enquiries@tywigateway.org.uk Parc a Gerddi yr Esgob, Abergwili, Sir Caerfyrddin SA31 2JG

Top 10 Things to do in the Park

There’s so much to discover at Bishop’s Park.  Here are our top 10 Things To Do on your visit!

1. Reflect on the past in the Jenkinson Garden.
Once a bowling lawn, then flower garden designed by a philanthropic bishop, then a tennis court and, for many years, a forlorn patch of grass. This brand new garden thrums with wildlife, pergolas, scented and tactile plants, its circular design and heritage planting inspired by Bishop Jenkinson’s garden on the same spot. Can you spot the tall box tree at the edge of the garden? This was originally planted as ornamental topiary more than 200 years ago!

2. Marvel at the Monkey Puzzle. 
Love it or hate it, this tree – one of many fine, mature specimens at the Park – was planted in 1910 by Bishop Owen to add to his exotic plant collection. Our other trees are pretty marvellous too – spot the majestic Cedar of Lebanon, the dawn redwoods from China – one of which is the tallest of its kind in Carmarthenshire – and the graceful, towering 150-year-old London planes. With their patchwork bark they’re anything but plain! 

3. Wander through the Woodland.  
The benefits of being in nature and surrounded by trees are clear.  Take a moment in the woodland garden, breathe and focus on the sights and sounds around you. The many different species of tree, including oak and beech, are home to hundreds of insects, food for the many birds that live and nest here. What can you spot?

4. Spot swans (and kingfishers) on Bishop’s Pond.
Look out over the pond a while, and you’ll see several different types of ducks, and mute swans.  If you’re lucky you might see kingfisher or even our resident otters – but they’re very shy! Did you know, the powerful River Tywi used to flow on this very spot until 1802 when it flooded and broke its banks? This section of the river became an ‘ox-bow lake‘ – one of the best examples in west Wales and is now a specially protected Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSi) because of its rare flora and fauna.  In the summer the open water is covered with yellow waterlily, and a pair of herons can regularly be seen fishing at the southern end of the Pond.  

5. Take a lesson in historic garden design. 
When you stand in the Park and look out into the Meadow, the picturesque view of the Tywi valley is uninterrupted. This is because of a clever 18th century design device called a ‘ha-ha’ – keeping livestock out and making the whole valley appear part of the garden. The Bishop’s Park ha-ha runs between the main Park and the Great Meadow – and is one of the longest in the UK.  The name comes from the noise of surprise made when people realised that the wall and ditch was like an invisible fence – ah hah!

6. Balance on the Beech Log or scramble up the ropes (or watch others do it!) 
The giant Beech Log marks the centre of our new Woodland Garden.  The tree had to be felled some years back due to disease – and together with the scramble ropes a little further on down the path, it now makes the perfect natural playground for old and young alike.  Take care when wet – and look out for fascinating fungi! Find more family trails and activities.  

7. Contemplate climate change and the dynamic Tywi Valley landscape.
Choose a bench facing the Great Meadow, and look out over this rare floodplain habitat. Local people say that although flooding has always been an annual event, it is becoming more frequent and more severe. Autumn to Spring sees water regularly lapping up over the Ha-ha and into the Park. However, the meadow is still a exceptional habitat for many species of plants and animals, all of which we are carefully monitoring with local partners. By occasionally allowing sheep and cattle to graze here, and by only cutting for hay once in mid to late-summer, we will improve the biodiversity of the meadow over time.

8. Explore the Bishop’s private walled garden. 
First recorded in 1792, the Walled Garden was one of three gardens raising flowers, fruit and vegetables for the Bishop’s household over many years. The walls are cleverly built with stone on the outside and brick on the inside. Brick absorbs the heat of the day, slowly radiating it over night to help create a largely frost-free growing space. In times gone by the gardeners here used the most up-to-date glasshouse technologies to grow exotics plants such as pineapples and tropical orchids. Today the Walled Garden is being brought back to life using environmentally friendly methods of growing plants for a sustainable future.  Book on a tour of the Walled garden.  

9. Unwind in the Café.
Learn more about the history of the site in our visitor centre; and relax with delicious tea, cake or meet friends or family for lunch. Run by local businesswomen, Stacey’s Kitchen is open daily between 10am & 4pm. Everything bought here in the café helps us to keep this place going – maintaining and caring for the Park to ensure it remains open for visitors and the community.  (Just in case you needed an excuse to eat more cake…!) 

10.  Give Something Back…
This beautiful Park would not be here today without the support of our visitors and community and the sheer hard work of our volunteers. Whether you’re sharing our posts on social media , bringing your friends and family along to the park. doing a litter pick, donating, leaving a legacy, or volunteering regularly with us – giving back to the Park help ensures it remains an amazing resource for us all to enjoy.