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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
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.
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.
The Brecon Beacons contains two stunning areas, which can often be confused due to the similarity of their names. The westerly one is Black Mountain or Y Mynydd Du, and it is on the Border between Carmarthenshire and Powys, above Upper Brynamman. The Black Mountains are over towards Crickhowell and Talgarth, to the east of the Brecon Beacons, and they form a border separating Wales from Herefordshire.
While either area is well worth a visit, the Black Mountain is much closer to Ystradgynlais and with limestone outcrops and tremendous views, it is a place to explore the rugged hills and try to spot the rare alkali loving plants found in the area.
There are a couple of car parks along the A4069 one with spectacular views and picnic benches and sometimes a burger or ice cream van! The other allows for exploration of old Limestone Quarry Known as Herberts Quarry, good for climbing and boldering. There are several caves in this area so be cautious with younger children.
From Ystradgynlais Follow the road to Cymllynfell at the junction with the A474 at the north of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and travels through Lower Brynamman and Brynamman. The route then crosses over the Black Mountain range of the Brecon Beacons and emerges near Felindre near Llangadog. It then crosses through Llangadog and continues northeast until the junction with the A40 at Llandovery. It reaches a height of 493 m (1,617 ft) above sea level.
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.
Welsh Actor Luke Evans mentions “Llyn Y Fan’s Great Beauty” in Visit Wales’s amazing new advert promoting Wales. Llyn y Fan is a lake in the Brecon Beacons or in fact two lakes. Llyn y Fan Fawr and Llyn y Fan Fach lie on a mountain just north of Ystradgynlais, where River Tawe Holiday Apartment is situated.
It is a short drive and a beautiful walk to visit these ancient and mysterious lakes which have been the subject of legends throughout the ages.
The Red book Of Hergest, an ancient manuscript, written just after the year 1382, holds a tale that starts by the shores of Llyn y Fan Fach and the same story is also recorded in the Mabinogion.
Hendryd Waterfall is South Wales’s tallest waterfall with a 90ft drop. It is situated near Coelbren on the River Nant Llech.
A spectacular and mysterious sight especially as for the sure footed it is possible walk behind the falls.
The Fossil Trees which stand outside Swansea Museum were found here by Sir William Edmond Logan who later became the head of the Geological Survey of Canada.
The waterfall was also the entrance to the bat cave in the film Batman – The Dark Knight Rises.
It is a steep walk that can sometimes be slippery, wear waterproofs if planning to get close.
Travelling a little further to Pontneddfechan and the Waterfall Centre, where there is information given on the many stunning walks available some easy ranging up to huge adventures taking in up to nine waterfalls in one day.
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.
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.
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.
A toddler play area
A 6-10 play area
Giant chess and draughts
Willow cathedral and adventure trail
Wood Vibrations Trail
Discover giant instruments made from carved trees. There are also giant wooden toadstools to find.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark stretches from Llandovery in it’s North West, to Merthyr Tydfil at it’s south-east. It covers much of the western Brecon Beacons and covers 300 square miles. This area has been awarded Global Geopark status due to its unique and fascinating geology.
It was Wales’s first Global Geopark and has now been joined by Angelsey in the north. Geoparks celebrate the areas’ unique culture, history, myths, archaeology, as well as focusing on its outstanding geology, and its inhabitants’ connections with the landscape.
Credit with thanks: Fforest Fawr Geopark
David, one of your hosts at River Tawe Holiday Apartment, is both a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador and an Ambassador for Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark. Don’t hesitate to ask him for hints on how to get the most out of the Geopark and please download the factsheets below to help you enjoy your stay at River Tawe Holiday Apartment.
The Geopark Website states:
“You will find that each Ambassador has a special knowledge of this unique place and an ongoing commitment to celebrating it and helping visitors too to get the most from their stay. These Ambassadors have taken time out of their business to make sure they offer outstanding information and service.”
Every year the Geopark hold a series of walks talks and family events celebrating the Geopark.
The oldest Ordovician and Silurian rock layers are named after ancient Welsh tribes that lived in the area.
Magnificent old red sandstone, from the Devonian period 419-359 million years ago, has created the striking landscape of flat-topped mountains, we see an example of surrounding Llyn y Fan Fach.
