Visit Southern Wales

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Archive for tag: Castles

The King of Castles

With its towering turrets and sprawling water defences, Caerphilly Castle dominates the town of Caerphilly.

It's actually the second biggest castle in the UK behind Windsor.  It has been there since the late 13th century when Gilbert de Clare decided he needed to keep the rebellious locals at bay.

They're much more welcoming to visitors these days.  They've even built a bridge over the moat to stop you getting your feet wet on the way in.To find out more about this impressive castle, take a look at the video or visit the website.

History and Handlebars

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Caerphilly is all about the castle.

To be fair, covering 120,000 m2 Caerphilly Castle does tend to dominate the town.  It was built by Norman invaders but it was an attack during the 17th century that left the castle with its most striking feature - a leaning tower, which at 10 degrees has more of a tilt than its more famous counterpart in Pisa.

When you've finished exploring it there is a lot more to do in this corner of Southern Wales.  A journey of 8 miles and almost 400 years brings you to Llancaiach Fawr Manor and the year 1645.  You'll meet the servants of the manor who are busy looking after the house for the master, Colonel Pritchard.   They'll regale you with tales of what life is like for them amidst the turmoil of the civil war which rages around them.

What you need with so much history in an area is a museum to bring it all together.  Well, luckily for Caerphilly there's the Winding House.  As the name suggests, the building housed the winding mechanism for the local colliery (in fact you can still see the engine in action on special days throughout the year).  Today the museum is home exhibitions and artefacts charting the area's past.

Back in the 21st century and over in the next valley is Cwmcarn Forest's Mynydd, quite possibly the biggest, hardest, most technical downhill mountain biking track in the country.  It also has terrific views over South Wales, not that you'll be able to take them in as you hurtle down the side of the mountain.  There are also a number of other tracks at the centre if you're not quite up to the big one or if you're after something a little more sedate you can enjoy the beautiful 7 mile long forest drive.

To find our more about Caerphilly, please visit the website

Wonders of Wye

Tintern AbbeyThe Wye Valley and Vale of Usk is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it's not difficult to see why. 

The rolling countryside is a magnet for walkers with some well-known and popular trails including the Offa's Dyke Path.  It is also where the Wales Coast Path begins (or ends, depending on which way around you're going).  In fact, Offa's Dyke and the coast path join up so that you can complete a whole circuit of Wales if you really want to!

The plenty of historic attractions too.  There are castles galore including the first one to be built at Chepstow and the last one too at Raglan.  One of the most impressive monuments is Tintern Abbey standing proudly on the banks of the River Wye. 

Why not combine walking with history by doing the Three Castles Walk which is a 20 mile triangular walk taking in White Castle, Skenfirth Castle and Grosmont Castle.

The area also has a reputation for excellent food.  There are plenty of top class restaurants or cosy country pubs to choose from whilst Abergavenny's Angel Hotel is renowned for its Afternoon Teas - well worth indulging.  Don't miss the Abergavenny Food Festival each September which is an excellent chance to see (and of course taste) the best of the area's produce.

For more information on the area please visit the website

Marvellous Melee

Cardiff Castle JoustEvent - Grand Medieval Melee
Location - Cardiff Castle

Date - 16th & 17th August 2014

For more information please visit the website
Cardiff Castle is transported back in time as it becomes a medieval village for the weekend.  The bloodthirsty knights will be taking part in brutal brawls and ferocious fights in a series of re-enactments.

As well as battles, there'll be the sights, sounds (and smells!!) of medieval times with plenty of demonstrations and entertainment to keep the whole family happy.

The Big One

Big CheeseEvent - The Big Cheese
Location - Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly
Date - 25th to 27th July 2014
For more information please visit the website

Now, if there's two things that Caerphilly is famous for, it's cheese and the castle.  It is fitting then that their Big Cheese Festival takes place in the fields surrounding the giant fort.

An extravaganza of family entertainment, the Big Cheese is one of Wales' must see attractions which attracts up to 80,000 people from all over the country.

