Recommendations for private guides in south Wales?
March 1, 2010 9:13 AM   Subscribe

This fall, we'll be in south Wales (not New South Wales!) for a few days and would like to book a guide (or two) for a couple of day trips in different areas.

This coming October, my boyfriend and I will be traveling to the UK for a vacation. We're spending a few days in the southern regions of Wales, because he'd like to see Cardiff, and I spent a semester during my undergrad years at Trinity College in Carmarthen and would like to revisit the old stomping grounds for a little bit, to see how it's changed in the past couple of decades.

I've had great experiences in the past on vacations with hiring a guide for a day and giving them a few loose guidelines ("we like architecture, medieval history, and great food" led to a wonderful tour of little-known Paris, for example) and letting them come up with itineraries that take us to places we'd never think of going, and would like to do the same for this trip. We're also not interested in an organized tour with other people.

For the first day-trip, we'll be stationed in Cardiff, and could focus on the eastern parts of South Wales, and a couple of days later we'll be somewhere in the western half (the exact place we'll be staying is yet to be determined), so can focus on sights over there, along with an hour or so in Carmarthen. This would probably mean a different guide for each day, as I don't know how feasible it would be for one person to be able to make the drive in a reasonable amount of time (although we're happy to pay for mileage if it *is* feasible).

We won't have a car, so either a guide with a car or one who can find places to go within walking distance of a train station is preferred. We won't be interested in hiking or anything particularly athletic due to slight mobility concerns (I have arthritis in my foot), but non-strenuous strolling in moderately hilly towns like Carmarthen isn't a problem.

I've done some searching on Google, but haven't found much. If anyone out there has any recommendations, that would be quite helpful.
posted by telophase to Travel & Transportation around Wales (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Out of interest, what stops you hiring a car?

I ask because it's dead easy to do a self drive and there's lots of relatively self-explanatory things to do/places to see.

Plus, hiring a car and driver will be fairly expensive.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:55 AM on March 1, 2010

I can't recommend personally, but I have come across these people, who seem to fit your bill.

Note: For a single couple, having exclusive use of the vehicle and driver/guide, the charge is £430 per night. These prices are based on arrival and departure from Cardiff airport or train station.

Day tours limited to south and west Wales: £640 per couple for the three days.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:59 AM on March 1, 2010

Without a car, you'll find your options limited. For example, even though Carmarthen was a Roman settlement, it's short on sight-seeing opportunities and I personally feel the town-centre is marred by some ill-considered retail developments. If you can get there on market-day, you might find the indoor market has something of interest. You could easily spend an hour or two browsing in there, and some of the food on offer is well worth stocking up on. There are one or two sections of ancient wall in town but overall it's not one of Wales's finest sights.

As an alternative (and if no-one else can suggest an actual guide) might I suggest taking a ride on the bus? You could easily get from Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn and then to Cardigan, and you'd get a splendid view of the countryside. Emlyn has a castle which (although in disrepair after a visit from the man from the Fens) is still worth a look, and the Cenarth Falls on the way to Cardigan could be a good stopping-off point. The castle in Cardigan was purchased a few years ago with an eye to restoration and opening to the public, but I'm not sure that's been done yet. None of these places is big on excitement, but if you love the Welsh countryside, the chapels, etc, you'd get a ton of that. You could eat at the splendid pubs, of course.

I expect the time you will be visiting would make it difficult to find a guide in any case, but with a bit of planning you could probably make your own way and get a lot out of the experience.

Former resident of Newcastle Emlyn, now repatriated to England but missing it all very much ...
posted by BrokenEnglish at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2010

Cardiff resident here. You probably already know this, but transport gets more difficult as you travel West. You won't have too many problems with public transport in the South East, but you may not get everywhere you want to in the West without a car or someone with a car.

The main Welsh Tourist Board website is I can't really offer recommendations on guides as I've never really had much need for them but they should be able to give you some help and information (the contact page gives as the contact email).

Hope you have a great trip.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 2:50 PM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: Posting many moons later, after the trip in question, to recommend Stephen Griffin of Griffin Guiding if anyone out there is searching for someone similar. He drove my boyfriend and I around south Wales for two days, and was absolutely fantastic, suggesting places we'd never have known about (such as the Penderyn distillery) if researching on our own.

To answer the question above about not driving: neither of us wanted to drive because we'd miss the chance to really see our surroundings, instead having to concentrate on the road and other drivers. Hiring a driver allowed us both to spend lots of time just gazing out the window and seeing what there was to see, which we enjoyed.
posted by telophase at 1:34 PM on October 21, 2010

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