Wales Coast Path – Glamorgan Heritage Coast
Travel writer David Atkinson tackles the Wales Coast Path along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast from Porthcawl to Aberthaw. The 14-mile stretch of coastline offers glorious views to walkers in an area rich in wildlife and with special conservation status.
David Atkinson on Welsh Coast Path, Glamorgan Coast by atkinson.david
The final leg
For the last of my day walks I've come to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, a 14-mile section from Porthcawl to Aberthaw with special conservation status.
I start walking near Ogmore village, a short inland stretch by the ruins of Ogmore Castle. Just beyond the salt marsh of the Ogmore estuary lies the Bristol Channel.
This is coastal nature at its most visceral. The sand dunes of Merthyr Mawr are home to over 300 flower species, including rare, lichen-like Petalwort. A song thrush greets our arrival, repeating twice its signature refrain.
"I love the contrasts of this walk. You look across to North Devon, not a blank horizon of sea", says Principal Ranger Paul Dunn.
"On a clear day," he smiles, "You can almost reach out and touch it."
We stop to survey the sweep of South Wales, the steelworks at Port Talbot to one side, Barry Docks to the other. But, despite the industrial envelope, the Heritage Coast is forged solely by the last ice age some 12,000 years ago.
Three alluvial fans, built on a base layer of carboniferous limestone, form a matrix of rocky outcrops, unique in their non conformity.
Bad Wolf Bay
Dunraven Bay, Glamorgan CoastAn exposed section, the northerly wind flattening the sea below us, then leads us towards Southerndown Beach, better known to fans of David Tennant-era Doctor Who as Bad Wolf Bay.
After a look around the visitor centre, the path climbs through the erstwhile deer park of the Dunraven Estate towards Traeth Mawr. This section includes a new public footpath unveiled in April 2012, opening up a previously little explored section of the Glamorgan coast.
The final leg ushers me through maritime-ash woodland, awash with sea-salted bluebells, before bridging a gurgling brook. It feels like an enchanted forest, a magical kingdom through the looking glass.
Twin lighthouses in sight
Nash Point Lighthouse in Marcross, Glamorgan Coast
We finish at Nash Point, twin lighthouses, now converted for self-catering accommodation, guardians of the sunset.
Paul has spent 34 years walking this coast and with the new Wales Coast Path, new generations can discover his passion for a lesser-walked section of coastal Wales. As I have done today.
"I love the fact you hit the coast and now just turn left or right," he says. "It's a dream come true."
More attractions on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast