James Dean Bradfield’s favourite places

When I try and think of my favourite places in Wales it’s very difficult to narrow it down to just a handful. I’m drawn to places that have managed to sidestep the onslaught of corporate consumerism, places that have retained their real character.

  • Castle on the Llansteffan Coast

    Castle on the Llansteffan Coast, Carmarthenshire

    Places like Llansteffan, which is just past Laugharne. It’s a wonderful place, there are walks that overlook Carmarthen Bay and the Three Rivers estuary is barely touched by modernity. It used to be very popular during miner’s fortnight, when people working in the coal industry used to take their holidays. Since the 1960s it’s been the home of many artists and writers. Of course you’ve got Laugharne just up the road, which is famously associated with the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas. He was a regular visitor to Llansteffan.

  • Couple looking out over Southerndown

    Southerndown, Glamorgan Coast

    Close to Cardiff you’ve got Southerndown, which has got the ruins of Dunraven Castle on top of the hill. Southerndown beach has been used for so many episodes of Doctor Who, it’s unbelievable. It’s so unspoilt, hardly intruded upon by anything man made. There’s just one little hut there.

  • Sugar Loaf mountain, Brecon Beacons
    Sugar Loaf Mountain, Brecon Beacons by Paula J James
    Just past the South Wales Valleys near Abergavenny there’s the Sugarloaf Mountain, which is part of the Black Mountains. It’s 600 metres high and I can remember falling asleep on it around the time we were recording This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in 1997 or 1998. It’s just an amazing little mountain to get to the top of. You can see the Bristol Channel, The Cotswolds and the Brecon Beacons from there when it’s clear.

  • View over Twmbarlwm

    View over Twmbarlwm, South Wales Valleys

     by Flickr

    In Gwent there’s a mountain called Twmbarlwm, or The Tump, near Cwmcarn. It’s 500 metres above sea level and it gives you great views of the Severn Estuary from the top of it. The place is full of history and folklore. There was a Celtic hill fort near the summit and there’s a giant supposedly buried there as well as buried treasure guarded by a swarm of bees. A local writer came up with The Mountain Organ as a description of the noise made by the whistling wind up there.

  • View over the coast at Pwllgwaelod

    Coastal View at Pwllgwaelod, Pembrokeshire

    Pwllgwaelod is a beach near Dinas Head in Pembrokeshire. It’s about as far as you can get from the traditional Victorian picture postcard images of the British seaside. It’s just raw and utterly unpretentious, with dark sand and just one building, The Old Sailors Pub, on the beach. It’s been there for over 400 years and serves pots of shrimp and seafood. It’s great in spring and early summer if you like places that are a bit off the beaten track.

    These are all simple, real world places with their identity in the hands of people who live there. Wales has benefitted from people reacting against their whole lives being branded and homogenised, visiting these places is a breath of fresh air.