The first time I visited Porthcawl was to escape the stresses of my third year at university. I accidentally stumbled upon it during an Elvis convention, which had taken over the entire town. People from all over the world were wandering around in full Elvis get-up and all the shops were playing Love Me Tender, Hound Dog and more of his rock ’n’ roll greats. I thought I’d entered a parallel universe.
Anyway, this rather faded but charming resort town boasts a lovely walk along the golden sands of Rest Bay, taking in limestone cliffs, tempting rock pools and sand dunes. Surfers and power kiters from Bristol, Cardiff and beyond often flock here for a post-work thrill injection. It’s a nice surprise for those who often bypass this little stretch of coastline for the honeypot attractions of Mumbles and the Gower further along the coast.
From Rest Bay car park, head to the way-marked coastal path near the entrance to the golf course and The Rest Convalescent Hotel. Florence Nightingale consulted on the designs of this listed building in 1871, which was used as a convalescent home for sick and injured miners. Walk along this gleaming white path that joins with the newly built boardwalk. There are benches along the way – stop and take in the sea views and the hazy outline of Somerset and north Devon in the distance.
After a while you’ll notice the rocks and pebbles have a pink and white marbling effect to them – this is Pink Bay, which truly does glow flamingo pink at sunset. There’s lots of driftwood along here if you’re in a foraging mood.
Continue along the boardwalk, passing through two kissing gates, then follow the path up the grassy bank overlooking Sker Point. You’ll come to a way-marked path leading off to the right. Follow this path, as if you’re heading towards the yellow house in the distance (Sker House).
This path skirts the edge of Kenfig Burrows, a National Nature Reserve of sand dunes that is home to a variety of fen orchid only found here and the on coast of Brittany. You’ll see lots of gorse bushes dotted along the path here – pick yourself a yellow gorse flower and breathe in its coconut-like scent.
Follow the path around Sker House, a private dwelling believed to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who died of a broken heart, pass through four kissing gates until you come to a well-defined track lined by a dry stone wall. Keep to this track through the fields and pass through two gates.
St David’s Well
Soon you’ll come to a road – cross over and continue down Moor Lane.
After the railway bridge, follow the road round to the right (don’t take the left-hand turn) and you’ll soon come to St David’s Well, which was reputed to have been visited by the patron saint himself.
The Celts believed the water had curative powers and they often hung rags on the surrounding branches for good luck.
Soon you’ll come to a T-junction – turn right into the village of Nottage. There are two pubs on either side of the green for a little pit stop.
Cross Fulmar Road when you come to a bus stop and take the first left, then cross over to Lock’s Lane and continue through a residential area until you find yourself back at the seafront. Turn right to walk along Lock’s Common back to Rest Bay car park, but not before you’ve raced your fellow walkers across the sand to touch the sea.
HOW TO GET THERE
For Rest Bay pay and display car park, exit the M4 at J37 and follow signs for Porthcawl on the A4229. Head to the seafront and turn right, following signs for Rest Bay.
FIND OUT MORE
Rose & Crown
Heol y Capel, Nottage,
Porthcawl CF36 3ST
Perfectly situated along your walking route in the sweet little village of Nottage. Lovely local ales and roasts.
Lock’s Common Road
Porthcawl CF36 3HU
Vibrant café near the car park overlooking the beach – a
focal point for surfers and walkers keen to warm up by
the cosy woodburner.
Ton Kenfig, Bridgend CF33 4PT
Covering 70 acres, this Site of Special Scientific Interest is one of the last remnants of a huge series of dunes that stretched along Wales’ southern coastline. It is now home to bitterns and a number of rare plant species.
OS Explorer 151
Grid reference: SS 803 783