A most beautiful morning of blue sky and crisp spring weather over Laugharne. First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Fresh flowers had been laid on Dylan Thomas’s grave in the sloping churchyard. Following the town trail map along the village street, we picked out the everyday waymarks of the poet’s life here in the 1930s and 40s – Brown’s Hotel where he drank (and drank), the green-faced Pelican house where his parents lived, the baker’s where Thomas came for bread each morning. Here we filled the backpack with welsh cakes and went our way, down past the big jagged ruin of Laugharne Castle and up Sir John’s Hill along a cliff path above the great dun apron of salt marsh that separates the village from the sea.
On his 30th birthday, Thomas said in ‘Poem in October’, he felt himself summoned out and over Sir John’s Hill by ‘water praying and call of seagull and rook / And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall’. He had a rainy view that October morning in 1944, but ours today was laid out in sunlight – marsh, dunes, a crawling silver sea rough with surf, and Worm’s Head promontory a string of grey islets at the edge of sight.
The path soon swung inland, up and over a ridge of pastures, down into a green valley. A holloway stodgy with red mud brought us to the back lanes of Laugharne, from where stony byways led via the Wales Coast Path to the lonely farm of Delacorse.
Back along the edge of the Taf estuary we found the Boathouse where Dylan and Caitlin Thomas and their three children lived for the last four years of the poet’s life, and the tiny shed where he sat and wrote and looked out on a sublime estuary view.
Some have suggested that Dylan Thomas was not a great poet, just a brilliant wordsmith. You have only to sit on the Boathouse terrace, looking out over the estuary towards St John’s Hill, and read ‘Poem in October’ to give the lie to such nonsense. That’s why Wales is so fervently celebrating the Centenary this year of its national poet in all his wayward genius.
Start: Church car park, Laugharne, SA33 4QD (OS ref SN 301114)
Getting there: Bus Service 222 (tafvalleycoaches.co.uk), Carmarthen-Pendine
Road – Laugharne is on A4066 (signed from St Clears on A40)
Walk (6½ miles, easy, OS Explorer 177): From car park, left along A4066 through Laugharne (Dylan Thomas Town Trail map downloadable at discovercarmarthenshire.com/dylan-thomas). Past Brown’s Hotel, left by Three Mariners restaurant (302109) up Victoria Street past the bakery. Right at bend past Sea View (another Thomas dwelling); straight ahead at corner to waterfront. Right past Laugharne Castle (302107). Follow Wales Coast Path/WCP and Dylan’s Birthday Walk/DBW along shore; right uphill (303104). In ½ mile, by Salt House Farm bench (306100), WCP and DBW fork left; but keep ahead here (‘To Laugharne over Sir John’s Hill’).
In ⅓ mile, at a fork (301097), go right uphill (WCP, yellow arrow/YA). In 50m, at top of steps, YA points ahead over one stile and on uphill towards another. But you turn left here from the top of the steps through a fence gap (unmarked). In 350m, cross stile into field (297098); ahead up hedge and down to lane in Broadway (295101). Left to A4066; right to pass Carpenter’s Arms PH; left here (296102) down lane. At end, over stile by garage (294103); right (YA) along hedge. At corner, right (YA) along path that becomes lane. In 700m, right at road (297108). At 30 mph sign fork left (299108). On right bend, left up Holloway Lane. In 50m fork right past cottages and on. Through gate at lane end; on across 2 fields to Horsepool Road; right to A4066 (301114).
Right; left up cobbled lane beside church car park. In 150m, pass entrance to the Long Lanes (302114) in ⅓ mile, pass entrance to Delacorse Uchaf, and at next T-junction right (302120, fingerpost) up stony lane. In 100m, ahead (WCP) for ½ mile to Delacorse (308122). Follow WCP markers through yard and fields, then along cliff path. In 1 mile, pass Boathouse and Writing Shed (306110). At road, right (304109) at gates of The Furlongs, up bridlepath. In 100m, at kissing gate (304110), bear left along lane to church and car park.
Lunch: The Boathouse (01994-427420) – snack with a view, exhibition; open 10.30-3.00
Accommodation: Brown’s Hotel, Laugharne (01994-427688; browns-hotel.co.uk)
Dylan Thomas Festival of Walks: 24-26 May (llanelliramblers.org.uk)
Info: Laugharne TIC at Corran Books (01994-427444); dylanthomasbirthdaywalk.co.uk