Laugharne, Wales

Photo: Laugharne Corporation
Photo: Laugharne Corporation

You can barely see anything through the dense fog. There’s a beach in front of you. Somewhere. It may be the summertime, though between the salty mist and the wind that keeps changing directions, it feels like late autumn. And then the nimbus clouds begin to part. The sun–seemingly as hesitant as you–peaks out. The grayish film that covered everything starts to dissipate. Suddenly you can see golden sand, the ruins of a castle, and bright green hills. It feels like the beginning of a poem.

Southwest Wales has inspired many writers, including Dylan Thomas, who made his home in Laugharne. Since his death, people have made pilgrimages up the River Tâf to visit his Boathouse, pay homage at his gravesite, and search for inspiration. And they quickly find themselves falling in love with the little village full of Georgian houses, cliffside coastal walks, and even the fickle weather.

Photo: Browns Hotel
Photo: Browns Hotel

Check into Browns Hotel. The wooden beams, the exposed stone, and the reception area’s massive fireplace haven’t changed since the hotel opened in 1752, but just about everything else has been recently updated. Welsh wool mattresses, worn leather furniture, and window seats looking out over the town. With jazz from the 1940s playing in the background, the Reading Room would be a cozy place to settle in with a steaming cup of tea and a good book. But the sun is out. Take the opportunity to explore.

Grab fish and chips from Castle View Fish Bar. From an outside bench, take in the view of the ruins and watch the water rushing over the marshland as the tide starts to come in. Follow the estuary up to Laugharne Castle. The 13th century Norman castle was the home of Henry VIII’s supposedly illegitimate son. Wander the Victorian gardens. Watch fulmars and shags fly over Laugharne Sands toward the cliffs. It’s quiet, peaceful, and stunningly beautiful.

For even more gorgeous scenery though, head to Sir John’s Hill. The path is only two miles long, but the breathtaking panoramic views make it the slowest two miles you’ve ever walked. Look out over Wharley Point Cliffs, Cover Cliff, and Black Scar Ferry. Except for the cows in the pasture, you have the area to yourself. Return to town for an Italian seafood feast at Cafe Culture. Homemade salmon fishcakes. Seafood risotto with mussels, clams, and prawns. You’ll probably be talked into tiramisu. Even though you swore you couldn’t eat another bite, it disappears quickly.

It’s lightly raining by the time you leave the cafe. A glass of Penderyn single malt whisky–from the only whisky distillery in Wales–will warm you up while you shake off the raindrops at the hotel bar. And though you’ve been using a computer for years, you’re tempted to pull out paper and a pen. You’ve been inspired.

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