School’s out for summer
Geographer and GetOutside Champion, Alan Parkinson gives our teachers some outdoor inspiration for the school holiday period.
In the village of Trap, within the Brecon Beacons National Park, lies the spectacular Carreg Cannen Castle. Seeped in history and legend, this fairy-tale castle is a perfect place for all the family to explore.
Carreg Cannen has a rich and exciting history. With evidence of prehistoric and Roman occupation, legend suggests that the original fortress dates back to the Dark Ages and was home to the Welsh Knight Urien Rheged during the reign of King Arthur. The story goes that there is a warrior asleep beneath the castle waiting for a call from the Welsh.
The castle that stands today was built around 1277 by John Giffard and was under English occupancy for most of its history. Notable owners include Hugh le Despenser, John of Gaunt and Henry of Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV.
Today, the castle is owned and maintained by Cadw.
The castle is open to visitors daily between 9.30am and 6.30pm in April – October, and between 9.30am and 4pm between November and March.
The first thing you will notice when you arrive at Carreg Cannen is its spectacular location. Set on a rocky hilltop, surrounded by weather-beaten sheer limestone cliffs and overlooking the Black Mountain and the River Cennen, there’s something truly magical about this ancient site. As you take the steep walk up to the castle, make sure you take the time to appreciate the awe-inspiring views and imagine how the castle’s many invaders must have felt.
At the entrance to the castle, you’ll find Castell Farm and its host of farm animals which roam around the fortress.
There’s also an underground tunnel where you can explore the natural cave in the rock under the castle that used to serve as the dungeon – make sure you bring your torch!
The castle hosts a range of facilities, including a shop and café, toilets, parking and a picnic area.
Carreg Cannen Castle can be accessed by road – follow the signs from Trap Village. You can also travel by rail along the Swansea-Shrewsbury route, or by taking the Carmarthen – Llandeilo/Lanovery bus route no 280/281. Alternatively, you can also cycle there on NCN bike route no 47.
If you’re thinking of visiting Carreg Cannen, why not make a day of it? There are plenty of other attractions in the area for visitors of all ages!
If Carreg Cannen has inspired you to visit other castles, make sure you pay a visit to the nearby Dinefwr Castle, home to the National Nature Reserve, a historic house and a medieval deer park. Dryslwyn Castle is another majestic hilltop castle, that’s certainly worth exploring.
Another great historic attraction close by is Talley Abbey. Set in beautiful hills, the ruins are a great place for visitors of all ages to explore.
For family-friendly fun, make sure you pay a visit to the Llyn LlechCountry Park, a 158-acre area of wood and lake land complete with nature trails, an adventure area with a wooden adventure playground, a toddler playground and a visitor centre complete with café.