|From:||Fforestfach, Swansea (SS620972)|
|Distance:||57 miles (91.7 km)|
|Meets:||A483, B4620, B3296, A4240, B4297, B4304, A4138, A4214, A476, B4309, B4311, B4317, B4308, B4309, A40, A48, B4300, A4242, A4243, B4301, B4333, A486, B4335, B4334, A475, B4332, B4570, A487|
|Former Number(s):||A48, A485|
|Old route now:||A4240|
|Route outline (key)|
The A484 runs from Swansea to Cardigan, via Llanelli and Carmarthen. In the 1922 Road Lists the number was allocated to the section of the present A484 between Bronydd Arms (just north of Carmarthen) and Cardigan, but the road has subsequently been extended towards Swansea. The route from Swansea via Carmarthen was previously part of the A48 but was renumbered to A484 in 1935. The Swansea extension used to start by heading west towards Llanelli via Loughor Bridge from the roundabout where the old A483 met the A48 on its way out of Swansea (originally where the A475 crossed the A48). Then, over a period of around 15 years during the 1980s and 1990s, the Swansea to Llanelli Road was bypassed. The original A484 is now the A4240.
Section 1: Fforestfach - Carmarthen
The present route kicks off from the A483 near Fforestfach. As a result, we miss the plethora of DIY establishments and car dealerships on the road to Gorseinon, passing instead through largely uninteresting countryside as we head towards the floodplain and salt marsh adjacent to the Loughor Estuary. On the way, we cross the B4620 (was A4070) and the B4296, and then run parallel to the railway line. A tight right-hand bend leading onto a small roundabout heralds our arrival at the "new" Loughor Bridge (constructed in 1988). Here we come within a stone's throw of the original A484 route. If you look to your right (north) when crossing the bridge, you can see the remnant of the original Loughor Bridge - demolished because it was too weak to carry modern traffic.
After crossing the river, we enter Carmarthenshire. A right turn at the next roundabout takes us through Bynea and other suburbs of Llanelli on the old A484 route (now B4297), but we pass to the south of the residential area alongside the old Trostre Steel Works and Trostre Retail Park. A little further - another roundabout, this time the primary A4138 providing a link to M4 junction 48. Suddenly we are among concrete retaining walls, and then we emerge through the backs of rows of terraced houses into Llanelli town centre, where we meet the original route of the A484 for the first time. It is fair to say that the town centre has changed beyond all recognition over the last 30 years. Many of the terraces have been cleared. The enclosed footbridge that linked two parts of the Co-op Department store has gone and instead we see a large Asda and shopping centre. The A484 used to meander round a one-way system here. Now it passes to the north of the town centre, emerging through Furnace and Pwll towards Burry Port. Here, for the first time, we start heading north rather than west.
At Pembrey, we pass the entrance to Pembrey Country Park: a large expanse of coastal woodland with a huge beach (Cefn Sidan Sands) beyond. This tranquil park hides a secret: this whole area was once closed to the public. The remaining concrete bunkers give away that this site was once a Royal Ordnance Factory, making munitions throughout the Second World War and into the 1950s. Also in the area is the Welsh Motor Sports Centre – once Pembrey Airfield – another WW2 military base.
These days Kidwelly has a bypass, but the A484 used to pass through this old town, complete with its Norman Castle. The feel of the road now is very rural, until we meet the A40 and A48 dual carriageways at the edge of Carmarthen.
Once a notorious bottleneck, Carmarthen is now bypassed by the A48 and the A40. The A484 still runs through the town (following a short multiplex along the A40) but you might be quicker on the bypass before picking up the A485 and doubling back to the A484 north of the town.
Section 2: Carmarthen - Cardigan
In years gone by, you could travel along this stretch of the A484 on a Sunday and not see another vehicle for miles. We are well into rural West Wales now, where farming is the dominant industry. At Bronwydd Arms, we reach the southern terminus of the Gwili Steam Railway, which shares the Gwili Valley with us for the next few miles. We twist and turn through wooded areas, through the small village of Cynwyl Elfed, where an old Welsh chapel, typical of these parts can be seen in front of you as you approach the village from the south.
The B4333 to the left offers a "short cut" over the mountain through Hermon, but this shorter route offers little advantage in time. Given that this is supposed to be a description of the A484, we will stay on the main road.
Beyond the junction with the A486 (towards Llandysul), we pass through Saron, and then descend into the Teifi Valley. At Henllan, the Teifi passes over some rapids and is worth a look if you have the time. If not, then we press on to the west, heading for Newcastle Emlyn, a small market town on the banks of the Teifi. A hundred years ago, a small hydroelectric power station was built here which provided electricity for the town's streetlights. In the 18th and 19th century, the town was a collecting point for livestock to be taken to markets in cities such as Bristol and London.
Four miles west of Newcastle Emlyn lies the small village of Cenarth. There are a number of campsites and holiday villages here, together with the odd souvenir shop, but the highlight is the narrow bridge that takes the A484 across to the north bank of the Teifi next to Cenarth Falls, where, it is said, salmon can be seen leaping up river at the right time of year. The local river transport here is the coracle – first used in Roman times, but these days they exist more for the benefit of visitors.
We continue west past the village of Llechryd, where another narrow bridge, complete with pedestrian refuges, crosses the Teifi. Our road stays on the north bank of the river for the final few miles to the A487 at Cardigan.