The Green Pages: Top 10 Things to Do in Carmarthen

So, it looks like you’re looking to explore the historically rich and scenic town of Carmarthen. (Or, if you want to show off and flex your Welsh, Caerfyrddin.) We can certainly understand why you’re so keen to visit. With stunning views from the river Tywi and more historic landmarks that you can shake a stick at, Carmarthen is the perfect place for all the family. 

If you need a bit more of a nudge, we’ve got 5 fun facts all about Carmarthen. You’re sure to be packing up your car and heading out the door, en route to Carmarthen, by the end - we guarantee it!

Footie fan? How about cricket? Carmarthen is the birthplace of both!

Talk about a double whammy. Sports historian (there’s a job title you never knew existed) Martin Johnes theorises that the earlier recorded game of cricket was played in 1783 on Court Henry Down, Dryslwyn. Likewise, the earliest recorded game of football was said to be invented in West Wales and was called cnapan. Both games have evolved from their earliest iterations (which both involved wooden balls - ouch) but their origins remain in Carmarthen.

The trees are magic. Er… Well… Sort of… 

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Merlin the wizard. We don’t mean Colin Morgan from that old BBC show. We’re talking about the real Arthurian legend. Apparently, Merlin was born in a cave just outside of Carmarthen. That’s not all, either. Legend states that there was a tree named ‘Merlin’s Oak’ (pretty original) and if it ever fell, the town would fall too. Ominous stuff! When the tree died, the town dug it up to prevent it from ever falling and pieces of it still remain in the local museum to this day.

The Mayor of Carmarthen killed a king on the battlefield. Take that, England!

The last English king to ever die on a battlefield, Richard III, was killed by Sir Rhys ap Thomas - the future Mayor of Carmarthen! Initially, Sir Thomas had sworn loyalty to Richard III, but switched sides and dealt the final blow during the heat of battle. That was probably a tense day at the office.

Fancy a BrewDog or a Stella? You’ve got Carmarthen to thank for them.

Football. Cricket. And now beer too? All great things come from Carmarthen! Whilst we can’t take the credit for inventing canned beer, we can definitively say that Carmarthen was home to the first canned beer brewed outside of the United States. Two local breweries were the first domestic sites to use beer cans in the 1930s: Felinfoel and Buckley’s brewery. 

Carmarthen is the site of an Amelia Airheart crash. No, not that one.

The other one! Amelia Airheart is best known as the world’s first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic ocean. The fate of that infamous voyage is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. We can safely assume that her plane crash-landed somewhere. But before that crash-landing, she had been a passenger on a plane flying from Nova Scotia in Canada. During their flight, they made a pre-mature arrival to Burry Port - right here in Carmarthen.

Carmarthen Castle

And that’s not even half of it! There are so many reasons to visit Carmarthen. More than we can count! But, to save time, we’ve put together the top 10 best things to do in Carmarthen. 

1. All the castles! (Kidwelly, Laugharne, Carmarthen…)

We heard you like castles. Luckily, we’ve got loads for you to choose from. These roman forts have stood the test of time and towered over Carmarthen for centuries. They’re the perfect place to take the family for a bit of historical appreciation or to see the stunning countryside from an incredible vantage point. 

2. National Botanic Gardens of Wales

You haven’t even comprehended the meaning of the phrase ‘natural beauty’ until you’ve visited the National Botanic Gardens of Wales - not that we’re biased, or anything. There’s a wide array of gardens to visit. Stop by the apothecary garden and discover the fascinating world of healing herbs. Or drop by the Aqualab on the river and learn all about the wonderful, if soggy, world of the river. Every exhibit in these gardens centre around green technology, learning and fun. Sounds like a perfect day out, if you ask us.

3. The British Birds of Prey Centre

If you’re visiting the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, you’ve got to stop by this centre. You won’t find another hands-on education like this. At the British Birds of Prey Centre, you can expect a once-in-a-lifetime experience with majestic birds of prey. From Golden Eagles to Red Kites, Snowy Owls to Peregrine Falcons, you’ll be lucky enough to watch these amazing birds up close as they soar through the sky. Feeling brave? You can even have a go at flying a bird yourself. Just make sure you’ve got your gloves on, first.

4. Llanelli WWT National Wetland Centre

Now, granted, ‘wetland’ doesn’t sound like the most appealing day out, but let us finish! This stretch of protected wildlife is teeming with unique nature and exciting scenery. And, they’ve got (wait for it…) flamingos! That’s right - Flamingos. Pink. Stand on one leg. You know the ones. We can confidently say this is the only place in Wales that you’ll find a ‘mingo wandering about. If you’re after a peaceful trip with beautiful sights, the Llanelli WWT National Wetland Centre is the place for you.

5. The Creative Cafe

Whilst you might need to hop into your car to visit this attraction, we definitely think it’s worth the trip. The Creative Cafe is a quaint little shop that’s full of excitement and creativity. There’s over 100 ceramic creations for you to choose from and an even wider array of paints, so you can let your imagination run wild. This is a pottery studio with a difference, perfect for kids of all ages - from little ones to teens. 

