Walk up Esgair Fraith

Esgair Fraith Cairn

A View in All Directions

Information

Name: Walk up Esgair Fraith

Location: On Sarn Helen – 5 miles / 15 minutes 

Description

The summit of Esgair Fraith is 415m – it is in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains and has a Bronze Age cairn at the top. On a clear day you can see the western edge of the Brecon Beacons to the east. To the south you can see the highest peak of the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire. To the west, you can see the sea at Aberaeron. To the North you can see the Cambrian Mountains and the foothills of Snowdonia. 

Its not a long walk if you park by the old Roman road of Sarn Helen. Just a 5 minute walk along the track, through the gate (or over the stile) and then climb the grassy path to the cairn at the top of the hill. Red Kites, Buzzards and Skylarks will be sharing the view with you.

Our cottages are only 5 miles away from this brilliant vantage point, so we visit often. If you want to stretch your legs further, there are brilliant walks through the neighbouring Clywedog Forest Plantation too as well as a longer walk to a nearby lake.

If you are lucky you may even get to see RAF jets fly by – this has happened to us a couple of times.

There is another historic site on the other side of the Sarn Helen road which is only a few minutes walk. Carreg Y Bwci ( The Goblin Stone) is a site of national importance. Thought to have originally been a Bronze Age burial chamber with standing stone circle, it was then probably used as a Roman signal station – like something from Lord of the Rings!

Both sites can be visited in less than a couple of hours – although you may want to stop and sit a while to take in the amazing views – taking a picnic is recommended!

Llyn Brianne

Llyn Brianne

Reservoir & Dam

Information

Name: Llyn Brianne

Location: Upper Tywi Valley 20 miles /45 minutes 

Description

The drive from Coedmor Cottages to Llyn Brianne is a delight in itself. You want to take your time and savour the views as you enter the Cambrian Mountains. 

Not technically a Natural Wonder, the lake is actually a reservoir created in the late 1960’s/ early 70’s. But the scenery is reminiscent of Canada or Scandinavia – just beautiful. 

When you get to the lake there are two car parks – one at the bottom of the dam and one at the top (probably the best choice). Both are free. The top car park has toilets but they are not always open (a toilet is available at nearby RSPB Gwenffrwd Dinas nature reserve – a lovely walk along the river there too). The dam at Llyn Brianne is the UK’s tallest at 91m (300 ft). Walk across the top of the dam and see Martins swooping below.

There is a good track to walk around part of the lake – probably too far to walk around the whole lake in a  day for most people! But you can walk along the track and then retrace your steps back to the car park. The woodland here is famous for being one of the last places you can see Red Squirrels. You will also likely see Red Kites and Buzzards overhead.

If you are keen on stargazing, the car park at Llyn Brianne is also a Dark Sky Discovery Site – part of the Cambrian Mountains Astro Trail.

The drive around the lake is a great way to take in the scenery and for an alternative route back to the cottages the road between Llyn Brianne and Tregaron is worth a detour.

If you drive back towards Llandovery, you will come across the Towy Bridge Inn – right next to the bridge on the River Towy (where else would it be!) Pop in for a drink or some food. 

Carreg Cennan Castle

Carreg Cennan Castle

Historic Castle, Farm & Tea Rooms

Information

Name:Carreg Cennan Castle

Location: Trapp, Llandeilo – 27 miles–50 minutes drive

Description

Voted by readers of Countryfile magazine the most romantic ruin in Wales. The dramatic castle stands on a great limestone crag nearly 300ft/90m above the River Cennen with stunning views over the Carmarthenshire countryside.

One of the unique features of the castle is a natural limestone cave. Some recent findings down there suggest that is was one of the oldest inhabited caves in the whole of Wales.  Part of the cave was modified to be used by the castle.

The castle is situated next to a traditional working farm which offers free parking. The farm is free to visit and also has Tea Rooms and a Gift Shop. 

Entry to the Castle is £5.50 for Adults (£4.50 for over 60s). It opens at 9:30am and closes between 4:30pm and 5:00pm depending on the season. 

 

 

Big Wilderness Cycling Adventure

Big Wilderness Cycling Adventure

Spectacular Cycling Route

Information

Name: Big Wilderness Cycling Adventure

Location: Circular Route to Llyn Brianne

Description

Since Carmarthenshire hosted the start of the 2018 Tour of Britain it has become known as the “cycling hub of Wales”. Cycling is on the rise as the county has invested in the activity so that more visitors can saddle up and enjoy the breathtaking views. To coincide with the Tour of Britain, the county launched new cycle routes to give visitors the opportunity to explore the big hills and bigger views.

One of the most spectacular routes is the Big Wilderness Adventure. This is a circular route that actually passes just a 5 minute cycle ride from our door! The route is plotted to start and finish at Llandovery, but if you stay with us you can start and finish right from your cottage. It takes you to Llyn Brianne – there is challenging climb up to the lake followed by an incredible road around the perimeter with fantastic views.

This ride is not for the faint-hearted – it is 65 miles with a difficulty rating of 7/10 but the scenery makes the ride worthwhile (the journey to Llyn Brianne one of our favourite drives). The road follows the reservoir around the edge, constantly changing in elevation with incredible views and sweeping descends around every corner.

After Llyn Brianne the route starts to feel more remote as it skirts the Cambrian Mountains. There is barely a house or car in sight, but with this emptiness comes incredible beauty that is seen nowhere else short of the Scottish border.

