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Walking in Glamorgan, South Wales. Guided walks, routes & local information

Last updated  11.10.06

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The Glamorgan Coast Path

Porthcawl to Barry - 30.8 miles

It is possible to walk along much of the Glamorgan coast and the route will eventually stretch from Gower to Cardiff. At this stage the route described is from Porthcawl to Barry Island which includes the existing Glamorgan Heritage Coast path. There are bus links to Porthcawl, Ogmore, Llantwit Major and Barry Island. Trains go to Barry Island and to Bridgend - from Bridgend one can follow the Ogmore River to the coast at Ogmore. Refreshments in season can be found at Ogmore, Dunraven Bay and Nash Point. You may also find site shops open at Fontygary and Porthkerry Caravan parks. Llantwit Major Beach has an extended season, particularly at weekends, as does Porthkerry Park. You can get typical seaside fare at most times at Porthcawl and Barry Island. There are toilets at Porthcawl, Ogmore, Dunraven Bay, Llantwit Major, Porthkerry Park and Barry Island. The going is generally good although the cliff-top paths can get muddy after rain. Possible obstacles are the stretch between Dunraven Bay and Monknash - check the tides to avoid the inland detour - and the stepping stones at Merthyr Mawr for which there is an alternative route by bridge.

Porthcawl to Ogmore - 8.5 miles

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Beach near Nottage with Ogmore in the distance

From the bus stop at Lias Road in the centre of Porthcawl, take the next left down St Mary’s Street to head towards the sea front. On your right is the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl (SS 81625/76644). On reaching the sea-front head left along the promenade passing the small harbour on your right. At the end of the harbour turn right following the pavement as it then curves left with the beach on your right and the Funfair ahead. Turn right into the Funfair and then drop down steps to the beach, now heading left along the beach. At the far end of the beach head up a slipway. You can now either head across the next beach via another slipway or take the path just above the beach. Leave the beach to the right of the caravans, cross a parking area and head left with the caravans on your left and another narrower beach on your right. At any point you can drop down onto this beach and follow it as it curves away to the right. You can walk along the beach or along a stony track just above the beach.

If you are on the beach, walk until you have passed the rocky/pebbly area and have reached a sandy stretch and then turn left into the dunes, heading inland with your back to the sea. There are many paths through the dunes but aim for a point where the higher ridge ahead and to your left curves down to the right. If walking on the stony track, this curves inland after a while, then peters out but aim for the same point - the right-hand edge of the ridge ahead. You eventually reach a wide, flat area of sand, at which point aim for the trees which brings you into the car park (SS 87168/77125). The dune system you have been walking through is Merthyr Mawr. On the edge of the car park is Candleston Castle. (4.85 miles, 1 hr 25 mins)  

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From Ogmore Castle looking back over the stepping stones to Merthyr Mawr

Take the tarmac lane opposite by which cars reach the car park, passing the parish church of St.Teilo to reach Merthyr Mawr village. Where the road forks take the right fork and then right again to head down towards a river. Cross the river by the footbridge and continue along the concrete path to reach the stepping stones by the ruins of Ogmore Castle. Cross via the stepping stones and head up the lane to meet a road with the Pelican Pub opposite. After heavy rain the odd stepping stone may be partly submerged so an alternative crossing can be found by retracing your steps to the footbridge and turning right (left if you have crossed the bridge from Merthyr Mawr). Cross a stone stile, then head diagonally right across the field towards a footbridge. Cross the bridge and follow the path via a metal kissing gate to the road. Turn right to walk to the Pelican Pub.

Take the minor road to the right of and behind the Pelican Pub signposted Southerndown Golf Club and after 30 yards turn right along a stony path marked by a bridleway sign. The path goes through bracken which can be quite thick in late summer but views soon open up towards Ogmore with the river on your right. The path runs parallel with the road on your right and where it forks take the right fork, downhill and towards the road (SS 87576/76248). Cross the road, then head left taking a route between the road and the river, the easiest being one which continues just beyond a metal barrier alongside a house. Eventually, where the river meets the sea you come to a large car park at Ogmore. There are toilets here and refreshment vans in season. Head left just above the beach and leave the car park by a stone wall. (8.51 miles, 2 hrs 30 mins).

