Llansteffan & Kidwelly
I haven’t written about castles for ages so I am going to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about two of my favourite castles in the Carmarthen area of West Wales. Carmarthenshire is often viewed as the gateway to Pembrokeshire but it has its own fascinating history with plenty of standing monuments to show for it, as well as being a great holiday destination.
The first castle I visited as a student in Wales was Llansteffan and the location of all the many other castles I have seen since just doesn’t measure up for me. The ruins of the stone castle as can be seen today were first built by the Normans in the early C12 but they were building upon the site of an earlier Iron Age fort and it is not surprising that the headland had a prior history occupation. Naturally defended by a steep hillsides and the estuary it is a fantastic position for a fortress and, for visitors today, has the benefit of breath-taking views and is free to explore.
Llansteffan doesn’t also just have a castle, although that’s a very good excuse to visit anywhere! A lovely little village now nestles between the foot of the castle hill and the glorious stretch of sandy beach. I have very fond memories of Llansteffan that may cast a little doubt on my objectivity but I defy anyone to spend a few hours there and watch a sunset without falling in love with the place.
If I’ve persuaded you that Llansteffan would be a great destination for your next romantic getaway, take a look at Ty Steffan, a cosy cottage for 2 with glorious views over the river and just a few miles away from the village.
Another great castle, on the other side of the Estuary, is at Kidwelly. Much more of the castle remains than at Llansteffan, and whereas the town location isn’t quite as romantic this Norman construction dominates the town that grew up in its shadow. You can easily imagine what it must have been like to have lived within the walls, and you can walk the upper levels where you truly get a sense of why the castles were built and how the lords of these fortresses could impose their will on the surrounding communities.
There is an entry fee but at only £4 for adults and discounts for children, family groups and senior citizens it is well worth the price even if you splash out on a guide book as well, but there are plenty of information boards around the site that give you a bit of detail on the history and development of the castle.
This eastern area of Carmarthenshire is not a traditionally sought after holiday destination but there is genuinely plenty of attractions, historic sites, beautiful countryside and miles of beaches that makes for a fantastic time away – and all within easy drive from the M4. My favourite cottage of ours in this part of the country is Gellirwydd Barn, a newly converted barn on a small holding, just 12 miles from Kidwelly and also 12 miles from the marvellous coastal country park of Pembrey.
If you are still not convinced then give me, or any of my friends in the office, a call on 01686 628200 and we can help you find the perfect holiday location for you.