Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Historic Newport

Don't be fooled by the name.  Whilst it has plenty of modern features, NEWport has an abundance of historic attractions.

In fact, you can trace the area's history all the way back to Roman times.  Just to the north of Newport City Centre lies Caerleon.  A pretty, quiet town today, but 2000 years ago it was one of the furthest outposts of the might Roman Empire. 

And you don't have to look far to find traces of its past.  The remains of the amphitheatre, once the site of blood thirsty "entertainment" and the barracks, once home to 5000 soldiers are prominent, whilst the baths and National Roman Legion Museum are also well worth a visit.

Elsewhere, the area's history encompasses a medieval ship discovered beneath the mud of the River Usk, a 17th century mansion, once home to some rather eccentric aristocrats, and one of only eight Transporter Bridges still operating anywhere in the world.

It's not all about the history though.  The area does contemporary too.  It boasts some of the best and most luxurious hotels and resorts in the Southern Wales region. 

For instance, the Celtic Manor can be found here - you can stay in one of their five star bedrooms, enjoy a sumptuous meal in one of the restaurants, relax and unwind in the spa or enjoy a round of golf on one of their three courses - just like some of the world's best golfers did when the Ryder Cup was hosted here in 2010.

To find out more about visiting Newport, click on the link

What's Your Perfect Day?

It's all very well me writing this blog and telling you about all about the wonderful things you can do in and around Bridgend and Porthcawl.  After all that's my job.  But what do locals love about their area?

Well, our friends at BridgendBites have invited people to film their "Perfect Day" videos.

And what a range of videos they've come up with - golf, shopping, horse riding, mountain biking, quad biking, surfing.  Even fashion designer David Emanuel has got in on the act, reminiscing about how he spent his "Perfect Day" growing up in the area.

So take a look at all the videos by clicking here and let us know what would make your "Perfect Day"

Gwent Gems

GuardianBlaenau Gwent…or head of the Gwent valleys if you want to know what it means.  Being at the top of these valleys, it comes as no surprise that the area has a number of lofty claims to fame.

It has the highest town in Wales - Brynmawr, standing at 380 metres above sea level.  It is also home to the highest golf course in Wales, with the West Mon course standing at 457 metres.  It also has one of the tallest sculptures in Wales - Six Bell's Guardian memorial towering 20 metres over the village below.

As well as all these giant geographical landmarks, it also an area that celebrates political giants.  Tredegar was the home town to Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS.  In fact, the place where he first cut his teeth in politics, Bedwellty House is now open to the public.  Together with the surrounding parkland, it is now one of the most popular attractions in the area.

Other attractions in the area include the Festival Park shopping village and Parc Bryn Bach, a acres of green space, morrland and lake - ideal for all sort of outdoor pursuits.

Click the links to take a look at what else Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding Valleys can offer.

Penderyn Distillery Tours

Penderyn DistilleryDid you know Wales produces its own whisky? It might not be as well known as its Scottish or Irish counterparts, but that is changing.

Penderyn Whisky (which takes its name from the village in the Brecon Beacons National Park where the distillery is based) started production in 2000 and the first bottle was released on St David's Day in 2004. It was the first whisky to be (legally!) produced in Wales since the 19th century. The distillery is situated on a natural spring and it uses this water, to produce the whisky.

The visitor centre opened in 2008 and gives visitors a tour explaining how the distilling process works. Even better, at the end of the tour you get the chance to sample the whisky (or vodka, gin or cream liquor that they also produce).

And if you're really into your whisky, why not try the Penderyn Distillery Master Class tour. This includes a detailed tour of the distillery, an in-depth look at how the whisky is made and also an expert tasting session.

For more details take a look at their website - www.welsh-whisky.co.uk

Iechyd da!

Tour de Cymru

Event - Tour of Britain
Location - The Tumble, Abergavenny
Date - 9 September 2014
For more information visit the website

Fresh from hosting the British National Road Race Championships in June, top class cycling returns to Abergavenny this September as the town hosts the finish of the 3rd stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain.

The race has finished in Caerphilly for the past three years and has seen tens of thousands of people flock to the town and nearby Caerphilly Mountain to catch a glimpse of the action and create a superb party atmosphere.

The fans are sure to be out in force this year as well, with the riders taking on a route that will see them start out in the Mid Wales town of Newtown. 

The peleton will continue south with the road taking them through Knighton, Builth Wells and Brecon and over some tough climbs in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  The action will then culminate with a climb to the top of the Tumble Mountain above Abergavenny, a route that could suit local favourite Geraint Thomas.

The cyclists taking part will be confirmed nearer the time, but previous participants have included former world champions Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish, current Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana  and ex-Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

Seniors Get in the Swing

Event - Seniors Open Golf
Location - Royal Porthcawl Golf Club

Date - 24-27 July 2014
For more information visit the website

The biggest sporting event of the year in South East Wales is almost upon us.  Golf's senior British Open gets underway at the Royal Porthcawl golf course next Thursday.  It will be the first time that Wales hosts a major championship.

Some of the sport's legendary figures are due to take part including Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.  They'll all be competing to follow in the footsteps of 2013 champion, Mark Wiebe, and claim first prize in what promises to be an exciting weekend of top golf action.

For more information on the tournament, including how to secure tickets, please visit the website.