6. Carmarthen Market

For over 800 years, Carmarthen Market has been a hub for food-lovers and craft collectors alike. From meat fresh from the butchers to local fruit and veg, you can come and sample the best that Carmarthen has to offer all within the modern hall that houses it all. The friendly vendors are always looking to welcome new foodies to their flock, so get yourselves down to the hustle and bustle of the Carmarthen Market.

7. Llansteffan beach

British beaches tend to be a little disappointing. Grey skies. Pebbles instead of sand. Llansteffan beach is different! This beach in the south of Wales has sandy shores as far as the eye can ‘sea.’ (Sea what we did there? We’re here all week, ladies and gentlemen.)  Whether you’re a sandcastle builder or a sandcastle smasher, you’re bound to have buckets of fun in the sun. 

8. The Escape Game

This one is for the older kids and the kids at heart! Escape rooms have dominated the rainy-day activity scene in recent years - and for good reason. They’re an incredibly engaging way to spend an afternoon that is sure to make you feel like Sherlock Holmes after. You’ll have five different themed rooms to pick from. Did someone say space adventure? Underwater submarine? And different difficulty levels, these escape rooms are great for everyone from escape novices to puzzle experts. 

9. Creepy Carmarthen Tours

There’s nothing like a bit of a fright to keep you on your toes. Creepy Carmarthen Tours are guaranteed to spook and delight with tours that are accurate and entertaining. Discover Carmarthen’s seedy underbelly (okay, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic) and find out about all the horrible histories that happened long ago.

10. Carmarthenshire Museum 

Who doesn’t want to go see some bark from an ancient tree? The Carmarthen museum is housed inside a beautiful historic house that’s chocked full of interesting artifacts that display the rich history of Carmarthen. It’s a must-see for any history lovers... or Carmarthen lovers! 

After your jam-packed visit to Carmarthen, you might need to find somewhere to store all your new goodies like your newly glazed pottery, castle trinkets or seashells from the beach that the kids just had to take with them. If you’re struggling for space, why not get in touch with Beyond Storage?


Hereford countryside

The Green Pages: Top 10 Things to Do in Hereford

With a rich historical background and the most beautiful rural landscapes this side of the M50, Hereford is the perfect place to visit all year round. We’ve got over 350 acres of ancient woodland with dedicated wildlife trails that are absolutely brimming with life. We’ve got an epic cathedral with the largest library of chained books - you heard us right, chained books - in the whole world. We’ve got the scenic banks of the River Wye. We’ve even got distilleries and cider museums for mum and dad. (And, we’ve also got the one and only Beyond Storage!) 

Maybe you’re not sold on Hereford just yet. That’s okay! We’ve got 5 fun facts about our town that are sure to knock your socks off. 

 

1. Hereford is the birthplace of 2 iconic green frogs: Yoda and Kermit.

And Miss Piggy, the Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear… You can thank Hereford for pretty much every Muppet! Award-winning voice actor and puppeteer Frank Oz was born in Hereford in 1944.

 

2. Arguing with a Welshman? Come down to Hereford and settle it for good!

Technically, under an ancient (and apparently unrepealed) law, you can finish off a Welshman under very specific circumstances. You have to be in Hereford, it has to be a Sunday, you have to use a longbow and it must all take place within the Cathedral close. We don’t recommend trying this one out, but it’s always good to know your options!

 

3. Find the inspiration for your next hit West End show at Hereford - just like Andrew Lloyd Webber did.

Back in the 60s, co-creators of Jesus Christ Superstar Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice finished the main bulk of their hit musical from the comfort of a Hereford country inn. We think Hereford’s beautiful countryside is a great backdrop for any creative geniuses. Maybe it’ll inspire your next best-seller!

hereford countryside

 

4. If you’re a fan of exciting footie, you’re in the right place. Hereford United set a record in 1992.

Now, we’re a little proud of this one. What was the record you ask? The most amount of goals in a season? The most sportsmanlike conduct ever seen on the pitch? Not exactly… In 1992, Hereford United set the record for the most amount of players ever sent off a pitch from one team.  4 players were sent off, and we still drew 1-1. Not too shabby, if you ask us.

 

5. Vegetarians beware! Hereford is home to one of the world’s most popular breeds of cattle.

All the way back in ancient times, cattle breeders were looking to create the biggest and most efficient beef yield ever. And so, Hereford cattle was born and has taken the world by storm ever since. And we really mean they took the whole world by storm. Originating in our town, there are over five million purebred Hereford cattle out there in over fifty nations worldwide. That’s a lot of steaks.

hereford cattle

Fancy swinging by yet? There’s so much to see and do in our county town, but we’ve selected the very best things to do in Hereford that have to make your to-do list whilst you’re in town.