Ogmore to Llantwit Major - 9.4 miles

Follow the path just above the beach. When the path becomes stony and veers left up a small valley, cross the valley bottom and head up a narrow, steep path straight ahead. Keep ahead with the stone wall on your left. When you come to a stone wall blocking the route ahead, turn left through a metal kissing gate into a car park and head diagonally right to squeeze through a gap in the wall close to a road. Head down to Dunraven Bay on the path on the left of the road, crossing into a field half way down and then drop down some stone steps to emerge by a building which has toilets and refreshments in season. Head towards the small car park by the beach and then turn left to pass through wooden gates with a small building on your left and continue up the road. Pass a wooden barrier to approach the walled garden of the ruined Dunraven House. At this point you have a choice of routes. The beach route is more direct, saving over 2 miles but can only be attempted when the tide is out. It has stretches of sand interspersed with rocky or pebbly sections. The cliff-top route is the official route, is longer and is partly on road but does pass a pub.  

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Looking back to Witch's Point from the beach, cliff-top route to the right

BEACH ROUTE. This section is 2.05 miles, taking around 50 minutes. Enter the walled garden and leave it by the top right-hand corner. Keep straight ahead along a path. Turn right along a tarmac path beyond a wooden gate. Follow the diversion through the trees, the track soon starting to ascend. Look out for a small wooden gate on your left which you take, and then some steps. Follow the stony path as it winds uphill to emerge with good views of the bay. Drop down some wooden steps and at a fork take the left path which brings you down to the beach. Take any route along the beach with the sea on your right. Pass one rocky outcrop with the rocks stretching down towards the sea and at a second outcrop look to the left to find a gap in the cliffs allowing access inland. Leave the beach at this point. (13.5 miles, 4 hrs, SS 90519/70021).

CLIFF-TOP ROUTE. This section takes around 1 hr 20 mins and is 4.28 miles. Enter the walled garden and leave it by the top right-hand corner. Keep straight ahead along a path and go through a wooden gate. Now keep straight ahead along a track which becomes a grassy path heading up and along the cliff edge, ignoring the stile on your left. Cross a stile at the top and continue as the path later curves left on meeting a wall. Turn right over a stone stile which is next to a wooden stile and descend into the Cwm or valley heading away from the sea. At the bottom, cross a wooden bridge and head right up the cwm towards the sea to reach a ladder stile at the top, then continue along the cliff top. Cross a wooden stile (SS 89646/71905) and then head left, downhill, towards the valley bottom and away from the sea. Cross the stream at the bottom and head left, up the valley. NOTE: there is no public right of way along the cliff here to Monknash. Cross a stone wall via a stone stile and keep ahead across a field aiming for a wooden stile at the far side. Cross another field keeping straight ahead to reach another wooden stile. Cross this into a smaller field and head along the left-hand edge of it to a wooden stile which brings you onto a rough track with hedges either side. A stone stile then brings you to a road. Head right along the road. Pass a road junction on your right with signs saying No Access to Beach and after 10 minutes of road walking you should be able to make out the ivy-clad ruins of Monknash Grange in the fields ahead and to the right. 50 yards after passing a sign indicating you are entering the village of Monknash you come to the old forge on the right and you can get to the sea via a route described in the Monknash walk. Our route keeps ahead along the road until you get to a road junction on the right with a small green planted with trees - we have been on the road for a mile, taking around 20 minutes. Turn right down the lane, shortly passing the Plough and Harrow pub. The lane forks right just past a farm building on right and car park on left and brings you at a fork in the road to Blaen-y-Cwm Nature Reserve. Turn left to cross a stone stile and walk through the wooded Cwm. Cross a stone stile by a wooden gate, the Ffynnon Fair sacred spring is now just to your right but not obvious, and head down to the beach. As you reach a stone stile on the edge of the beach head left up the cliff to continue along the cliff-top path. If you have taken this route add 2.23 miles to the cumulative mileages quoted.

Take a narrow path along the cliff to the left which winds steeply upwards. This is on the right if you have come from the beach and the left if you have come down the Cwm. Continue along this cliff-top until you approach the white lighthouses of Nash Point. Drop down into a valley and up the far side to join a road by a small car park and building which serves refreshments in season. Continue along the road which takes you into the area of the lighthouses and leave at the far end to continue along the cliff-top path. The path enters a wood and drops down via some concrete steps to emerge on the concreted area above the beach at St Donats. Cross this to pick up the cliff path at the far end and continue before dropping down via steps to Tresilian Bay. Cross the pebbly beach to ascend the steps and path at the far end. Continue along the cliff path until you drop down to the buildings and car park at Llantwit Major beach with its toilets and refreshments. (17.9 miles, 5 hrs 20 mins, SS 95702/67477).

