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Margam Park

Margam House

alt="Margam Park House Photograph"
Photo: Tourism Swansea Bay

A 19TH Century gothic revival Tudor style mansion built in 1830-40 it is now a Grade 1 Listed building.  Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890) had Margam castle built after he came back from his grand tour. He hired Architects Thomas Hopper (1776–1856), while Edward Haycock Snr (1790–1870. The house was passed down in the Talbot Family until 1941, when David Evans-Bevan, the industrialist and owner of the Vale of Neath Brewery bought it, He found it too large and tried unsuccessfully to get a public body to manage it. After this, it started to become dilapidated. And was closed although the local government had taken it on. A large fire gutted it in 1977 and since then it has been slowly being restored. It is now mainly used for Ghost Hunts, Wedding Photos and as a film set.   Within the courtyard, there is a small snack bar open in the warmer months.

 Orangery

alt="Photo of Margam Park Orangery"
Photo: Tourism Swansea Bay

The Orangery  is now used for Weddings, funerals, conferences, Events, corporate and private venue hire

 “The Orangery in Margam Park was built to house a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees which the Talbots inherited from their Mansel forebears. Nothing is known for certain of the origin of these trees, but legends suggest that they were originally a gift for the crown. As they were being transported, the ship was wrecked on the coast near Margam and the trees claimed by the Mansels.”

Prior to this, the trees had been housed in several different greenhouses around Margam Park.

Fairytale Village

Miniature houses and a fairytale castle to run around in designed for children under 10. In Spring/Summer it is open from 10 am to 5 pm, in Autumn/Winter it is open from 10 am to 3 pm.

  • Fairytale Cottages
  • A toddler play area
  • A 6-10 play area
  • Picnic area
  • Giant chess and draughts
  • Willow cathedral and adventure trail
  • Adventure Castle

  Wood Vibrations Trail

 Discover giant instruments made from carved trees. There are also giant wooden toadstools to find.

 Go Ape

For those aged 10 and over and for a fee, you can experience the Go ape treetop high wire adventure course. Book in advance online.

 Adventure Playground

Margam has a great adventure playground for older children built in the shape of a wooden palisade castle.

Rare breed Farm Trail

A lovely petting zoo style farm trail to bring toddlers to see different rare bread animals. They have been chosen because their particular breeds were favoured by local farmers for their hardiness and produce.

 The Parkland

There are 800 acres of parkland to explore and there is a 600 strong deer herd which provides for excellent venison.  Margam park has several cycle trails if you prefer to go by bike, there is a large BBQ area available to hire and also dogs are very welcome on a lead. For longer distance walkers, the park links to Afan Forest Park Country Park via the Coed Morgannwg Way.

Cloisters

This site has been home to an abbey from the 11th century until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry the 8th in 1536. the site may have been a major centre of the early Celtic Christian church prior to it being a Cistercian abbey. The site had previously been occupied for at least 4000 years.

 Margam Park Train

A diesel locomotive, that runs on a 24” Gauge Track., The Margam Park Train runs during the warmer months. It has three carriages that can seat up to 24 people undercover and the train is wheelchair accessible.

Train Prices: All tickets are valid for a one-way journey only.

  • Adult: £2.00
  • Child/OAP: £1.00 (Children under three are FREE,
  • Child 3-18,
  • Family Pass (2 Adults 2 Children) £5.00

Entry:  Free Entry

Parking: £6.60

Mumbles

alt="Mumbles at sunset, Swansea, South Wales by Tourism Swansea Bay"
Photo: Tourism Swansea Bay

Mumbles is a large village that also includes the settlements of Newton, Westcross, Mayals and Oystermouth.

Mumbles Culture

If you like galleries, performances, boutiques and beauty, fabulous restaurants and cosy real ale pubs then Mumbles is the place for you. Once known best for the mumbles mile, the town is still popular because there are so many pubs and restaurants in a small area, nicknamed the Monaco of Wales, due to the wealth of its inhabitants, celebrity clientele and fashionable boutiques.

History of Mumbles

Oystermouth Railway was set up to transport coal in 1806. The first horse-drawn passenger service was opened in 1807 and Mumbles grew into an extremely popular tourist destination after the turn of the Century. Mumbles Pier was opened in 1898, primarily to relieve pressure on Swansea Docks but soon became used for leisure purposes.   The lifeboat slipway was added in 1916 and the new Lifeboat Station was added in 2014 and is worth a visit. The ever-popular amusement arcades were built in 1966.

