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A Scenic Drive

You can take a scenic drive through much of South Wales, easily reached from the cottages. This provides a wide array of different places to visit and contrasting topography. It is easy to reach beaches and rugged coastlines. There is nothing quite like a scenic drive through valleys and over mountains. On the occasions when a scenic drive is the requirement of the day two routes instantly come to mind. Places familiar from childhood that continue to be spectacular. These unfold on car journeys whatever the season.

Y Mynydd Du / The Black Mountain

This can offer a scenic drive round trip of 55 miles in theory. It takes an hour to reach Myddfai. You can return via the A40 down through Ammanford. We have always travelled up to Llandovery and beyond via the mountain road above Upper Brynaman. The Mynydd Du translates rather ominously as the Black Mountain, such a gloomy threatening name for such a beautiful wilderness.

Coffee stop

There are a number of possible stopping off points during the journey. It would be easy to expand the journey into a full day trip. Start at the Black Mountain Community Centre, originally the village school building on the roundabout in Upper Brynaman. Park just before the Centre in the old school yard. Then have a coffee or discover tourist info regarding the area. Moving onwards you climb up onto the mountain leaving behind the once thriving coalfields of South Wales. The scars of the coal industry are still visible to the East above Ystradgynlais.

Drive along the open moorland road, passing sheep, cattle and the meandering mountain ponies. It is essential to stop and park at either of the car parks on the right hand side. Observe the changing seasons on the patchwork fields of the Carmarthenshire countryside. Watch vehicles negotiating the hairpin bend known locally as Tro’r Gwcw (the cuckoo bend). Read the information boards. Or take a short stroll to see the remains of the industrial heritage of limekilns and quarries.

Attraction

Soaring above are red kites. They are waiting for the afternoon feed in nearby Red Kite Feeding Station at Llanddeusant. The red kites are fed at 2pm during the Winter and 3pm in the summer. This has taken place since 2002. Now between 50 to more than a hundred birds swoop down to be fed. Arrive early and pay in cash. Children are welcome, but it is important to keep calm and quiet. The kites seem to dislike the rain. For more info read our Paid Family Attractions Blog and check out their website or Facebook page.

The village of Myddai is nearby. Prince Charles has a home there. Go for a coffee at the Myddfai Community Hall and Visitor Centre. They have gifts, good food, refreshments and home made cakes!

A scenic drive onto Llandovery. There you can wander around the eclectic mix of shops, cafes and pubs. Park in the large car park overlooked by the striking statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.

Other Attractions

Move on towards Llandeilo. Past the Plough at Rhosmaen. A lovely place to eat. Aberglasney Gardens and Newton House within Dinefwr Country Park are beyond Rhosmaen. The latter a National Trust property and parkland. There are many choices to be made and all worthy of several hours.

If a confident and careful driver, travel back home via narrow country lanes to Carreg Cennen Castle . Or if you are happier on the main A40 to Ammanford. You can backtrack a little to see the picturesque clifftop castle. This again can almost be a day trip itself, with the exploration of the underground tunnels and nearby farm attraction. We usually use the country lanes. Where we never fail to be impressed. Catching a glimpse of the rugged hilltop castle through a gap in the hedgerows.

The Neath and the Swansea Valleys

Tan yr Eglwys Cottages are positioned above the Swansea valley , but also only 4 miles from the picturesque Neath valley. We often travel up one valley and then return via the other when visiting the Brecon area. This is a road trip of 70 miles taking 2 hours, when not making any stops. There are umpteen places to call off at.

In particularly in the autumn both valleys are spectacular. With deep valley sides containing a mixture of native deciduous trees and forestry woodland. Interspersed with colour changing bracken and undergrowth.

Attraction

Many guests chose to book a tour of the Penderyn Whisky Distillery. Booking is essential. Samples offered during the tour easily cover the entry fee. These can be drunk at the end of the tour or brought away to be sampled later in front of the cottage log burner. The tour is informative. From those with a scientific understanding of distilling. To those with an appreciation of fine malt whiskey . This is an interesting and rewarding way to spend a few hours and highly recommended.

Penderyn

The drive up the Neath valley to Penderyn is picturesque and on a fast road. In the village there is a roadside chapel that now is an antiques shop. To the left of the village is church road which has a quaint and historic pub. The Red Lion. From it’s 12th century origins as a drovers inn, it is steeped in history. From flagstone floors, log fires to a warm welcome, traditional real ales and good food.

Red Lion

The Red Lion is across the road from St Cynogs Church, Cynog being a 6th century Saint. The graveyard of this church is large, it was once considered an honour to be buried there. It is said that 10,000 burials have taken place here over the centuries.

