The Edge of Love – Dylan Thomas – Movie Tourism in Wales

Released in 2008, The Edge of Love is a story based in part on the much talked about and celebrated life of Dylan Thomas, his wife, and two of their closest friends, filmed primarily on location in Wales. Written by Sharman Macdonald, Knightley’s mother and selected for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the cast includes Keira Knightley as Vera Killick, Thomas’ childhood friend and lover; Sienna Miller portrays Thomas’ wife Caitlin and Matthew Rhys is Thomas. Many of the scenes take place in and around the seaport town of New Quay on Cardigan Bay in West Wales where Thomas resided at his Majoda home in the 1940’s. The film crew used the nearby field to build the sets for the movie. This part of Wales is world famous not only for Dylan Thomas, but for beautiful seascapes, over 400 castles and historical landmarks, nature trails, and meadowlands.

The small towns along Cardigan Bay and within a few miles are very popular vacation spots, with many things to see and do including the harbors, dolphins, boat trips, beaches, colorful Victorian homes, wildflowers, wetlands, and birds. We will cover some points of interest in this article for vacationing in Wales.

Accommodations: The Black Lion Hotel on the Bay has an interesting history probably dating back to the 12th century as the oldest coaching inn or “grog shope” in Wales. Popular with fishermen, cyclists, and nature lovers, this B&B is a good spot from which to explore the countryside and nearby towns. (Note: Please check the website for availability.) Also worth visiting in New Quay is Dylan’s Bar for the cozy atmosphere in what was once a very large kitchen at the Black Lion Hotel. Thomas spent a lot of time here drinking with his friends and writing some of his greatest poems and radio scripts. Another favorite watering hole for Dylan and the young Richard Burton was the Blue Bell pub.

The Ty Mawr Hotel, a fully restored Georgian mansion, offers charming accommodations in the countryside not far from the town of Aberaeron. Visitors will find three rooms named after members of the cast, Knightley, Miller, and Rhys, who stayed here for a month while filming The Edge of Love. With three lounges and an upscale restaurant, this small but elegant hotel in a lovely setting offers lavishly decorated rooms and large bathrooms with all the modern amenities. Room Rates: $130 to $180, Suites – $235.

(Note: Other accommodations can be found at B&Bs and guesthouses, as well as numerous holiday cottages for rent.)

Things To Do: Plan on walking, a favorite pastime for locals and tourists, especially along the 6.8 mile coastal trail from New Quay to Aberaeron. You’ll have a great view of Cardigan Bay, the harbor, and fishing boats as you follow Glanmore Terrace road lined with restaurants, pubs, and souvenir shops. The trail is carefully marked and easy to follow with a few small bridges and short climbs. In Aberaeron, you can catch the bus back to New Quay or spend a few hours in this quaint village, another favorite hangout for Thomas. The entire 25-mile Dylan Thomas Trail, officially opened in 2003 by his daughter, begins in Llanon and continues on to the market town of Lampeter, Aberaeron, and New Quay. Information placards and a detailed guide are available.

South of New Quay about 18 miles is the small market town of Cardigan where you can visit the Coach House, a heritage center featuring a tapestry display of the area’s history. Admission is free. Another attraction near Cardigan is the two towers and ruins of the 13th century Cilgerran Castle on the River Teifi. Hours: 27 Mar – 31 Oct, 10am to 5pm; 1 Nov – 31 Mar, 10am to 4pm. Admission: $4 – Adults, $11 – Family.

Area Attractions: Travelers may want to take a short drive, about an hour and a half to Swansea, the birthplace of the famous Welsh poet (and Catherine Zeta-Jones). Just 10 miles from here on what is known as the “Golden Coast of Wales” are the birthplaces of other famous people including Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton. Here you can visit the Dylan Thomas Centre, free of charge, between the hours of 10am – 4:30pm to view the permanent exhibition of his life events and a bookshop filled with books, recordings, and other interesting memorabilia. You can have coffee or tea in the Books & Bites cafè, or stay for a delicious lunch in the Centre’s restaurant. From 27 Oct to 9 Nov of this year, the Centre will sponsor an annual festival in his honor and featuring other famous literature from Wales.

Just 28 miles from Swansea at Bronwydd Arms Station, you can take a ride on the Gwili railway, featured in The Edge of Love, Carrie’s War, and Heidi. This year marks its 150th anniversary as the only steam railway in South West Wales.

You can have lunch on the train, stop at the picnic spot station along the way, or get snacks and beverages at the Bronwydd Arms Station where you catch the train. Tickets: $8 – Adults, $4 – Children, $20 – Families. 1 hour ride, or all day same price.

Families will enjoy Thomas Day, a special event on 11, 12, 18, & 19 Sep where children are entertained with live characters, animal displays, and puppets in the open-air theater here. Tickets: $14 and $12. (See the website for the timetable and other events such as dinner and jazz on 9 Oct.)

For more of Dylan Thomas, tourists can visit the nearby town of Laugharne, where he “got off the bus and forgot to get back on.” Here he and his family spent the last 4 years of his life until 1953 at the Boat House and Writing Shed. Now a museum, gift shop, and tea room, open May to Oct, 10am – 5:30pm, and Nov to Apr, 10:30 to 3:30. Another tourist attraction in Laugharne is the 12th century castle overlooking the River Taf with a history from the Norman Conquest and the Tudors to the gazebo where Thomas wrote, the ruins, and landscaped gardens that remain.

Open: 7 days, 27 Mar – 31 Oct. Admission: $4

(Note – For golf enthusiasts – Wales plays host to the 2010 Ryder Cup for the first time this year, 1-3 Oct in Newport, about 50 miles from Swansea. Although tickets have sold out, travelers might enjoy visiting the Celtic Manor Resort to catch a glimpse of celebrities and royalty. Tickets are still available at $30 to $50 for the Celebration Concert in Cardiff on the 29th of Sep featuring stars of stage and screen.)

Travelers to Wales will find a small, beautiful country with friendly people and a fascinating history in performing arts, literature, and sports.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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