Discovering Carmarthenshire
AT A GLANCE
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  • PEMBREY & BURRY PORT
  • Cefn Sidan Beach, Pembrey
  • Burry Port Harbour
  • Pembrey Country Park
  • Pembrey Circuit
  • Millennium Coastal Park at Burry Port

Pembrey & Burry Port

Wreck strewn beach is jaw dropping attraction

Cefn Sidan Beach

Cefn Sidan Beach

The ancient wrecking beach of Cefn Sidan is still giving up its treasurers and puzzling historians. They wonder at why so many of 180 known registered and another 380 guessed at brigs, brigandines and schooners that foundered on the golden banana curve of this eight-mile long beach over hundreds of years, can suddenly appear and disappear. Some are buried in the dunes by the wind-blown constantly shifting sands. Some have been sucked into the sands at beach level or smashed to smithereens. Some lie under the forestry behind as the beach that has grown out seawards over 400 years on a huge peninsula of sand.

Whatever it is that causes them to come and go makes for great beachcombing and great family days of fun. You can find anything on this beach from a coconut to a dolphin after any tide or even treasure from the cargoes of the wrecks. The vessels that perished carried cargoes ranging from juniper berries, indigo, copper and cochineal, rum and silver bullion bars to whale oil, seal skins, brandy, buffalo hides, cotton and coffee.

Cefn Sidan ship wreck

Cefn Sidan ship wreck

Pembrey has a Bermuda Triangle type reputation with vessels bound from France ending up on its shores - the famous Le Jeune Emma wrecked there in 1828 was bound from Martinique to Le Havre carrying rum sugar and coffee. Thirteen lives were lost including Lt Col Coquelin and his daughter Adeline, niece to Josephine, consort of Napoleon Bonaparte. A memorial stone to her loss and burial site in the 1066 Norman towered St Illtyd’s Parish Church attracts tourists from round the world.

In another Bermuda styled mystery the first woman to fly the Atlantic Amelia Earhart landed her seaplane nearby and she thought she was in Ireland. There are scores more similar and equally riveting "Bermuda" style occurrences involving famous World War 11 aircraft around this glorious Peninsula that links in with Llanelli Millennium Coastal Park covering 11-miles of golden coastline that attracts more than a million visitors a year.

Burry Port

Burry Port

Just round the coast from Cefn Sidan Burry Port Marina is a tranquil safe haven of clanging boats bobbing where people love to ramble about the nearby paths and dunes or park up and enjoy and ice cream or a crepe. But it is the beachcombing paradise that is Cefn Sidan that will keep whole families enthralled for days on end. If the beach gets too hot or too much there are stunning forestry walks and 500acres of one of Wales biggest and most popular outdoor visitor attractions, Pembrey Country Park right alongside. It has naturally among its trees grasslands and dunes the biggest naturally range of species of butterflies and moths or anywhere in the UK. You can forage for fungi or even startle a weasel in these woods. It is a magical place. Sitting alongside all this nature and wildlife the park also boasts Wales’s longest toboggan ride that has carried an astonishing 1.7-million riders; an artificial ski slope, restaurants, miniature railway, bicycle hire and pony trekking and a year-round events calendar featuring such wonders as sand sail championships, dog sled races, beach bicycle races and steam engine rallies. But it is the beach that is the star attraction. It is a jaw-droppingly extraordinary stretch of sea and sand that proudly boasts having flown the Blue Flag longer than any beach in Britain.

Pembrey Country Park

Pembrey Country Park

It has 18.5-square miles of beach ranging from motorway hard that allows it to accommodate all kinds of sports, to fine flour sieved like sands that attracts holidaying families and swallowing them up by their thousands. It is impossible to overcrowd such a vast area because people just melt round a sandy disappearing horizon on the swirling convex shaped desert proportions of this beach. Cefn Sidan and surrounding parkland, because of its remoteness was commandeered by Ministry of Defence for munitions manufacture in years gone by and was first brought into significance more than 100 years ago when Nobel established a gunpowder factory there.

The RAF developed their WW11 Spitfire fighter base at RAF Pembrey Sands and the 500-acre airfield now hosts Pembrey Circuit which has a packed motor racing calendar of events and a busy small private airfield.

Throw in a trip to the potter’s wheel

The heart of Pembrey village is formed around St Illtyd’s Parish Church that dates back to 1066. The village square in set the shadow of the magnificent Norman towered church’s shadow. It is a welcoming mirco community of pubs, properties, church tea rooms, guest house and a Pembrey Pottery business where there is a chance to see a master craftsman at work. The pottery By Graham Newling is popular with locals and visitors and is exhibited through the UK and across continents. The chance to see Graham at work on pots, art pieces in stonework or ceramics and all thrown on a potters wheel is a special treat not to be missed.