Water eroding the rock over millennia has carved the immensely beautiful carboniferous limestone layers into pavements, and cave systems. This layer was once a tropical sea and fossilised brachiopods and branching corals can be found. Originally limestone was formed from shell debris.
The millstone grit separates the limestone from the coal layer which fueled the industrial revolution. Both lime, coal and ironstone were mined in this area during the time.
Silica Rock was mined at the Cribarth and used to form heatproof silica bricks used to line the furnaces for copper and iron smelting.
Newer rock layers were laid down in the Carboniferous period 359-299 million years ago.
The Geology of the Geopark and the landscape it has created truly is a natural wonder.
In ancient times people settled here leaving their standing stones and traces of their settlements, there are iron age hill forts and medieval manors and Roman roads, such as Sarn Helen, to discover and much more.
The more recent history of Geopark is heavily linked to the birth of industry, the South Wales Valleys fueled the Industrial Revolution.
You can see how the landscape was changed by the people who lived here and how the landscape influenced the activities of its inhabitants.
The Lady of the Lake, Llyn y Fan Fach and the physicians of Mydffai
Llyn y Fan is a lake in the Brecon Beacons or in fact two lakes. Llyn y Fan Fawr and Llyn y Fan Fach lie on a mountain just north of Ystradgynlais, where River Tawe Holiday Apartment is situated. It is a short drive and a beautiful walk to visit these ancient and mysterious lakes which have been the subject of legends throughout the ages.
The Red Book of Hergest, an ancient manuscript which was one of the sources of the Mabinogion, written just after the year 1382, holds a tale that starts by the shores of Llyn y Fan Fach.
The lady of the lake
One day a farm boy was tending to his animals by the shores of the lake when to his surprise a beautiful and wise woman rose from the lake. She prophesied that if he were to marry her, he would become wealthy and well respected.
The condition of this marriage was that he was not allowed to strike her more than three times or she would return to the lake and the marriage would be over. The boy married the strange lady and they gained many animals and became rich and successful, unfortunately at some point he struck her more than three times and she left him returning to the lake and all her animals followed her into the water.
The Physicians of Myddfai
All he had left were his children, legend has it that these children went off to become the Physicians of Myddfai having learnt their mother’s magical plant lore. Historical records show that in the 13th Century there was a renowned physician called Rhiwallon Feddyg from Myddfai and he had three sons, Cadwgan, Gruffudd and Einion. Their herbal remedies have survived, recorded in the Red Book Of Hergest, along with their possible ancestors’ legend. The physicians of Myddfai continued to pass their knowledge down to their descendants and the last known member of the line died in 1739 named John Jones.
The Legend of the Twrch Trwyth (The Boar Trwyth )
Cwmtwrch is named after the legendary boar Twrch Trwyth, the cursed son of a Tared Wledig a prince of Wales. At the behest of a giant eager to secure a magic comb from the boar, king Arthur and his cousin and Arthur’s dog Cabal chase the huge boar into the sea to die.
Ride a steam train
Gallery not found.
Places to Visit
Craig y Nos Country Park
Craig y Nos Country park is open every day except Christmas day and has 40 acres of grounds to explore, with easy and accessible paths. There is also a good cafe and some artists’ studios.
This was once the grounds of Craig y Nos Castle, which is now a hotel and wedding venue. In 1878 until 1919, it was the home of Dame Adelina Patti, a world-renowned Opera Singer.She extended the castle massively and even had a miniature copy of La Scala in Milan built, it is now a grade one listed opera house and is well worth a look. From 1922 until 1959, it was used as a TB hospital. A small exhibition is usually housed up near the castle, in winter it tends to be about the castle’s use as a TB hospital and in summer about the extraordinary life of Dame Adelina Patti.
The pay and display car park entrance is on the A4067 from Swansea, past Abercrave and Pen-y-cae. Turn right just after Craig-y-Nos Castle. Postcode for sat nav: SA9 1GL. Hourly T6 Bus service from Brecon and Swansea except for on Sundays. For a free parking option, there is a layby on the right before the castle.
Set within this valley is also Dan Yr Ogof Showcave Centre where you can venture underground to see caves for yourself, the HQ of the South Wales Caving Club at Penwyllt, and the Cribarth Hill, known as the Sleeping Giant, which looks remarkably like one from Ystradgynlais.