Survival of the Fittest

Event - Celts Survival Run
Location - Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Porthcawl
Date - 23 August 2014
For more information visit the website

This is most definitely not a gentle fun run.  It's not even a marathon with a few gentle challenges thrown in along the way.  Oh, no. This is the Celts Survival Run - an International Extreme Endurance Event.

At 50km long the course would be tough enough on its own, but this is not a straight forward race.  As well as running that extreme distance, competitors will be expected to overcome a series of brutal obstacles.

The route takes the competitors through the stunning scenery of the Kenfig National Nature Reserve and along the South Wales coast to the huge Merthyr Mawr sand dunes before finishing at Ogmore Castle, not that the runners will have a chance to appreciate their surroundings.

The race will put competitors in true survival mode and challenges along the route may include carrying, climbing, throwing, digging, building and swimming.  Not many people will finish the course; fewer still will have completed all the obstacles along the way.

Most of the challenges will not be revealed until the day of the race, so competitors will have to be ready for anything.

Are you tough enough to give it a go?

(Please note, this is an extremely tough and dangerous race.  It is only for very fit and very experienced ultra-marathon runners.  If that's not you, then do not enter)

A Feast of Festivals

This autumn, Southern Wales will be awash with food festivals, celebrating the very best in local food and drink.

The first festival of the season takes place in the picturesque surroundings of the St Fagans National History Museum on the weekend of 6-7 September.  Located on the outskirts of Cardiff, the 100 acre site houses many of Wales' most historic buildings and interspersed amongst them will be dozens of stalls serving up some hearty treats.  Cheeses, ciders and ice creams will be amongst some of the goodies you can indulge in.

Just two weeks later (20-21 September), the biggest food festival of them all hits Abergavenny. Now in its 16th year, the event is as popular as ever.

The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst foodies, will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.  The various venues are situated close together and include the Market Hall, the Cheese and Wine Show, and Grillstock.

Complementing the stalls are a variety of master classes, tastings and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with workshops, storytelling and live music.

The following weekend (26-27 Septemerb), it's time for something slightly different with Bridgend's Food Festival.  Called Feastival, and billed as Wale's Alternative Food Festival, there's always something different or unusual going on.  Previous years' activities have included the Giant Cauliflour Sheep (you really do need to watch this YouTube video), the Leaning Tower of Pizza and the Orange-utan.

Finally, it's Newport's turn with its festival on Saturday 4th October.  Amongst all the usual stalls there'll be an array of talks, demonstrations and  workshops for you to enjoy.

For more information on any of these festivals, click on the links below
St Fagans Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival
Bridgend Feastival
Newport Food Festival

Seniors Open Comes to Porthcawl

Event - Seniors Open Golf
Location - Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Date - 24-27 July 2014
For more information visit the website

The biggest sporting event of the year in South East Wales is rapidly approaching.  Golf's senior British Open is coming to the Royal Porthcawl golf course, meaning that Wales is set to host a major championship for the first time.

Some of the sport's legendary figures are due to take part including Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.  They'll all be competing to follow in the footsteps of 2013 champion, Mark Wiebe, and claim first prize in what promises to be an exciting weekend of top golf action.

For more information on the tournament, including how to secure tickets, please visit the website.

Newport 360

Roman CaerleonStanding on the banks of the River Usk, the city of Newport and the surrounding area is packed with things to see and do.

And now to help you find your way about, a new tourism guide has been launched.  Called Newport 360, the guide hears from local people about what visitors can expect to find on a visit to the city and the wider region.

Amongst the highlights you can expect to find on a visit is the iconic Transporter Bridge.  It is one of only eight such bridges remaining in the world.  Built in 1906, the elaborate design was needed in order to allow tall ships to pass up the river to Newport Docks.  Today visitors can cross the river on the suspended gondola or the brave can climb the stairs and cross the high level walkway, a mere 177 feet above the ground.  Enjoy the view.

From the top of the Transporter Bridge, you should be able to spot Tredegar House on the outskirts of the city.  Standing in 90 acres of glorious parkland, the estate was once the home of the aristocratic and somewhat eccentric Morgan family.  Visitors can explore this National Trust property and discover how both the masters and their servants lived and worked.

Newport's history goes back even further.  All the way back to Roman times in fact.  The small town of Caerleon to the north of the city was once the furthest outpost of the Roman Empire and home to hundreds of soldiers.  Today, visitors can explore the remains of the legion's amphitheatre, barracks and baths whilst the National Roman Legion Museum tells the town's story.

Head from Roman times up to the 21st century, and 2010 in particular.  The  eyes of the sporting world focused on Newport when Golf's Ryder Cup was staged at the Celtic Manor Resort.  The tournament put this world class resort firmly in the spotlight and it now boasts 3 world class golf courses including the famous 2010 course which saw Europe triumph in dramatic circumstances.

It's not only the golf that makes a visit to the Celtic Manor worthwhile.  The resort boasts a luxurious 400 room hotel together with fine dining restaurants and spa facilities. 

There's plenty of other accommodation available in the area with high quality accommodation available from the like of Hilton and Holiday Inn whilst for something a little bit different you can stay in a lighthouse overlooking the Severn Estuary.

To download your copy of the Newport 360 visitor guide, please click here