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National Botanic Garden of Wales

Built on the site of the former Middleton Hall and the heavily landscaped parkland idyll, the botanic gardens are fascinating both historically, architecturally and socially as well as botanically! A day out at the Botanic Gardens can be different every time. There is so much to see and do, such as:

Great Glasshouse

 

This impressive structure is the “largest single-span great glasshouse in the world”.  It holds the “largest collection of Mediterranean plants in the Northern Hemisphere”. Even on a rainy day, you will find a little bit of summer in here.  Walk by a waterfall and see the koi carp in the pool, sit at a cafe in the warmth, visit exhibitions and enjoy.

“It houses some of the most endangered plants on the planet which come from six areas of the world: California, Australia, the Canary Islands, Chile, South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin.”

Apothecaries Garden and Hall

An apothecaries hall and garden have been recreated on site. For Harry Potter fans the legendary Mandragora root can be seen in one of the cabinets. The hall and garden help us to understand the power of herbs for healing and experience what an Edwardian apothecary’s shop would have been like.  In a little village between the botanical gardens and Ystradgynlais, there has long been a tradition of physician-healers. Known as the Physicians of Myddfai, indeed there was a family of healers passing down their knowledge from the 13th until the 18th centuries.  According to legend, they were the descendants of the Lady of the Lake. She was said to be found at another local beauty spot Llyn y Fan Fach.

Japanese Garden

This beautiful mature garden is peaceful and tranquil, it was reconstructed after being moved from

“the Chelsea 2001 Flower Show where it won a gold medal and the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ Award.  It consists of three traditional Japanese gardens – the Stream and Lake Garden, the Gravel Garden and the Tea Garden. Filled with symbolism and guided by Zen philosophy, this is a lovely place to sit and contemplate.The Garden was designed by Professor Masao Fukuhara, a lecturer in design at Osaka University.”

The Traditional Japanese Tea House is a very popular element with both children and adults alike.  Although if you want a cup of tea you will have to go to one of the many cafes on-site.

Butterfly house.

Within an unassuming Victorian Glasshouse is possibly the best part of the Botanic Garden.

At first, you just see the plants but then you realize that interspersed with the vines and climbers are hundreds of colorful and majestic butterflies.

Some fly together chasing each other, whilst some bask in the sun, slowly revealing iridescent wings, others you can watch as they feed on fruit and some might even land on you.

As amazing for adults, as for kids, this is one part of the Gardens not to miss.

Kids Activities

At the Botanic Garden, there are many excellent events for children and families in the holidays.  Other things for the little ones include an excellent children’s adventure play area.  A dipping pond where children can use magnifying glasses microscopes to examine their nets and see which plants and creatures they have found. Furthermore, the kids can also try their hand at zorbing which for three pounds was good value for money and incredibly fun and tiring by all accounts.

Double Walled Garden

When the estate was running this Garden was its main food supply garden.  It two walls to provide different sheltered microclimates to enable the team of twelve gardeners to provide food for up to 30 people and extend the growing season. Today it explains how flowering plants have evolved and is a lovely place to sit and relax. Make sure you check out the fabulous walled Bee Garden, where you can see the bees toing and froing and flying off above everyone’s heads above the wall of the garden.

Wild Meadow Nature Reserve and a beautiful wooded valley.

Take a walk in a wild meadow nature reserve called Waun Las.  Part of Waun Las is a beautiful wooded valley’ called Pont Felin Gât.  It is just ten minutes’ walk from the Garden’s Stable Block. A one hour round walk will take you through the wood and across beautiful farmland with stunning views of the Great Glasshouse.

Native Woodlands

In springtime, you can see woodland flowers like bluebells, lesser celandines, wood anemones and golden saxifrage.

“The tree canopy of oak and ash, and the non-native beech and hornbeam suggests an interesting past.

We know that 200 years ago, Pont Felin Gât looked very different. It then formed a vital part of the Middleton Hall Regency Park. It was less wooded and was dominated by water. There were large lakes, streams, cascades, a bathhouse, plunge pool and bridges. You can see remnants of these today including a thundering waterfall which is still flowing sublimely 200 years after it was first made.”

Food and Drink

There are three cafes on site. The one at the entrance is also a small garden center. In the Great Glasshouse, there is a small snack bar, serving Mediterranean style snacks and there is a self-service restaurant within the Stable Block.

Getting There

National Botanic Garden of Wales
Middleton Hall
Llanarthne
Carmarthenshire
SA32 8HN

Public Transport

There are limited public transport options. It is, however, possible to visit for a couple of hours, if you don’t mind long bus journeys.

 The Trawscymru T1S runs direct from Swansea Bus Station to the Garden, Monday to Saturday at 12.00, taking about 40 minutes. The bus back leaves at 16.19.

Many thanks to the National Botanic Garden Of Wales for letting us use their fabulous photos all photography is c. Copyright Botanic Garden of Wales All Rights Reserved.

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Explore Our Coast!

Here at River Tawe Holiday Apartment you will find a rural escape with easy access to city life.  Situated in between Swansea and Brecon, This is an ideal base from which to explore.