Cribarth and Penwyllt
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, overlooking the village of Abercraf, called Cribarth looks like a huge sleeping giant. Legends have it that the giant will awaken to help his people in a time of need.
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 Craig y Nos Castle, a hotel and Craig y Nos Country Park, which contains 40 acres of Scenic Park Land.
Easy Mountain Walk
Drive from Craig Y Nos drive back towards Ystradgynlais and take the first turn left, left again and follow the road all the way up the hill past a quarry and into a large car park. You will see a disused railway station, partly funded by Dame Adelina Patty in 1861, from there she would take her own railway carriage attached to any train, so she could travel in style to and from her castle at Craig Y Nos.
Part of the UNESCO Fforest Fawr Geopark, Penwyllt is home to The South Wales Caving Club, based in a row of terraced miner’s cottages and of course, hidden beneath your feet is the massive Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Cave System, one of the longest in Britain with over 40km of Passages.
This landscape was folded into an arch or anticline and many different layers have been exposed this folding happened three hundred million years ago due to lateral pressure and is part of a longer fault line called the Swansea Valley Disturbance.
Glaciers carved through the valley, more recently a mere 18,000 years ago, removing some of the top layers. Man has then added to the scarring, this area being intensively and repeatedly mined over the years. it makes for a very interesting landscape.
You can walk some of the way along the Old Brecon to Swansea Railway Line, back towards Ystradgynlais before the line becomes overgrown, and the views down the Swansea Valley will be stunning.
Always let us know if planning to adventure as the weather can turn extremely quickly. There are several pubs in the area providing excellent food and drink.
Waterfall Country, Waterfall walks and Waterfall Centre
Within a 15-minute drive from the apartment are several places you can park to explore waterfall country. Ystradfellte (Park: CF44 9J) or Pontneddfechan, where there are some delightful pubs and easy parking. It is the geology of the area with its mix of limestone, sandstone and millstone grits and earlier glacial erosion, which cause such spectacular waterfalls. Dinas Rock (Park: SA11 5NU) is also a good starting place for several walking routes of differing length and difficulty, including one short one.
There are also harder routes where you can spend all day taking in many of the Falls. see leaflet Penderyn and Hirwaun walking trail. There is a large car park with picnic benches. The village has several pubs and a tearoom that is open at weekends. There is a children’s play area that is always open behind it.
While in the area, why not visit the Penderyn Distillery CF44 0SX which is 22 Minutes from the apartment and close to the Waterfalls.
Sgwd Henrhyd or Henrhyd Falls
Henrhyd Waterfall is South Wales’s tallest waterfall with a 90ft drop. It is situated near Coelbren on the river Nant Llech. A spectacular and mysterious sight. For the sure-footed, it is possible to walk behind the falls although not recommended.
Fossil trees were found here by Sir William Edmond Logan, one of which still stands outside Swansea Museum. He later became the head of the Geological Survey of Canada. The waterfall was also the entrance to the bat cave in the film Batman – The Dark Knight Rises.
It is a steep walk that can sometimes be slippery, wear waterproofs if planning to get close on wet days, but wet days are the best to appreciate this spectacle.
From the apartment, take Pantyffynon Rd to College Row/B4599. Then turn left onto College Row/B4599. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Trawsffordd/B4599. Turn right onto the A4067 and A4221toOnllwyn Rd. Then take a road called Heol Eglwys to Dol Henrhyd, where you will find the car park entrance. Park: Brecon Beacons National Park, Dol Henrhyd, Neath SA10 9PG. There is a free car park for the falls with a picnic bench.
Mumbles is a large village that also includes the settlements of Newton, Westcross, Mayals and Oystermouth.
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.
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.
A beautiful park with, impressive plants and sea views, leading to a woodland park.
Mumbles Islands from the Pier
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.
On Mumbles Pier find the steps leading to a little beach that links to the two islands at low tide.
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.
You can park in one of several Car parks where tickets will cost you between £2.00 and £3.00 for an hour.
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
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
Entry and Admission: 3 pm is last entry. £14 for adults and £11 for children.
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.
The showcaves are open from the first of April until the 5th of November and opens specially for events at Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.
