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.
Just 2 miles away from Porthcawl you'll find the charming village of Newton with it's 12th Century church and pubs set around the village green - an idyllic way to spend a sunny afternoon. If you follow the road down past the church you will reach a car park where you will find the much quieter beach of Newton, you won't find any amusement arcades or cafe's here but it is full of natural beauty adjoining you'll find the sand dunes of Merthyr Mawr & on the beach itself the rock pools are great for the kids. There is a car park here & if you're willing to walk along the beach towards the dunes you will have the beach to yourself!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the small village of Newton, set around a village green with the 12c Church of St John, it is a nice place to visit. There are some pubs such as the Jolly Sailor were you can get a drink or something to eat.
At the bottom end of the village green is an old well.
Newton beach is a large beach that stretches all the way from Treco Bay to Ogmore.
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 nice promanade that was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee it runs along the seafront from Lock's Common on the west to Porthcawl's harbour were it joins the eastern promenade to Coney Beach. it has plenty of seating offering some great views over the Bristol Channel and is a great place for a stroll, there are many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels along the promenade
The Promanade was restored in 1996
The Harbour at Porthcawl is relatively small but is quite picturesque, especially when the tide is out and all the boats it contains are left lying on the silty bottom. The docks originaly consisited of The outer Harbour which you can see today and an Inner harbour which was filled in during the second world war.
The small funfair which is called Coney Beach is a little run down looking but it is still extremely popular, it was originally built to entertain American troops when they were returning from World War I with the park being named in tribute to the world famous New York amusement park on Coney Island.
Although small it has a lot of rides packed into the limited space. It looks like you could have some real fun here and i belive they don't mind adults going on the childrens rides so thats a bonus!! If kids rides are not for you then it must be Mega Blitz! or KMG Afterburner thats right up your street!!
And if you don't want to take a ride there is nothing to stop you coming out with a Wobbley Willie or a Fat Slag!! (see pic 3)
The Park is open from Easter weekend of each year up until the final weekend of October
Newton Beach is on the east side of Porthcawl, it is a long sandy and rocky beach that is backed by the Newton Burrows and Merthyr Mawr sand dunes which are great places to explore, the dunes of Merthyr Mawr are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
This great beach ends at the mouth of the River Ogmore in a plcae called Ogmore by Sea.
The Beach and the sand dunes are popular with walkers, horse riders and rough campers.
The beach in front of Coney Beach Fairground is known as Sandy Bay because it is (you probably guessed) sandy. It is a large sheltered beach. The water quality is rated as excellent and it is constanty a Blue Flag beach making it very popular with swimmers and surfers.
It has lifeguard cover from May to September and is popular with families as you can take donkey and pony rides on the beach as well as it's closeness to the excellent facilities at Coney Beach and the High Tide
It is at Sandy Bay that the ever popular Christmas morning swim is held. Hundreds of people many in fancy dress have been braving the cold sea waters on Christmas Day since 1965 it is still held every Christmas and draws in thousands of spectators whilst raising thousands of pounds for many local charities