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?


“Have you seen the new neighbours?!” 8 ways to welcome garden wildlife into your outdoor spaces.

Creating a welcoming environment in our gardens for wildlife such as birds, insects and other animals not only benefits our friendly neighbourhood critters, it can also be a fun and rewarding activity - both the creating and subsequent garden watching! Here are our 8 favourite ways to become garden wildlife’s new best friend:

1. Let it grow!

The uncut lawn: one of nature’s rarest and richest wildlife habitats. But before committing to jungle life, a small area of overgrown lawn will do! Cultivating this mini wilderness will be a big draw for little mammals like shrews and voles because it offers a banquet of tasty insects and protection from predators.

If you want to entice some larger foragers, a pile of dead wood encourages beetles and grubs which will do just the trick!

Take it one step further and leave a patch of flowering weeds like daisies, buttercups and dandelions - they’re great food sources for butterflies.

long grass

2. Hungry beasts

The way to any garden mammal’s heart is through their stomach.

Badgers and squirrels will eat unsalted nuts and seeds, fruit and root veggies. Hedgehogs are a little pickier, but you can buy special feed from most garden suppliers.

Believe it or not, milk and bread are big no-no's when it comes to feeding wildlife as they cause digestive problems!

3. Wildflower Power

Bees and butterflies alike love wildflowers and they’ve never been easier to introduce to your garden! You can purchase readymade wildflower packs which you can sow straight into soil, and pre-seeded mats that make germination even easier.

Big or small, any patch of your garden will do, and the best time to sow these little gems is in April.

Just remember to water them every now and then should the British weather pull a blinder and bless us all with an actual summer!

4. Just add water

One of the best things you can do for wildlife in your garden is provide them with a water source.

A pond, even a small one, in a not-too-sunny, not-too-shady spot will be the best and quickest way to diversify your garden ecosystem. It’ll make a welcoming home for frogs and other amphibious wildlife (who enjoy shallower water than you think) and beautiful insects like dragonflies. Add plants like water lilies and pondweed to develop your underwater habitat and help prevent it from going stagnant.

And don’t think your tap or hose will have to do overtime. Collect rainwater in containers to top up your pond, or leave them as is! Water sources are essential for all wildlife, especially for birds in the winter.

5. Don't lock them out!

Leave gaps in your fences that are small enough to keep the dog in but big enough for animals like hedgehogs and frogs to discover your lovingly-made wildlife habitat - simple!

6. Make it their home

Another surefire way to draw wildlife into your garden is by introducing nesting boxes and houses, whether that be for birds, bats, hedgehogs or insects. You can either put something together yourself as they don’t need to be complicated, or buy something purpose build.

Store bought or DIY, even the simplest of shelters become safe homes for many animals that struggle to find natural nesting sites in the winter when conditions are harsh (I’m talking about the British weather again aren’t I?).

Hedgehogs especially need a safe place to hibernate through the cold months. Fancy taking on a DIY project? The Wildlife Trusts have a fantastic step-by-step guide of how to build a hedgehog home.

For bird boxes, make sure they’re installed in a high, sheltered area away from common predators such as cats, and provide them with fat balls in the spring and seeds in the winter to keep them safe, fat, and happy.

Insect houses provide nesting sites for solitary bees and insects. You can make your own simple bee house using reed or bamboo of varying lengths between 4-10cm tied together, or you can buy a commercially-made bee pad.

Insect house bee house

7. The Hedge, Birds Nest Lane, Birdville, BB1 1RD

Not in the mood for DIY? Let nature build a home instead!

Hedges offer great sheltered nesting areas for birds and small animals. There are loads of suitable hedge plants to choose from, but winter honeysuckle and hawthorn not only make great hedges, their perfumed blooms are perfect for bees, too.

8. Bee-utiful flowers!

Most people are now privy to the importance and the plight of our bees, so do your bit by planting some of their favourite flowers.

Bees can see blue and purple more clearly than other colours, so blue and purple varieties of rhododendrons, alliums and chives, geraniums and lavender are great places to start! Not only are they all hardy perennial (they’ll bloom every year) plants, they’re relatively easy to grow.

Geraniums also form good-sized clumps of flowers in a short space of time, which is sure to get pollination off to a buzzing start.

Top tip: wild windowsills!

You don’t need a garden to befriend garden wildlife. All the flowers mentioned above can be grown in containers to adorn a small outside space or reside on windowsills.

 

What are your tried and tested garden wildlife hacks? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

More about the aesthetic? Check out our blog post for smart ways to brighten up your garden.

And if you’re keen to bring the jungle indoors, we've got a blog post for that too! Read all about the benefits of plants in the home here.