Laugharne sits in the country of Carmarthenshire in West Wales and ticks all the boxes for a great place to visit. With a magnificent castle, a charming town, and countryside and estuary walks, what’s not to like about Laugharne. Add to the mix the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ boathouse and some quaint tea-rooms, and you get an idea of what Laugharne has to offer.
From the A477, heritage signs for “Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse” will lead you along beautiful country roads and into Laugharne Town. You will find plenty of free parking – yes, free – right by the castle. This is the point you can start to explore Laugharne’s heritage and cultural attractions.
We spent a day in Laugharne (pronounced Larne) during our week’s holiday in Pembrokeshire and really enjoyed it. I have shared some of the best things to do in Laugharne, which will help you plan your own day trip to this historic town.
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The majestic castle in Laugharne stands on the banks of the Taf Estuary on Carmarthen Bay. It overlooks some of the most beautiful Welsh scenery. Rolling hills, water trailing out along the estuary and glistening sandbanks all make for the most picturesque view.
Originally built in the 12th century as a Norman stronghold, the castle’s position along the River Taf made it a perfect defence point. When it fell into disrepair, it was bought by a Tudor merchant and rebuilt as a mansion complete with Elizabethan gardens. It also had connections to Dylan Thomas, who wrote: “Portrait of an Artist” in the castle’s summerhouse. The view of the Taf Estuary was an inspiration for his creative talents.
A great place to take photographs of the castle is from the car park. If you want to go inside the castle you can view the towers and the summerhouse from closer proximity. The entry fee is £4 (adult) and there is a small gift shop selling souvenirs and ice cream.
We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood.Dylan Thomas
Heritage Circular Walk – 5.5miles (moderate)
After crossing the bridge in the car park, the heritage walk starts by Laugharne castle and is part of the Wales Coast Path. It passes Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse and writing shed along the path named “Dylan’s Walk”. It continues along pathways through woods and fields above the Taf Estuary. A steep climb starting from the farmhouse (private) brings you out by a caravan park. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful views before continuing along a narrow lane on the left-hand side. This takes you to St Martin’s Church – the final resting place of Dylan Thomas and his wife, Caitlin. Follow the main road back to the castle, and you have completed the Laugharne heritage circular walk.
We really enjoyed this walk but did find the hill by the farmhouse quite a challenge. It is a gravel path and hedgerow on either sides makes it quite humid on a warm day. Take plenty of water with you on the walk.
Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse
One of the main reasons that visitors flock to Laugharne is to view Dylan Thomas’ boathouse, his home for the last four years of his life. The author of the famous play “Under Milk Wood” wrote some of his best work in this idyllic location with views as far as the Gower Peninsula. Inside the boathouse, you can see the family’s rooms, photographs, and information on his life and works. An audiovisual presentation portrays Dylan reading some of his work. The boathouse has tea rooms that are currently open and offer refreshments, including popular welsh cakes. The house was still shut due to Covid when I visited (May 2021).
You can also peer inside Dylan Thomas’ writing shed, which is on the pathway above the boathouse. We discovered it was once his garage before he transformed it!
a black-magical bedlam by the sea… timeless, beautiful, barmy – there is nowhere like it anywhere at allDylan Thomas
Dylan’s Birthday Walk
Another beautiful walk you can do in addition to the heritage circular route is Dylan Thomas’ Birthday Walk. In 1944, Dylan wrote ‘Poem in October’ about the walk he took on his birthday to the top of Sir John’s Hill. The uphill walk starts at the far end of the castle car park and is 2 miles long. Enjoy the outstanding views of the Taf estuary, Dylan’s boathouse, the Gower Peninsula, Caldey Island and Tenby.
St Martin’s Church
If you are a Dylan Thomas devotee, this is the final resting place of Dylan and his wife, Caitlin. A simple white wooden cross marks Dylan’s grave. Take a moment to wander around the graveyard while you are there. The crumbling tombs and tilted headstones are very atmospheric. The church is on the main street into Laugharne and is entered via a 14th-century Lychgate. The church can also be accessed at the end of the circular heritage walk.
Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.Dylan Thomas
Laugharne High Street
Laugharne is a small town with plenty of character. A few independent shops, a deli, tea-rooms and several pubs offer the visitor a good choice of places to eat and shop. Walk along from St Martin’s Church back to the car park and admire the traditional houses and the town hall clock tower along the way. Keep an eye open for the bust of Dylan Thomas in a small garden near the car park.
Public conveniences (20p charge) are near to the castle entrance.
Places to Eat and Stay in Laugharne
Browns – The iconic boutique hotel and restaurant dating back to 1752 was Dylan Thomas’ favourite drinking spot. He used to give out the pub’s telephone number as his own he was there so often.
The Owl and The Pussycat – If you are looking for sandwiches, cakes, and a good cuppa, I recommend you try the food here.
The Boat House Bed and Breakfast – some rooms with views of the castle.
Poetry is not the most important thing in life… I’d much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets.Dylan Thomas
Relax on Pendine Sands
After a day of exploring Laugharne Town, head to Pendine Sands, a 7-mile stretch of the Pembrokeshire coastline where land-speed records have been made. The most famous record set in 1924 by Sir Malcolm Campbell in his car Blue Bird. Watch locals participate in some popular beach sports like power kiting, land yachting and kite buggy racing or simply relax with a locally made ice cream.
Events in Laugharne
The annual Laugharne Weekend of music, poetry and book readings will be held on the 1-3 Oct 2021.