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Wales Coast Path: Kidwelly to Carmarthen

October 22, 2012 · 23 comments

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.

St Mary's Church Kidwelly at night, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

The River Gwendraeth, Kidwelly on The Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Railway bridge across the River Gwendraeth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Farm sign near Kidwelly on The Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Coast viewed from Lalnasaint on the Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Church at Llansaint on the Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Wind-swept Beech tree on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Pengay Farm the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

View of the Towy estuary on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking 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.

Field with cattle on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Front Garden in Ferryside on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

View from Ferryside across the Towy taken from the Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Field with sheep on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Pentrecwm on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

You pass to the left of the buildings here and enter a field. Ahead is a good view of the Towy Valley .

Towy valler and river viewed from the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Inside ruined cottage at Cwmyrarian on the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

Electricity pylons across the River Towy from the Wales Coast Path between Kidwelly and Carmarthen, photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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).

Roadworks on the outskirts of Carmarthen on the Wales Coast Path photographed by Charles Hawes. Walking in Wales.

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.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am

Excellent. Lots of public toilets and great pictures. And happy memories – that was a good trip.

And sheep!

You’re right – Llan doesn’t mean church.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Thanks love. Always flag up the toilets when I find them.

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Paul Steer October 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm

We used to own an old caravan on what is now the site of the holiday park next to the estuary of the Gwendraeth. The coast was fringed with dunes which were in part flattened and drained in order to build chalets. I remember being shocked by this as a lad, because the place used to teem with wildlife. I

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I can imagine there might be a lot to upset people who have known this coast for decades.

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Nigel Buxton October 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Lovely pictures, as always. A great pleasure to follow in yr footsteps.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Thanks. You won’t be too impressed by the next post. Walking in the rain under mostly leaden skies.

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Maggie October 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Yet another really enjoyable read with stunning photos.
What I want to know is…do you write copious notes as you walk, use a voice recorder, take 100s of photos or do you just have a brilliant and photgraphic memory?
How on earth do you remember all the twists and turns of the route and be able to describe it all in such detail? xxx

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Maggie. I do walk with a notebook but I don’t often write lots. And I write things on my map sometimes.I do take more pics than I use and as I write about the walk I have the map and the pics open and they help to remind me of certain points. But really its nothing like as detailed as a real guide would need to be.

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Anne Wareham October 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm

A real guide wouldn’t have chorus of “And we, like sheep, have gone astray..” turned into “we like sheep!”

A real guide…Hmmm

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Maggie October 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Tut tut Anne. Be kind.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Here here.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I have to edit.

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John October 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

If Llan doesn’t mean church then it might be useful to explain what it does mean (because Wikipedia, like the bus stop sign, is wrong of course). The Welsh for “church”, as any self-respecting Welshman knows, is “eglwys” (as a free, gratis, aside, we don’t call a big church “cathedral” but “cathedral church” – “eqlwys gadeiriol” which is not only more Welsh but much more correct in English, of course).

“Llan” originally meant an enclosure of some sort but developed over time to mean the “parish”. Hence “Llansaint” is the “parish of the saints” (it would be a little daft if every resident of the place lived inside the church). “Llansaint” is not, though, to be confused with “Llanpumsaint”, another Carmarthenshire village. The former has an indeterminate number of saints whereas the residents of the latter have been more modest and limited themselves to only five.

Now the Welsh for “toilets” offers potential for a far more interesting discussion.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Thank you, John, for this most useful and interesting contribution. As you know, I am not a self-respecting Welshman. Or even a self-disrespecting one if it comes to it. So all Welsh cultural input from those that are are very welcome. I hope that I did not cause confusion with Llanpumsaint. Perhaps it was my accent. In any event I hope to find more Ty bachs for all interested parties in future posts.

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Lynds October 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Always interesting, and great to get a different perspective on an area I know quite well, oft been to ferryside,llansteffan…..and Llanpumsaint too ! Great pictures 🙂

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Charles October 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hello! Really. You must tell me how you know the area sometime. Thanks for the pic comments. You might want to skip a week but St Clears to Amroth should be good.

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Colin Price January 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Finding that bridge to the east of Pentrecwm really is tricky, isn’t it? And it’s absolutely essential to hit it right in this surprisingly steep gorge. I passed this way a few days ago, just after a very heavy snowfall, and so didn’t even have footmarks to follow. I hope nobody followed mine! I started with a duff steer and hit the gorge too far west. The second attempt was more successful; and, perhaps because the leaves were off the trees, it was then quite easy to see the bridge below. I’ve suggested improved signage to the Coast Path officer. The mud over the next mile was something awful. South-east of St Clears the route seems to have been changed (on the static maps and for the on-site signage) between Pilgrims’ Rest and Foxhole, maybe because the salt-marshes are now considered dangerous. There are some bad bits on the marsh margins south of Pilgrims’ Rest too.

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Charles January 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Colin, thank you for this excellent and very useful contribution. I think it’s clear that some better signing is needed. Though what to do about Carmarthenshire’s mud may be a more difficult problem to solve.

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Anna-Marie Sorroll February 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

Enjoyed reading your blog! I’ve lived in Kidwelly for 5 years and have always been too nervous to do the full walk but after reading this I’m definitely going to give it a go 🙂

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Charles February 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Thaat’s great Anne-Marie. I hope to pick up where I left off in Pembrokeshire as soon as it warms up a bit!

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Stephen & Julie Baxter June 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Great blog Charles and invaluable reading for any would be path walker. We are doing it with friends, Ben & Kara and did most of this stretch last weekend but we too got lost at the field near Cilmarsh, worse, the field was occupied by what transpired to be some very feisty bullocks. Whilst they had initially watched from a distance they soon became very interested, and quite aggressive (maybe Ben’s red rucksack?) and we had to escape through woods and scramble under a barbed wire fence before beating a hasty retreat to the nearest gate, which after an exit through a farm brought us out at Cilmarsh (or a property named same) and unfortunately added about 2 1/2 miles to our walk, making just over 14 for the day. Despite the bullock event, oh, and our dogs ( maybe the source of the bulls irritation, despite being on a lead) rolling in a newly slurry sprayed field we enjoyed what we thought was quite a varied country walk really, being some distance from the coast except at Ferryside. I believe we hit 200 miles on our next stretch this weekend and will be carrying a bottle of champers!
Many thanks for your commentary and pics.

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Charles June 10, 2015 at 10:09 am

I love hearing about about people finding the same difficulties as I did. That was along day, though! Congratulations on making the 200 miles mark. I had stopped counting but have now planned the last leg in August along the North coast so I reckon I must have done around 775 give or take my many detours.

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Colin Price June 10, 2015 at 11:09 am

I didn’t add to my earlier comment, that I had actually got through to the end of the path on 31st August 2013, experiencing every kind of weather from deep snow to hurricanes to relentless burning sun, and with 5500 photographs in the can. In the end I sent about 30,000 words of comment on the difficulties I encountered with route-finding to Natural Resources Wales, who passed them on to the responsible local authorities. I think some comments have been followed up, especially major re-routing through Pembrey Forest, where I was wading knee-deep in water sometimes. So it is worth making these comments to the officials responsible. I’ve since rewalked some of the path: main problem on Anglesey was electric fences with no warning and no insulated length for crossing (illegal I think).

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)