For our overseas visitors, vacationing in Wales can be easy, take a direct flight to one of many airports in the UK, we can arrange a luxury private hire transfer from any airport, seaport or location.
For those traveling by rail or coach a taxi or bus can be taken to Ystradgynlais from Neath or Swansea.
Wales at Fall
Sgwd Pannwr, Ystradfellte, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Known as Autumn in the U.K. and Hydref here in Ystradgynlais, fall is stunning here with beautiful Woodland Colours to explore, Frosty Mornings by ancient castles, and of course the chance to warm up in a quaint and cosy pub by an open fire or roaring log burner.
In Wales traditionally Halloween is Nos Galan Gaeaf, the eve of the first day of winter, traditionally the first day of the new year. So Halloween was New Years Eve and would be celebrated as such. Fires would be lit ushering in the New Year, celebrating safe harvest and deterring any wandering spirits. You can still join in many local gatherings and festivals in Wales. Enjoy the Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea and check out the local Halloween celebrations.
A Welsh Winter Wonderland
Winter in Wales can be spectacular, visit the nearby town of Hay On Wye for their Winter Food Festival on the 25th of Novermber 2017, the fabulous clifftop ruined Carreg Cennen Castle below and of course both Cardiff and Swansea have seasonal funfairs and ice rinks with a festive theme, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland and Waterfront Winterland in Swansea.
Trace Your Celtic Connections
Ask family members about what they remember names dates and possible places and any family documents available as well as photographs, trace this as far back as you can.
According to the BBC keeping organised is important:
“Sketching out a rough plan of what you know before you begin more in-depth research is a good move. Keeping notes on lines of investigation and individual ancestors is also useful. Place your immediate family at the start of your family tree and work from there: it’s best to start with yourself and your children/grandchildren and move backwards through your siblings, parents, grandparents and so on.
Gathering more specific biological information and concrete evidence on ancestors strengthens your family tree, and vital information can be found in births, marriages and death records. Civil registration for these events was introduced in England and Wales in 1837: it became a legal requirement for every birth, marriage or death to be officially registered and a certificate issued as proof. Prior to this date, registers of baptisms, burials and marriages that were maintained by each parish can contain information that may be of use to your investigation.”
Use Genealogy Websites to top up your knowledge.
To find local archives where record might be help use this website to search for National Archives: National Archive
Search Local Records:
Parish records – including registers of baptisms, marriages and burials – may be used for research for dates and events prior to 1837 if your trail takes you back that far. From 1538 it was required that the incumbent of every parish kept a register of births, deaths and marriages within their parish. Most local parish registers are kept at local County Records Offices and are also available at the National Library of Wales”
If you manage to get back earlier than the 1830’s tracing via family names may become difficult for many reasons. surnames were often anglicised when they were written down. Spellings were not consistent and there was a patronymic system in Wales following the male line only. According to the BBC:
Patronymics describes the process of giving a child the father’s given, or forename, as a surname. This means that a family’s name changes in successive generations. The Welsh patronymic system describes family trees in terms of the male line only and records the family association in the ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ prefix (‘ap’ is a contraction of the Welsh word ‘mab’, which means son). For example, Rhys ap Dafydd translates as ‘Rhys, son of David’. Modern Welsh surnames such as Powell, Price and Prichard are the result of this contraction and a progressive tendency to Anglicise Welsh names: under the patronymic system they would have been ap Hywel, ap Rhys and ap Richard. This process of conversion to the system of fixed names in Wales began in the fifteenth century and continued through to the middle of the eighteenth century. The trend was stratified socially: the higher classes in society began the process, which then was passed on to the lower classes. Consequently, genealogists whose research has reached this period in Welsh history can sometimes find that their search grinds to a halt as family names disappear into the patronymic system of naming.”
7. Relax and enjoy, make sure you intersperse research with exploration, to get a good idea of what wales has been like through the ages the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan’,s a short drive from River Tawe Holiday Apartment, has original buildings from all eras. They have been taken down at their original locations all over Wales and rebuilt at the Museum exactly as they were found, the museum is free and you can visit many times without seeing it all.
The Real Wizarding World Magical Experience
Love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but don’t fancy the crowds? For a more authentic fantasy adventure here are just a small selection of what South Wales has to offer.
