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Laugharne Castle Dog Walk & Coast Walk Gallery

Grand Tours days out

Dog Friendly Coastal Walks - Laugharne Castle

Laugharne Castle courtyard

Laugharne Castle & Dylan Thomas

The magnificent medieval castle cum Tudor mansion later became the perfect antidote to writer’s block. Both Dylan Thomas and author Richard Hughes put pen to paper in the castle’s garden summerhouse.
Looking out over the estuary, like an eagle nesting on its eyrie, this impressive relic of ancient times commands your attention.  ‘Brown as owls’ as Mr Thomas put it in his ‘Poem in October’.

Built in the 13th century by the de Brian family, probably atop an earlier Norman ringwork castle, the solid mansion we see today is the lasting legacy of Sir John Perrot.

It did not fare well during the Civil War. Having been captured by Parliamentary forces after a siege it was partially dismantled.

Make time to stroll through the castle’s Victorian gardens before heading for the shore to take in the views.

Take in the coastal walk and look back at the impressive Castle. Once you have taken your dogs on a run along part of the coastal walk, return the way you came with some calmer dogs, and pop in to the Boat House for tea.

Laugharne Castle Dylan Thomas Dog Friendly Coastal Path Walk

Laugharne Castle: Architectural Restoration

Laugharne is perhaps best known for its associations with Dylan Thomas, but for the past 20 years, the picturesque castle, sited on the Taf estuary, has been the subject of painstaking archaeological investigation and gradual restoration.

There was probably a Norman castle here by the early 12th century, though the still intact remains can be traced back no further than the work of the de Brian family in the late 13th century.

From the de Brians and their descendants, in 1488 the Lordship and Castle passed to the Earls of Northumberland. In 1584, Elizabeth I granted Laugharne to Sir John Parrott, said to have been the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

Laugharne Castle Dylan Thomas Dog Friendly Coastal Path Walk

Laugharne Castle: A Home

The de Brians were the lords of Laugharne until the end of the 14th century. They carried out considerable additions and repairs.

In 1349 the lordship was inherited by the distinguished Guy de Brian VII, who greatly improved the standard of accommodation. His death in 1390 was followed by a long period of decline and in the late 15th and early 16th century only parts of the castle were occupied.

A change for the better in the castle's fortunes took place in 1575, when Elizabeth I granted the Castle to Sir John Perrot, an important dignitary. He converted the old medieval castle into a comfortable Tudor mansion, while his main residence was at Carew. Perrot became a bit too powerful for Royal comfort, and in 1592 he was sentenced to death for high treason. He died from natural causes, before the sentence could be carried out.

An inventory made in 1592 suggests that Perrot's building work was poor quality and a report stated the castle 'is like within a few yeares to run to utter ruin again'.

Laugharne Castle Dylan Thomas Dog Friendly Coastal Path Walk

Laugharne Castle: From Castle to Mansion house

The castle ruins are the end result of a long development from earthwork castle to Tudor mansion.

Little visible now remains of the ringwork bank, nor of the first stone hall, demolished in the late 12th century.

The rebuilding under the de Brians in the late 13th century is far more evident within the remains. The two strong round towers on the north were built at this time along with the curtain wall, some of which survives.

The impressive north-west tower still retains its fine medieval domed roof. The tower acted as a keep and also as a guardian for the simple entrance to its south.

The other tower, a solid three-storey structure, has partly collapsed, and through the tower exposed by the collapse you can see the two extra storeys and the circular staircase added in the Tudor period.

A new hall was built in stone against the south wall during the late 13th century rebuilding, and the outer ward may have been added then, with timber defences.

Laugharne Castle with dogs paddling in stream

At the end of the 13th century, the defences were strengthened.

A forward projecting gatehouse was built against the earlier, simple entrance into the inner ward.

A new round tower with deep spurs was built at the south-west corner of the inner ward and the defences of the outer ward, including the outer gatehouse, were rebuilt in stone.

The castle was originally constructed in red sandstone, but in the mid-14th century Guy de Brian VII used for his building a distinctive green stone, which is quite easy to detect.

The whole south-western corner of the inner ward, including the round tower and the inner gatehouse, was considerably heightened. This building phase is particularly clear on the outside of the castle, where the green stone heightening can easily be distinguished from the older masonry on the south-west tower and adjacent curtain wall.

Sir John Perrot altered this medieval castle by converting it into a substantial Tudor mansion. The old hall against the south curtain was remodelled and the curtain wall heightened with mock battlements.

See more history of Laugharne Castle.

Additional Tudor buildings extended around the south and east of the inner ward and, on the north, the curtain wall between the two towers was demolished and replaced by a large rectangular accommodation block. Its upper floors were reached by a splendid projecting semicircular stair tower.

The inner gatehouse was made more impressive by being considerably raised to its present height and gardens were laid out in the outer ward.
During the Civil War, Laugharne was captured by Royalists in 1644, but was quickly re-taken by besieging Roundheads. The castle was partially destroyed soon afterwards and gradually fell into decay. It was left as a romantic ruin during the 18th century and at the turn of the 19th century the outer ward was laid with formal gardens.

