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
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
Don't be fooled by the name. Whilst it has plenty
of modern features, NEWport has an abundance of
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
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
To find out more about visiting Newport, click on
Did 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
Event - Seniors Open Golf
Location - Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Date - 24-27 July 2014
For more information visit the
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
For more information on the tournament, including how to secure
tickets, please visit the website.
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
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
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)
Standing 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
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
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
Event - Extreme Sailing & Harbour Festival
Location - Cardiff Bay
Date - 22-25 August 2014
For more information please visit the
Extreme sailing returns to Cardiff Bay as part
of the annual Harbour Festival.
The confines of the bay provide a natural viewing platform for the
public to watch the sporting entertainment unfold. With the
boats hitting high speeds, crashes, capsizes and near misses are
all common place and add to the excitement of the day.
Back on dry land, the annual Cardiff Bay Harbour Festival will be
in full swing. The Cardiff Bay beach will be open as will the ever
popular continental market. There'll also be plenty of live
music and fun and games for all the family.
Take a look at the video to see what happened at
last year's event.
Event - Grand Medieval
Location - Cardiff Castle
Date - 16th & 17th August
For more information please visit the
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.
Event - Cardiff
International Food and Drink Festival
Location - Cardiff Bay
Date - 11th to 13th July 2014
For more information please visit the
Taking over the Roald Dahl Plass in the centre of Cardiff
Bay, the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival brings a
taste of the world to the city.
Stalls, demonstrations, and exhibitions pack in to the plass and
surrounding waterfront ready to tempt your taste buds.There will be
cheeses, chocolates, liqueurs and much more for you to
Added to that is a full range of entertainment and live music,
which all means that the Cardiff International Food and Drink
Festival is a great family day out.
Event - The Big
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