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Walking in Wales 2017
This part of Wales has some fantastic walks and provide those keen to see what’s around with a huge variety of landscape both coastal and inland. The National Trust has put together lots of information for keen walkers who want to go walking in Wales. The fourth walk is at Dinefwr which is only half an hour away. It is perfect in the winter! To celebrate the Year of Legends 2017 in Wales there are others who are offering themed walks some of which are in Carmarthenshire or the neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Pembrokshire. Since the New Year several news stories have appeared explaining what the Year of Legends is all about. Read this one for some added insight!
We have two specific walks in Carmarthenshire one on the theme of Twm Sion Cati and the second on The legend of the Lady of the Lake at Llyn Y Fan Fach.(see pic above)
Click here to watch a short film of the wonderful walk to the cave of Twm Sion Cati. It starts at the car park to the Dinas Nature Reserve and I myself completed this last summer. The highlight for me was seeing a single yellow hammer being fed on the bird table, some meadow pipits and then two dippers in the fast flowing River Towy.
Click here to watch a short film of the Llyn Fan Fach walk which includes some great aerial shots of the walk. Stunning views will greet those who do this walk. The road to the car park seems to go on for ever but its well worth the effort of getting there!
If interested you could do either walk accompanied – see the leaflet below which has been put together to celebrate Wales Year of Legends 2017. The first is in April and the second in August 2017 – both walks are about 7 miles.
If staying at Old Oak Barn we can give advice and tips on where is good for walking and also provide you with standard OS maps to borrow. The coastal walks around Laugharne and Llansteffan are always popular. If convenient we will drop you off so you can walk back to your car at a pre arranged suitable place. This will save you having to do a circular walk.
The diversity of birdlife is valued by many visitors who go walking in Wales and if for example a rare bird is spotted it soon reaches the headlines! See below a picture of the never before seen in the UK the masked wagtail which arrived in Pembrokeshire in November 2016. Sadly I was out walking in a different part of West wales and was unable to catch it!
In recent years local towns and villages have got in the habit of organizing Christmas Markets – sometimes this is in the village school and sometimes in a castle and sometimes set up along the streets of a whole town as in Saudnersfoot during the first weekend of December.
Saundersfoot Christmas Market is an example of one which has grown from strength to strength and is held this year during the weekend of Fri 2nd Dec— Sun 4th Dec. During December Saundersfoot is at its most magical. Promising an array of seasonal treats, including Christmas lights and decorations, Santa’s grotto, lantern parade, seasonal food, festive demonstrations and late night shopping, visitors will be spoilt for choice.
Friday 2nd December
2.00pm Market Opens – Over 50 stalls
2.00pm – 5.30pm MUSIC BOX ENTERTAINMENT
5.30pm – 6.30pm LANTERN PARADE & CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS SWITCH ON
(Market closes 7.00pm)
Saturday 3rd December
10.00am- Market Opens
Celebrity Chef Lisa Fearn
All day – MUSIC BOX ENTERTAINMENT
12.00pm till 6.00pm – SANTA’S GROTTO
(Market closes 7.00pm)
Sunday 4th December
10.00am – Market opens
Celebrity Chef Guy Morris
All day – MUSIC BOX ENTERTAINMENT
12.00pm till 3.00pm – SANTA’S GROTTO
4.00pm – GRAND PRIZE DRAW
(Market closes 5:00pm)
A traditional Christmas market will be situated in a large marquee on the harbour of the idyllic seaside village, where stalls will be laden with Pembrokeshire goods and gifts. Visitors can also explore Saundersfoot’s retailers for artisan jewellery, crafts, home wares and more. With entertainment and live music to keep the whole family entertained, Saundersfoot’s Christmas Market offers a great way to make the most of a winter’s day.
Food and drink stands will be celebrating all things Welsh; expect tastings, seasonal food, mulled wine and live cookery demonstrations. Sample the best of Pembrokeshire’s produce from the town’s local suppliers or enjoy a meal in one of Saundersfoot’s varied and popular restaurants, cafés and pubs – many of whom will be running special seasonal specials throughout the weekend.
With scenic Saundersfoot Bay views, carols around the Christmas tree and live music, visitors can soak up the merry atmosphere whilst escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.
Click here for a list of events over the festive period
Off the northern tip of St Bride’s Bay in the very west of Pembrokeshire you will find Ramsey Island which is owned by RSPB. The best way to see it is to get a boat trip either around the island which is what we did last week or spend the day on the island exploring on foot. Voyages of Discovery a local long established family business is a good choice to plan your adventure! The boats are all well maintained and the staff professional and knowledgeable paying attention to your safety at all times. Ramsey Island has some of the finest cliff scenery in Wales.
