Places to stop on the journey to Pembrokeshire...
When travelling to Wales, many will cross the magnificent Seven Bridge and travel via the trusty M4 motorway, that then turns into the A48, and runs the length of South Wales. Pembrokeshire is the pot of sparkling gold at the end of this strip of road but there are some gems along the way that are sure to make your journey more enjoyable. If you have the luxury of time, want to see more of Wales or simply enjoy a good stop off before reaching your destination, then here are some places that are just a stone's throw from the motorway. It is never too early to start your adventure in Wales after all!
Places to Eat
Wrights Food Emporium
Distance from the M48: 10 minutes
This café come deli isn’t in a village or a town but located on a road just outside of Carmarthen. Wrights is worth the 20-minute detour as whether it is a Wednesday lunchtime or a Saturday night, this place is always busy and bustling for a reason. As you walk through the front door, you’re greeted with an enormous blackboard which is bursting with delicious dishes. There is a maze of different rooms where you can set up for an afternoon of feasting and a deli which is full of freshly baked bread, local cheese, meat, chocolate and coffee. If you’re looking to pick up some fantastic Welsh produce to remember your trip to Wales, this is the place. It truly is the ultimate stop off for lunch or an afternoon coffee and cake. Some personal favourites from the mouth-watering list are the rare beef tonnato, the tartiflette (in the Winter months!) and any of their salads, cakes and epic sandwiches.
Good for: Lunch, coffee & buying local produce
Directions: The M4 merges into the M48 after the Pont Abraham roundabout. Exit the M48 towards Nantgaredig/Porthrhyd and Wrights is a 7 min drive.
Monday: 11am – 5pm
Wed -Thurs: 11am – 7pm
Fri – Sat: 9am – late
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Distance from Penally Abbey: 50 mins
Coaltown Roastery Canteen
Distance from the M4:15 minutes
Ammanford is a small Welsh town just 15 minutes off the end of the M4 and is the home of Coal Town Coffee. Set up by Ammanford local boy, coffee guru and enthusiast Scott, this place is one that every coffee, design and food lover must visit. The canteen and coffee shop is in the middle of an open plan warehouse where diners are surrounded by the impressive machinery of the roastery, a small shop and an open plan kitchen come bakery. It is easy to mistake your surroundings as being an edgy coffee spot in Brooklyn and not a small ex-mining village in South Wales. However, is not only coffee that people travel here for, as the canteen also serves freshly made pizzas, toasties, cakes and sandwiches all made on site in the pizza oven. As it is located in a warehouse on the outskirts of Ammanford, it also benefits from having a carpark right outside. A fairly boring point to make, but when wanting a quick stop off for a good coffee and a bite to eat en route to another destination, it couldn't be more perfect.
By-pass the motorway service stations and take the ten-minute detour to a place that wouldn't look out of place in London (although boy am I glad it's in Ammanford) and make your trip that bit better. After all, someone once said it was all about the journey...
Good for: Buying local coffee, drinking delicious coffee and a quick bite to eat en route.
Directions: At the Pont Abraham round-about (at the very end of the M4 Motorway), take the exit that takes you to Ammandford. Follow the road and sign posts to the little Welsh town.
Mon-Fri: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 9am - 8pm
Sunday: 9am - 4pm
Distance from Penally: 1 hour 10 mins
Places to Explore
Waterfall Country | Brecon Beacons National Park
Distance from the M4: 30 minutes
Once you're just 10 minutes off the motorway you'll find yourself driving through the staggeringly beautiful Brecon Beacons. The views along the way give you the warmest welcome to Wales and all its magnificent beauty. Aim for the Cwm Porth carpark where you can begin your walking tour of the National Parks greatest collection of waterfalls. If you do the full route (stop and pick up a map from the visitor's centre) it takes you past 5 waterfalls in total. The full route is estimated to take around 3-4hours - but we easily did it in under 3 hours with plenty of biscuit and photo stops. I highly recommend walking round to the furthest waterfall Sgwd yr Eira where, after an adventurous climb down 100 steps, you are greeted to the most magical waterfall. You can walk behind Sgwd yr Eira and watch as the waterfall crashes before you which was an experience that may just be the highlight of your trip to Wales. Make sure you bring some waterproofs along with you before you take a stroll under this large waterfall!
Good for: The WOW factor and those wanting an outdoor, off-the-grid adventure. I would only recommend to those who are used to walking on uneven terrain as it can be steep and slippery in places so you'll need sturdy footwear. Also, remember to bring water as this is a remote area and there aren't shops or cafes around locally.
Directions: Leave the M4 at Neath (Jnc 42) and put the Cwm Porth Carpark into your Sat Nav or Google Maps. It will take you to a perfectly situated car park at the start of the route which is £4 for the day - the meter only takes exact change. Be aware that it is down some narrow lanes and it can get quite busy in peak season so arriving earlier on in the day is advisable.
Distance from Penally Abbey: 1hour 40 minutes
Baileys Home - Interiors Shop | Ross on Wye
Distance from the M4: 40 minutes
This wonderful store and cafe housed in a rustic converted barn is so worth the slightly longer diversion off the M4 at Newport and is a feast for the senses and anyone with an eye for the aesthetic. You’ll be hard pressed to leave empty handed.
The owners Sally and Mark Bailey certainly have taste running through their veins as every single item has been carefully considered and displayed. From textiles to lighting and furniture, books and ceramics, there is so much to covet. This store was declared by retail guru Mary Portas as one of the best retail stores in the world. It’s certainly one of mine! I bought a chestnut pan!
Good for: Gifts, beautiful home furnishes and having a general wander.
Directions: Leave the M4 at Newport Junction 24 and follow the A449 up through Wales. At Raglan take the A40 all the way to Ross-on-Wye. Baileys is located just a few minutes outside of Ross-on-Wye.
Distance from Penally: 2 hours 30 minutes
We are always adding to our M4 Hidden Gems blog as we are constantly finding beautiful new places to explore, shop and eat. Please do get in touch if you feel that there is somewhere that should be on this list!