At the very end of the Bridgend section of the Wales Coast Path I had posted about earlier I came upon Kenfig Nature Reserve. A calm, surreal beautiful remnant of what was a huge sand dune system that in a bygone age ran from the Ogmore River along to the Gower Peninsular. I had reached this little corner of Bridgend county on foot from the coast. Sker Beach lay out before me, its own huge history of shipwrecks. leading me inland to explore more.
The green covered rolling dunes were all I could see as far as I looked. A place to wander through and around in nature, a very different nature. Walking over the sand as I learnt more I realised that history lay before my feet. Kenfig, the original Kenfig was buried under the sand in the middle ages. The wind and drifting dunes covered what was once a thriving place. Hard to believe when you look at it now, nature takes its toll in so many powerful ways. The green over the dunes came from a much later plan to stop the sand tide taking over more land.
Today as a nature reserve the marvel and beauty here is open to all. Walking around the high dunes I met the occasional dog walker, bird watcher or family enjoying some fresh air. Larger than it looks you could take hours exploring here and not meet many at all, total escapeism.
Flower and bird enthusiasts have a deep love for the place. So many diverse and rare life can be found here. One of the few places that Bittern can be found in Winter. The Fen Orchid for instance, of all in Britain, 90 per cent are found here at Kenfig. The pools that have formed are teeming with life and invertebrates. I couldn’t help thinking what a whole year cycle of visiting here could bring.
The green you see that was once designed to protect villages has now become too much so and the dunes are too stabilised, especially for nature to thrive as it should have. For instance the very rare Fen Orchid has been counted as going from 10,000 in number in the 90s to just 400 last year. Speaking to the rangers you feel the passion and care in this place. So much hard work is being done to preserve, protect and the huge huge task of getting some of the dunes back to their former natural sand showing state. A truly fascinating place.
After the wandering I was a little parched so headed to the Prince of Wales Pub. In the 1600s as the old Kenfig was abandoned from the sand, this pub was originally the Town Hall. The food was incredible! Local sourced meats combined with my try and enjoyment of Laverbread. Upstairs I was treated to an enthusiastic and great tour of the old town hall by the landlord. So much has happened up there, so much still remains. Stories of fact in a glorious and well documented history combined with stories of legend and ghosts. Go see for yourself