Launching from St Justinian’s you will have the opportunity to see the new lifeboat station which we are told will open in 2017. The old one is for sale apparently for a cool half a million pounds! It will no doubt need a lot more than that to turn it into a house – but what a setting for anyone who does!
The trip around Ramsey Island was breathtaking – the RIB seats up to 12 people and was very comfortable. The two guys from Voyages of Discovery knew a lot about the island – its history – birdlife – archaeological rock formations – flora and fauna – and of course about its resident seal population. We saw oyster catchers, guiellemots, razor bills, choughs, gulls, and I caught sight of the resident peregrine falcon too. There are also just a few deer left on the island too.
Atlantic Grey Seals breed on Ramsey and many visitors to Old Oak Barn enjoy a ride around the island to see them. Check out this video to see a glimpse of the beautiful island – do visit if you can – we think you will have a “whale” of a time!
Wrights Food Emporium
For those who like somewhere a little different and who love great tasting food guaranteed to be freshly prepared then we recommend a visit to Wrights Food Emporium which is about half an hour from Old Oak Barn. It is situated in a wonderful old pub in the village of Llanarthne in the Towy Valley and is run by Simon and Maryann Wright who clearly have a wonderful eye for detail in everything they do! We rate it highly! Earlier this year Wrights made it onto the 40-strong list of top restaurants in the whole of the UK, compiled by Observer Food Monthly. There are only 2 other Welsh names on this list! It also has a lovely deli which sells all sorts of goodies. So, it claims to be somewhere a little bit different and a little bit special and we think you will agree it is! The bread there is heavenly. Recently our visitors have eaten there while staying here more than once because it is such a handy stop off if you have been to Dynevor, Aberglasney or The Gardens of Wales and the quality is guaranteed.
A selection of their food! All served with a smile!
Occasionally there is live music in the bar usually on a Sunday. Keep an eye on the website for more details. Coming up soon on Sunday 27th is Scott Davis Harvest Special – 6 courses and a glass of something on arrival: £37.50
Oh yes! They also stock Beavertown Beer brewed in London!
But remember there are interesting opening hours! And you cannot always book in advance. Phone 01558 668929 for more details.
Monday — Tuesday
11am – 7pm
Wednesday — Thursday
9am — 7pm
Friday — Saturday
9am — late
11am — 5pm
Llyn Y Fan Fach
This is one of Carmarthenshire’s most beautiful walks and I’m not surprised it features in Lonely Planets top 1000 must see sites across the whole world! We walked it on a beautiful September day with a little cloud cover coming and going which made the shadows and light all the more fantastic to see! The 5K walk starts at the car park with a gentle stroll initially along a firm track. Be warned though – the road from Llandeusant to the car park is full of potholes! For those staying at Old Oak Barn we can provide extra information on how to get there and what to expect!
Heading towards the little trout farm you are flanked by gushing mountain streams and some great views of the distant peak of Pen Y Fan. You will reach Llyn Y Fan Fach in about half an hour – the walk is suitable for most people but if you want to ascend further to the top then allow about 5 hours and suitable clothing and footwear. It is here at the lake that as ancient legend has it a beautiful lady still lives! The story goes that back in the 13th century a farmer grazing cattle nearby spotted the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She agreed to marry him on one proviso – that he must not hit her more than twice. You can guess what happened! In time, yes .. the inevitable happened – three strikes, and the otherworldly wife disappeared back into the lake, taking her magic cows with her. The valley, the guide adds, is rich in medicinal herbs and bog plants, suggesting this may be the mistreated fairy maiden’s healing legacy. It is also linked to story of the Physicians of Myddfai.
Today it is grazed by hundreds of sheep who do a good job at putting up with walkers! The views north from the lake are amazing. We ran out of time to continue to walk to the very top but spoke to some who had who were delighted with their efforts! The spot is actually in Carmarthenshire and in the Black Mountains too which itself is part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. You can read more about the lake – its history and geology if you visit here.
Garden of Wales
Only a short drive from Old Oak Barn, The National Botanic Gardens of Wales have some great events coming up this Autumn. The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for research and conservation. It has the world’s largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110m long by 60m wide designed by Lord Foster. Nearly all our visitors drop in for the afternoon or for longer. During this summer 2015 children have been treated to lots of extra activities. We think you too will enjoy a visit this Autumn. It is one of Carmarthenshire’s top attractions!
The programme for September at The Garden of Wales is as follows:-
Orchid Festival (the 5th and 6th);
World music ‘Month of Sundays’ (6th, 13th, 20th & 27th);
Chrysanthemum Weekend (12th and 13th);
Food Fair (September 19-20);
Over 50s Day – with Special VIP guest Esther Rantzen on the 25th;
MG car rally on the 27th;
Tuesday Tours of the Great Glasshouse (Sep 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29).
