Candleston Castle was once a 15th century fortified manor house is on the edge of the dunes of Merthyr Mawr Warren
It once belonged to the Norman family of Cantelupes (Running Wolves). And as you would expect the Castle is believed to be haunted! The ghostly appearances seem to come from a strange area nearby. According to legend, it was an ancient oratory belonging to a Celtic Chapel. Many old stones and crosses were found in the area. One of the stones was known as the goblin stone. The stone itself was believed to be haunted by an unknown ghost who would surprise passing folk, capture them and force them to embrace this particular stone. No sooner had they done so than they would find their hands and feet trapped amongst the ancient intertwining carvings. Their only means of escape was to pray
Not far away from Porthcawl is Merthyr Mawr, an idyllic little village that is extremily picturesque with a great collection of Thatched cottages that remind me of a Thomas Hardy novel.
The cottages are positioned around an old Village Green and Surrounded by meadows and woodlands.
The Church dates back to the middle of the 19th century but was built on an ancient site and if you walk behind the church you will find a fantastic collection of Ancient stones which is well worth a visit if you’re a history fan.
If you are a fan of obscure and long-lost historic sites like me then search out Candleston Castle which was once a 15th century fortified manor house on the edge of the fantastic dunes of Merthyr Mawr Warren. Although it is now an ivy covered ruin it was the centre point of the village of Treganlaw now buried beneath the ever shifting sands of the Sahara like Dunes of Merthyr Mawr Warren. The present warren is all that is left of what was once the Largest Sand Dune Complex in Britain and stretched all the way along the coast to Mumbles.
The warren is an important wildlife habitat and site of scientific interest, which shelters a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Parts of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ were filmed here.
Situated at Kenfig Pool which is Glamorgan's largest natural lake the Kenfig National Nature Reserve SSSI is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Kenfig NNR is one of the finest wildlife habitats in Wales and home to a wide variety of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, including the Fen Orchid and is also one of the last remnants of a huge dune system that once stretched along the coastline of southern Wales from the Ogmore River to the Gower peninsular. Kenfig is one of the few places in the UK where the bittern can be seen during the winter and the area is a very popular place with birdwatchers.
Guarding a Crossing on the River Ewenny Ogmore formed a part of a defensive triangle of Castles built by the Norman Knight William de Londres in the early 12th c that was strengthened when Ewenny priory was fortified. Many of the Castle early features are still visible like the earth banks and ditches, The stone keep is rectangular building of 3 storeys and occupies the centre of the courtyards west side and dates from the time of William's son Maurice in the Mid 12th C. J
The Castle is Free to visit and open between 10:00 – 16:00 although access can be gained at anytime.
Porthcawl lighthouse is located at the end of the breakwater on Porthcawl Point, an area locally known as 'the pier'. It was constructed in 1860 and is active to this day. It shines a continuous white light over the entrance to the channel and red or green to the sides. Up until recently the lighthouse was powered by gas, it was converted to electric power in 1997. The tower is closed to the public but you can walk along the breakwater to get a closer look at the lighthouse although this should only be done when weather conditions are favourable.
The lifeboat staton is situated on the Eastern tip of the Promenade near the Town Centre of Porthcawl. The lifeboat crew are made up of volunteers who give up their time to work for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) often putting their own lives at risk. The lifeboat used at Porthcawl is an inshore B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat. You can visit the lifeboat station at various times throughout the year and also see the lifeboatmen in action during summer festival weekends. There is a lovely giftshop in the lifeboat station which sells a wide variety of gifts and ornaments. The RNLI is a charitable organisation so relies upon donations and retail purchases for its' upkeep.
The crews at Porthcawl have been honoured with 29 awards for gallantry, including a Bronze Medal, the first to be awarded to a lifeboat woman in 116 years.
The Pavillion is right on the seafront overlooking the Promenade of Porthcawl. Here you can see everything from locally produced West End shows, comedians, take part in Ballroom dancing classes and much more. Craft fairs are held here on certain weekends during the summer and during the last weekend in September the Pavillion plays a big part in hosting the Annual Elvis Festival.
There is also a lovely little Cafe at the Pavillion which offers a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes. If the weather is nice you can take advantage of the lovely sea front position and sit outside to soak up the sun.
Trecco Bay is a lovely beach situated in between Newton Bay and Sandy Bay. For many years it has been awarded the Blue flag award for cleanliness. Even though trecco bay is about a mile away from the town, visitors are welcome in the bars and restaurants in the nearby caravan site.
