Latest Walks Reports
St Brides Major
We started at St Brides Major and walked north-west across Beacons Down on a bright Sunday morning. As we approached the river Ogmore we could see a long line of runners coming towards us and then sharing our route. In places it was pretty muddy underfoot following Saturday’s rain and we didn’t envy them having to run through it.
They were participating in the Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding race, which is a challenging multi-terrain six mile race. The pudding race was started in 1990 by Bridgend AC who organised the race for 10 years, handing over to the Brackla Harriers club in 2000. The original race took in the stepping stones by Ogmore castle, a route abandoned after heavy rain submerged the stones in year 2!
Many runners were in festive costumes and we left them to enjoy mince pies and mulled wine at their half way point as we turned south along the river. They crossed the river back towards Merthyr Mawr and their second ascent of the highest dune in Europe, known as ‘The Big Dipper‘. The sun sparkled on birds in the river and looking east we could see walkers and horse riders with the runners behind them. From here we followed the coast towards Southerndown before heading inland through some woodland and arriving at the Heritage centre. Now we took a slight diversion down to the coast to enjoy our very welcome lunch, with the luxury of picnic tables. Then north-east towards Pitcot, where opposite Pitcot pool we were surprised to find the Farmers Arms closed. From here it was a short walk along the road to where we had parked in St Brides Major. A walk of 7 miles and 500ft.
Merthyr Mawr, Newton and Candleston
The car park at Candleston, Merthyr Mawr was the starting point for our walk and we headed west across the dunes towards the beach at Newton. Initially we climbed a steep dune and then undulated through the sandy paths admiring the seed heads of the many wild flowers standing tall around us.
Merthyr Mawr is the highest dune system in Wales. Sand has settled on top of an ancient limestone cliff creating a special habitat for insects, fungi and plants. Springs arise from the bottom of the cliff giving rise to pools and temporary streams. Flints from the Stone Age, burial mounds and pottery from the Bronze Age, hearths from the Iron Age and Roman tiles discovered here have resulted in much of the Warren being scheduled as an Ancient Monument.
It was a misty morning and we could just make out the banks of the river Ogmore and the sea in the distance, where we had walked last weekend. As the dunes led us to the sea, the last stretch of our walk west was on the beach where there were quite a few people, mostly walking their dogs. Unfortunately it was too early for lunch so before reaching the road at Newton we headed inland and then generally east following a path through woodland. We passed the scout camp at Wigfach and an interesting building near it, built in art deco style. Many different fungi were spotted on the ground and rotting wood, including a timely outcrop of turkey tail. Finding a clearing in the wood we ate our lunch and then made our way along Cwm y Befos, emerging onto farmland and more normal terrain. Passing Candleston farm, we headed north alongside a wood and then south-east. A friendly horse and donkey came close and followed us across their field before we arrived at the pretty Merthyr Mawr village near the church. Now we walked along the road finishing at Candleston castle. The castle is a 14thC fortified manor house, in ruins since the 19thC. The castle is believed to be named after the Norman family of Cantilupe, thought to be its first feudal tenants. In the 21stC, the castle is an ‘ivy covered ruin’: wildfowl, butterflies, moths, autumn gentian, violets and orchids are seen in its area. We had walked 8 miles and climbed 600ft.