Physical Geography of Carmarthenshire

The main thing most people first notice about Carmarthenshire is that it’s a coastal county, and it has to be said that Llanegwad is not a coastal place – it’s inland, in an area of rolling, spreading farmland. The coast is not far away, however, and it is beautiful.

Physical Geography of CarmarthenshireLook beyond the fact of the coast and it becomes clear that there’s a flat(ish) plain surrounded by hills; the plain is centered on the valley of the River Towy that at first curves from north-east to south-west and then, somewhere between Llandilo and the county town of Carmarthen (for Carmarthen is the name of a town as well as a county), it swings to an east-west orientation before – when it reaches Carmarthen town, going off in a direction that is almost due south.

Two ridges lie to the north of the plain and they run almost parallel with each other with a patch of lower lying land between. While not in themselves particularly high, the two ridges are in effect the foothills of the Central Wales highland massif, none of which lies in Carmarthenshire. Visitors are struck by the number of streams cutting into the ridges; they include the Dulais, the Twrch, the Gorlech, the Gwill, the Cywyn, and the Cynin.

Back to the coast, and Carmarthen Bay seems to be the result of subsidence in times that were geologically recent but, of course, ancient in historical terms. The sand, which of course tourism agencies like to describe as “golden” (and there is justification in the claim), can be described as shifting thanks to the effects of winds that are sometimes strong, but tough, deep-rooted grasses have fixed the dunes in place in some areas.

Hill tops are largely rounded and the sides of the valleys are deeply covered in bolder clay, demonstrating the effects of the Pleistocene Ice Age. In fact, current theory is that part of the Towy valley was once the floor of a glacial lake.