Our recent stay at Bryncyn gave Chris and I the chance to explore an entirely new area of Wales: Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Neither of us had ever ventured further west than Swansea before, and we spent three magical, sun-soaked days pottering around crumbling castles, tiny market towns and hidden bays.
We were utterly enchanted by this beautiful corner of the country, and I don’t think it will be long before we return. In the meantime, here’s a round-up of our favourite discoveries so far…
The Teifi Valley
Bryncyn is only a few miles from the wooded Teifi Valley, whose lush green banks make for wonderful walks. We started in Cenarth, a pretty little village which straddles the river, and followed the path east, past tumbling waterfalls, mirror-still pools, weeping willows and banks of bluebells. We even saw salmon leaping out of the water as they journeyed downstream to the coast.
The National Wool Museum
The Teifi Valley is also home to Wales’ National Wool Museum, which sits in an old stone mill in the village of Drefach Felindre. Working exhibits show the spinning, winding and weaving processes from start to finish, and there’s something hypnotic about the rhythmic clattering of the looms. There’s also a café, and a shop full of temptations made at the neighbouring Melin Teifi.
Jane Beck Welsh Blankets
The beautiful blankets dotted around Bryncyn come from Jane Beck, which is housed in a charming tin-clad shop near Tregaron. It was a bit of a drive from the house, but worth it for the vast range of snuggly delights (reputedly the largest collection of Welsh blankets in the world).
The enormous hulk of Carrew Castle looms over the Carrew Estuary and makes an impressive sight as you round a bend on the A4705. We parked up and took a walk along the water, before crossing the causeway which leads to a tidal mill on the opposite shore. On the way we encountered drifts of wild garlic, fields of friendly cows, and old stone walls dotted with tiny ferns.
The market town of Narbeth has become a bit of a foodie hub, with all sorts of delis to mooch around (it even has its own food festival every September). Our favourite was Ultracomida, a Spanish shop cum restaurant cum tapas bar that’s brimming with hams, chorizos, olives, cheeses and more.
We loved Barafundle, a wild and windswept Pembrokeshire cove that’s only accessible by foot. Its vast expanse of pristine sand is backed by grassy dunes, and at one end stands a natural arch carved by crashing waves. Park in the National Trust car park at Stackpole Quay (pick up a ready-made picnic from The Boathouse while you’re there) and follow the path over clifftop fields; after 10 minutes or so you’ll come to a flight of steep stone steps leading down to the beach.
Pretty, pastel-coloured Tenby is the place to go for classic seaside delights – bobbing fishing boats, ice creams on the promenade, and sandcastle-building on one of its three sandy beaches. We’d heard excellent things about the gluten-free fish and chips at Fecci’s but it was closed when we arrived, so we opted for delicious crab sandwiches from a stall by the harbour.
Time ran away with us before we had chance to continue further along the coast to Laugharne, home to the boathouse where Dylan Thomas penned Under Milk Wood, so that’s top of the list for our next trip.
Llandeilo, to the east of Carmarthen, is another little town that’s well worth exploring. It has a host of independent shops, including the original Toast store. We loved Ginhaus, a deli, bar and café that specialises in gin, and picked up some unusual varieties to take home (the seaweed gin from Welsh distillery Dà Mhìle is weird but wonderful!).
Carreg Cennen Castle
Our last stop before picking up the M4 to head home was the hauntingly beautiful ruin of Carreg Cennen Castle, which is perched on a limestone crag on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and guarded by a flock of bemused-looking sheep. We battled blustery winds to climb to the top, where we watched sunshine and shadows roll across the mountains spread out before us.
All photography by Abi Dare
Our stay at Bryncyn was complimentary, but all words and opinions are my own. If you want to make a booking, visit The Welsh House for more information.