The South Wales coast is incredibly varied and littered with interesting and beautiful places. These are 10 of my favourites. What would you include on your list?
#1/10 Kenfig Burrows
I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I visited Kenfig Burrows for the first time. This nationally important sand dune complex is just a stone's throw from the Port Talbot steelworks. I expected that the steelworks would loom large over the site, spoiling some of the enjoyment.
How wrong I was! Except for when I was close and walking towards it, the presence of the steelworks did not impact my visit at all.
The dune complex includes grassland, woodland and Kenfig Pool - a large lake that attracts birds. In spring, the dunes are alive with orchids - like this one.
#2/10 Llantwit Major
This stone dovecot was constructed in the 13th century to house birds for the monks of Llantwit Major to eat. The monastery was first established here in the 6th century and became the first significant seat of learning in Britain. Notable pupils include St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, and St David, patron saint of Wales.
#3/10 Tenby harbour
Tenby has some wonderful beaches nearby and this delightfully picturesque harbour. To top it all, it even has the remains of a castle overlooking the sea. What could be better?
Home of Dylan Thomas, Laugharne is in such a beautiful setting. This is his home. His writing shed is nearby, with similar views. I don't know whether I'd be inspired working there or totally distracted by the view!
#5/10 Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve at Nash
This was another unpromising site when viewed on the map, as it is right next to a power station. Electricity pylons run across the reserve, but that doesn't seem to impact the birds' enjoyment of the area.
The reedbeds are home to the only breeding populations of bitterns and bearded tits in Wales, and I hear that the murmurations of starlings can be spectacular here in winter. Something to look forward to in the next few months!
The views over Carmarthen Bay from Llansteffan are stunning, particularly when the sun is glittering off the water - which it does more often than you might think!
This is the castle that perches high above the bay - a great place to grab one of those views!
#7/10 Clyne Gardens, Swansea
Clyne Gardens are now a city park that abuts a large country park. The gardens themselves are famed for their collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. They also sport a lacquered red Japanese bridge, views across Swansea Bay and some impressive Giant Redwood and Monterey Cyprus trees. For a garden-lover like me, these were a wonderful find!
#8/10 Arthur's Burial Chamber, Reynoldston
There are no historical records to tell us who was buried here, but judging by the location, it would have been somebody important.
#9/10 Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
I remember a furore about the development of Cardiff Bay because such a large area of sea-washed mudflats was being destroyed and replaced by a freshwater lagoon. This nature reserve is one small area that has been retained for wildlife. Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve (see #5) was developed to provide some compensation for the loss of habitat in Cardiff Bay.
#10/10 Rhossili Bay
A list of favourite places on the South Wales Coast would not be complete without mention of Rhossili Bay. This sandy beach stretches for 3 miles, smiling out over the open sea. Apparently, the cliffs at the south end of the bay protect it from strong winds, which makes it ideal for surfing. Maybe one day I'll give it a go. For now, I'm happy just walking along the clifftops, out onto Worm's Head and along the sandy bay.
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