A gothic romantic castle rebuilt in the Victorian era by the richest man in the world heir to a fortune from Coal Mining. According to the CADW Website:
The ‘eccentric genius’ William Burges was given free rein by his paymaster, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd marquess of Bute, to create a rural retreat to complement the opulence of his main residence, Cardiff Castle. He didn’t hold back. Dazzling ceilings, over-the-top furnishings and furniture were liberally applied.
The castle interior is dripping with Gold and faux gothic arches. It feels like you are in a medieval fairytale.
Llyn y Fan Fach
Llyn y Fan is a lake in the Brecon Beacons or in fact two lakes. Llyn y Fan Fawr and Llyn y Fan Fach lie on a mountain just north of Ystradgynlais, where River Tawe Holiday Apartment is situated.
It is a short drive and a beautiful walk to visit these ancient and mysterious lakes which have been the subject of legends throughout the ages.
The Red book Of Hergest, an ancient manuscript written just after the year 1382 holds a tale that starts by the shores of Llyn y Fan Fach about the Lady of The Lake and the same story is also recorded in the Mabinogion.
This spectacular castle stands high on a craggy cliftop and the site is known to have been used since prehistoric times though the castle as it stands today is what remains of a castle built by King Edward the 1st during his vast castle building spree in Wales
“Edward I’s fearsome Iron ring of colossal fortresses represents Europe’s most ambitious and concentrated medieval building project, designed to prevent the recurrence of two massively expensive military campaigns. After Edward’s first successful campaign in 1277, he was able to pin down his adversary Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (“The Last”)”
There is also a cave you can visit on site as well a tea room and many amazing views.
The Earl of Cawdor owned the castle until the 1960’s when his legal team made an error and included ownership of the castle with the deeds of Castell farm and the Morris family became owners and it is still owned by their family today.
Dan yr Ogof
The showcaves are the beginning of a 17-mile-long cave system. The Ogof Ffynnon Ddu system runs beneath the Cribarth and Penwyllt areas. It is situated at the gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park. You can visit the amazing Cathedral Cave where you can walk under an underground waterfall. The River Llynfell is a 6km underground river which comes above ground near the entrance to the showcave. The Morgan brothers, who discovered Dan yr Ogof in 1912, entered here. They only had candlelight to guide them, and used a small boat called a coracle to cross the underground lakes. Included in the entry price are the showcaves, 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 get around it all. It is open from the first of April until the 5th of November. It also opens specially for events at Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
Whether you are interested in myths and legends, the poetry of Dylan Thomas, the ancient landscape or it’s industrial scars there is something in this land to interest everyone.
Dame Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was a world-renowned opera singer. She made her home in Craig Y Nos Castle. She was a child prodigy, trained by her opera singer parents. By eight she was performing in concerts in New York, where they moved in 1847. She then spent years touring North and South America. She “made her operatic debut at the age of sixteen as Lucia in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the New York Academy of Music where she won critical acclaim.” The opera was based on the fashionable best seller The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott.
She became a “Diva:”
“A succession of great divas dominated opera from the mid 19th century and no male singer could match their popularity. Jenny Lind, Adelina Patti and Nellie Melba were all sopranos, the highest-range female voice, which had the clarity and flexibility to cope with elaborate passages of flamboyant music.
Divas amassed huge fortunes and flaunted them. Once in Verdi’s La Traviata at Covent Garden, Patti dismantled her jewellery and had the diamonds, valued at around £200,000 sewn onto the bodice of her costume. Two policeman were borrowed from nearby Bow Street police station and mingled with the chorus on stage to keep an eye on them. The effect was literally dazzling.“
During her years as mistress of Craig y Nos she extended the castle massively and even had a miniature copy of La Scala in Milan built, it is now a grade one, listed opera house. She was renowned for her generosity and loved in the local community.
Up the hill from the castle lies a now disused railway station, part funded by Dame Adelina Patty in 1861, from there she would take her own railway carriage attached to any train, so she could travel in style to and from her castle at Craig y Nos.
She had many famous and royal visitors and entertained in style, it is even rumoured that Edward VII visited her when he was the Prince of Wales.
