Ogmore-by-Sea is calm today. The wind has dropped and the forecast promises sunshine. I head up the river valley, heading for the nearest crossing point. The gorse is flowering and the smell is mouth-watering – sweet coconut.
After a mile or two, I come to the ruins of Ogmore Castle.
I walk down to the river and the stepping-stones. My husband and his mother discovered them yesterday when they visited the ruins. But then it was high tide and they were covered. It is almost low tide now – but some of the stones are still underwater.
The river is flowing strongly. It’s early April and the water will be cold. I would love to cross, but I’m too much of a coward. There is a bridge only a few hundred yards further upstream. Should I wait and see if the water recedes further? Or should I just press on. I dither.
In the end, I decide to press on. A little further up the road and I come to a footpath that leads to the alternative crossing – a rather ugly bridge.
I cross a piece of muddy land and come to a second bridge. This one is more elegant. On the other side is a blue box. I was expecting a Tardis, but discover it’s a portable loo.
In nearby fields there are baby lambs. I love this time of year.
A number of footpaths seem to converge on this car park, but I must find the continuation of the Wales Coast Path (which I do by crossing the car park and keeping to the left). From here the way is sandy and churned up by horses hooves. The going is slow and difficult.
I soon leave the woodland behind and find myself in a grassy, dune system. The dunes are high, crisscrossed with tracks which might be sheep paths – although I see no animals – and I am soon disoriented.
Later I learn that the military use this area for training purposes (not for shooting, but for fitness). My landlady says a friend’s daughter prepared for a Kilimanjaro expedition by climbing up and down these dunes. I can believe it. This is tougher than I anticipated.
Finally, an hour later than I had scheduled, I reach the mouth of the river. It’s taken me just over two hours, and I am only a few hundred yards away from where I started!
Round the corner, and I begin walking along a wide stretch of soft sand. To my right is the dune system, but I’m sticking to the flat sands of the beach.
My hip starts hurting – an intermittent problem which drives me crazy. I have a rest on a piece of driftwood and eat some chocolate. Never, ever underestimate the healing power of chocolate! My hip heals instantly – and I continue.
I reach the other side of the bay and look back towards the mouth of Ogmore River and the Merthyr-mawr dune system. It’s a wonderful piece of unspoilt coast.
But I am now on the out skirts of Porthcawl, and the next piece of coastline is lined by static holiday homes and is far less picturesque.
Still, the statics are not unpleasant looking – and the occupants must have lovely views…
… because you can see right across the Bristol Channel and the shore of Devon beyond. I recognise the landmarks and remember how I walked that route last summer. To the right is the small pyramid of Little Hangman Hill. The larger hump is Great Hangman – the highest point on the South West Coast Path. Then you come to Holdstone Hill, not on the path, but I climbed it anyway.
I continue onwards and into Porthcawl proper. The first beach is Trecco Bay, the second is Sandy Bay.
And it’s now gone 1pm. I’m tired and hungry. Up on the bank is an open-air seating area. It’s warm in the sun, and I decide it will be nice to sit outside and enjoy the views. I head up to this café. Lunch time.