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~this post is in collaboration with Discover Carmarthenshire~

Three Days of Family Fun in Carmarthenshire

Where do I even begin with this post? A trip down memory lane for a bit of context is probably the best place to start. I actually lived in Carmarthenshire until I was five years old, and I have the most wonderful memories of this time of my life. The memories are hazy but I remember how very green it was, and how calm and peaceful it felt. I remember playing in streams with my brother and sister. The sheep field that my garden backed onto. Simple, happy times. When I think about the childhood I want to give my children, it is these memories that I think of and try to recreate. But as we all know, sometimes our childhood memories can turn out to be very rose tinted and so when the opportunity came up for us to spend some time in Carmarthenshire I had everything crossed that it would be as I remembered. That I hadn’t over romanticised how green and calm it was.

I was sure we would have a lovely time, and I was so excited to revisit this place that will always feel important to me, but I was also ready for it to be not quite as idyllic as my five year old self had painted it. What I wasn’t expecting, was for it to be even dreamier than I had remembered, which is exactly what happened!

The closer we got on the drive from Southampton to Carmarthenshire, the greener and calmer the scenery became. Driving past endless fields, and streams and whitewashed houses. And when we arrived at our destination in Laugharne and stepped out of the car, and saw the glittering sea, and the castle, I actually felt like we’d stepped into a fairy-tale. And the next three days were everything I could have hoped for and more.

Nestled in between Pembrokeshire and Gower, the county of Carmarthenshire is an often overlooked part of Wales. But it truly is a hidden gem, and has so much to offer. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and it is steeped in Celtic history that makes it a wonderful choice for a welsh holiday.

Now that we’ve set the scene, let me tell you the things we did, which is probably what you actually want to know when thinking about booking your own trip to Carmarthenshire. We packed a lot into the time we had, and still could have happily spent much longer exploring this part of Wales, so as you are reading this list, just know that it barely scratches the surface of what Carmarthenshire has to offer. We will certainly be returning again in the future and exploring more of this beautiful county. You can also have a look at the Discover Carmarthenshire website for more ideas of things to do in the area.

Laugharne Castle & Coastal Walk

On our first day we decided to explore Laugharne, which I must admit I hadn’t heard of prior to our trip, but it quickly became one of my most favourite places we have ever stayed in the UK. Most noticeably there is the castle which was first built in 1116 and is referenced as the ‘brown as owls’ castle by Dylan Thomas who is arguably Laugharne’s most famous resident. You can pay to go inside or you can just explore the outside where there are picnic tables and a river that runs down to the sea. The children absolutely loved playing by the river so we stayed there for a while before heading off to walk the Dylan Thomas ‘Birthday Walk’. The walk takes you past the Boathouse which is where he spent his last four years with his family, and also the Writing Shed where he wrote some of his most famous poems. It was so amazing to see the writing shed exactly as it was when he used to sit and write in it. The views were so spectacular that it was easy to understand why he loved it so much! The walk takes you all along the stunning coastline and is a lovely way to see more of Laugharne, whether or not you are a Dylan Thomas fan.

Gwili Steam Railway

This was a 90 minute round trip with stunning views of Carmarthenshire, the train also makes two stops, one brief one for the locomotive to change ends of the train, and also a longer stop where you have some time to explore the heritage of the steam railway. We were able to go into a vintage postal carriage and it was so fascinating to see inside. The children absolutely loved the train ride but it was also lovely that they could get out and run off some steam (pardon the pun) at this point in the trip. On the train itself we had our own 1950’s style compartment with a huge window, which was such a fun experience for all of us. You can book a variety of different experiences at Gwili Steam Railway such as a cream tea on board, or ‘Welsh Elevenses’ which I’m sure are amazing. The staff were all so friendly and it was a really lovey way to spend a morning.

Paddle Boarding & Kayaking

Our afternoon in the water at Llandysul Paddlers was definitely a trip highlight for all of us. As we were heading over in the car, the heavens opened and I was worried that it would effect our experience. But luckily that wasn’t the case, because once we were in our wetsuits and helmets we really didn’t even notice the rain. We had a wonderful few hours on the lake and were able to have a go at both paddle boarding and kayaking, and the kids and Dan jumped in for a spot of wild swimming at the end too. The staff were all so friendly and helpful, and are able to give you as much or as little guidance as needed. We’ve kayaked many times before but it was our first time on paddle boards, and we had the best time wobbling around, trying (and eventually succeeding!) to stand up. I love doing activities like this with the kids because I can see how much their confidence grows right in front of my eyes. You can book to do other activities with Llandysul Paddlers too, such as White Water Rafting and Coasteering which look incredible.

Falconry Experience at the British Bird of Prey Centre

Wow, wow, wow! I had never particularly considered trying my hand at falconry before, but it was really such an incredible experience and one of those memories that I know none of us will ever forget!
The British Bird of Prey Centre sits within the National Botanic Garden of Wales and is ‘the only bird of prey centre in the UK that focuses¬†solely on our native species’. You are able to spend time looking at the birds within their aviaries and the centre also runs regular flying shows which are included within the ticket price. You can also take part in a group flying experience for only ¬£10 (no need to book!) where everyone in the group takes turns calling the birds to the glove.
While we were there, we were lucky enough to have a private flying experience which was the Woodland Walk experience. We had an hour and a half with our guide Simon, who was so knowledgeable and engaging. We got to fly both a Harris Hawk and an owl and it was absolutely incredible to be so close to these magnificent birds. We all learnt so much from Simon during our session and it was amazing to see the children so engaged with a brand new experience like this.

Our Accommodation

We stayed in a really lovely self catering cottage called Mews Cottage in Laugharne, and it was the perfect base for our trip. The cottage was spotless and the perfect size for our family of four. The children shared a twin room, and we had a King sized bed in a spacious bedroom with views overlooking Laugharne. We could even see the castle from our window! The cottage was really close to a convenience store and we could walk to the castle and sit by the river within a few minutes, which we did both evenings of our stay. The cottage also had a lovely garden and pation where we sat out and ate breakfast when the sun was shining. Our stay here was absolutely faultless, and I really recommend this cottage if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Carmarthenshire.

To sum it all up, our trip to Carmarthenshire was one of our favourite UK holidays we have ever had. Everyone we encountered was so lovely, our excursions were all so much fun, and everywhere we looked was just so beautiful. The whole trip was the perfect reminder that you really don’t have to leave the UK to have a wonderful family holiday, and we will certainly be returning to this part of Wales again. If you are looking for some family fun for the school summer holidays then I would highly recommend adding Carmarthenshire to your list of options.

If you would like to see more about our trip, I have a highlight on my Instagram page which I am linking here, and within that you will find all the posts and stories from our time in Carmarthenshire.

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