Monday 18 April 2016
Llansteffan to Llanelli
15 miles (+ bus and train)
Coastal Park Accommodation and Grill
I was up early and keen to leave. I had discovered there was a bus from the end of the road into Carmarthen, which would save me a road walk. I caught the bus. Driving into Carmarthen I was struck by the amazing sports facilities – a running track, rugby pitches, indoor rugby training facility and more.
I had intended to catch a train from Carmarthen to Kidwelly as the train line runs next to the coast, whereas the path takes you inland (presumably to avoid the train). I had a long enough gap between bus and train to get a coffee and a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast. I contemplated hanging around in Carmarthen for a couple of hours and getting the next train (they come at 2 hour intervals) but the man in the cafe suggested there wasn’t much to see in Carmarthen, just the Roman amphitheatre, which apparently takes 3 seconds. However, when I said I was heading for Llanelli he suggested I stay in Carmarthen.
I caught the early train and watched the Afon Tywi go by out of the window.
Kidwelly is a small town “dominated by its castle”. I couldn’t see the castle, I think it was hidden amongst the houses and, having seen enough castles recently, I didn’t bother to hunt for it.
My walk began by following the 3-mile long Kymer’s Canal. It was built in 1768 to connect Kidwelly Quay with the collieries in the Gwendraeth Fawr valley and was Wales’ earliest industrial canal. It looks very small now.
I walked passed Pembrey airfield, through Pembrey Forest and popped out on Cefn Sidan Sands; 8 miles of golden sand and fantastic views of Carmarthen Bay and the Gower peninsula.
At the end of the beach is Pembrey Country Park, on the site of the former Pembrey Royal Ordnance Factory (which apparently suffered the first bombing raid of “The Blitz”). It provides lots of leisure activities, from Segway to skiing!
The next 21 km, from Pembrey to the Loughor Bridge, would be through the Millenium Coastal Park. This park seems to have been created to fill the gap left behind by all the heavy industry that used to be on the North bank of the Loughor Estuary.
I made my way past Burry Port (built to take over the coal export duties from Kidwelly and Pembrey in the 1830s) and into Llanelli.
I stopped to admire the rugby posts, complete with model of Phil Bennett evading an All Black, that have been sited to commemorate the Scarlet’s old ground, Stradey Park (now a housing estate). An old man started talking to me about it and was impressed I knew of Phil Bennett. He loved Llanelli a lot more than the man in the cafe this morning; he told me he has a caravan at Wiseman’s Bridge but after a few nights there he has to come home because he misses it.
Ironically, the old man had initially stopped me to ask why I wasn’t cold (wearing only shorts and a t-shirt) and, after 20 minutes talking to him as the wind picked up, I was now freezing. I only had a mile to go, past the Water Park (on the site of the old Llanelly Steel Works) and into town. How pleasant to be staying somewhere clean. I didn’t go out for the evening as I was able to get a homemade curry at the guest house.