 

1. Hereford Cathedral 

Hereford Cathedral is probably the most famous landmark in Hereford - and for good reason. This incredible archaic place of worship has stood for over the town since 1079. Its extensive history is full of intrigue and political machinations that are perfect to fill an afternoon with. From its tiny crypt to its massive chained book library, the cathedral is full of interesting, unique quirks to keep kids entertained. The real crown jewel of Hereford Cathedral is the Hereford Mappa Mundi. It’s the largest medieval map in the whole world! Any budding historians will love visiting the Mappa Mundi to get inside the minds of ancient cartographers and their view of the world.

 

2. Chase Distillery 

From the fields, all the way to the bottling, discover each step of the distillery process at Chase Distillery. This in-depth tour of your favourite spirits should definitely be on the list of any adults that love to indulge. Chase Distillery’s talented guides take you step-by-step through their award-winning gin and vodka making process. That means discovering the wonderful world on mashing, fermenting and distilling spirits. It all takes place in the gorgeous Hereford countryside on their own family farm. After thoroughly learning about the distilling process, you even get a tutored tasting session! Anyone else thirsty for a G&T suddenly?

 

3. The Weir Garden (& River Wye)

As we move into spring and summer, there’s no better time to visit the Weir Garden. It’s a spectacular riverside National Trust garden that’s absolutely stunning and overflowing with natural beauty and exciting fauna. It’s a woodland wonderland. There are daffodil meadows, winding cobbled paths and a gorgeous view of the River Wye - just to highlight a few of this park’s natural beauties. Whether you visit for a simple stroll or indulge in a relaxing picnic, there’s no way you can go wrong with a visit to the Weir Garden. 

 

4. Manic Ceramics 

For the crafty at heart, Manic Ceramics is the place to be. This family-run independent business has been at the heart of the Hereford community for over a decade now. It’s great fun for people of all ages (because who doesn’t love pottery?) Their specialised paint is totally non-toxic and non-staining. Not to mention, their glaze used is 100% lead-free and dishwasher-proof. It’s totally kid-proof. For rainy days or for whenever you’re feeling artistic, Manic Ceramics is the perfect place to flex your Picasso-like skills and let your creativity soar.

 

5. The Hereford Buttermarket

Worry not, lacto-free visitors! The Hereford Buttermarket certainly sells more than just butter. This historic indoor market is located in the heart of Hereford. It’s a hidden gem, generally reserved for locals, but we’ve got you covered. Each individual stall offers a unique little something. From indulgent doughnuts to fresh produce, you’ll find a range of treats all year round.

 

6. The Cider Museum 

If your trip to the Chase Distillery wasn’t boozy enough, you’ve got to visit the Hereford Cider Museum. This absolutely beautiful museum is an autumnal haven with its apple harvest and foliage-covered front. You’ll definitely adore discovering the surprisingly historic tradition of cidermaking. From harvesting apples all the way to fermenting their juice, you’ll truly appreciate the art of making a quality cider after this experience. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk through the museum’s fascinating champagne cider cellars and find out how two 19th century brothers created the Bulmers empire. We certainly wouldn’t mind a sample of their bubbly right about now.

 

7. Green Spider Climbing

We all need to have a little adventure now and then! If it’s excitement you’re after, you’ll definitely find it at Green Spider Climbing. This awesome climbing and bouldering centre is right in the heart of Hereford for easily accessible, indoor fun. You’ll find over 200 roped routes and over 60 boulder problems set by some of the best route setters in the country. Their climbing and bouldering routes change every 8 weeks, meaning you can return to Green Spider again and again to refine and test your skills!

 

8. Broomy Hill Miniature Railway

Constructed entirely by hand by the Hereford Society of Model Engineers, the Broomy Hill Miniature Railway is an adorable set of model trains for train enthusiasts of all ages to ride in. With an elevated and a ground-level track, there’s plenty of exciting rides to take part in as you chug along the beautiful Hereford countryside. 

 

9. Haugh Woods Butterfly Trails

It doesn’t get much more magical than butterfly trails. Float alongside over 600 species of butterflies in Haugh Woods’ incredible woodland trails. Established by the Forestry England and Butterfly Conservation, these two amazing trails are incredibly important for butterfly conservation. See them in all their majesty in their natural habitat as you wander around over 850 acres of easy grade trials. These simple paths and gentle slopes mean everyone can come along to see the butterflies - small children and pushchairs included!

hereford butterfly trail

 

10. Hereford Museum & Art Gallery

The Hereford Museum & Art Gallery isn’t your average local museum. No, no! Not only is our museum housed within a stunning Victorian gothic building, but it’s chocked full of local history that’s engaging for the whole family. Ever wanted to see a hive of live bees? How about a two-headed calf? Or a two-metre-long fish? Swords of every shape and size? You’ll find these amazingly bizarre and interesting exhibits and more from the Hereford Museum & Art Gallery!

After your jam-packed visit to Hereford, you might need to find somewhere to pop all your newly glazed pottery, bottles of gin and tiny model trains. If you’re struggling for space, why not get in touch with Beyond Storage? We’re the real highlight of Hereford (but don’t tell the cathedral we said that!)