We visited Pembrey Country Park to have a go at tobogganing. But what we discovered was a vast outdoor adventureland that’s home to beautiful beaches, historical landmarks and activities galore!
As was the case for the majority of people, our summer holiday plans were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We swapped a week in southern France for a week in South Wales, and although the weather was slightly different, many of our plans stayed the same.
This was because we’d planned our 2020 summer holiday to focus on R&R. For the last five years we’ve taken the kids away on summer city breaks. These were always ‘go, go, go’ as we tried to see everything that Tallinn, Warsaw, Madrid, Barcelona and Berlin had to offer.
A relaxing holiday
We loved every single one of those trips, but this year we were determined to take things more slowly. With this in mind we originally booked an escape to small gite in the Bordeaux countryside.
However, with everything going on around COVID-19, we made the decision to push that trip back 12 months. We still wanted to go away, but within the UK, and so began looking into our options. After a few days searching, we were lucky enough to find a week’s availability at a fishing retreat in Swansea Bay. We booked, packed our bags and headed over the bridge to Wales!
Fishing’s not my thing, but I was sold on the pretty little Scandinavian-style log cabin we stayed in. This had beautiful views over the five lakes and undulating welsh vista. While the boys fished, Rosie and I unwound in the cabin. But we did also venture out on several occasions to see what the region had to offer.
We visited several of the Gower Peninsula’s beauty spots of course, but a highlight was discovering the hidden gem that is Pembrey Country Park. Just the other side of the Loughor Estuary, which makes up part of Carmarthen Bay, the park is 500 acres in size, with eight miles of sandy beaches. Perfect for social distancing, wouldn’t you agree?
What to do at Pembrey Country Park
Many people come simply to enjoy the great outdoors and go for walks in the fields, forests or along the beaches. There are even dedicated plant, pond and woodland trails to follow if that’s your bag. Grab a map at one of the information points, or check the signs scattered all over the park, to find out where you are and everything that’s available to do across the 500 acres of park.
Car parks are scattered around the site, so you can stop off close to the area you want to explore. The wide roads have a 15mph speed limit to keep bikers safe.
This is a popular hobby in the park but you don’t even have to bring your own cycle. You can hire bikes here, including large family ones. I loved the idea of sitting up front while the others pedalled me around the park! Sadly the family wasn’t up for it though. I just had to enjoy watching other families make use of them instead.
Tobogganing at Pembrey Country Park
We’d specifically come to the park to have a go at tobogganing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’d heard that there are several places where you can go tobogganing in Wales.
Two of the most famous are the Llandudno toboggan ride and the Fforest Coaster (not a real toboggan ride tbf). However these were a long way for us to travel from our base in Swansea Bay. We started looking closer to home, and this was when we discovered Pembrey Country Park.
It only costs £3 to go on a toboggan ride here, or if you enjoyed it as much as us, £5 for three runs. It’s a pretty impressive toboggan run too – it’s 600m long and the highest in Wales! if you’re brave enough to take your eyes off the track, you’ll be able to take in some amazing views over the Gower, including Worms Head at Rhossili Bay.
Here’s a video of us in action!
World War One and World War Two remains
History buffs might also be interested in visiting the remains of some WWI and WWII bunkers. The land that now makes up today’s park was once used as Pembrey’s Royal Ordnance Factory. Very little from this time is left, but there are several tunnels in the park that date back to that era that you can still visit as you stroll through the woodland.
Cefn Sidan beach
Another highlight of our visit was a short stroll along Cefn Sidan beach. This beautiful sandy beach was the first in Wales to gain the Blue Flag award for environmental standards.
A total of eight miles in length, there’s no real concerns about crowds. It’s a really interesting beach to visit too. The area is known as a historical shipwreck hot spot – the earliest recorded was back in the 1660s. We didn’t make it far enough to see them ourselves, but the northern end of the beach is the place to go to get up close and personal with the wrecks that litter the sand.
We must have visited during jellyfish season however, as the beach was littered with large, vividly blue jellyfish. It was both beautiful and sad to see…
Other attractions at Pembrey Country Park
As we only spent an afternoon in the park, we hardly scratched the surface. There’s a long list of things to see and do from dry-slope skiing and horse riding through to heading to the adventure playground or going for a ride on the miniature steam railway. A brand new 18-hole crazy golf has just opened too. We were gutted to discover that we’d visited on the day before it opened. Doh!
There’s more than just one form of golf on offer though. Frisbee golf sounds a total blast personally, but if you’re more traditional you might want to head to Pembrey’s classic pitch and putt course.
Pembrey Country Park events
Of course, 2020 has been rather different when it comes to big gatherings, but you’ll usually find events taking place across the park.
Challenges, walks, races and marathons occur throughout the year. You’ll also see seasonal events like the Halloween-themed week and annual Christmas fayre. Of course right now everything is changeable, but to find out the latest as to what’s happening in the park visit the Pembrey Country Park events webpage.
Pembrey Country Park camping
Many people actually base themselves at Pembrey Park when on holiday in Wales. This is because there’s an on-site campsite which can cater for over 300 campers, whether you’re staying in a tent or caravan.
Pembrey Country Park prices
The park itself is free to enter, but there is a fee to park your car. During the Spring/Summer months car parking costs £3 for up to two hours or £5.50 for the entire day. In the quieter months, the price for parking your car is still £3 for up to two hours, but goes down to just £3.50 for the full day. That’s not bad for access to everything this park has to offer.
Enjoying a walk, bike or run anywhere in the park is totally free of course. However, there is a charge for using many of the facilities – such as the mini golf, bike hire, ski slope toboggan etc. I liked that the park’s very visible with it pricing; everything is easily available on its website. Overall though, I found these prices to be good value, and definitely much cheaper than a day at an amusement or adventure park. Healthier too!