Please visit their website for lots more information on what to expect. It is open nearly every single day of the year from 10.am. Just closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day infact!
Established just a few years now “The Spooky Magic Carmarthen” tour entertains visitors with a look at the creepy past and includes some grissly stories from centuries ago. You will also take part in some unusual magical experiments involving ghosts, murder weapons, antique photographs and a witch trial. We recommend this attraction and think you too will be highly intrigued at some of the stories even though they often look at rather unsavoury characters. Nick is obviously a gifted raconteur!
Creepy Carmarthen tours continue every Wednesday evening from now until the end of September – the next one takes place on Wednesday 2nd September at 7pm. To book please call 01267 231557. Adult tickets are £7.50 each, children & OAPs are £5 and a family ticket is available for two adults and up to three children for £23. All walks depart from Carmarthen Guildhall.
Highly recommended by Trip Advisor, winner of the “Visitor Experience of the Year” at the Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards in 2013 – the walk is a must for both visitors and locals alike. Have a read of the reviews to learn more!
If staying at Old Oak Barn then we can organise your evening out for you!
About 15 minutes from Old Oak Barn is the pretty town of Narberth which draws in many visitors throughout the year. Known for its wonderful variety of independent shops as well as the exciting Narberth Food Festival it is also home to a brilliant little museum. Facilities include a vibrant visitors centre for people of all ages including children, a coffee shop, a book shop and staff are on hand to answer questions and queries. There are lots of interactive displays and the quality of all the artefacts and displays is excellent. Its obvious a massive amount of time and effort has gone into the development of the site in Church Street.Narbeth Museum is open in the summer from Tuesdays – Saturdays and in the winter just 4 days a week Wednesday – Saturday. 10.00 – 5.00pm. We strongly recommend a visit. Children will enjoy the book corner!
Learn about James Williams and the impact he left on the town especially in his sad ending.
If you have an interest in local or family history they might be able to help because over the years they have amassed an extensive and interesting collection of records and photographs that can supplement your research.
Volunteers have also carried out research into soldiers from Narberth in both the First and Second World Wars.
We loved all the displays and will be returning soon for another visit. We were impressed with the quality of everything we saw including the greeting from one of the women from Rebeccas Riots in the 19th century! And we enjoyed playing battle with the princely Owain Glyndwr!
Breathtaking – can only describe the scenery and wildlife as some of the most beautiful in the whole of Wales. To see bluebells not under trees is awesome. We loved every minute. Sleeping in the hostel is fine and more luxurious than anticipated. Taking all food and drink for the 24 hours was perfectly manageable too. We did have to book the accommodation last year as it is so popular and there is only room in the hostel for 14 overnighters.
Skomer is accessible from the little harbour at Martin’s Haven and for those wanting a day trip boats sail (weather permitting) just three times a day. Contact Dale-sailing for more details. You have to be prepared to queue in the popular weeks ie Whitsun half term.
Looking towards St Brides Bay and Solva from the island. We also saw porpoises from the island and from the ferry crossing. And of course we saw the worlds largest population of Manx Shearwater returning around half eleven at night from their days feeding in the Irish Sea. What a fabulous noise they made!!
The little boat arrived to pick us up the next morning and take us safely back to the mainland – the crossing to Skomer is quite short and only takes about 15 minutes. Experienced crewmen know the seas well and don’t take risks if forecasts are poor. so crossings can be cancelled at short notice.
We think you will love Skomer 2015 too! Come and stay at Old Oak Barn in June and have a look for yourselves. We currently have two short breaks available around June 6th and June 21st. Phone on 01994230716 for more details.
You can see more pics of puffins in our other blogs!
Old Oak Barn near Carmarthen has 40 acres of woodlands to roam – with lots of tracks and paths which we maintain so that you can wander at leisure.
Towards the middle end of April the bluebells will begin to flower and depending on the weather they will put on an amazing show for up to a month.
In recent year small patches have been clearfelled in the woods as part of our woodland management programme – all felling is undertaken under license. Replanting over the past few years has been very successful and now the woods provide a great variety of habitats for wildlife and birds. We have two small areas which are left undisturbed completely. The small log cabin which has been in the woods for over 25 years is much loved and nearby we have two swings and a good picnic area where you can have BBQs and a real camp fire. We look forward to the holiday season of 2015 when visitors will be able once again to enjoy this semi natural ancient woodland as it is classified. We are confident the bluebells will put on another glorious show!
Click here – Bluebell Woods to see where else you can visit woods throughout the UK which have bluebells.