Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: Walking

Tour of Tintern

Tintern CoachStanding on the banks of the River Wye in the pretty village of Tintern, it's hard to imagine a more tranquil setting for one our biggest historical attractions.

Tintern Abbey was built in the 12th century by an order of Cistercian monks who lived in the Abbey for 400 years.  Latterly the Abbey attracted the attention of celebrated poets and artists such as Wordsworth and Turner.

Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.

These days the remains are popular with visitors to this corner of Wales and walkers exploring the nearby Wye Valley and Offa's Dyke Path.

Other attractions nearby include the Abbey Mill Craft Village and Tintern Old Station, a delightful country park with an award winning tea room based in the station's old ticket office.

For more information please click on the following links
Tintern Abbey
Abbey Mill
Tintern Old Station
Visit Wye Valley

Discover Rhondda Cynon Taf

Lluest-wen ReservoirNestled at the heart of the Southern Wales is perhaps the most famous valley in the world. Once upon a time, the Rhondda Valley produced the coal that powered the world.

How times change, the pits and heaps have long gone to be replaced by glorious countryside and great mountain top views.

There are still reminders of the area's past, not least at the Rhondda Heritage Park, where in the company of an ex miner you embark on an Underground Experience Tour. Find out what life was like for the men (and indeed boys) who worked in the mines.

Up above the valley, the views from the mountain tops are spectacular. There are many walks and routes to follow, not least from the Dare Valley Country Park. Who knows, they might lead to historic sites or hidden waterfalls.

The valley actually stretches all the way up to the Brecon Beacons.  And it is here, in the foothills of the mountains that you will find the tiny village of Penderyn, home to the only whisky distillery in Wales.

They started production here 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).

For more information on this region of Southern Wales, 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

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.

A Perfect Day

Take a look at this great video from our friends at www.bridgendbites.com

As part of their Perfect Day campaign, they've put together a little compilation of all the things you can get up to in Bridgend, Porthcawl and the surrounding area.

Whether it's playing a round on the famous fairways of Royal Porthcawl, catching a wave or two at Rest Bay, a genteel afternoon tea , a walk through some of the biggest sand dunes in Europe or a bit of retail therapy, there's plenty of options.

Take a look at the rest of the Perfect Day videos here

Let us know what makes your Perfect Day.

Dare to Discover

Take a look at this great video.  It features Gorge Walking, Horse Riding, Golf, Foraging, Surfing and Shopping.

Fantastic that you can all do these things in an area of Wales not usually renowned for outdoor activities - Bridgend.

Have a look and then click Discover to find out more

Walk around Wales

walk around wales picIn May this year, Wales became the only country in the World to have a dedicated footpath running right around its coast.

At over 800 miles long, theWales Coastal Path runs all the way from Chepstow in the South East, through Cardiff and the traditional seaside resort of Porthcawl and onwards to the beautiful Gower and Pembrokeshire coasts. From there it heads North towards Ceredigion and Snowdonia before finally heading along the North Wales coast to Llandudno before coming to an end in the North East Corner.

In the seven months since the path opened many writers and bloggers have ventured out and have given their opinion on the path or certain sections of it.

One of the most comprehensive I've found is Charles Hawes' blog, who seems to have covered most of the South Wales section of the path.

Also worth reading is the Bald Hiker's (Paul Steele) account of his walk along the path from Merthyr Mawr through Porthcawl and to Kenfig National Nature Reserve. Look out too for some fantastic images.

He describes the pretty hamlet of Merthyr Mawr as "a beautiful small quiet place with historic church and thatched cottages" and Kenfig National Nature Reserve as "a calm, surreal beautiful remnant of what was a huge sand dune system"

Have you walked part of the path? What did you think? Let me know which was your favourite part and any tips you have for other walkers setting out.

The Best Region on Earth

Ogmore by Sea, BridgendYou might remember that last year the Lonely Planet named the Welsh coast is the "best region on Earth" to visit in 2012.  To those of us familiar with the coast it was just confirmation of something we had known all along. To others it may have come as a bit of a surprise.

Now for the doubters there's a chance to see what all the fuss was about as the brand new All Wales Coastal Path gets ready to open on 5th May.

