The Carmarthenshire Tourism Association’s tour of ‘trailblazers and their legacies’, started at Paxton Tower. The tower was built by William Paxton who had purchased the Middleton Hall Estate in 1789 and built a neoclassical mansion. Both mansion and tower were designed by the architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell. The tower was said to be a memorial for Nelson and the fashionable folly provided a banqueting destination for Paxton’s guests with fabulous views of Drslwyn Castle and the Towi Valley.
However, many called the building the “Tŵr Sbeit”, the tower of spite after Paxton’s defeat in the infamous 1802 Carmarthenshire county elections. Paxton allegedly promised to build a much-needed bridge over the river Towy if elected and despite having treated voters to copious amounts of food and alcohol he still lost. It is thought the money and material for the bridge was used instead to build the tower. It can certainly be seen from great distances when travelling around Carmarthen and as such is a very handy placemaker in the landscape. The sheep in the field next to it seem oblivious to the history and the views however.
Our next port of call was accross the valley to Drslwyn Castle, where we got a great view of Paxton Tower. Dryslwn Castle is owned by Cadw and the nearest castle to Pen Y Garn Cottage. It has a carpark at the foot of the hill with picnic tables overlooking to river and is free to get in . All in all it has a lot going for it.
After a quick coffee taking in the statue commemorating the drover and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan of Caeo and Llandovery Castle we headed off to the church in Llanfair-ar-y-Bryn to see the grave of William Williams Pantycelyn, probably Wales most famous hymn writer. I am still singing Bread of Heaven in my head.
Lunch at the Red Lion Llangadog was amazing and a place I am definately going back to. The curry was awesome. Last stop on the tour was the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain Quarries. We were blessed with the weather standing in glorious sunshine and looking at the snow on Pen Y Fan. A place to feed the soul.
Back to the starting place Llandeilo and who can go to this place without stopping for an ice cream at Heavenly. Well obviously some of my fellow tourers couldn’t as I found a couple in the queue. An amazing day and lots of new knowledge to share with our guests.