Thomas Eifion Hopkins Williams
Thomas Eifion Hopkins Williams was born On the 14th of June, 1923, into a mining family in Lower Cwmtwrch. He graduated in Civil engineering at University College, Swansea. He them started a career lecturing at both Swansea and Durham University. In 1952 he completed his Doctorate and then specialised in transport systems.
Tom Williams visited America in 1955 and 1957 to lecture at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, Chicago. His research led him to publish a paper “Expressways, Freeways and Parkways in the USA: Design and Construction Factors” 1956
His work greatly influenced the development of the British Motorway system.
“Williams was ahead of his time and promoted the use of economic modelling and forecasts of traffic growth to guide transport modelling. He was also an early advocate of integrated transport and argued that environmental impacts and pollution should be included in the costs of new road building projects. He believed in a balance between creating the new and preserving the old.”
He died in June 2001. He had a huge input into ease of driving in Britain.
Daniel Protheroe (5 November 1866 – 25 February 1934), was a composer and conductor, born at Cwmgiedd near Ystradgynlais, Brecknockshire. After success at the National Eisteddfod at a young age, he emigrated to the USA, where he was educated. He is best known for composing Calvinist Methodist hymns.
Aged 19, he emigrated to the USA, settling in Scranton, Pennsylvania. There he took courses in music conducting, and was tutored by Parson Price, Dudley Buck and Hugo Karn. He graduated with a Bachelor of Musicdegree from Toronto College of Music, later becoming a Doctor of Music.
Protheroe remained in Scranton until 1892, and for eight years was the conductor of the Cymmrodorion Choral Society. He moved to Milwaukee, conducting several choirs, before moving again, this time to Chicago. He continued conducting for various choirs, and taught at the Sherwood Music School. While in Chicago he mentored Rhys Morgan (“The Welsh Tenor” 1892-1961) and Haldor Lillenas (1885–1959).
Protheroe would take frequent trips to Wales, and adjudicated at several National Eisteddfodau. He wrote several works, including Arwain Corau (1914) and Nodau Damweiniol a D’rawyd (1924), and in 1918 he edited the hymnal Cân a Mawl for the Calvanistic Methodists of North America. He composed many or arranged hymnal works, especially for the male voice, including ‘Price’, ‘Bryn Calfaria’, ‘Cwmgiedd’ and ‘Nidaros’. He also composed two string quartets and a symphonic poem.
He died in Chicago in 1934, and in 1954 a memorial plaque was unveiled at his birthplace in Ystradgynlais.
David Thomas was born near Neath in Cadoxton. He went to school in Alltwen and Neath, and worked on his father’s farm before going into the iron industry.
He was one of the “foremost ironmasters” in the U.K. Employed at the Ynyscedwyn Ironworks in Ystradgynlais. It was here that he started to use the Neilson process which would “advance the Industrial Revolution“. Using the hot blast process to smelt iron ore and anthracite coal. This made it easy to produce anthracite iron. This type of iron had been patented by Edward Martin of Morriston, Wales in 1804. The Hot Blast process had been designed by Scottish engineer called Nielson. It involved heating the air that fed the furnace. This allowed the use of the local hard coal known as anthracite.
In 1839 he moved to Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company in Lehigh County, wanted him to build a furnace for the production of anthracite iron. The area had plenty of both anthracite coal and iron ore. Thus sparking the Industrial Revolution in America.Crane Iron Works Cranesville Pensylvania, USA
“Thomas’s iron works was extremely successful, even though the iron industry in the rest of the Lehigh Valley had begun to decline. The company was incorporated in 1839 as the Lehigh Crane Iron Company, and in 1872 the name was changed to the CraneIron Company. By that time the community was no longer known as Catasauqua but as Craneville, ; Thomas had named both his company and the town in which he founded it after his former employer ( and Patron) in Wales.”
We are extremely pleased to announce that River Tawe Holiday Apartment has received a grading or Five Stars or Excellent Quality.
During the star grading process we looked at the guidelines and realised that we were essentially not very far away from the requirements for a five star grading.
We needed a freezer, an amazing fish slice, fresh flowers and some external signage. We worked on a new welcome pack and did some extra planting. It was to our great satisfaction that we were awarded a five star rating.
And our improvements are not going to stop there, we have great plans for our outside space including a comfortable and modern seating area with a fire pit and extending our outside cooking area.