Llantwit Major to Barry - 12.9 miles  

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The Summerhouse

Pick up the cliff path again at the far end of the beach, the path passing through the earth ramparts of Castle Ditches Iron Age fort. You come to a small red brick building, the Seawatch Centre, with some picnic tables (SS 99353/66445). Following paths to the left a short way brings you to the Summerhouse but our path keeps ahead and drops down to the pebbly beach of Aberthaw with the Power Station ahead and passing some rather decrepit-looking buildings on the left. Just past these look out for a well-concealed little stile on the left in the bushes – you can continue all the way along the beach but it is hard-going on the pebbles. Better to cross the stile, pass through a thicket and emerge in a field. Turn right along the right-hand edge of the field. Pass through two fields and then look out for a waymark post on the right which brings you back onto the beach. Head to the left of the large concrete blocks, dropping down to a grassy area and cross several stiles. Pass a machine-gun post to the right and where the path splits go right, passing to the right of the next group of concrete blocks in the grassy area aiming for the centre of the Power Station. The path brings you past some more concrete blocks on the right to reach a metal gate by a ruined stone building. After the gate keep ahead towards the perimeter of the Power Station. If the metal gate is padlocked, there is a stile 30 yards back on the right in the midst of the concrete blocks. (22.8 miles, 6 hrs 45 mins).

Just by the Power Station (ST 01990/66322) follow the footpath sign which takes you to the right on the seaward side of the Power Station on a concrete path between a wire fence and a concrete sea wall. The path crosses a bridge over a water outflow, continuing along the edge of the beach and passing a large pond on the left - the building beyond is a Lime Kiln. Follow the concrete sea wall to the end by the cliffs and then take the concrete steps to reach the beach. Head along the beach with the cliff on your left for 200 yards and then by a double metal post head left up a path and steps up the side of the cliff. Near the top take the narrow path to the right which, after a stile and waymark post, brings you into Fontygary caravan park. Keep to the right-hand edge of the park, leaving the park by a path which drops quite steeply down to a rocky beach and then ascends the far side. Pass along the right-hand edge of a playing field and then continue along the cliff path with a quarried area on the left. Pass a stone obelisk and then Rhoose point, the most Southerly point on mainland Wales. Follow a footpath diversion which takes you a short way inland before curving round to emerge by a road through Porthkerry caravan park. Turn left along the road as it takes you through the middle of the caravan park and at the far end, about 50 yards inland from the cliff edge, take the concrete path to the right of the road which heads between trees to enter a field. The trees mark the ramparts of the Bulwarks Iron Age fort. Keep straight ahead – the route through the field is usually visible, if faint, to pick up a path on the far side which drops quite steeply down through trees to reach the pebbly beach of Porthkerry Park. Head left between the beach and a pitch and putt course to reach a flat concrete bridge (28.4 miles, 8 hrs 30 mins, ST 08712/66697).

From the concrete bridge keep straight ahead across the grass to a metal bridge and follow the concrete path left and then right to ascend steps into the trees. These are the Golden steps and there are over 120 of them. At the top where the path levels keep ahead but taking the right fork when you come to two separate forks with the cliff just to your right. You emerge onto a wide greensward - keep ahead along the right-hand edge. Views soon open up with Barry Island ahead, Flat Holm island just beyond it and Steep Holm island to the right. Follow the path as it descends quite steeply to the right to reach some concrete steps and then follow a concrete path with houses on the left and the pebbly beach of the Knap on the right. You pass the foundations of a Roman building on your left - on the right are toilets. The path meets a road by a mini-roundabout - keep ahead now walking along the promenade. Pass a lake on the left in the shape of harp. At the end of the promenade you can keep ahead up steps and then a grassy path to take in the views from this headland known as Cold Knap and then retrace your steps as our route heads left along a wide tarmac path between old buildings to reach Whitmore Bay.

If the tide is out you can head down the slipway, across the sand to the far side and scramble up the rocks to meet a path. Turn left with the sand on your left until you reach a car park. At the right-hand end, just before the road bridge, take the path and steps to the right which brings you up to the causeway road. Head right to follow the main route to Barry Island station.

Rather than walk across Whitmore Bay a safer route is to turn left on the tarmac area to meet a road and mini-roundabout with the Watchtower to the right and the white thatched building ahead which is Cold Knap farmhouse. Keep ahead up the concrete steps following the line of old black street lights. Keep ahead when you meet a road continuing on the pavement until you meet another road at a T junction. Turn right and after 40 yards right again into a park now taking either path to the left. At the left-hand end of the park leave by the blue railings and head right along the pavement alongside the road which crosses the causeway to Barry Island. Keep ahead by a roundabout with the funfair on your right. Barry Island station is on the left opposite the entrance to the funfair. (30.77 miles, 9hrs 15 mins, ST 11465/66692).

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Map of route in 2 sections