South Wales Coast

South Wales Coast

Swansea and Newport.

The coast from Cardiff to the west attracts fishermen, surfers, swimmers, water skiers, divers, castle spotters and sandcastle builders; there is so much variety. Water skiers are best catered for at Mumbles, near Swansea, Penarth and further west still at Burton on the Milford Haven. Surfers revel out on the Pembrokeshire coast but they have plenty of scope from Porthcawl right out to the more favoured area near St David’s Head. The Gower peninsula, west of Swansea at Rhosili Bay, Caswell and Langland Bays also see plenty of action. Sea anglers have rocky promontories, reefs, sand and shingle beaches and bays as well as rock and boat angling. For those in search of other entertainment here are some of the places you might think of going to: Barry Island is very much the bright breezy and brash holiday camp town and a popular resort with three beaches and a still busy harbour. The Knap, west of Barry, has a long pebble beach with swimming pool, boating lake, cafes, etc and there is a large car park at Cold Knap Point, while Whitmore Bay is sandy and is backed by a pleasure park and amusements with ‘sensation rides’ including the log flume. Porthkerry Country Park has a pitch and putt course and is the venue for some horse shows. There is a Zoo and Wildlife Park at Weycross, north of the town. Sightseers go to Barry Castle gatehouse ruins and thirteenth-century Merthyr Dyfan church. Westwards is Fontygary which is a popular beach with sand, rocks and pebbles, The Leys, a children’s beach, and Nash Point which is rocky but behind it is St Donat’s, a fourteenth-century fortress bought by William Randolph Hearst who restored, rebuilt aid modernised it and it is now the United World College of the Atlantic. Southerndown is a surfing beach with good sands and there is a pleasant village set back from the cliff top. Also in the area are many castles – Ogmore Castle with its stepping stones; New Castle, Bridgend, with its twelfth-century Norman gateway; and Ewenny Priory, now a parish church.

Porthcawl which like Barry Island has frequent trains from Cardiff, has another ‘playground’, Coney Beach. There is a long tiered promenade with shelters on the lower level; also sandy bays, rocky headlands and rock pools. There are donkey rides and boat rides and pleasure steamers venture out along the Bristol Channel, and skiers from the Porthcawl Powerboat and Ski Club also use the waters. The 51/2 mile coastline east of Porthcawl is designated an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’.

At Aberavon and Port Talbot industry and leisure meet. Aberavon is a newly created resort with two miles of firm sand, good surfing and a load of entertainments and amenities. Up the valley is the Welsh Miners Museum of Coal at Afan Argoed Country Park, which also has nature trails and country walks. Swansea has taken strides to live up to its city status, which was granted following the Prince of Wales’ Investiture. It has long been regarded as Wales’ second city, but today retains little of its historic past. ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’ is one of Swansea’s favourite sons, Dylan Thomas. Sir Harry Secombe is another, of course. There is a monument to Dylan Thomas in Cwmdonkin Park where he spent much of his time, but he is remembered everywhere in and around Swansea. The city has a very good market, is renowned for its Welsh food shops and restaurants and the new Quadrant Centre is a really fine shopping complex. There is a Leisure Centre at Oystermouth Road, and Patti Pavilion offers children’s entertainment in summer as well as variety shows and concerts. As well as the Grand Theatre there are cinemas, an art gallery or two, museums and a working woollen mill. Swansea has its music festival each October with its own ‘Fringe’ to go with it.