Returning to the village of Penderyn. Turn left back onto the A4059. Then travel initially on open moorland before the road drops down to the valley floor. Where it joins the A470 into Brecon.

As you are passing Libanus, take a left turn up to the Visitor Centre. This could be only for the views and walks cut into the bracken on the rolling hills.

Other locations

Select there to visit Brecon, Hay on Wye, Llangorse Lake, Talgarth Flour Mill, Brecon Catherdral (and cafe) and the Canal Basin. You can take a boat trip on the canal or simply walk on the tow path.

Returning towards the Swansea valley on the A4067. You pass Crai Reservoir, Dan yr Ogof Caves, Craig y Nos Country Park and Castle.

You can chose to call at either the Pen y Cae Inn or the Ancient Briton for food. Pen y Cae has the added attraction of the owners micro zoo which can be a welcome distraction for children. The Ancient Briton is recognised by the colourful hanging baskets outside. Parking is next to the pub. The Ancient Briton is a Real Ale/ CAMRA pub.

A mini tour of the Neath and Swansea Valleys

This may be taken in either direction, up or down either valley. In all a scenic drive round trip of about 35 miles. From the cottages turn left at the main road in Rhos to go up the Neath valley on the A465. Keep on this dual carriageway, passing the McDonalds on the roundabout. Where there is the first signpost for GlynNeath. The next exit takes you to GlynNeath.

Neath Valley

This may be taken in either direction, up or down either valley. In all a scenic drive round trip of about 35 miles. From the cottages turn left at the main road in Rhos to go up the Neath valley on the A465. Keep on this dual carriageway, passing the McDonalds on the roundabout. Where there is the first signpost for GlynNeath. The next exit takes you to GlynNeath.

Dove Centre

Although you may be drawn by the views to the right looking over at the Brecon Beacons take a minutes detour to the left and go the Dove Centre in the Banwen. Call in to their Meat & Greet Cafe for breakfast or lunch. Banwen itself is just a row of terraced houses. Banwen is the remnants of a once proud mining community. The Dove Centre was the Mining Offices now an Education Centre. There are walks up to the Sarn Helen Roman road. Only the route and fine views remain there. It is believed that St Patrick originated from Banwen.

Return to the main road the A4109 which becomes the A4221. Further on is the village of Coelbren. Where you can park to visit Henrhyd Waterfall, the highest in S Wales with a 27 m drop.

Swansea Valley

To return to the Swansea valley continue further on the A4221. It then drops down to join the A4067. There chose to explore a little way further up the Swansea valley. To experience more of the Brecon Beacons or return home to the cottage by turning left?

A scenic drive 9 miles up the Swansea valley is Crai Reservoir. It is easy to park up in the layby and appreciate the wild landscape. Then turn back and stop off at a pub for a drink or a meal.

Public Houses

Travelling to the right on the A4067 see the Ancient Britton on the left. A CAMRA / Real Ale pub. The Pen y Cae Inn in the village of Penycae is a pub /restaurant. Penycae Inn. The chef who owns the pub has a mix of innovative and traditional local produce. Also they have created a micro zoo behind the pub, this can be a welcome distraction for younger family members.

Craig y Nos Castle

Less than a mile further on the right is the baronial castle Craig y Nos Castle. A famous female opera singer called Adelina Patti developed the castle.. She lived there from 1855 until her death in 1919. During which time she toured the world from Craig y Nos. The tale is absolutely fascinating and warrants a blog of its own at some point. However just beyond the castle wall is an entrance into the Brecon Beacons Country Park. The area that was once the beautiful cultivated gardens of the Castle. Where Adelina Patti relaxed and entertained under the magnificent backdrop of the Brecon Beacons. Enjoy the cafe and admire the changing seasons of surrounding nature.

Brecon

If you continue up the valley 3-4 miles the road climbs upwards into the Beacons. Soon Crai reservoir appears in front of you. Once the main water supply for the Swansea valley. Now superseded by the Llyn Brianne reservoir in Carmarthenshire.

Dan yr Ogof Caves

On the way back see the Dan yr Ogof Caves on the hillside. A full day out with not just caves, but also other family appeal.

Further down the road, now below Craig Y Nos is a left turning on a bend, marked as Penwyllt . The name translates as a wild place at the head of the valley. In recent years there was a quarry operating from here. There are a few hints remaining of the industrial heritage of this area. Limestone was extracted from the hills. An additional point of interest is the empty railway station. The station was built for Adelina Patti . She departed from Penwyllt Station in her private train. It also allowed her guests which included international and British royalty to visit.