Merthyr Mawr and the mighty “Big Dipper”
There’s a little pocket of seaside in the Valleys that, by our standards, has an almost Mediterranean climate and a Sahara-like landscape. The remnants of towering sand dunes, which once lined the coast of south Wales, now provide a fantasy playground for kids of all ages at Merthyr Mawr. You can climb one of the most dramatic dunes, aptly named the ‘Big Dipper’, and sledge down in a rush of sandy adrenalin! Throw in chocolate box thatched cottages, stepping stones across a river to reach a ruined castle at Ogmore, along part of the 870 mile Wales Coast Path, and you have an action packed seaside adventure.
There are more sand dunes to explore at Kenfig Burrows National Nature Reserve just along the coast beyond the traditional seaside town of Porthcawl. Kenfig is a mysterious place. Time Team came to dig here and found a wealthy town built within the castle’s defences, part of a Norman port buried beneath the shifting sands.
Round off your day out at The Prince of Wales pub, perched on the edge of Kenfig Nature Reserve. It’s a pub steeped in tradition, including Gwyl Mabsant an annual festival commemorating the local parish saint, which included competitions like the old women's grinning matches and blindfolded wheelbarrow-driving!
The Italian connection
What better way to round off a day at the seaside than with ice cream? Benedetto Sidoli brought his family’s traditional ice cream recipe from Italy and set up the first Sidoli’s in Ebbw Vale in 1922. You can enjoy Sidoli’s award winning ice cream at Macarthur Glen Shopping Outlet in Bridgend too.