173a Ogmore-by-Sea to Porthcawl

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.

01 Ogmore River, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

After a mile or two, I come to the ruins of Ogmore Castle.

Ogmore Castle, Ruth walking in Wales

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.

stepping stones, Ogmore Castle, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

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.

1st bridge, Ogmore, Ruth Livingstone rambling

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.

2nd bridge, Ogmore, Ruth hiking through Wales
Safely over the river, with dry feet, I walk through the small village of Merthyr Mawr. The daffodils are out and the little church (St Teilo’s) look lovely in the sunlight.

St Teilo's Church, Ruth in Merthyr Mawr
From here the path follows a lane for half a mile. I pass a precarious shelf, sticking out into the narrow road. Plants are for sale, with an honesty box.

quiet road with little shop, Ruth walking through Merthyr Mawr

In nearby fields there are baby lambs. I love this time of year.

field of sheep and lamb, Ruth walking in Wales
The lane ends in a car park. This is surprisingly bustling – being the access point for the Merthr-Mawr Warren – a national nature reserve that consists of vegetated dunes.

 Methyr-mawr Warren, Nature Reserve, Ruth's coastal walk

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.
path through woods, Ruth in Merthyr Mawr

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.

Clambering up a particularly tall dune, I am relieved to see the sea ahead. There is the River Ogmore and the village of Ogmore-by-sea at its mouth.
Merthyr-mawr Warren and Ogmore-by-Sea, Ruth lost in the dunes

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!

back at Ogdon-by-Sea, Ruth walking the Welsh Coast

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.

Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path towards Porthcawl

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.

 looking back to Merthyr Mawr Warren, Ruth in Wales

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.

 sea front, Newton, Ruth walking through Porthcawl

Still, the statics are not unpleasant looking – and the occupants must have lovely views…

 statics, Wales Coast Path, Porthcawl

… 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.

across Bristol Channel to Devon, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

I continue onwards and into Porthcawl proper. The first beach is Trecco Bay, the second is Sandy Bay.

Ruth walking across Sandy Bay at Porthcawl

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.

 Joe's ice cream, Porthcawl, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

[to be continued…]

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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8 Responses to 173a Ogmore-by-Sea to Porthcawl

  1. babsandnancy says:

    It’s actually one of my favourite aspects of the coast so far – the juxtaposition of the incredibly beautiful with the more mundane to downright ugly. I think if it were all endlessly scenic I’d start to lose my appreciation of its wonder.

  2. Interesting that you mention the coconut smelling gorse ,as we had a similar experience last week in Pembrokeshire. My wife insisted that it smelled of coconut, but after I mentioned that the smell was a bit like hot cross buns – she had to agree with me!

  3. Marie Keates says:

    I’d have avoided the stepping stones too. Cold wet feet is never good, especially at the beginning of a walk. Thise dunes sound tough too but I’m glad the chocolate worked its magic. It always works for me. In fact chocolate and chocolate milk are my favourite walking snacks.

    • Hi Marie, chocolate is the walker’s best friend 🙂
      On stepping stones: I sometimes wish I was braver. I’ve actually bought a pair of waterproof shoes – plastic ones with holes in – specifically for wading across streams. The trouble is… I keep forgetting to take them with me on my walks. One more thing to carry!

  4. jcombe says:

    I did this walk at the weekend, walking from Porthcawl to Llantwit Major. I managed (entirely by luck) to reach the Ogmore river exactly at low tide so was able to wade through the river avoiding the need to head inland to the bridge or stepping stones. At it’s deepest, it came up to my knees, so was not too bad as I was able to find an area where it had split into two channels as it flowed over the beach. Not that cold at this time of year, but I would have been less keen if it was April! So I am enjoying reading about the bits I missed too – Ogmore castle looks good.

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