Llandovery & the Brecon Beacons
The area of high, rolling country high above Llandovery, Llandeilo and the Tywi Valley is known locally as the Black Mountain. This brooding peak has a personality of its own - remote and atmospheric, it is untamed and exciting.
The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of Carmarthenshire’s proudest possessions. The western end of the Beacons which falls within Carmarthenshire is seen by many as the real jewel in the crown and is home to many of the least explored sections of the national park.
The Black Mountain has recently been named as part of the Fforest Fawr Geopark, (literally, large forest) which is itself the only site in Wales to be listed among the most exceptional geological sites in Europe.
Llandovery is a quiet, pretty market town these days, but just think of the 30,000 animals that passed through this town every year on their way to faraway markets. Much wealth was entrusted to the drovers, their helpers and their dogs. The fine King’s Head building is where the Black Ox Bank was first opened in 1799, so drovers could make promises rather than hand over gold sovereigns. Drovers were key figures in rural Wales before the railways offered a new method of transporting animals. In Llandovery the drover is honoured with a splendid sculpture, a guest house aptly named The Drovers/Y Porthmyn and a roadside Drover’s Diner. A short climb up to Llandovery Castle in the town centre is worthwhile for the beautiful views.
A giant steel statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan towers over the car park. Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan was known to support Owain Glyndŵr The people’s choice as Prince of Wales.
To the west of Llandovery, follow the river Towy into the Cambrian Mountains. Here you'll discover pretty villages and incredible deep valleys. Take time to visit the RSPB Nature Reserve at Gwenffrwd-Dinas, where the famous Twm Siôn Cati hid in his cave, known as the Robin Hood of Wales, before visiting the Llyn Brianne Dam, at 229ft high, the highest dam in the UK. The middle of the lake is where the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys meet.
Not to be missed
Red Kite Feeding Station
The story of this magnificent bird that was so close to extinction is quite extraordinary. Just before the millennium there were fewer than 30 breeding pairs of the kites that have a distinctive red hue and spectacularly fanned forked tail. There are now estimated to be more than 5OO breeding pairs. There is a chance for you to experience the breathtaking sight at the Red Kite Feeding station in the quaint village of Llanddeusant.
Today Llandovery is a hub for walkers, bikers, naturalists and historians. It’s not surprising to see why with nature reserves such as Gwenffrwd- Dinas RSPB nature reserve in the Cambrian Mountains, the nearby glacial lake of mystical Llyn y Fan Fach and the Llyn Brianne reservoir - the highest in Britain standing 229 ft. (91m) high, and is the world’s largest clay core dam.
Heart of Wales Line
The Heart of Wales Line runs 120 miles from Swansea to Shrewsbury through some of Wales’ most attractive scenery including the Cambrian Mountains. The line cuts up the eastern edge of the county through Ammanford, Llandybie, Llandeilo, Llangadog, Llanwrda, Llandovery, Cynghordy and on through to Powys.
Step back in time at the oldest known Roman gold mine in the UK. The Romans can claim to be the first tourists to this part of the world. Today Dolaucothi gold mines deep in the Cambrian Mountains, is a wonderful National Trust attraction where visitors can go on a fascinating underground tour or even pan for gold!