Following its decline as one of the industrial powerhouses of West Wales, the hidden gem of Llanelli in Carmarthenshire has recently undergone a miraculous metamorphosis which has seen it transformed from industrial leviathan to the leisure and pleasure capital of the whole of the region.
The largest town in Carmarthenshire, Llanelli sits on the Loughor estuary on the West Coast of Wales, 12 miles from Swansea and 15 miles from the county town of Carmarthen. It is ideally situated and, in addition to its more local attractions, is within easy driving distance of such outstanding attractions as the National Botanic Garden of Wales and the popular and scenic Gower Peninsula with its magnificent beaches.
Few areas in the whole of the UK can boast leisure facilities which include an international motorsport centre, a racecourse, an airport, a coastal park, an internationally renowned wetland and wildlife centre, a country park, a 14-mile long pedestrian coastal path and cycleway, an 8-mile long Blue Flag beach and a championship golf course designed by none other than Gary Nicklaus!
But there's more! Llanelli and environs also boasts a museum situated within a superb park, a harbour/marina, a dry ski slope, a toboggan run, an equestrian centre, an indoor bowls centre, a first class snooker venue and numerous picturesque nature trails.
For residents and visitors alike, Llanelli is extremely well served for entertainment: frequent concerts include those given by the Llanelli Male Voice Choir and Llanelli Choral Society. A musical highlight is the annual ”Llanelli Proms” concert where flags are waved to the point of destruction!
For shoppers, Llanelli town centre offers the number one indoor shopping experience in Carmarthenshire and there is also a large and thriving out of town shopping area.
Oh, and for rugby enthusiasts, the town is also home to the Scarlets, one of the most famous names in the whole of the rugby world who play at their recently built multi-million pound stadium, Parc y Scarlets.
Anyone who hasn't been to Llanelli in recent years simply hasn't been to Llanelli!
Millennium Coastal Path
The 14-mile long Millennium Coastal Path runs the length of a stunning coastline which stretches from Loughor to Pembrey and offers unrivalled views of the beautiful Gower Peninsula. It runs through Llanelli's splendid Millennium Coastal Park all the way through to the Pembrey Country Park. A pedestrianised walkway and cycle path, the cycleway itself forms a section of the Celtic Trail cycle route which covers some 370 miles and which stretches from Newport in Gwent all the way to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.
Pembrey Country Park
Situated on the outskirts of Llanelli, Pembrey Country Park offers 490 acres of parkland and includes the famous Cefn Sidan beach, an 8-mile long Blue Flag award winning beach which, at its narrowest, is half a mile to the sea at low tide. The country park also includes a 130-metre long Dry Ski Slope, a Toboggan run (the longest in Wales), an Equestrian Centre, a 9-hole pitch and putt course, a miniature railway, a large adventure playground and a variety of nature trails.
The largest park in Llanelli at 27 acres, Park Howard is a mixture of formal flower beds and informal leisure areas. Within the grounds is the Mansion House, the town’s art gallery and museum, which contains reminders of Llanelli’s industrial past as the tinplate capital of the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Also on display is a collection of the celebrated Llanelli Pottery.
The one and a half mile long Pembrey motor racing circuit, the National Motorsport Centre of Wales, is the home of Welsh motorsport and has in the past hosted British Formula 3 races, the British Touring Car Championship, and witnessed testing by Formula 1 legends Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and the late and great Ayrton Senna.
National Wetlands Centre
The 450-acre National Wetlands Centre of Wales is a nature reserve a little over one mile from the centre of Llanelli. It is home to over 600 of some of the world's most spectacular water birds including pink Caribbean flamingos, black-necked swans and beautiful red-breasted geese. The visitor centre incorporates the Millennium Discovery Unit which helps make this a worthwhile attraction whatever the weather or season.
Ffos Las Racecourse
Situated in the heart of the Gwendraeth Valley in the rural splendour that lies between Llanelli and Carmarthen, the award winning Ffos Las Racecourse is the first racecourse to be built in the UK for more than 80 years. Named after a farm that once existed on the site, Ffos Las, completed in 2009, has brought top class horse racing back to West Wales for the first time since 1937, staging both National Hunt and Flat Racing fixtures.
Pembrey West Wales Airport is situated midway between Llanelli and Carmarthen on the site of a former RAF airfield opened in 1937 and last used by the RAF in 1957. Redeveloped in 1997 as a commercial airport by local entrepreneur Winston Thomas, Pembrey Airport is ideally positioned to provide scheduled air services which will satisfy the needs of the community in Carmarthenshire and West Wales. The enterprise will also provide quality jobs, inward investment and tourism. The airport is a tremendous asset for the county of Carmarthenshire and is of benefit to visitors and competitors attending the Pembrey Motor Racing Circuit, Ffos Las Racecourse and the newly opened Machynys championship golf course..
Machynys Peninsula Golf & Country Club
Machynys Peninsula Golf & Country Club is one of two championship link golf courses in and around Llanelli. Host to the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe, Machynys Peninsula was designed by Gary Nicklaus and is a modern links golf course designed to challenge the best players in championship conditions. The complex includes spa facilities and golfing breaks are offered in conjunction with a local hotel.
Ashburnham Golf Club
One of the finest link courses in the whole of Britain, the historic Ashburnham Golf Club was first established in 1894. As testament to its continued superb standards, Ashburnham Golf Club will again host this year's Ryder Cup Wales PGA Welsh Open.
Glyn Abbey Golf Club
Conveniently situated close to the Ffos Las racecourse just outside Llanelli and opened in 1992, the Glyn Abbey Golf Club won the prestigious Welsh Golf Club of the Year award in 2009.
Parc y Scarlets
No mention of the town of Llanelli would be complete without reference to the Scarlets, the town's famous Rugby Union team who, prior to the opening of their magnificent new stadium in 2008, used the historic and well loved Stradey Park as their home for more than 130 years. A competitor in the Magners League, Llanelli RFC, more commonly known as the Scarlets, are one of the most famous Rugby Union teams in the world. Their new home, the 15,000 seat Parc y Scarlets stadium, opened in 2008 at a cost of £23 million, and is a monument to the modern Llanelli, the leisure, and pleasure, capital of the whole of South West Wales.
Pam & John Simon
Many thanks Pam & John for this great 'review' of Llanelli. I have added some links to subjects discussed: