Back at the end of September we decided that it was time to go exploring castles again. It’s something we thoroughly enjoy doing as a family and have visited quite a few during school holidays. Sadly this summer was so jammed packed we didn’t have the chance to visit any. So when I spotted CADW (The Welsh Governments Historic environmental service) was holding an open door event I decided to try and get tickets. I was lucky enough to secure five free entry tickets to Laugharne Castle for us to visit. The open door weekend was the weekend of my birthday so decided this would be my birthday outing.
So the day after my birthday (Saturday) we had a leisurely breakfast before jumping in the car to head to Laugharne. I last visited Laugharne when I was a teenager so many years ago! so although I had a rough idea of where we were headed I needed the use of my trusty sat nav app. I took what I thought was the easier route which took as through Pembrokeshire and then into Carmarthenshire. We wound our way through the narrow country lanes with dad of 3 teasing me that we had simply driven in a square!
It took us just over an hour to reach Laugharne which is about fifteen/twenty minutes from Carmarthen, nestled on the banks of the River Taf. Laugharne is known for the poet Dylan Thomas and is something I remember Laugharne for. The majestic Laugharne Castle towers over the Taf estuary and is quite a breathtaking sight from the car park below. We managed to find a parking spot and tried to ascertain if there was a parking charge, which took a couple of minutes but we discovered there was no charge. We had come dressed for a cold morning as it had been so when we left home. However the sun was shining and we quickly realised we would not be needing our coats. We had passed the entrance to the castle as made our way to the carpark, so headed the some 500 yards up the road to the entrance again.
I handed our tickets over to the member of staff at reception and headed through into the grounds. There were a couple of other families headed straight into the castle so we decided to walk around the grounds first
Spotting a bench under a tree we asked the children to sit down for a few minutes while we reminded them that they must not run off out of sight, climb walls etc and be careful. Then we headed off to explore. We worked our way around in the opposite direction to the other visitors. Straight away the children spotted what they thought was a maze ( a cleverly designed rose garden) and worked their way through it. Then through some trees we followed a path which took as along the outer wall.
Trystan was keen to carry on exploring and started to walk on ahead, when he called to say he’d found something! We caught him up to find him stood outside a small room. The door was open so we carefully went in. Inside we discovered a perfect space for writing. Views perfect for inspiring poems, plays and stories. A wireless radio and a typewriter on a small desk. The boys spent some time trying to type their names on the typewriter while I sat and enjoyed the view.
After twenty minutes or so we decided it was time explore the castle itself.
Laurgharne castle was built in the 13th Century by the de Brain family. It’s thought it was built on top of an early Norman ringwork castle. The mansion you see today is the legacy of Sir John Perrot. Sadly during the Civil War it was captured by Parliamentary forces after a siege and partly dismantled. (information taken from the CADW website)
As we approached the open side of the building we could see a wedding party having their photographs taken so we kept the children close and out of the way until they were finished, before we continued exploring.
I’m not one for heights but found myself climbing up the interior of one of the towers to the top. On one floor we discovered a small exhibition with the history of Laugharne Castle highlighted on some lighted boards which grabbed the older two’s attention. It was lovely to see them carefully reading and absorbing the information before telling myself and dad of 3 what they had read. Then we continued climbing to the top of the castle, where I have to admit the views were lovely and the height actually didn’t bother me too much!
There wasn’t much room at the top and as more visitor appeared we made our way back down again. We found another spot to sit and take in the castle from another vantage point before deciding it was time to head back to the car.
Back in the car park we saw the bridal party again taking more photographs. We decided to walk along the path which ran along the estuary underneath the castle towards Dylan Thomas’s Boat House (another popular tourist attraction) making the most of the pleasant weather. We reached the boat house but decided we wouldn’t go in as the children were getting hungry, so we will have something to return for another day.
For those who would like to visit Laugharne Castle the site is open until 3rd November this year (2014) and will then reopen around the beginning of April next year. Entry is charged at £3.80 for adults, £2.85 for children under 16, Under 5’s Free or a family ticket (2 adults and all children under 16) £11.40 (these prices are valid until 31st March 2015).