Walked 12th September 2012
Approximate distance: 15 ½ miles. A little strenuous, perhaps, if mostly just for the length. A few short steep sections and some easy climbs up and down the hills. Quite a bit is on minor roads and you don’t get to be very close to the coast for most of it.
This section of the path is within Carmarthenshire. Their Countryside Access and Recreation Manager is Eirian James- a most agreeable man. His email is EWJames@carmarthenshire.gov.uk
OS Map Explorer 177 (Carmarthen and Kidwelly)
Before doing this section Anne and I stayed the night at the really excellent Kidwelly Bed and Breakfast. Nick and Gerri Tennant are doing everything right as far as I am concerned. Their website is attractive and well-illustrated and has all you would want to know. We were made welcome on arrival – with tea, Welsh Cakes and some brownies. The large ground floor eating area cum sitting room has an attractive contemporary appearance and upstairs the rooms echo this style and are cosy and comfortable.
Gerri very kindly rang Anthony’s Hotel (see last blog) and booked us in to eat. This is really a dining pub. Not a gastro pub by any means but we both enjoyed an excellent steak and chips and a good pint of Felinfoel. Its owner Andre actually offered to give us a lift back to the B&B. I’d only had two pints and we were both walking unassisted, so this was a generous offer indeed. Which we gratefully declined and had a nice walk back admiring the elegant and illuminated spire of St Mary’s church.
In the morning I had a full cooked breakfast which was beautifully laid out on my plate and was good in every respect – a Welshy touchy was a little leek and potato patty. Anne had croissants, which she said were also yummy.
At the end of my last section on the Path I had already walked from the station to Bridge Street, opposite St Marys Church (where there are also public toilets). The B&B was just up the road from here in Causeway Street. Bridge street has several pubs and takeaways, a tea shop, rather imaginatively called “Time for Tea” and a small convenience store. And a post office.
The path crosses the bridge over the Gwendraeth River and then follows the river bank.
Once again you are sharing the path with Cycle Route.(How come it’s always No. 4?) Over to your right is the Glan Y Afron Local Nature Reserve; ahead the railway bridge across the river.
You head off to the right, joining a minor road which can be busy because it leads to the massive Carmarthen Bay Holiday centre about a mile up the road.
According to the Countryside Council for Wales maps, the path heads off up the hill through fields when you get to Penallt Farm, but I saw no signs so carried on for about ¾ mile to a turning to the right that climbs steadily up the hill towards Llansaint. At this point to your left the holiday centre, is relatively discreetly hidden behind a shelter belt of conifers. Ahead in the far distance was the first sighting from the path of a significant collection of wind turbines. I shall have a rant about them in a future post.
Half way up this quite steep hill I began to hear jets planes ( I was reliably informed later that they were Hawks). A gate into a field gave me a good vantage point where I could see two aircraft taking it in turns to make low passes over the yellow and black tower of the firing range that occupies the marshes and dunes on the south side of the estuary. After reaching the coast they soared nearly vertically and as they did so I heard a two second burst of a machine gun. They were clearly firing at targets on the beach but the sound only reached my ears when they were well past their point of attack and I couldn’t see what they were firing at. I stayed long enough for the assault to change from guns to bombs. First I saw a puff of smoke rise from the beach just before they climbed and then, as they swooped upwards I heard a single dull thump of the explosion. I asked Gerri later if the noise from the planes disturbs her. She said that she has a son in the Marines on active service, so no, it didn’t. Fair enough.
There was a great view over the sea from here and I could clearly make out Worms Head on the horizon.
My route should have taken me though the little village of Llansaint, so I turned right at the top of the hill to have a nose around. I saw signs for the Kings Arms pub but not the place itself. Sadly the Church of the Saints wasn’t open so I could only admire its square limewashed C14th tower from outside.
A board by a bus stop provides a simple welsh lesson, Llan meaning a church, though Wikipedia’s entry differs slightly in the explanation.
Retracing my steps, the path now follows the drive of Parcmaenllyd farm past a large grey coloured agricultural building. At the end, a stile brings you into a field that drops down quite steeply to a little broadleaved wood under planted with ferns. You cross the minor road and pass though a new metal kissing gate and over a stream before climbing up a steep flight of wooden faced steps. Another stile at the top leads into an open field. Keep to its edge, past a beech that graphically demonstrates from where the dominant wind blows.
