Car-free adventures nearCarmarthenCarmarthenshire

Walk in the footsteps of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, visit atmospheric castles and long sandy beaches. See the world's largest single-span greenhouse, when you take the bus to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, blooming in Carmarthenshire all year round. Ride the waterside railway from Carmarthen towards Swansea and find places to cycle, ski, toboggan, catch a ferry or hike the Wales Coast Path.

  1. 3. Riverside railway to Burry Port

    The first station on the railway line from Carmarthen towards Swansea (if you’re on a stopping train) comes after a short ride by the wide River Towy. Ferryside is a village on the sandy-shored river, where – when the tide is right – you can still catch a boat across to Llansteffan castle.

    • Because the tide is so variable, the ferry’s timetable changes daily, but it’s well worth checking out to see if it coincides with your journey. Bus 227 runs to Llansteffan castle on the far side of the estuary if you wanted to come back by a different route.
    • If you do get off at Ferryside, don’t miss the recently-opened Pryd o Fwyd. The name means “bite to eat” in Welsh and the food is exceptional. Lunch includes saltmarsh lamb burgers or generous Welsh rarebits while the evening menu takes it to a new level: cod and crayfish cake, chicken in Parma ham with wild mushroom cream or caramelised fig tart tatin. This place really is a hidden gem; the restaurant is inside the old Post Office building, where the talented chef juggles cooking and stamp-selling during the day!
    • The next station is Kidwelly, a ten-minute walk from Kidwelly castle. This big, well-preserved medieval castle is open all year and costs £4.20. There’s a memorial to Princess Gwenllian near the gatehouse; she died fighting Norman invaders in 1136.
    • The stop after that is Burry Port. From here, it’s an attractive two-mile walk along the Wales Coast path to Pembrey Country Park (see 4 below).
    • Next up is Llanelli (famous for its rugby), where you can explore the post-industrial Sandy Water Park with a modern stone circle and views of Carmarthen Bay. There’s also a plaque for Amelia Earhart, whose plane landed nearby.
    • You can follow the coast path here in either direction. In May 2019, Ramblers Cymru are celebrating seven years since the opening of the Wales Coast Path with a big walking festival. The 4 mile walk from Llanelli to Burry Port is one of the routes chosen to showcase the variety along this long distance path.
  1. 4. Pembrey Country Park

    From the late 19th century, explosives were made at Pembrey Country Park for mining and then for war. You can find interesting traces there of the area’s history along with a campsite, ski slope and miles of sandy beach. The park is a couple of miles away from the nearest station, but it’s a lovely walk and there’s lots to do once you get there.

    • Burry Port harbour is ¼ mile from Burry Port station; the harbour was built in 1832 for exporting coal and is now and an attractive marina, lined with colourful houses and a 19th-century lighthouse. You can pick up coast path on the edge of the marina and turn right along it.
    • After a couple of miles, you reach the dry ski slope in the centre of Pembrey country park. You can hire skis (£12.80 including equipment) upstairs in the visitor centre or buy a ride on a toboggan down a curving metal slide (£2.50).
    • Pembrey covers a huge area of woods and beaches on the site of an old munitions manufactory, with bike hire to let you explore further and faster (£10.25 for 4 hours).
    • You can ride along the National Cycle Network’s Route 4 (Celtic Trail West), which follows the Carmarthenshire coastline from the river Loughor in the east, to Pendine in the west.
    • If you drive into Pembrey, there’s a £5 charge to park. If you walk or cycle there, it’s free.
    • Look out for the old tunnels near the Visitors’ Centre, used to make cordite during World War I. There are also concrete bunkers where explosives were stored during the Second World War. The park’s warlike past is disappearing under ivy and wild flowers and it’s now a peaceful place to have with a picnic, play minigolf, or go for a walk. The prettiest way back to the station is to return along the coast path, but the park is also fairly near to the X11 bus route that runs from Carmathen to Swansea.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!