Llansteffan may have been one of Wales’ best kept secrets for the majority of visitors to Wales, but one group of regular wanderers have known of it’s charms for generations – the keen walkers and ramblers in our midst. Nestled in this gorgeous corner of south west Wales is a walkers’ paradise. In Llansteffan you will be stepping into an area of breathtaking beauty with a rural and coastal scene guaranteed to stop you in your tracks.
For those who wish to venture no further than the village boundaries there is a fascinating walk which encompasses all the main attractions of historical and literary note within the village boundaries. Please see graphic map at the bottom of the page.
If you are of a more energetic nature then Llansteffan’s coastal path give commanding views of all of Carmarthen Bay and is one of the most important conservation areas in Wales. The Three Rivers Estuary is a staggeringly beautiful part of the country’s coastline with a fascinating history and rich diversity of wildlife. The entire area of Carmarthen Bay is a European Special Area of Conservation, and has withstood disasters like the Sea Empress oil spill to remain an area of great natural importance.
The three estuaries at Llansteffan – the Taf, the Tywi, and the Gwendraeth, dominate the landscape. Once they were deep enough to allow ships to pass through, but are now heavily silted. All of the ‘Three Rivers’ area was busy in the Middle Ages, and you can still see some historical signs of industrial activity along the coast. The village of Llansteffan has a long tradition of shipping – it was termed a port in the Middle Ages and as well as local trade there would have been vessels from France and Spain with cargoes of wine and other luxuries. Enterprising gentlemen like the Lloyds of the Plas, owned or had shares in trading vessels. Most bulk goods were moved by sea and until the turnpike roads the sea and the river were the cheapest and quickest way to travel to Carmarthen or further afield. There were also local fishermen and cocklers. These latter traditions continue – although very few can make a full time living.
Once at Llansteffan, the Coastal Path will take you to WharleyPoint or Y Werle where you can enjoy spectacular views over Carmarthen Bay. On reaching Y Werle the vista of the estuaries and Carmarthen bay stretch out in front of you, from the Gower in the east to the expanses of Pendine sands and Caldey Island in the west. Those with keen eyes will see occasional signs of military activity pockmarked across the area. Looking across the woodland to the marsh and salt marsh there’s a wide variety of waders and wildfowl that you might get a glimpse of. Along the coastline at various times of year you might see herons, ravens, peregrines and kestrels. Looking seaward you might see cormorants, kingfishers frequent the streams, and you might also find curlew, lapwing or shellduck on or around the estuary.
On rounding Wharley Point there are fine views of Laugharne and the Taf estuary. Early pilgrims crossed this river on foot or horseback on their way to St Davids in the west. Stretching down on your left – the coastal side – as you walk westward is Craig Ddu woodland, with a combination of ash, oak and sycamore trees. This particular wood is quite unique in that it runs right down to the waters edge. The cliffs themselves are cut from red marl and sandstone of Devonian age, with older red sandstone separated from the coastal marsh by the lower lying coastal land, blanketed in glacial drift. Once you’ve covered the far side of the hill, you can re-join Black Scar Road, walking west toward Mwche Farm and Black Scar Point. As you bear left you will see once again the woodland of Craig Ddu to your left, where lime kilns are hidden amongst the trees, left-over from when the area was a hub of the limestone quarrying industry. The old jetties on the beach are a striking echo of their former activity.
Black Scar Road leads down to the old Ferry Point, and as you wind your way down you’ll find yourself enveloped on both sides by arching trees. This road was once part of the Old Pilgrims way – a popular route towards St Davids used by those on pilgrimage in the middle ages. As you reach the end of the road you’ll see salt marsh to your right, where lambs are used to graze the managed land.
Straight ahead you can see Laugharne, home of Dylan Thomas’ boathouse. You can see the Bell Tower, which in times gone by would have been rung to hail the river ferry. If you follow the path you will find yourself at a country road on your right, coming up to Cwmcelyn. Travelling right the road will take you to Llanybri and on to the St Clears by-pass, or back to Llansteffan, where you can return to your embarkation point.
The Association gratefully acknowledges Carmarthenshire County Council for the inclusion of the above map in this Website.
Getting there: You can reach Llansteffan on the B4312 from Carmarthen, or on minor roads via Llanybri. Bus 227 operates daily from Carmarthen. There is a beach car park at Llansteffan with an information board, and a sea-facing café / shop. Bear in mind the route of the walk is not circular, but you can follow the minor roads from the end of the walk back to Llansteffan, or simply re-trace your steps – there’s certainly enough to see! Don’t forget to take appropriate gear dependent on the weather, and remember as with most country walks in the summer there can sometimes be lots of airborne insects around.