The path will cover a distance of 1377km and takes in every inch of Wales' coast including the famous Pembrokeshire coast, the beautiful Gower peninsula and traditional seaside resorts such as Porthcawl before finishing at Chepstow on the banks of the Severn Esturary.

There was a lively debate last year when we asked suggestions for what was the best part of the Welsh coastline. Needles to say the answers were varied with lots of different suggestions.  I suppose that just goes to show the coast is indeed the "best region on Earth".

Don't forget to share the beauty of the coast with us by adding an image to our flickr group.

The Welsh Coast - "the best region on Earth"

Ogmore by Sea, BridgendGreat excitement here last week when the Lonely Planet travel guide confirmed what we had known all along - that the Welsh coast is the "best region on Earth" to visit in 2012

It described the coast as being an ideal way to truly appreciate the shape and soul of the nation.  It also looks forward to the opening of the All Wales Coast Path next May, when it will be possible to walk the entire length of the coastline from Chepstow in South, right around to Queensferry in the North, a distance of 1377km.

With such a spectacular coastline we had a lively debate in the office about which was the best stretch.  Unable to come to a conclusion, there was only one way to resolve the debate - open it up to our Twitter followers

We got loads of responses and almost each one suggested a different stretch of coast.  I suppose that goes to show how varied and spectacular it is.

@mi_shmash couldn't make up their mind, suggesting Pendine, Saundersfoot and Tenby in Pembrokeshire as well as the Ceredigion coast between Aberporth and Aberystwyth.  More nominations for Tenby came from @claresheehy and @gcsportstours

Gower was a favourite with @mountainacts, @thatbirdsuzie @santes_dwynwen and @dimyanbooks with the latter specifically mentioning Rhosili. @greer80 also went for Gower but this time it was Oxwich Bay and 3 Cliffs Bay was mentioned by @visitwyevalley.

In the North there were suggestions from @santes_dwynwen for Ynys Llanddwyn and @welshsport nominated both Harlech and Barmouth while @typenfro went for Nefyn.  Harlech and Ynys Llanddwyn were also favourites of @pengwernbyc who also liked Porth Neigwl.

@santes_dwynwen also suggested Dunraven Bay near Bridgend while @countryteers nominated Southerndown, which despite the different names are in fact the same place.  Nearby Ogmore by Sea got a mention from @bridgendtowncc.

A relatively unknown stretch of coast, the Gwent Levels is a favourite of @landdodger and Aberavon got a mention from @h_mann01.  The small town of Laugharne, famous for being home to Dylan Thomas was a favourite of @suall

But it was The Ceredigion coast that proved to be most popular with nominations from @gcsportstours, @benurigallery, @quaysurf, @nick_bourne and @theharpcentre and @queensnewquay amongst others.  Favourites were New Quay, Aberaeron, Mwnt, and Aberporth but it was Llangrannog with seemed to be the most popular.

But the best answer to our question was provided by @dimyanbooks who suggested all 870 miles of it.  I think we agree with that.

Have we missed anywhere out.  Leave a comment to let us know or share with us the beauty of your favourite stretch by adding an image to our flickr group.

Get Walking

Walking in the ValleysFancy a walk (or two).  Then you're in luck as the 7 annual Valleys walking festival kicks off this weekend.   38 walks in total almost every inch of the Southern Wales Valleys.  There are walks of varying lengths and difficulty so there should be one suitable for you, even if it's only the ¼ mile stroll around Bryngarw Park.

Slightly more challenging walks include the Delights of the Darran Valley walk, the Dicover the Llynfi Valle walk and the intriguingly named Cider with Kevin walk.  I have no idea who Kevin is but the cider bit seems enough of a reason to give this walk a go.

Then there's the mighty 26 mile Sirhowy Valley Walk.  Follow the valley's ridgeway and floor through 3 counties in south-east Wales.  From the hilltop commons you can, on a good day (which I'm sure it will be!) enjoy panoramic views over the Bristol Channel and North to the Brecon Beacons.

All walks are led by experienced guide so you needn't worry about getting lost.

More information on the festival and its walks is here.