The Pier Today

Starting Summer 2018, Mumbles pier will be partially demolished and the redeveloped at a cost of 3.2 million pounds, it will see the decked space for the public use made much larger on the landside of the pier.

Oystermouth Castle

alt="Oystermouth castle event at night photo, Swansea, South Wales"
Photo by Dean Jeffery/ Tourism Swansea Bay.

This Norman castle was already a ruin by 1650. The castle was then preserved and partially restored by George Grant Francis in the 1840’s when the Duke of Beaufort owned it. By 1927 he had given it to Swansea Corporation.   Oystermouth Castle underwent a 1 million pound transformation in 2011.

The scheme includes new visitor facilities, an educational space, improvements to access and a 30-foot high glass viewing platform and bridge that leads to Alina’s Chapel.”                                                                    

It is now used for open-air events, theatre, and concerts.

Clyne Gardens

alt="photo of Clyne Gardens by Tourism Swansea Bay"
Photo: Tourism Swansea Bay

 A beautiful park with, impressive plants and sea views, leading to a woodland park.

 Mumbles Islands from the Pier

alt="Photo from Mumbles Pier, Swanseas South Wales, of Knab Rock"
Photo by Dean Jeffery/Tourism Swansea Bay

Verdi’s Restaurant

This Italian restaurant and ice cream parlour has stunning views of Swansea Bay, and due to its floor to ceiling glass windows, it is popular even on a cold and rainy day.   The food comes quick, allowing for more time sightseeing, and the food is tasty and the service is fabulous.

Secret Beach

On Mumbles Pier find the steps leading to a little beach that links to the two islands at low tide.

Cycle Path

A safe family friendly cycle path runs along the coast from Swansea Marina to Mumbles. Clyne Valley Cycle Path continues towards Gowerton and on towards Kidwelly after a short stretch of Road. This means that you could get from Ystradgynlais to Kidwelly without having to go on may roads at all.

Parking:

You can park in one of several Car parks where tickets will cost you between £2.00 and £3.00 for an hour.

Traffic:

 On Sunny days beware sometimes the whole of South Wales seems to decide to head for the Mumbles and the Gower and also during rush hour it can be slow going entering or leaving the village, allow extra time for your journey

Postcode: SA34EE

Langland Bay

Langland Bay

Colin Smith / Langland Bay / CC BY-SA 2.0

Langland Bay is reminiscent of the french riviera and has kept its Victorian charm, even though most of its hotels have now been converted to other uses.  There is a golf course, tennis courts and old-fashioned Green beach huts which are available to rent in the summer months.  The bay is overlooked by a manor, Llan-y-Llan which was “built in the Scottish baronial style by the Crawshay family, the Merthyr Tydfil Ironmasters”, it has now been converted into apartments and is called the Langland Bay Manor.  The beach is joined at low tide to Rotherslade Bay and is only a separate beach at high tide when a spur of rock separates them.

There is a good restaurant overlooking the beach with indoor and outdoor seating.

The beach has both rock pools and sand and during the summer lifeguards are on patrol, it is a popular surfing beach for experienced surfers only.

This beach gets extremely busy when the weather is really sunny, this beach is the one along from Caswell Bay and you can walk along the coastal path to it.

Car parking fees in the Spring/Summer are 1hr £1.50, 2hrs £3, All Day £5

Download our factsheet: Langland Bay

Dan yr Ogof – National Showcaves Centre for Wales

Dan yr Ogof – National Showcaves Centre for Wales

Postcode:  SA9 1GJ

Distance: 15 minutes’ drive

Only five miles north of Ystradgynlais.

Entry and Admission:  3 pm is last entry. £14 for adults and £11 for children.

Showcaves:

The showcaves are the start of a 17-mile-long cave system beneath the Cribarth and Penwyllt areas, the gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park.Visit the amazing Cathedral Cave, walk under an underground waterfall.  The River Llynfell is a 6km underground river. The Morgan brothers, who discovered Dan yr Ogof in 1912, entered here. They had only candlelight to guide them, and a small boat called a coracle to cross the underground lakes.

 

Dinosaurs, Shire Horse Centre and Playbarn:

Also included with your entry are numerous giant plastic dinosaurs, a model of an iron age fort, reconstructed stone circles, horses and animals to visit, historical displays and a café and play barn.  It needs a whole day to see it all.

 

Seasonal Opening:

The showcaves are open from the first of April until the 5th of November and opens specially for events at Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.