Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

Light Breaks, Where No Sun Shines

Foodie break in Carmarthenshire, using Picton House Hotel as a base. Ammanford, Carmarthen, Laugharne and Llandeilo.
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If Pembrokeshire is Wales’s Cornwall, then Carmarthenshire is certainly its Devon. This verdant county has rolling hills, beautiful woodland and seemingly endless meadows. In winter, evidenced by its countless rivers and streams, Carmarthenshire is wet, so why on earth would we entertain a mini break?


Actually, the title is a bit misleading. I’m merely quoting Dylan Thomas – tenuous I know. Carmarthenshire does see its fair share of sunshine – it is particularly beautiful. Like our home county of The Vale of Glamorgan, it has the best of both coastal and countryside worlds.


Carmarthenshire also has its fair share of quality hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and AirBnBs, and on this occasion we were looking for a touch of luxe. Location was also important; somewhere that would be a good base for exploration – but not too far.

After a little online research, we chose Picton House in Llanddowror. It’s four star and has great TripAdvisor reviews. Llanddowror has its own claim to fame, being the home of Griffith Jones, who, in 1731 proposed a Welsh school in the village. When he passed in 1761 it was recorded that 3,495 schools had been set up, with over 200,000 people learning to read in schools organised by him throughout the country.


National Botanic Gardens

On our way to Picton House we visited the National Botanic Gardens at Llanarthne, which features the world’s largest single-span glasshouse. The last time we dropped by was over fifteen years ago and what a difference. The grounds are established and there are plenty of things to see both inside the magnificent glasshouse and around the beautiful grounds.


We had the opportunity to experience a birds of prey demonstration which was brilliant – highly recommended. Later we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea in the glasshouse. If you haven’t visited before, or been for a while, you really must.

Picton House
Well, what a find. Its website does not do justice to this cool little boutique hotel. We stayed in room 6 – it’s been tastefully decorated relatively recently along with some of the communal rooms. In room 6, a decent size television has Prime and Netflix on tap, so you’ll enjoy all the viewing comforts of home. It also has a bar if you’re feeling sociable. We bumped into a few other guests and locals during our stay which made for very good conversation.


On the second night of our two-night stay we were tempted by the menu and enjoyed a couple of seriously good steaks (Jennifer’s with plump, spicy prawns – mine with equally plump mushrooms and an excellent peppercorn sauce). Both were divine. All finished off with a superb cheesecake and scrummy cheeseboard. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love this place. The food is top notch – it punches well above its weight. And, if it couldn’t get any better, our hosts Holly and Gareth were just brilliant. The bar was our go-to once the day’s travels were over and they are very good company indeed.


Picton House. Perfect location. Lovely room (with Netflix and Prime). Great shower. Super comfortable bed. Excellent breakfast. Scrummy cuisine. Lovely hosts.

CARMARTHENSHIRE
Places to visit

Ammanford
You may have seen the Coaltown Coffee ads on television. They even have a café! However, the day we visited, the grinder or roaster, or both, were in full swing. It was a touch noisy, so we gave it a rain check.

Llandeilo

We’ve visited Llandeilo many times over the years. If Narberth is the Cowbridge of Pembrokeshire, Llandeilo is its equivalent in Carmarthenshire. There are some great little boutiques, galleries and plenty of good places to grab a bite.


Great coffee seems to be the norm in Llandeilo.  Great Americano at Flows.

While dodging the showers, we ended up in Flows – as we were having a meal later, a drink and a snack would suffice. A glass of Malbec for the lady and good coffee for the driver; the snack being one of the best home-made sausage rolls this side of anywhere. It was unbelievably good. And the adjoining deli (Pitchfork & Provision Deli) will probably be open by the time you read this. They will be selling the best local produce: chocolate, jams, cheese, and Welsh goodies.


Laugharne

The world-renowned, home village of infamous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. He once said, “I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me.” He pretty much nailed himself with that spot of prose (and the rest of the male population). Laugharne is quite lovely though. There are several eateries here and there’ll be something to suit most tastes. You can visit the castle and Dylan’s Boat House. Well worth a drive in our humble opinion.


Gwili Railway

It wasn’t running when we popped in, but we picked up a leaflet promoting their afternoon teas. The idea of an afternoon tea on a steam train definitely appeals, so we shall return again in April. Incidentally, they do have train rides and events all year ‘round so check out their socials and website.

Hungry for more?
Carmarthenshire’s new Larder Trails provides great ideas to enjoy a feast and foraging trip to south-west Wales. There are three trails and each one offers suggestions under distinct categories, including best places for produce and market shopping, morning coffee, lunch, treats, hands-on tasting experiences, take homes, dinner dates and places to stay. It’s a great resource if you’re planning a visit.

To view the three Carmarthenshire Larder Trails, follow the link at the bottom of the page.

One last thing…
We’re very keen walkers and Carrmarthenshire has some of the finest coastal and country walks in the UK. This trip was about “us time” and our tummies, but we’ll be visiting again with our walking boots, definitely.

Picton House
Llanddowror, St Clears
Carmarthenshire SA33 4HJ
01994 231333 or 07946 078979
stay@picton-house.co.uk

www.picton-house.co.uk

Carmarthenshire Larder Trail

Useful links
www.botanicgarden.wales
www.coaltowncoffee.co.uk
www.gwili-railway.co.uk

Flows in Llandeilo are on Facebook
www.facebook.com/flowsonmarketst