This Castle has got to be one of the most fascinating of all the Welsh Castles. It sits high up on a huge limestone crag in the Cennan Valley rewarding those who reach the top with the most fantastic views of the beautiful Camarthenshire countryside.

    There is a lovely visitor centre, Cafe and shop at the foot of the path leading to the Castle. A short uphill walk along the waymarked path will take you to the foot of the hill on which the Castle sits. There is no path leading to the Castle, just an uphill scramble - avoiding the sheep poo!! A little effort will reward you with outstanding views combined with a great Castle. One unique feature of Carreg Cennan can be found in the South-East corner - a cave for you to explore! Be sure to take a torch but beware the cave is steep, dark, damp and can be a bit slippery in places :-(

    The visible stonework of this Welsh Castle is entirely of English creation. It's Welsh predecessor, probably built by the Lord Rhys in about 1197 has been entirely swallowed up. Since then the Castle has caused many battles between the Welsh and English, passing from one to the other over the centuries. By the mid fifteenth century the Castle was the property of the Duchy of Lancaster and governed, by Gruffydd ap Nicholas. After the defeat of the Lancastrians in 1461 at the battle of Mortimer's Cross and Gruffydd's sons had to surrender the Castle to Yorkist control and orders were given to dismantle the buildings. This was clearly not carried out very well, the Castle is now in the care of CADW (Welsh historic Monuments).

    Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle Views from Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen Castle
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    • Castles and Palaces

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    Llandeilo

    by Myfanwe Written Jul 6, 2010

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    Llandeilo is a picturesque market town situated in the County of Carmarthenshire. The town is surrounded by glorious Countryside and if you're lucky while driving in this area you'll catch a glimpse of a Castle or two high up perched high up on the hills.

    Llandeilo town has some great historic buildings, small independant shops and some lovely traditional local pubs on the high street.

    You can't miss the attractive medieval tower of St Teilo's Church as you enter the town. The church building as seen today was completed in 1850. The churchyard and the site on which the church stands have a much longer history, and date back to the sixth Century.

    Just two miles away from the centre of town you will find the Dinefwr Country Park where you'll find Newton House (National Trust property), Dinefwr Castle and acres of wonderful countryside, walking trail and deer herd.

    Pretty streets of Llandeilo Lovely architecture St Teilo's Church The Castle pub The Shire Hall
    Related to:
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    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture

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    Go to the Pictures in the National Garden

    by ranger49 Written Oct 5, 2008

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    Theatr Botanica - a "cinema in the round" was specially built to show films in 360°. You can sit down for twenty minutes or so and be immersed in a series of beautiful images and sound as you learn more about 'The Planet of Plants'.
    Respite from the heat on hot, summer days, a warm place to spend some time on winter days!
    Film times are displayed on the board outside the theatre - there are usually 4 showings a day.
    If your time is limited and you want to plan what to see in the Garden it might be a good idea to ring for showing times before your visit (01558 667148/9) or enquire at the Ticket Office on arrival.

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    The Bee Garden - National Botanic Garden

    by ranger49 Written Oct 5, 2008

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    In a sheltered and well protected corner of the Garden you will come across the Bee Garden. Here a couple of dozen hives are tended by specialist, trained bee keepers.
    Visitors are not allowed in the garden but may view the bees and their keepers from an ideal observation point - a sort of "Hide" inside a small shed .
    Not only do its windows look directly into the garden but to enhance your view small cameras directed onto the hive deliver a close up view of bees entering and leaving their hive onto a small screen in the shed.

    The walls of the shed have an excellent, informative and illustrated display which tells you just about all there is to know about bees.

    At certain times of the day you may even see the keepers going about their regular tasks in the garden.

    Bees under surveillance Inside the Bee Garden Spacemen - No the Beekeepers!

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    Visit the National Botanic Garden Of Wales

    by ranger49 Updated Oct 3, 2008

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    This was the first new National Botanic Garden to be created in the 21st century anywhere in the world, and the first to be built in the United Kingdom for almost 200 years.

    It is dedicated to the further understanding and enrichment of our environment through the study and conservation of threatened plants. At the same time it exists to provide opportunities for visitors to learn about and appreciate the natural world.

    The centrepiece of the garden is the Great Glasshouse designed by Norman Foster and architects. This spectacular dome is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world and beneath it are to be found plants from all six "mediterranean climate zones" - California, Australia, the Canary Islands, Chile,South Africa and the Mediterranean.

    Outside, the gardens cover 500 acres of parkland, lakes and water features, woodlands and wild flower meadows - all set in the rich, rolling countryside of Carmarthenshire.

    There are special attractions and learning opportunities for children and young people; examples of garden architectiure from around the world; a small museum in Apothecaries Hall tells the story of the legendary physicians of Myddfai who were renowned for their knowlege and use of herbal plants.
    And much much more than I can list here but including an excellent cafe and shop and an art centre. (separate Tips to follow(

    Under the Glass Dome The Life's work of an incompetent restorer

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    Scarecrows in the National Botanic Garden.

    by ranger49 Written Sep 15, 2008

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    As well as its international work in the fields of research, conservation and development the National Botanic Garden of Wales also has a strong educational programme.
    Local schools have access to an allotment of land which they tend and on which they grow vegetables and flowers.
    They have had a hard time of it during this rainy growing season (summer 2008) but the enthusiasm of both the young students and their teachers could be seen and felt in the colourful display of their produce - and in their rain-sodden and rather bedraggled but wondrous Scarecrows.

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    Doors and Arches at Aberglasney

    by ranger49 Updated Sep 15, 2008

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    Gardens for different purposes within a Garden - a kitchen garden, the Cloister garden, the formal garden a walled garden, the woodland walk - all different levels on this hill-side site. -

    Keep a lookout for the connecting doors, and arches which often provide a delightful glimpse or a cameo of what lies beyond.

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    The Sunken Garden at Aberglasney

    by ranger49 Updated Sep 15, 2008

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    The sunken garden is in the form of a courtyard tucked away almost on the perimeter of the main gardens.
    It is surrounded by the old rustic buildings of the former estate that now serve as potting sheds and storage for tools and garden equipment - as well as the two holiday cottages which can be seen in pictures Nos. 3 & 4 .
    Coachman's Cottage, the one in which we stayed in 2007, can be seen on the right of those photos (see also separate Accommodation Tip).
    The garden is a tranquil place which few people seem to find on their walk about the garden. Its central, round pool and the shining globe in the middle make it a haven for a little solitude, reading or just thinking.

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