Gelli Aur Country Park
The Arboretum is currently closed and access to the deer park may be limited. Please check with Carmarthenshire County Council before visiting if you want access to these facilities.
Update [October 2015]: The last time I checked the park is only open on weekends and bank holidays. The visitor centre / café and children's area are both closed and dilapidated.
Gelli Aur is a Country Park with 60 acres of wooded parkland surrounding a magnificent mansion. With commanding views across the beautiful Towy Valley, Gelli Aur was once the home of the Vaughan and Cawdor families. This 'Golden Grove', to use its English translation, has a wide range of attractions that the visitor will treasure. For your further enjoyment a programme of events, craft demonstrations and guided walks is available throughout the year.
The nature trails explore woodland, parkland, ponds and meadow. In spring lesser celandine, wood sorrel and bluebells carpet the woodland floor. Breeding birds include pied fly catchers, chiff-chaffs and blue tits. During the summer up to five different species of orchid can be seen in the meadow. Butterflies include ringlets, small skippers and meadow browns. During winter keep an eye out for flocks of feeding birds; these include great tits, nuthatches, siskins and goldcrests.
The 20-acre deer park has around 20 fallow deer. During the hey-day of the estate the deer park was once 400 acres with 600 head of deer. There are two types of fallow deer at Gelli Aur; those with dark brown coats and those with white-spotted light brown coats. The bucks cast their antlers in spring and grow new antlers in velvet through the summer. The rut is in October; with the does giving birth to fawns the following June.
The Mansion, with its crow stepped gables, battlemented portico and tall polygonal chimney stacks, is an impressive building. However, the original Vaughan 1 mansion built between 1565 and 1570 no longer exists. In 1804 the last of the Vaughans died childless and the Gelli Aur estate passed to the Cawdor family. It was they who built the present mansion between 1827 and 1832. The large house where the family resided is in contrast to the long service wing. Please note that the mansion is not open to the public.
The arboretum, or tree collection, is 10 acres of mature trees and shrubs. The arboretum was planted in the 1860's by the Cawdor's head gardener, William Hill. Mature trees include Giant Redwood, Monterey Pine and Fern-Leaved Beech. The rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best in May. Recent planting has been carried out by the County Council to ensure the continuity of this outstanding feature.
Gelli Aur Country Park is managed by Carmarthenshire County Council. For further information contact the Countryside Warden on 01558 668885.