On our fourth day in Llanelli, the weather was looking threatening. After two days on the the beach under ambiguous skies, it was time to find an activity that might withstand a bit of rain. And given we were in Wales, what better than a visit to a castle? I do understand that most castles don’t have roofs and so aren’t really weather-proof at all but the logic was that it would be better than sitting on wet sand At least we could keep moving.
There are a few castles to choose from but there was another part to my plan. While we’d been sitting on Llanelli Beach, I’d spotted a tiny train that went right along the coastline and for some reason I really wanted to have a trip on it. We could have driven to Kidwelly but we had done a lot of driving and the tiny train would take us there too. It would be an adventure!
The first thing I noticed on our adventure was a level crossing, which made us feel very at home because it’s just like the one in Highams Park. The next thing I noticed was that we were wayyyyy too early for our train. I’d imagined that leaving the apartment would take longer than it did and I’d also imagined that the walk would take longer too. Trains only run every couple of hours so it was very important to me that we didn’t miss it. Which meant, almost inevitably, that we were half an hour early for the train. As we sat on the platform and waited, an announcement told us that the Cardiff Central train had been cancelled. Which was fine, cause that was in the opposite direction to Kidwelly, but it did make me wonder whether ours would be cancelled too. It wasn’t, but it was around 15 minutes late. So we were sitting on Platfform Un of Llanelli station for 45 minutes, all told. My kids were unimpressed by this adventure so far.
But you know what? The tiny train was cool! It went so close to the edge of the coast that it felt like we were about to tip into the sea.
It’s entirely possible that I was still the only one enjoying this adventure. But they’d be fine once we got off the train in the middle of nowhere, right?
Ah no, more complaining ensued. What was not fun about wandering around a small Welsh town in search of a castle?
Luckily, we found a playground where we stopped for a while so the children could rest their walking legs and let their playing legs take over.
There was an interesting looking sensory garden there but we didn’t have time to explore. The train back was at a very specific time and we still had a castle to find and walk around.
Luckily, everything in Kidwelly was helpfully labelled, so, having walked down Station Road away from the station, we used Bridge Street to cross the river and then Castle Street was right there on our right. And there was a castle!
I didn’t realise at the time but it was the castle from the first scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I think we were talking about the Holy Grail as we wandered around but it didn’t occur to me that we were in an actual filming location. If it had, we definitely would have had more conversations about swallows from the parapets.
But we did walk the parapets, and the kids saw off any invaders with their light sabre and imaginary arrows:
Nathan and Roo also went to the top of one of the towers but Eva and I wussed out because of the very tight spiral staircase. We got about halfway up and then aborted but the boys made it all the way:
Eva and I also weren’t super keen on the dungeons but Roo and Nathan had a look around the Slytherin dormitories:
Roo’s favourite thing seemed to be folding himself into small spaces that used to be ovens or fireplaces:
Although he also enjoyed the throne room:
And a chance to pose with real armour:
Eva also liked that bit:
We spent around an hour wandering about, with an eye always on that train back that we needed to not miss. We saw some very Good Dogs and stopped on the benches to eat Pringles and hobnobs. Despite my misgivings about the weather, we were actually super lucky and the rain held off. It even occasionally tipped over into “sunshiney”.
There’s a lot to explore at Kidwelly and we could have stayed longer but I think we covered the main bits. We could have used a bit more time to stop and read everything but most of the time we were chasing the kids anyway. I’ve always been slightly sceptical about castle visits ever since a very disappointing childhood visit to a mott and bailey castle, which was all mott and no bailey. In other words, it was just a hill with a sign on it. So it’s always good to find a castle that still has walls and towers and ovens that you can pop the firstborn into.
We left with plenty of time before the train and I was surprised to find out it was a request stop where you had to flag down the train, Railway Children style. We didn’t have any red petticoats but I considered using Nathan’s red t-shirt instead. Luckily, some local people turned up and we had to assume they knew what to do and it wouldn’t involve any spontaneous flag-fashioning,
Happily, the train turned up only a few minutes late and stopped to let us on before delivering us back to Llanelli 12 minutes later. I call that a successful adventure. And the family sort of agree….I think.