Bridgend - Merthyr Mawr - Ogmore-by-Sea - Llantwit Major
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From Bridgend Railway Station, easy paths are followed to the picturesque village of Merthyr Mawr. These pass the New Inn Bridge, a famous sheep-dipping bridge where farmers once pushed their stock into the river through holes in the parapets. The New Inn itself was demolished over a hundred years ago, revealing in the process a gruesome history. Local folklore had long suspected that the inn's landlord, known as 'Cap Coch' ('Red Cap'), had systematically robbed and murdered travellers and these rumours were confirmed by the discovery of numerous bodies during the inn's demolition. This was too late for justice, as the landlord had been hanged for stealing sheep over eighty years earlier. A novel based on these events, The Inn of Fear (1980), has been published by local author Alun Morgan.
Heading towards Ogmore Castle, you may encounter traffic jams of walkers waiting to cross the Ewenni River via the popular stepping-stones. Once past the castle, the route continues downriver across open common to regain the coast near the popular resort of Ogmore-by-Sea. For many years, the village has been a second home to the poet and short-story writer, Dannie Abse (brother to the Labour politician, Leo Abse) and features heavily in the autobiographical stories collected in Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve (1954) and There was a Young Man from Cardiff (1991). Further along the coast, past Southerndown, is a beautiful walled garden, all that remains of Dunraven Castle, a nineteenth-century castellated mansion demolished for safety reasons in 1963.
At low tide it is possible to descend to the beach from near Dunraven Castle and continue along the shore as far as Cwm Nash, a detour that has the advantage of avoiding steep climbs and descents at Cwm Mawr and Cwm Bach. The coast along this stretch is wild and beautiful, but be aware that there are no facilities between Dunraven Bay and the lighthouses at Nash Point.
After Nash Point, the walk passes the splendid medieval building of St Donat's Castle. Once home to the Stradling family, it was bought and renovated in the 1920s by the American newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, a man of extreme wealth whose life story was the inspiration behind Orson Welles's film, Citizen Kane (1941). Under Hearst's ownership, the castle played host to a number of famous visitors, including a young John F Kennedy. Today, it is home to a residential sixth form college; a converted tithe barn in the grounds houses St Donat's Arts Centre.
After passing Tresilian Bay, the walk turns inland towards Llantwit Major, a town whose history goes back to the time of the early Welsh saints and the founding of a church and monastery by St Illtyd (the present-day church is Norman in origin and replaced the earlier Celtic building). Although in recent years the town has grown considerably, its historic centre remains untouched and is a delightful maze of tiny lanes, old stone buildings and atmospheric taverns.
Wales - South Wales - Vale of Glamorgan - Coast
Ancient Monument, Birds, Cafe, Castle, Church, Flowers, Great Views, Nature Trail, Pub, Public Transport, River, Sea, Stately Home, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
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