The route takes in a large portion of wild, uninhabited terrain so it is worth taking what you think you will need with you and not relying on shops along the route.

There is an abbreviated version of the route if you want to shorten it – it still takes in the best bits up to Llyn Brianne but is 8 miles shorter and there is also the option to not go all the way to Llandovery to save even more miles.

If this route is too much of an adventure, then there are lots of other routes in the area to check out starting at just 10 miles – see them all here: Road Cycling in Carmarthenshire.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines

Dolaucothi Gold Mines

History and Nature Trails

Information

Name: Dolaucothi Gold Mines

Location: Pumsaint – 9 miles – 18 Minutes drive

Description

These unique gold mines are set amid wooded hillsides overlooking the beautiful Cothi Valley and have a 2000 year history. Between 70 AD and 80 AD, the Romans began the first extensive mining of Dolaucothi, creating large open-cast workings and digging several tunnels to exploit the gold veins. The most active period of mining at Dolaucothi in the Victorian/Edwardian Age occurred around the turn of the 20th century and carried on sporadically until the 1930’s.

There are lots of activities to take part in. You can pan for gold, take a self-guided audio tour of the Roman Goldmines, explore the 1930’s sheds and machinery, shop for Welsh Gold jewellery or take an underground guided tour. These tours take visitors right into the Drift Mines, perched on the hills above the Mine Yard. There are 5 underground tours per day to the Victorian and Roman mines and these take about 1 hour. The season runs from 1st April to the end of October. The site is run by the National Trust and opening times vary through the seasons so check online. Entry price is currently £10.50 for adults.

If you don’t fancy going down the mine or you want to spend longer exploring the area, there are also a number of nature trails to follow ranging from very easy to challenging. These are open all year round and are a haven for a multitude of wild birds as well as red squirrels and pine martens.

Just 10 minutes walk away is the Dolaucothi Arms pub – voted Rural Pub of the Year by BBC Countryfile in 2019. It offers a traditional pub menu in the Winter and a Mediterranean style menu from April to September. N.B. the pub is closed on Mondays and opening hours change in the winter months so check their website.

The National Botanic Gardens of Wales

The National Botanic Gardens of Wales

A Delightful Day Out with Flora & Fauna

Information

Name: The National Botanic Gardens of Wales

Location: Llanarthne 28 miles – 45 minute drive

Description

Set in the beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside, the National Botanic Garden of Wales is spread over 560 acres with an amazing collection of over 8000 different plant varieties. With the largest single-spanned glasshouse in the world and the best display of Mediterranean climate zone plants in the Northern Hemisphere it is easy to see why it has been voted No 1 Garden to Visit in Wales (by BBC Gardeners World).

The garden also has a wide diversity of wild plant and animal species across its mosaic of lakes, meadows, streams, woodland, and marshes. It boasts over 100 types of moths & butterflies, over 50 varieties of birds, 20 species of mammals (including otters, dormice and bats) as well as frogs, toads, newts and lizards.

New for 2020, the Regency Restoration project has restored the legendary landscape of one of the finest Regency Waterparks in the UK. The garden will feature a necklace of seven lakes, cascades, falls & weirs first created 200 years ago.

Along with the themed gardens there is also a Butterfly House and Waun Las Nature Reserve – with wildflower-rich meadows. There are two cafes and a restaurant on site as well as the Garden Plant Shop selling plants and gifts and a craft shop and art gallery too.

2020 prices are £11.50 for adults (including Gift Aid).
Opening times: 10:00am – 6:00pm 1st April to 31st October
10:00am – 4:00pm 1st November to 31st March
Postcode is SA32 8HN Telephone: 01558 667149

As if all the gardeny goodness wasn’t enough, there is now also the brilliant British Bird of Prey Centre on site for extra entertainment. There are daily flying displays with the 20 native birds of prey – you can even see a Golden Eagle flying. Displays are 11:30am and 2:30pm with the Owl Show at 1:00pm. You can also book private experiences to have time flying the birds – bookable in advance at info@britishbirdofpreycentre.co.uk

There is a packed programme of events and courses held throughout the year from exhibitions, gardening courses, art classes and photography tuition. You can easily spend a whole day exploring this delightful place.

The Cambrian Mountains

The Cambrian Mountains

Splendid Isolation

Information

Name: The Cambrian Mountains

Location: Wide Area Across Carms. Powys & Ceredigion

Description

The natural beauty of the plateaux, valleys and gorges of the Cambrian Mountains is equal to and often greater than some British national parks. Although distributed among three counties – Powys, Ceredigion & Carmarthenshire – the Cambrian Mountains are geographically one area, and form the main watershed of Wales. The rivers Severn, Wye, Elan, Irfon, Tywi, Cothi, Teifi, Ystwyth, Rheidol, and Twymyn all have their sources here. There are only a few roads across the mountains and they are acknowledged as some of the most scenic routes in Britain.The walker is king in the Cambrian Mountains and you can find many routes online, such as the ones on Walking Britain. The landscape is vast, but not featureless. There are plenty of lakes and reservoirs that will make you feel like you could be in Canada! Interesting features like Strata Florida, The Teifi Pools and Devil’s Bridge mean that you can spend several days exploring the area. There are also amazing wildlife habitats like Cors Caron Nature Reserve which has great walking trails and is recognised internationally as an important wetland reserve.

Our romantic holiday cottages are located in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains and you can even see the mountains in the distance from our meadows.