You are at around 400 feet at this point – not exactly high up, but nevertheless, quite exposed. A left turn at the far end of the field onto a minor road takes you past Pengay Farm. On the end of the roadside wall is a bell and above a clock tower, suggesting a place of some importance.
I couldn’t resist a peek into the yard which, though not in great repair, is an impressive size. As you pass the farm the path heads to the left away from the road. Take the right hand fork into a field. Ahead now good views of Towy Estuary appear. The Towy is the longest river flowing entirely in Wales.
The next field had very long grass which I would have avoided if I had kept to its left hand edge. On it’s far side you cross another very minor road by a white painted house. The path drops down by the side of a little steam and crosses a little footbridge.
The next field was occupied by a bull, his cows and his offspring. Normally this is a Bad Sign but Dad looked very content and I judged that I could make it over the barbed wire fence if he took exception to sharing the field with me. As it was, all he did was present his behind to me and make a torrent of pee.
A broken stile leads you to a narrow footpath which then descends steeply down a flight of steps to the road that hugs the coastline. Turn right and shortly afterwards this road joins one that drops down towards the estuary, past the Three Rivers Hotel. You are at the edge of Ferryside village. Its Hall is a triumph of function over form, but there are some pretty houses, too, and the most extraordinary front garden I have seen in a long time.
Ferryside has a nice feel to it. Just by the station a level crossing (where there are also public toilets) leads you straight onto the sandy beach. Have a look. That’s the closest you will be to the coast for today.
There is a general store just past the station and The White Lion Pub on the square looked pleasant. On the far side of the square the post office is housed in attractive brick building.
The path takes you down the main street past St Tomas’s Church. At the end of the village a bridge crosses a steam and the path then runs down a track indicated as a No Through Road next to the railway line. You pass a sewage works and the track becomes the drive of Bronlyn Farm. To your right are bulrushes and a gently rising field with sheep.
On the far side of the farm the path turns right away from the railway line and heads inland. This stretch is shaded by hazel, sycamore, oak, ash , hawthorn and alder. As it rises the surface improves to become an asphalt road which levels off at about 300 feet.
At Trmlys Farm the golden retrievers that might be slumbering by the roadside are perfectly friendly. The blue painted woodwork at Pentrecwm is quite striking.
You pass to the left of the buildings here and enter a field. Ahead is a good view of the Towy Valley .
At the next muddy field I lost my way. The route is supposed to pass through a little wood in a valley but I couldn’t find the path so had to take a detour south- east along the edge of the wood past the ruined farm of Cilmarch and onto a minor road that leads to a property called Gellednai. It is here that the official route is supposed to join this road. On the OS map the footpath is clearly marked but again I saw no finger post or other indication of the Wales Coast Path route. I wonder if the owners of the impressive property known as Uplands mansion do not fancy walkers going through their land. I will drop a line to the footpaths officer about it.
At the property called Bryntowy, the road takes a sharp right, but the coast path turns left towards the entrance of Towy Castle Care Home. One could do with a sign here. You need to turn right and go down the drive of Towy Castle Farm. The path goes through their yard and then drops down through a filed towards the river. A broken five bar gate that wouldn’t open was an awkward clamber. You are taken through the derelict farm (called Cwmyrarian on the map) and its dilapidated farmhouse. Inside two simple ranges are still in place in the low ceilinged simple rooms.
You cross a stream shortly after the farm and then pass under a double line of electricity pylons that spans the river. The land then rises again to join a minor asphalt surfaced road that heads due north.
This minor road passes through the quiet village of Croesyceilog (no facilities that I saw- though I thought this bus shelter was neat)
and just before it joins the A484, Bro Myrddn college is on the right hand side. This busy road has a retail park surrounding the next roundabout including a McDonalds if you are famished or in need of a pee. The road system is a bit complicated here (and under repair).
Keep an eye out for signs for the path but you need to make sure you take the underpass after which you pass under a road bridge. If it helps, you are sharing the route with Cycle Route No. 4. You walk through an estate with lots of places that change tyres. Bear left just after the ATS down LLangunnor Road. The path passes under a road bridge and round the end of a railway siding and under the bridge again to bring you to Carmarthen Station.