Only a small area of castle remains, next to which stands an amazing stainless steel statue representing Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, who was executed in the main square after daringly aiding the escape of Owain Glyndwr and his men by leading English troops in the wrong direction when they stormed the area in 1401.
During the heyday of the castle in 12th Century, the Physicians of Myddfai practised in the area, using mystical powers as well as herbal lotions and potions for healing.
The military presence of the castle allowed Llandovery to prosper. The number of inns in the town bear testament to the fact that it continued to hold an important position on the London to Carmarthen road.
The Tourist Information and Heritage Centre gives a chance to learn something of the fascinating history and mythology of the area. There are small shops and numerous pubs. Check out The Castle Hotel with it’s interesting, modern, menu.
Many visitors use Llandovery as a touring base for the western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Within easy driving distance are the Usk Reservoir or Red Kite centre at Llanddeusant on the north side of the Black Mountain.
The Brecon Mountain Railway is a great attraction for all the family as is the Brecon Jazz Festival, held annually in early August.
The 3 Forests
To the north-west of the town, you can access Brechfa Forest with its fantastic cycle trails and walks.
The Crychan and Halfway Forests north of the Black Mountain have well-marked paths for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Visit their website to download maps, or you can pick up a large leaflet/map at all the major forest car parks.
Much of the cycling is suitable for families, but there are all sorts of cycling and running challenges in the area such as the Devil’s Challenge Marathon. The Cwm Rhaeadr project has been developed to promote enjoyment of the outdoor life with a cycleway and mountain bike course as well as an access trail for all to include those with physical disabilities. There’s a difficult 7km trail for serious mountain bikers.
The National Nature Reserve at Allt Rhyd y Groes, the RSPB Reserve at Dinas and Wildlife Trust Reserve at Nant Melyn all lie within the Cwm Doethie – Mynydd Mallaen Special Area of Conservation. There’s a rich mixture of habitats and many inland birds can be spotted in the area including such upland species as merlin, red grouse and ring ouzel.
At the Gwnffrwd-Dinas RSPB reserve, you can take a walk through alder and oak woodland, past rushing rivers. Spot a red kite, and in the summer see river birds such as pied flycatchers, redstarts, common sandpipers, dippers and grey wagtails. The trail is in a steep sided valley so some parts are sloping and rugged, and can be slippery.
You can do a fabulous tour, heading north from Llandovery to Rhandirmwyn, then a bit further north to the bird reserve. Continue northwest along the Doethie Valley to the National Nature Reserve at Allt Rhyd y Groes and end your day at Llyn Brianne or fork off to the west up the Nant Melyn valley to the Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve there. To avoid retracing your steps, you can cross the Upper Tywi at Rhandyrmwyn and take the alternative road back to Llandovery.
Or you can start by taking the A40 south to Llanwrda and then the A482 towards Lampeter. At a village called Pumsaint, you can find the Dolaucothi Gold Mines, begun in Roman times, and then follow the Cothi valley where there are various National Trust walks.
The Best Things to Do in and around Llandovery
- take a trip on the Heart of Wales Railway Line
- visit one of the Nature Reserves and enjoy the rushing rivers
- take a bike ride in the Cychan Forest
- eat a scrumptious evening meal at the Castle Hotel