This diverse stretch of coastline is worlds away from what’s often thought of as an industrialised region of South Wales. Ogmore-by-Sea’s intriguing history and unique habitats make this area a surprising and rewarding visit if you’re eager to spot egrets and kingfishers on the estuary, ghost-hunt historic ruins or search for the lost village of Treganllaw, swallowed long ago by the sand dunes of Merthyr Mawr.
Begin the walk at Ogmore-by-Sea car park, handily situated by the beach with views out over the dunes. Follow one of several paths alongside the estuary and you’ll see Ogmore Castle in the distance. To visit it, take a detour via stepping-stones across the River Ewenny further upstream. These stones vanish at high tide, so be careful not to get stranded, and beware of the White Lady who haunts the castle, protecting her buried treasure.
When you come to a cottage on your left, cross the drive on to the road and aim for a bridle path. This becomes increasingly sandy as you ascend the valley towards the Pant Marie Flanders well, a medieval monument that once supplied water to the nearby hamlet of Heol-y-Mynydd. The path meets with a road junction, where you follow the sign-posted path for Southerndown.
At Groes Farm, cross the lane to a footpath that heads straight down to a road with a cattle grid. Turn left at this road and climb over a stone stile 20-yards on your right. Cross the sheep field, aiming for a kissing gate in the far right corner.
You are now in the village of Southerndown, where you can either stop for a pint or a cup of tea at the Three Golden Cups pub, or continue until you reach another stone stile just before a bend in the main road.
Cross the fields sloping downwards, pass through a wooden gate and walk through shaded woodland. After another kissing gate, turn right at the road and follow it until you see a thatched cottage on your right and the Heritage Centre on your left, which is a hive of information about the local geology.
A little further on the route is the stile entrance to the Dunraven Estate, which you can visit as a little detour. In the 17th century, the Vaughan family who owned the estate were rumoured to be linked with local wreckers, who lured unwitting ships on to the treacherous rocks.
Dunraven House was demolished in 1963 for safety reasons but
still boasts its hilly gardens and a knee-quaking viewpoint from its headland over Southerndown beach and Dunraven Bay. The cliffs throng with wild plants and flowers, such as thrift and wild cabbage.
Heritage Coastal Path
At Dunraven Bay car park, ascend the grassy path to the left of the shop and continue until you’re back where you started at Ogmore-by-Sea car park. Along the path you can explore the brain-like limestone rock formations and deep crevices that are regularly abseiled by adventurous types. The cliffs are too fragile to chip at for fossils, so only loose fossil collecting is permitted.
There are plenty of rockpools to dangle your net in and investigate the sea sponges
and molluscs, waiting for the next high tide to take them back out to sea.
HOW TO GET THERE
Exit the M4 at J35 on to the A473 heading for Bridgend. Join the A48, then the B4265, until you turn right on the B4524 Ogmore road. Or take the train to Bridgend then the hourly 145 bus to Ogmore-by-Sea.
FIND OUT MORE
Beware of incoming tides.
For tide times check:
The Pelican in her Piety
Ogmore-by-Sea CF32 0QP
This rustic pub offers real ales, an award-winning menu and live music every week.
Old Star Cottage
Ogmore-by-Sea CF32 0QP
This is an ideal spot to lay your head after exploring the local trails. Its enclosed garden overlooks the river.
Ogmore Farm, Ogmore CF32 0QP
For a an alternative sleeping experience, stay in a Sioux-style tipi equipped with a fire pit and comfortable rugs.