The gazebo overlooking the estuary was used in the 1930s and 40s by the author Richard Hughes, who leased Castle House during this period.

Laugharne Castle Dylan Thomas Coastal Path Dog Walk

The original castle was established by 1116 as the castle of Robert Courtemain, who entrusted its care to the Welshman Bleddyn ap Cedifor.

The castle also was the meeting place of Henry II of England with Rhys ap Gruffudd in 1171-1172, were they agreed a treaty of peace.

When Henry II of England died in 1189 the castle along with St Clears and llansteffan were seized by Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth in 1189, Laugharne Castle may have been burnt down at this time.
The Castle was rebuilt by the Normans and in 1215 was captured by Llywelyn the Great in his campaign across South Wales.

By 1247 Laugharne was granted to the de Brian family. In 1257 Guy De Brian was captured at Laugharne Castle by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and the castle destroyed.

It was in Laugharne in 1403 that Glyndwr's rebellion stalled. Perhaps lulled into complacency, he was tricked by an ambush and lost 700 men. When a local soothsayer then warned him to leave the area or be captured, he retreated. After this the rebellion petered out under the weight of greater English numbers, and by 1415, Owain Glyndwr had disappeared, fading into myth.

In 1584, Elizabeth I granted Laugharne to Sir John Parrott, said to have been the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

During the Civil War, Laugharne was captured by Royalists in 1644, the Parliamentary forces of Major-General Rowland Laugharne attacked the castle in 1644. After a week long siege in which much of the castle was damaged by cannon-fire, the Royalist garrison surrendered.

The castle was left as a romantic ruin during the 18th century and at the turn of the 19th century the outer ward was laid with formal gardens.

The gazebo overlooking the estuary was used in the 1930s and 40s by the author Richard Hughes, who leased Castle House during this period.

Laugharne has also inspired two great modern writers, who worked in the garden gazebo overlooking the river. Richard Hughes wrote its novel 'In Hazard' here and Dylan Thomas, Laugharne most famous resident, worked in the castle on its 'Portrait of the artist as a young dog'.

Laugharne Castle coast view Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

Laugharne Coastal Path: Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

In 1944, Dylan wrote 'Poem in October' about his birthday walk, to the shoulder of Sir John's hill.

The poem is simply about his love of Laugharne and getting older. The poem was set on the 27th of October, 1944, his 30th Birthday. The estuary sounds and the memory of the herons awaiting the tide were on his mind.
Set forth now and walk in Dylan's footsteps. Watch the video link on Dylan Thomas 30th Birthday Walk walk here.

The walk is approximately 2 miles/3.2 kilometres in length and will take you uphill. Enjoy the magnificent views of the estuary, Dylan's boathouse, the Gower, north Devon, Caldey Island and Tenby.

I had not known that this was Dylan Thomas's Birthday Walk until I came across the site of the same name in my research on Laugharne for the Dog Friendly Wales website. The site linked to above contains videos and galleries of the coastal walk that follows in the next few pictures, being the same walk I discovered a few years after Dylan Thomas, so is worth checking out.

Laugharne Castle coastal view Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

This walk was originally created in 1856 by the Laugharne Corporation. It was created to allow the townsfolk and cocklers access by foot to their shares of the valuable cockle beds on the upper and lower marshes. Access was restricted when the high tides prevented access along the old cart track from the bay.

An excellent website on this walk has been produced by Robert Stevens. Go to his website by followiing this link to the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk.

Laugharne Castle coastal path with view of seawater maze Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

Coastal Path and Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas lived at Laugharne for 16 years and in his poetry describes many local sites, including views across the Taf estuary which can be enjoyed from the Coast Path.

The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to establishing a continuous path of approximately 850 miles that runs around the coastline of Wales by May 2012. The project is on schedule, with sections being regularly opened.

Laugharne Castle dog admires coastal path view Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

You really must use this superb link (above) and if you are planning to visit this area I recommend you print the circular walk out in its entirety if you wish to do the Laugharne Coastal Path and Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk.

Scroll down beyond the text description (which is not a patch on the picture display of the walk lower down the page). Instead look beyond (scroll further down) the map on this website to the incredibly detailed photographed directions of the full circular walk, which  follow exactly the walk from the Laugharne Car Park that I started photographing in this sequence.

I only went a short way but if visiting this area again I think I will make a point of printing out this page and following the full directions. The photographed walk is an invaluable guide to the walk. However if you are with your dogs, you may be forced to turn around again if you come across that herd of cows!

Thankyou to the Ramblers Association!

The full walk is 6 miles and you should allow 3 hours.

Laugharne Castle coastal path for dog walking

Path in front of the Castle

We are now (in picture above) off the Coastal Walk, and returning to Laugharne via a coast hugging path at the foot of the Castle. Further along from this point, some steps take you up into the outskirts of Laugharne, onto a single track road that leads to Dylan Thomas's garage and boathouse.

Laugharne Castle coastal path dogs walking from steps

Steps to Laugharne from Castle coastal path

Copyright Dog Friendly Wales and Jack the Dog
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