The Wales Coast Path – Carmarthenshire

Travel writer David Atkinson tackles the Wales Coast Path in Laugharne as he walks the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk and discovers the town and landscape that inspired one of Wales’ famous writers

Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

Laugharne Castle with a carving of Dylan Thomas in the foreground

Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire by ALAMO2008

Bob Stevens doesn't do birthday cakes.

The 65-year old beef cattle farmer from Laugharne prefers to evoke the spirit of Dylan Thomas for his big day and has designed a walk around the estuary based on Dylan's Poem in October.

I'm not a Dylan obsessive but I felt a particular connection with the final verse, he says.

I've joined Bob in my fortieth year to heaven, striding the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk as part of the twist-turning Carmarthenshire section of the Wales Coast Path. The walk brings me closer to the landscape that inspired Dylan's work.

We stand at the top of the hill, looking out across the salt marsh to Laugharne Castle – brown as owls. The five benches Bob has installed along the two-mile linear path each bear a line from the poem.

He is now thinking of creating a lovers' enclave, a hideaway from the walk, down a hidden path. "There are plenty of people ready to test drive it," he winks. "Especially in Laugharne.”

An early morning walk 

Dylan Thomas' boathouse, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire

Dylan Thomas' Boathouse in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire

 by Paula J James

The next morning I wake early and move through the still sleeping town, taking the coast path past the writing shed, where Dylan worked, and the Boathouse, where the family later lived.

The weather turns around as the trail loops the Taf Estuary, then back into Laugharne by St Martin's Church, where Dylan and Caitlin are buried.

The simple white cross, pitched against the giddy-green landscape, bears a handful of cockleshells and a note: "Thanks you for the poetry. Christian and Megan, Canada. April 2012."

I walk back into Laugharne to find Browns Hotel, Dylan's favourite watering hole and across the road, George Tremlett is opening his antiquarian bookshop, Corran Books, for another day.

Dylan was a keen walker, says George, handing me a first edition of 18 poems from 1934 valued at £600. The coast path around Laugharne leads you through the landscape of his poetry, he adds.

I make a silent promise to return for the centenary of Dylan's birth in 2014, maybe before for a birthday walk with my own cariad. On a morning springful of larks, the idea fills me with hope.

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