Where else can you hear the whack of sword on shield, see birds of prey soar majestically in the sky and smell and taste the finest local produce?  There's also a packed entertainment programme including musical entertainment, craft stalls, activity marquee and a traditional funfair.

And the best bit...it's free

Have you Packed for Wales

Here it is.  The new Visit Wales TV advert. 

Asking "Have you Packed for Wales", the advert features Caernarfon Castle, the new Mountain Biking centre near Merthyr Tydfil and the Wales Coast Path amongst other places.

The full advert and campaign will be launched this Saturday - St David's Day. 

In the meantime, take a look at the advert and let us know what you think.

Christmas in Caerphilly

Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre returns once again this year on Saturday 7th & 8th December.

Once a traditional market town, Caerphilly returns to its days of old with an eclectic mix of medieval entertainment, food and drink, and an abundance of stalls selling unusual Christmas gifts such as medieval replica, traditional crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

Caerphilly Castle is at the heart of the fayre, which is open to visitors all weekend; entry fee with even more market stalls, medieval entertainment and re-enactments within its walls
Visit the website for more details or see what other events are on in the area this Christmas by clicking here

Christmas is Coming

It's the end of October and the shops are starting to fill with festive offerings.  So, over the next couple of weeks, we'll look ahead to some of the events that are happening in Southern Wales over the festive period.  Today it's Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre:

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre returns once again this year on Saturday 7th & 8th December. Once a traditional market town, Caerphilly returns to its days of old with an eclectic mix of medieval entertainment, food and drink, and an abundance of stalls selling unusual Christmas gifts such as medieval replica, traditional crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

Listen to seasonal period music and laugh at the hilarious frolics of the Jester, tricks of the medieval magicians and re-enactments from the knights, but watch out for the medieval beggars who will be roaming the market and chatting to visitors!

Caerphilly Castle is at the heart of the fayre, which is open to visitors all weekend; entry fee with even more market stalls, medieval entertainment and re-enactments within its walls
Visit the website for more details

Is this the most picturesque village in Wales?

Dipping Bridge AccentThis is the village of Merthyr Mawr near Bridgend.  It's an idyllic little settlement, as picturesque as they come, with an outstanding collection of thatched cottages positioned around an old Village Green

Despite being a relatively small village, there's plenty of interesting places to visit.  

At the entrance to Merthyr Mawr village is the 'Dipping Bridge'.  Built in the 15th century, the holes in the sides allowed farmers to push their sheep into the River Ogmore for a seasonal dip! At the side of the bridge once stood an inn, once popular with travellers on a pilgrimage to the city of St David's in Pembrokehsire.  It was reputed that the landlord would rob and murder his visitors and bury their bodies in his cellar.  When the pub was
eventually demolished at the beginning of the 20th century hundreds of skeletons were found in the basement. 

Just down the lane from the Dipping Bridge lie the remains of Candleston Castle, once a 15th century fortified mansion house, it is now an ivy covered ruin that was the centre point of ancient village of Treganlaw.

Just beyond the castle is one of the biggest sand dune systems in Europe.  It one stretched for miles, right around Swansea Bay and some of the dunes are as big as small mountains.  The dunes are an important wildlife habitat and site of scientific interest, which shelters a rich variety of plants. Parts of the Hollywood blockbuster 'Lawrence of Arabia' were filmed here.

Finally, cross the 'Swing Bridge' and over the stepping stones to explore Ogmore Castle, probably the most picturesque castle in Wales before sitting down for some well earned refreshments in the tea rooms or one of the country pubs nearby.

Caerphilly Castle

It's a big weekend in Caerphilly this weekend with the annual Big Cheese Festival.  It all starts tonight with the Great Cheese Race and the festivities continue throughout the weekend.

At the centre of the celebrations is of course the town's fantastic castle, one of the biggest in the country.

To find out more about it take a look at this video where the King of the Castle, (or Head Custodian to give him his proper title) Tony Payne tells us all about this magnificent fort.