Friday, 30 January 2015

LAUGHARNE



I first visited the estuary town of Laugharne - pronounced Larne - a few years ago on the way home from a weekend in Tenby with my husband.  I must confess I had never heard of it before, but the landlady of our bed and breakfast recommended the town, so we decided to look in on it.  After wandering around the town we decided to go for a walk along the path by the west bank of the estuary of the River Taf, on which the town is situated, and after a short distance we came across a sweet little building, barely more than a hut.  Peering through the window, it became apparent that what we were looking at was the 'Writing Shed' used by Dylan Thomas during his time living in Laugharne.  Thomas and his family spent the last four years of his tragically short life living in the Boathouse on the shore of the estuary, and the shed was perched just above it.  It was a lovely Sunday morning when we visited, and as we gazed out at the stunning views of the estuary and of the majestic Gower Peninsula away in the distance, it was easy to imagine what a source of inspiration this spot must have been for the most famous Welsh poet.  The characters in his most famous work, Under Milk Wood, were inspired by the inhabitants of Laugharne.

Dylan Thomas Boathouse


For visitors who want to follow a 'Dylan trail' there are a number of sites around Laugharne with connections to the poet.  Brown's Hotel was where he would retreat to after a bout of poetry-writing in order to indulge his other great passion in life: drinking.  The sign outside the hotel shows an image of the poet.  There are two former homes which were occupied by the poet and his family before they settled in the Boat House: Eros, a fisherman's cottage on Gosport Street and Sea View behind the castle.  The Boat House is now open to visitors, and contains a number of displays depicting the life of Dylan and Caitlin.  There is also a short film about Dylan's life, starting with his childhood in Swansea.  Refreshments are served from a tearoom with a terrace overlooking the estuary.  The castle, dating from Norman times and now a ruin, was a favourite haunt of Thomas when seeking peace and solitude.  The hillside cemetery of St Martin's Church harbours the graves of both Dylan and Caitlin.  Nature lovers will find plenty of birdlife down at the estuary, with egrets, lapwings, herons, oystercatchers, seals and even the occasional otter making an appearance.

The Taf Estuary
Map of the area

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