Whether you fancy a fun-filled family day out at Aberavon or exploring the caves and ancient monuments of the Gower Peninsula, fine dining in the Mumbles or a cocktail at sunset by Swansea Marina, our coastline has a lot to offer.

The village of Ystradgynlais links directly through to central Swansea by both the A4067 and the Sustrans cycle path 43 part of the National Cycle Network.  This cycle path consists of mainly off-road cycle paths and some stretches of safe road and dedicated cycle lanes. Both the road and cycle path provide excellent access to Swansea Bay and the Gower. Download this map for more information on the Swansea Valley Trail and download this brochure Traffic Free South Wales

 

Family Fun Days

For family days out, there are so many options:

  • You could choose Aberavon Seafront.   It has a new swimming pool, outdoor kids splash water play, crazy golf, huge and exciting play area and excellent cafes.
  • Why not head to Mumbles pier to play in the arcade or visit the lifeboat house and then find the secret beach at the end of the pier for rock pools and lovely sand.  Take a trip to Verdi’s cafe for pasta or pizza and an ice cream.  With quick service, a floor length glass frontage with views over the bay, and plenty of outdoor seating, it’s a favourite with families. –Verdi’s – Italian Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour – great views quick service
  • Let the kids try rock climbing  and swimming at LC2: Swansea’s Leisure pool and sports centre.  Afterwards they can enjoy the five level indoor play centre, then go for  some delicious lunch by the marina at a waterside cafe or bar like The Swigg. You could follow this with a trip to one of Swansea’s many museums or art galleries. –The Swigg – Marina Side Bar and Cafe with excellent food and drinks.- National Waterfront Museum Dylan Thomas Centre

 

An Elegant Adventure

Start with an early lunch at Norton House served from 12-2.30,  £13.95 set menu for two courses.  Then why not head to the shops and boutiques and beauty parlours of The Mumbles for some retail therapy and pampering.

 

 

Fine Dining Restaurants

 

Munch of Mumbles

Fairyhill in Llanrhidian

Hanson at the Chelsea

Beach House at Oxwich

 

Coastal Pursuits

You can try sailing, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, sea caving, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, walking, bird-watching, whale watching, archery and much much more.

 

Whatever you love doing River Tawe Holiday Apartment can accommodate you!

 

 

 

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Cool down, come and stay to enjoy cool caves, refreshing lakes and a luxurious bath!

While staying at River Tawe Holiday Apartment in our stone ex-school building, you can enjoy the cool interior or enjoy the sun in the outside seating area, then cool off in your luxurious bath.

 

 

 

Swim in refreshing lakes like Llyn y Fan Fach and Fawr, explore Cool Caves and have an ice cold drink in one of many nearby cafes. Escape the heat or enjoy the heat at River Tawe Holiday Apartment.

Three_Cliffs_Bay_Gower by Saffron Blaze on wikimedia commons

 

We are not far from the glorious beaches of the Gower peninsula.

 

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Waterfall Country

Less than 20 minutes away from the River Tawe Holiday Apartment are several places you can park to explore waterfall country.   Start at the Waterfall Centre in Pontneddfechan, where they will let you know about all the routes you can take, and the geology of the area, which causes such spectacular waterfalls. Dinas Rock also has a few walking routes of differing length and difficulty, including one really short one.  There are also harder routes where you can spend all day taking in many of the Falls.  The village has several pubs and a tearoom that is open at weekends with a Children’s play area that is always open behind it.

Download the Waterfall Country Factsheet

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Caving in the Fforest Fawr Geopark

 

The National Show Cave Centre and Dan Yr Ogof is less that a 15 minute drive away and the area its is in world renowned for its Cave System.  Part of the UNESCO Fforest Fawr Geopark,  Penywyllt is home to The South Wales Caving Club and of course Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

With its convenient large utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer and a luxurious bath to soak away and aches and pains, The River Tawe Holiday Apartment is the perfect base for caving holiday.

The Gower Peninsula is also full of caving opportunities see this map.

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The Cribarth – The Sleeping Giant

Guarding the entrance to a picturesque and mysterious valley, called Penwyllt, full of caves, quarries, ancient monuments, cosy pubs and stunning scenery lies the Sleeping Giant.  This hill called the Cribarth looks like a huge sleeping giant.  Legends have it that the giant will awaken to help his people in a time of need.

Overlooking the village of Abercrave, the Cribarth hill according to Nigel Phillips on the Brecon Beacons park society website:

“Cribarth must be one of the most intensively quarried mountains in Wales, but this actually adds to its appeal. The hey-day for this activity was between the opening of the Swansea Canal in 1794 and the 1890s. Limestone, silica rock and rottenstone were extracted in huge quantities for the iron, copper and tin industries further south around the Swansea Valley.
There were thirty-three large quarries and innumerable smaller ones, served by 10.5 miles of tramroads and railways and by eighteen inclined planes, four of which ran steeply down to the canal at Abercrave.”

This has created a beautiful and rugged landscape full of mystery due to the presence of two cairns and the presence of the valley with Craig y nos Castle, a hotel and Craig  y nos Country Park, which contains 40 acres of  Scenic Park Land.

The valley also contains the National Showcaves Centre a major tourist attraction as well as the Caving Club at Pewyllt.