Nearby Gardens and Castles

Many of West Wales’ most stunning and interesting attractions 
lie within an hour’s drive from Ferryside

NBGW Fountain and Glasshouse by Ken Day
NBGW Fountain and Glasshouse by Ken Day

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

The Gardens are about a 30-minute drive away, going up to Carmarthen and taking the A48 towards Swansea. There you will find an inspiring range of themed gardens, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, the British Bird of Prey Centre, a tropical Butterfly House, play areas and a national nature reserve, all set in a Regency landscape that provides the stage for a packed programme of events and courses throughout the year. You can also develop your horticultural skills and knowledge with the Garden’s Growing the Future project, with a variety of gardening and beekeeping-based courses on throughout the year. They offer good facilities for people with disabilities, including the use of mobility scooters.

For more information, visit the NBGW website.

Llansteffan Castle

The castle of Llansteffan stands opposite Ferryside, looking out over the broad sand-flats of the Towy estuary. This strong hilltop position was first fortified in the prehistoric Iron Age, and by the sixth century BC a double bank and ditch had been thrown across the neck of the headland to create a defensive promontory fort. The castle is thought to have been built by Norman invaders soon after 1100 AD. The castle created at this time, within the prehistoric defences, was of a form known as a ‘ringwork’. In the field to the west (which is private property) are the outer defensive bank and ditch of the medieval castle and, further to the west, the slighter banks and ditches of the much earlier Iron Age promontory fort. This can also be seen from the top of the great gatehouse tower. 

To avoid a drive up to Carmarthen and down the other side of the river, why not cross the estuary by ferry? Make sure you leave enough time catch the last return sailing! The hilltop can only be approached on foot. A pathway leads up to the headland, where the climb is rewarded with superb views of the estuary and the surrounding countryside. It is not easily accessible for people in wheelchairs.

For more information, visit the Cadw website.

Llansteffan village from the castle by Ken Day
Llansteffan village from the castle by Ken Day

Kidwelly Castle

Just a 15-minute drive over the hill from Ferryside is Kidwelly Castle, famed for its appearance in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The earliest castle on the site was Norman and made of earth and timber. The town itself is equally ancient, established around 1115 AD. By the 13th century, the castle had been rebuilt in stone, following the half-moon shape used by the Normans. The Chaworth family built the compact but powerful inner ward and the castle was later modified by the earls (eventually dukes) of Lancaster. Kidwelly benefitted from the latest thinking in castle design. It had a concentric design, with one circuit of defensive walls set within another to allow the castle to be held even if the outer wall should fall. The great gatehouse was begun late in the 14th century, but it was not completed until 1422, thanks in part to Owain Glyndŵr’s efforts to stop it being built in the first place. Just outside the gatehouse stands a memorial to Princess Gwenllian, who died in battle in 1136 AD not far from Kidwelly, fighting the lord of the castle, Maurice de Londres, to save Deheubarth – south-west Wales – from Norman invaders.

There is an incline to main entrance. Access is on a wide concrete path with a non-slip surface, which leads on to a wooden slatted bridge. There is wheelchair/buggy access in the visitor centre and the monument, but access to the upper levels of the monument is limited to walkers.

For more information, visit the Cadw website.

Laugharne Castle

This is the ‘brown as owls’ castle beloved of Dylan Thomas, Laugharne’s most famous resident. He wrote Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in the castle summerhouse, perched above glorious views of the Taf estuary. There are two giant medieval stone towers standing guard over the remains of a magnificent Tudor mansion, set in 19th-century ornamental gardens. After centuries of conflict between the Welsh and Anglo-Normans, Laugharne was rescued from near-ruin by Elizabethan courtier Sir John Perrot. He turned the dilapidated 13th-century castle into a residence fit for a gentleman, including a grand hall whose gaping windows still stare out over the water.

There is an incline from the car park to the entrance to the monument. Once through the Gatehouse, there is easy wheelchair/buggy access. From the visitor centre, a small ramp leads to a level path giving easy access around the site. The only accessible tower is limited to walkers only.

For more information, visit the Cadw website.

Laugharne Castle by Pete Simson

Aberglasney House and Gardens

This medieval house and gardens, set in the Tywi valley in the parish of Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, is owned and run by Aberglasney Restoration Trust. The house is a Grade II listed building.

Access for wheelchairs and pushchairs is possible around the Gardens, although for health & safety reasons some areas are not recommended. A map showing the suggested route around the Gardens to avoid steps, uneven ground and slopes can be obtained on request from the Ticket Office. This map should enable visitors to enjoy as much access as reasonably possible to the Gardens. Two wheelchairs are also available for visitors to use free of charge. These should be requested from the Ticket Office and are on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit Aberglasny’s website

Dinefwr Castle

About a 45-minute drive from Ferryside towards Llandeillo, you will find the National Trust-owned Newton House, surrounded by a nature reserve and 18th-century landscape, with a deer park and cosy café. A magical land of power and influence for more than 2000 years, Dinefwr is an iconic place in the history of Wales. Two forts are evidence of a dominant Roman presence. The powerful Lord Rhys held court at Dinefwr and influenced decisions in Wales. The visionaries George and Cecil Rice designed the superb 18th-century landscape that you see today. The ‘hands-on’ Newton House gives visitors an atmospheric c.1912 experience, and exhibitions on the first floor tell Dinefwr’s story and inspire visitors to explore the castle and park.

For more information, visit the National Trust’s website.

Dinefwr Castle and parkland trees under hoar frost by Ken Day

Norwood Gardens and Tea Rooms

These quaint gardens and tea rooms are approximately a 40-minute drive from Ferryside to Llanllwni (SA39 9DU), on the A485 towards Pencader. There are seven individual gardens set along one central path, and many sculptures can be seen along the way. The tea room has excellent reviews for its homemade cakes. 

There is wheelchair access to the gardens.

For more information and opening times, please visit their website.