Sunday, 21 August 2011

Carreg Cennen Castle

We made a visit to 'Wales' most romantic ruin' on Friday - Carreg Cennen Castle, which is just south of Llandeilo. It's a fabulously imposing privately-owned castle perched atop a high rock which is reached by a short but strenuous walk through the owner's farmland. It has a tea shop on the way so we refuelled there first with tea and cream scones.

We had another motive for visiting the castle which was to have a look at these sheep. This is a Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep and is a breed we're considering converting our flock to. We've only got 20 ewes now and I've always felt that it would make more sense to have a pedigree flock. In the past we trialled Llanwenogs but they didn't really suit our terrain. I quite like the idea of having a dark-fleeced breed and Balwen, being originally from Carmarthenshire, are our nearest. I very much like the white-tipped tail, the socks and the blaze on the face. The next step is to find a local breeder and have a chat.

Carreg Cennen is also famous for its Longhorn cattle. When I was farming editor for the local paper I used to see Bernard Llewellyn and his cattle at shows (in fact he used to write a column for me many years ago in the farming paper I edited, Farm & Field).

This little chap has a way to go in the horn growing department.

The castle dates back to at least the 13th century but archaeological evidence has been found both of the Romans and prehistoric man. Despite being a ruin it is still an incredibly imposing structure.

The views from the top are spellbinding. The castle sits at the western end of the Beacons Way long distance path,  a 95-mile walk through the Brecon Beacons National Park which ends at the Holy Mountain.

The castle has a natural cave which you can visit by clambering down a steep path. It gets darker and steeper towards the bottom. We chickened out when we ran out of light - you really do need a torch for the cave itself.

Pretty little harebells growing high up on the ruined castle walls tossed their heads in the breeze.

We loved Carreg Cennen Castle. It's been turned into a tourist attraction with the help of Cadw but is unspoilt. We loved the freedom to scramble around and find our way about with occasional help from the unobtrusive information signs. If we didn't know what things were there was a discreet sign ('kitchen above' and 'later musket loop' being two examples). The rest was left to our imagination, which is exactly as it should be.


Back at home and a picture of Itsy to show just how gorgeous she looks in the summer. H9 has been brushing her coat and combing her mane and she's bursting with health at the moment. Here she's naughtily leaning over to steal hay from Bullseye (we wondered why he'd lost so much weight! Oops!). He's now putting weight on his injured leg, thank goodness, and seems to be making a speedy recovery.


  1. I remember BL from Young Farmers club dances. I think he was a member of Llysyfran club. So long ago!

  2. Thank you so much for taking us along with you all on your trip to the castle. What a marvelous place! It's made better by those discrete signs, and the freedom given visitors to exercise their imagination. Wow!

    I also love the photos of all the beautiful animals. Think my favorite was the close-up of the youngster still growing his horns.

    This post reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to visit here and see places that enhance my spirit and soul. xo

  3. Snap. We love Carreg Cennen too. The views are fabulous, and there's a nice walk (not too long) through the woods and around in a loop.

    Itsy looks absolutely splendiferous and I bet she's loving all the attention!

  4. Thanks for the delightful tour of a distant place. I would have liked to take the jaunt with you, I've taken a lot more interest in things Welsh since I've started John Davies' book, A history of Wales. Such a country, and such history. Makes Prairie Canada seem rather dull.
    I can see for the pic that Itsy is a very fine horse. Glad to know H9 is catching on to the life of a horse caring (and perhaps some day owning) person.


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