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Bridgend and Porthcawl – Valleys Coast

Bridgend and Porthcawl – Valleys Coast

Porthcawl  Past and Present

Porthcawl is a mecca for the adventurer, from beginner to expert. Try your hand at wind boarding or kite surfing, kayaking, yachting, jet skiing or wake boarding. Need some tuition? There are many local water sports operators to assist you. The headlands above Rest Bay are the home of the famous Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. A very special 18 hole links course with great sea views and provides a real test of your golfing skills. 

The walk along the coast back into Porthcawl forms part of the Wales Coast Path. Stop off at the Grand Pavilion’s seafront café and find out about the current shows being staged, then a bit of shopping before a meal or snack in one of the many cafes or restaurants, from an ice cream on the promenade to traditional fish and chips, bar meals and top quality Mediterranean cuisine. 

Whatever time of the year you decide to visit there are some amazing quirky events taking place in Porthcawl, the most famous of which is The Porthcawl Elvis Festival which takes place each September. 

Just west of Porthcawl is Kenfig National Nature Reserve, home to thousands of species of animals and plants including the rare Fen Orchid. The reserve is well worth a visit and its a great starting point for the unique Keepers Trails which will help you explore this diverse and enthrawlling area. 

Bridgend  Past and Present

Its reputation as a market town dates back to the early 16th century and through the ages, there have been tanneries, a woollen factory and local potteries in the area. A town, rich in heritage and history where pilgrims waded the fast flowing river en route to the shrine of St. David in Pembrokeshire. 

Dominated by its hilltop castle, the original medieval settlement grew up around the pilgrims crossing point on the banks of the River Ogmore.  Some believe that the town took its name from the 1425 Old Bridge built across the river at a spot where the pilgrim ford used to be. It was partly demolished by a flood in 1775 then rebuilt to its present style, linking the north and south banks of the river. The Old Town Hall in what is now Dunraven Place, was the location of a provisions market up to 1836. Cattle and other livestock were held here and in the streets around the area and worse still, were slaughtered right there on the spot! 

The oldest part of the town is in the Newcastle Hill Conservation Area grouped around the church and medieval fortress of Newcastle. Gazing down over the bridge from the top of the hill is the remains of this Norman Castle with its cluster of tiny cottages and houses and surrounded by terrific views. 

Halfway up the hill is the Church House known locally as St. John’s Hospice. At the foot of Newcastle hill, bearing names that reflect their religious connections were three inns where the more affluent pilgrims would stay. 

The old Victorian market hall has since gone, but the original 18th century Market Bell still hangs in the Rhiw shopping centre, near to the entrance of the covered market. Close to the Brewery Field Rugby Ground is the Riverside Tavern in Brewery Lane built as a house in the mid 1790’s for the manager of the new woollen mill. 

Bridgend and Porthcawl had loads of things to explore – some you probably know about, but many will be a real surprise!

Area Highlights

  • The Porthcawl Elvis Festival

    Every September thousands of Elvis fans descend on the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl for a unique celebration of The King.

  • Rest Bay

    The Valleys really does have everything - Rest Bay is a brilliant beach for the whole family - with great sand for castle building, rock pools for exploring and waves for everything from bodyboarding to full out surfing or kite boarding!

  • Coity Castle

    Although originally established soon after 1100, much of the castle dates from the fourteenth century and later. Parts were rebuilt following the siege by Owain Glyn Dŵr in 1404-05.