Approximate distance: 13 miles
Walked 22nd June 2012- with 30mph headwinds, but no rain!
I left the car out the outskirts of Llantwit and took the path that goes by Rosedew Farm, where some outbuildings have been converted to a holiday let, to rejoin the Coast Path. The whole of this days walk is designated as the Glamorgan Heritage Coast for its wonderful geology and geomorphological features. Also pretty wonderful if you like beer is that there are 4 pubs on or very near the walk.
This section of the Wales Coast Path is within The Vale of Glamorgan. Their Rights of Way Officer is Gwyn Teague.
The path continues along the cliff top, offering great views of the sheer limestone cliffs and then descends to the beach at Col-huw-Point, where there is a small car park, a café (not open for me) and toilets. It then climbs back up behind the café building, arriving at a seat. A half a mile or so later it passes through a little wood (of Sycamore, the ground being all but covered in a colony of Hart’s Tongue fern.) As you leave the wood you get about the only view to be had from the path of St Donat’s Castle. It’s not much of a view.
The path keeps to the cliff top, passing a stone built pill-box and then drops down to the pebble beach at Tresilian Bay, behind which is the striking, white-painted Tresilian House. There used to be an Inn at the bay frequented by pirates! And the bay is haunted. You have been warned.
You cross the beach and climb back up a rather grand stone staircase (this soon becomes more ordinary steps), to the cliff top and another fine view back to the bay.
You pass another brick-built pill-box before dropping down again to the walled boundary of the castle’s estate which is now the international sixth form Atlantic College (though on the map it is described as St Donat’s College). There is a life boat station here and a broad slipway down to the sea.
St Donat’s was once owned by the American newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst, who is said to have spent a fortune on its restoration. Within the grounds, housed in a 14th century Tithe Barn, is St Donat’s Arts Centre.
Climbing back up through more woods, a half a mile later you pass the Nash Point Lighthouse, the keepers cottages and the separate building housing the twin fog horns.
Nash Point was the last manned lighthouse in Wales, the last occupant leaving in August 1998. The cottages are now holiday lets. There are guided tours to the lighthouse on certain days and, if you have a thing for lighthouses, it is the only working lighthouse in Great Britain where you can get married. The fog horns are no longer used as a navigational aid but are kept in working order and are sounded on the first Saturday and third Sunday of each month at about 2pm and again at 3.30pm.
The path follows the asphalt road to a particularly ugly little modern building the purpose of which was unclear to me. It then drops down the side of a small valley (Cwm Marcross). There is access to the beach here (Nash Point).
A footpath leads up the valley to the village of Marcross, where there is a pub (Horse Shoe Inn– about ¾ of a mile). The pub opens at 12.00 Tuesday to Fridays for lunch and all day from 12 at weekends.
For the most part this cliff top path is easy walking and there are regular views out to the spectacular carboniferous limestone cliffs and shore. This picture shows what will almost certainly be a “toppling failure” in the near future as a whole section of the cliff face falls away.
On this particular day of being blasted by winds it was hard but exhilarating going.
After about ¾ of a mile, the path descends into a steep little valley at Cwn Nash. A path heads inland here to the village of Monknash, (about a mile) where there is a pub – The Plough and Harrow. It is open all week from 12-Midnight.
As you climb up from Cwn Nash there is a little building towards the top (shown in this pic) which would provide a useful shelter if you needed one.
The path continues to climb and descend through Cwm Bach and then the wooded valley of Cwm Mawr. The sides of these Cwms can be steep and slippery but at Cwm Mawr a very fine set of recently built steps has been made though this exceptionally pretty valley of stunted sycamores under planted with ferns.
Shortly after Cwm Mawr you reach Dunraven Park. A small triangular promontory called Trwyn y Witch juts into the sea and is the site of an ancient hill fort and Pillow Mounds . Paths explore this site but the Coast path follows an asphalt road that skirts around the back of the peninsula, bringing you past a stone built castellated Ice Tower.
This is one of the few remains of the buildings of the short-lived fortified mansion called Dunraven Castle (built 1803 demolished 1963).
A tall stone wall to your left is the boundary of the old castle gardens and the entrance is through a blue door set into the wall. As gardens go it’s very dull but it’s interesting to wander around and contemplate the fact that it was once attached to a sizeable mansion that has been completely destroyed and removed.
The road descends to the Park’s entrance and a rather quirky Gatehouse.
There is a toilet building opposite (rather an unsympathetic clash of architecture). Just up to the right the excellent Heritage Coast Centre was once the laundry to the Castle and now houses permanent displays about the coast and the history of Dunraven Castle and has a number of booklets about the area, its history, geology and wildlife. But no tea room!
After climbing back up to the cliff top, where the path has become a wide close-cropped (by sheep) grass with occasional seats (a sign of a nearby tourist population), you could take a short detour and follow the road to the right into Southerndown and the interestingly named Three Golden Cups pub. Lunches Tuesday to Sunday, 12-30- 2.30).
If you keep on the path, just a quarter of a mile further on you will pass on you right The Barn at West Farm which also does food from 11-6.
I got slightly confused at this point as to the route. It seems that you can either follow the road by the barn for a couple of hundred yards and then head path towards the coast or keep to the left. In any event they join back up and the path descends to a stretch above the sandy dune-backed shores of Ogmore-by-Sea. I didn’t explore the village, but kept to path, which brings you to a car park (and toilets) servicing the fine sandy beach and then to the mouth of the Ogmore River.
The wide marshy area on the other side of the river is a nature reserve. There is no crossing of the river at this point, so the path runs inland alongside the river, to Ogmore. This was the end of my walk that day and I was very pleased to discover that the rather attractive and wonderfully named pub The Pelican in her Piety also does tea and scones. (I am told the evening food is good).
I had time before my friend came to pick me up and whisk me back to Llantwit to have a wander around the pretty remains of Ogmore Castle, which are down a little lane opposite the pub.
You walk past some stables and Ogmore Farm tea rooms which declare themselves open from Thursday to Sunday from 11 to 6, (but not at around 5pm on the Friday in June when I was there!). The entrance to the castle is free and there are no facilities other than a rather good wind up commentary point. Sheep wander around the castle grounds.
The excellent 145 bus runs between Llantwit Major and Bridgend stops at Ogmore-by-Sea. But my excellent friend Neil came to pick me up and whisk me back to Llantwit, where food and beer were consumed.