Porthcawl has a lovely promenade on which you can walk from from Sandy bay to the town Centre, stop off for a Coffee or ice cream in one of the kiosks along the way and then continue further to Locks Common and Rest Bay.
Kenfig national nature reserve is a huge coastal dune system Nr Porthcawl in South Wales It is a fabulous place to get away from the madding crowd. This area has a wide variety of habitats which support many rare and protected species such as the Fen Orchid, Medicinal Leech, and Shrill Carder bee. The Fen Orchid in particular has disappeared from all other sites in Wales and is now only found at Kenfig where a 10 year project is underway to help protect this rare plant.
In 1953, Kenfig was one of the first three sites in Wales to be awarded Site of Special Scientific Interest status and is now also a National Nature Reserve.
Kenfig pool covers nearly seventy acres and is the largest body of freshwater in South Wales, it is the home to a large variety of resident wildfowl and is also a great place to look for migratory birds- there are two bird hides on the banks of the Pool to help with this! The salt marsh is also a very good area for bird watching although this area is quite a distance from the car park.
The Reserve centre at Kenfig has undergone a massive refurbishment over the last couple of years and is now a sustainable building with a ’living roof’ and many other environmentally friendly features.
Inside the Reserve centre you will find an art exhibition hall, classroom and a shop selling drinks, snacks and gifts together with ultra friendly wardens who are always willing to assist you with any query and for a mere 30p will sell you a map of the area. Kenfig is the home to many species of Orchid which can be seen during the summer months. The Education Warden at Kenfig runs a series of free guided walks during the summer to look at these beautiful flowers and many others which have made Kenfig their home.
A 20 minute walk from the centre following the way marked paths will take you past the historic mansion of sker house to Sker beach. Sker house stands at the Southern edge of the Nature Reserve. The present building dates from the 17th Century although there were other buildings and people living at this location before that time. Sker House is now privately owned and is not open to the public although there is a public footpath which runs practically through the garden so you can get good views of the exterior of the house whilst walking past.
Sker beach is a really long storm beach which has seen many shipwrecks over the years - the remains of some can still be seen on the beach at low tide.
Kenfig also has a great historical and archeological importance. The remains of Kenfig Castle can be found amongst the dunes and also a partly excavated longhouse which formed part of the Town of Kenfig which gave up its‘ battle against the shifting sand in the latter half of the 13th Century when the sand encroached upon the houses forcing the villagers to abandon their homes. It is believed the Castle was built about the same time as the town in the late 1140’s and the Keep and Inner Ward (the only portions visible today) were re-built in stone during the closing years of the Century. The builders of the Castle incorporated Roman bricks, tiles and opus signum (Roman concrete) within its’ fabric which implies there is a Roman building somewhere in the vicinity waiting to be discovered. The size of the outer ward of the Castle was estimated to be between 8 and 11 acres and it is believe that this encompassed the town of Kenfig. A remarkable fact is that the town of Kenfig at its’ highest had a population of 700 and was the third largest town in South Wales after Cardiff and Swansea.
Kenfig is a great place to visit and admire Natural Beauty, hidden secrets and learn about wildlife and do you know what…. It’s all free.
The beach is wide and sandy. At one end are rocks with a light house, at the other the pie, from which fishing can be done. Children built castles, fly kites or just enjoy having fun with sea and sand, dogs have freedom to run, and lovers relax . Where ther are areas of water before reaching the sea, seagulls and crows enjoy having a bathe or poke around looking for food..
Although the fair is rather tawdry looking, with mis-spellings on notices too, the actual rides are very popular. The sideshows are typical but the prizes the usual soft toys. There are also stalls selling chips, ice cream, pancakes, seafood, and sweets.
There are strict height regulations applied for the different rides, and sometimes adults have to accompany the children. The usual price per ride is £2 for about 5 minutes..
When the wind is high and the sea choppy, take a stroll to the end of the promenade to watch the waves crashing over the sea wall at high tide. It is a great attraction for those who want to experience the forces of nature first hand, it can be a bit windy though - I've seen people in a car drive on the promenade to get a better view of the waves.
Surfing is an extremely popular past-time in Porthcawl. Rest Bay is the main surfing beach and also Sandy Bay for the increasingly popular sport of Kite surfing. There is ample car parking here overlooking the bay, it's just a short downhill walk to the beach.
Locks common is an area which provides great walks along the rugged coastline inbetween the promenade and the surfing beach of Rest Bay, the fairly flat terrain is home to many species of wild flowers & birds and is well used especially on a Sunday afternoon. On a clear day as you are walking along there are nice views of Swansea bay in the distance. The paths are not really suitable for pushchairs in some areas & I would advise sensible footwear.