Dyfed (Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigon)
Dyfed has been preserved as an historical county for ceremonial purposes following the administrative changes in 1996. It was succeeded by the three ancient counties of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigon (Cardiganshire), though the latter was never included in the historical territory of Dyfed. The name Dyfed is based on the historic name given to the region that had been once settled by the Irish Deisi. For further details of the county's administrative structure see http://www.walesdirectory.co.uk/counties.htm
Dyfed is home to Britain's only Coastal National Park. Designated as such in 1952 it incorporates almost the entire length of the Pembroke coastline where the towering cliffs, sandy coves and thrusting headlands retain a natural unsurpassed beauty rarely encountered elsewhere. Visitors to Dyfed can enjoy a walk along 200-miles of coastal path, visit offshore bird sanctuaries, explore the region's numerous castles, dally with the delights of Victorian Tenby or amble around St Davids, Britain's smallest city. Despite the many other distractions it is the Coastal National Park that remains the dominant feature in this corner of Wales, so much of the county does it encompass. The view constantly varies along this quite stunning coastline where the natural features are seen at the mercy of Nature's many moods. From the wave-torn cliffs at Castlemartin, through the sweeping golden beaches of Whitesand Bay, Marlees and Newport to the ragged towering cliff-face rising over foaming St Bride's Bay, all of it interspersed at irregular intervals by wave-lashed headlands that tumble into the Atlantic's white-capped fury.
Dyfed, despite its impressive sea cliffs, is the least mountainous of all the Welsh counties barring Anglesey, and as such the inland expanses have a softer, though no less dramatic appearance. Here, open brown moorland dotted with clumps of ancient forest and rocky outcrops reminiscent of England's Dartmoor, rises toward the Preseli Hills. These rolling uplands are rich in prehistoric relics and it was from the Preseli Hills that Bronze Age Britons are believed to have dragged, rolled and floated the enormous blue dolomite stones to Milford Haven, across the Bristol Channel to the River Avon and on to Salisbury Plain as part of the construction of Stonehenge - a superhuman journey of some 240-miles. Here and elsewhere the county's 40,000 year-old history is visible - cairns, burial chambers, standing stones, prehistoric forts and Norman castles bespeak a rich and ancient heritage.
Broad sandy beaches line Carmarthen Bay, pierced by the wide estuary of the Rivers Taf and Tywi; inland the Tywi flows through fertile valleys east of which lies the brooding outline of the aptly named Black Mountains. The local region about Carmarthen enjoys its share of romantic legends and ruined castles, Carreg Cannen being the most impressive of the numerous fortresses. The county town of Carmarthen, Caerfyrddin in Welsh meaning ‘Merlin's City', is supposedly the birthplace of the fabled wizard of Arthurian legend. Merlin's father is reputed to have ruled over this area during the Dark Ages following the Roman evacuation in about AD450.