When I was growing up in the deepest, darkest countryside of north Carmarthenshire, I didn’t really appreciate how close I was to the coast. I was surrounded by hills and green fields, nothing that remotely made you even think about the sea. I was MUCH closer to both the Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion border than the Carmarthenshire coast. Now, actually living in Carmarthen, I’m much more aware of how close I am to the sea. Those seagulls are everywhere! It’s actually quite strange hearing them, or seeing one perched on a chimney on a house across the street, when I’m in a place that isn’t actually on the coast.
Yesterday (May 10th) I visited the beach for the first time this year. Llansteffan is a short 20 minute drive from where I now live, out of the south-western end of the town, through some scenic countryside and villages, out towards where the Towy river (which flows through the town of Carmarthen) meets the sea.
It was an especially glorious day considering it was only May. There was only a slight breeze coming in from the sea, and beautiful sunshine. Perfect for having a walk on the beach and a picnic on the grass.
And there’s an actual castle on the hill! Disclaimer, this photo is from around this time last year – we didn’t make it up that far yesterday. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a trek up to it, but it’s well worth the effort. The castle itself is impressive – much more intact than Carmarthen’s castle – and there are some beautiful views out to sea.
The one thing I should mention is the water. It’s not actually the sea, it’s the Towy estuary. That’s the unfortunate downfall of living near this part of the Carmarthenshire coast – no swimming!
In case anyone’s wondering, Llansteffan is the Welsh name for the village, and it modern Welsh it means ‘the church of Saint Stephen’. There’s a lot of history to the prefix ‘Llan’ in Welsh, it originally referred to an enclosed piece of land, but with the introduction of Christianity it was the piece of land occupied by a particular church, and then later to the church itself. So all of those Welsh places which start with Llan? Yup, they’re all the churches of one or more saints. Llanpumsaint in my home county is the church of five saints. The more you know, eh?