Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: Summer

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

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

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!

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)

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

Extreme Sailing Comes to Cardiff

Event - Extreme Sailing & Harbour Festival
Location - Cardiff Bay
Date - 22-25 August 2014
For more information please visit the website
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.

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.

Tickle Your Taste Buds

Cardiff Bay International Food FestivalEvent - Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival
Location - Cardiff Bay

Date - 11th to 13th July 2014
For more information please visit the website

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 enjoy. 

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.

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