Paxton’s Tower: the fabulous folly far above the Tywi commemorating prospects lost

Protruding out of the wood-carpeted line of hills south of the River Tywi in bizarre neo-Gothic splendour, Paxton’s Tower is no retiring violet from the public eye – indeed it is among Carmarthenshire’s most distinctive landmarks – but its sheer comic oddness renders it the sort of spot we at Undiscovered Wales absolutely love. The surrounding parish of Llanarthne has, since 2000, become one of … Continue reading Paxton’s Tower: the fabulous folly far above the Tywi commemorating prospects lost

In search of the cave of Twm Siôn Cati, the Welsh Robin Hood

Walk length: 4km. In almost all countries, it seems, there is a Robin Hood figure, usually treading that hazy space between fact and fiction in history: someone who takes from the rich, gives to the poor and then gets heroised in popular culture. In Wales, it is Twm Siôn Cati: a canny 16th-century Mid Wales outlaw about whom reams of stories have been written but … Continue reading In search of the cave of Twm Siôn Cati, the Welsh Robin Hood

Dryslwyn Castle: one of the greatest Welsh-built fortresses

Despite Wales’ likely status as the planet’s most densely castellated nation (only the Czechs and Slovaks can justifiably vie for this title), it is regrettably a myth that a fortress seemingly crests every hilltop, as some tourist-oriented merchandise intimates. Travelling along the fertile Tywi River valley between Llandeilo and Carmarthen, however, is one of those zones where the myth holds true. Dryslwyn Castle is one … Continue reading Dryslwyn Castle: one of the greatest Welsh-built fortresses

In the footsteps of the Physicians of Myddfai

Walk length: 8km. What do a succession of medieval medics often attributed with being the forerunners of the NHS, Prince Charles and a boutique range of Welsh toiletries have in common? The unlikely answer lies in  – or, rather, scattered around – the sleepy hamlet of Myddfai on the northwestern fringes of the Brecon Beacons. A history of herbalists hereabouts… Sleepy today, perhaps. But back … Continue reading In the footsteps of the Physicians of Myddfai

The Caio Forest: the forest that foiled an English king

Discovering the truly undiscovered inevitably entails sometimes opening up the OS map, scouting out the sort of terrain you love, hedging your bets and just going there. So it was with the Caio forest for us: it had expanses of trees, some thrillingly close-together contour lines, a promising little network of marked paths and a proper parking place. So off we went. (The marked paths … Continue reading The Caio Forest: the forest that foiled an English king

Llyn Brianne: South Wales’ biggest body of water is a true recluse

When we moved to remotest Carmarthenshire, the place we heard recommended to us again and again for a day trip was Llyn Brianne. Some places fall far short of the hype. Some, you finally get there and think ‘OK, nice enough.’ Some just totally exceed expectations. Llyn Brianne belongs firmly to the latter group. This snaking reservoir nestles hidden in the upper Tywi Valley, spread-eagled … Continue reading Llyn Brianne: South Wales’ biggest body of water is a true recluse