Bridgend: Hiking The Wales Coast Of Sand, Sea And Surf
I was back in South Wales, the Bridgend area to be more precise and ready for fresh air, beauty and miles underfoot. What a great way to start the adventures…. Hiking the Bridgend section of the Wales Coast Path from the dunes around Merthyr Mawr along to Kenfig Nature Reserve. Miles of coastal beauty, variety and plenty of history and legend to learn about.
Right from the beginning there was history. Merthyr Mawr itself was a beautiful small quiet place with its historic church and thatched cottages. My first couple of miles though took me through totally unique nature. The couple of miles of sand dunes to the beach. The warren of dunes are immense, sandy hill after sandy hill to wander over and around. Each one providing a magnificent viewing platform. Deeper under the sand lays limestone, the dunes have rolled and formed over time on top of this to create the highest dunes in Britain. These vast dunes moved inland and the sand affected populations. In the 1950s they planted sea-buckthorn to stabilise and stop the thread. This obviously had a massive and fast impact. Woods have formed, the dunes got covered in the buckthorn. To look at you couldn’t imagine only 70 years ago the scene was more like the Sahara Dessert with the huge dunes, in fact some scenes from the film Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here. Great work and care is being taken now to free the dunes of shrub and thorn. Current work is and has been underway to get rid of the sea-buckthorn and reduce the shrubbery to allow nature to be fully restored. A fascinating, unique and sandy start.
At the coastline it was time to head Westwards. Sea wind blowing in the face, a mix of weathers and even a rainbow joined us on Newton Beach.
Sand and sea to the left, blue skies and green hills to the right. A few miles along it was time to hit the town of Porthcawl. Skirting around the huge caravan site and amusement arcade the gorgeous rocks, sand and rolling sea of Rest Beach lays before you. No matter what the weather this beach shines out charm.
Very popular with surfers and walkers alike, golden sand laying out inviting all. Popular with surfers and on this day the kite surfers where enjoying the waves in their numbers. Dog walkers, family strollers and coast walkers taking it all in together.
Exiting Porthcawl the sea views keep on coming and to your right the course of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club pans out. Hardy golfers taking on the links. I had my eye on a mysterious looking building in the distance at this point. Bright yellow, standing out in the greenery. I wanted to learn more.
The lonely windswept building was originally built in the 12th Century by Cistercian monks. Since then it has had many residents and also more recently fell into disrepair. Tales of ghosts and past residents are still attached to the place. RD Blackmore’s Maid of Sker was based upon one such tale of a girl once apparently locked in a room with no way out there by her father who forbade her to see her lover. Today the yellow whitewash is a sign of restoration of the building to glory.
The house became the marker that I was nearing the dunes of Kenfig Nature Reserve, and the end of a fantastic walk along the miles of the Bridgend section of the Wales Coast Path. I must give a huge thank you to my hiking companion for the day, Ian Skinner @Isky11 .. A great bloke and superb font of local knowledge.
It was time to wander Kenfig Nature Reserve………..