Our adventure on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast
People that follow me on social media, that haven't visited South Wales before, often marvel at not just how beautiful our beaches are but how many there are. And as someone who lives very close to the Gower I have always felt spoilt for choice with beaches to visit and never really looked further afield. More fool me. Who knew that a stones throw away from Cardiff, and just a 40 minute drive from Swansea, there was a whole other coastline, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, that was also absolutely stunning? Not me. But this is Wales, so why I'd expect anything less than breathtaking is beyond me ;)
When planning our day out and looking at what exactly this new (to me) coastline had to offer I did actually recognise a couple of names. There's Barry island, made famous by Gavin and Stacey, and Penarth, which I have visited once before to take in their stunning pier. but there was so much more to see and do and the pictures on the website made it look like it promised to be a very good day out indeed.
Dunraven bay was the beach we chose, but there are many more to choose from. A drive down a rather steep road leads you round a bend to reveal a well hidden car park. You can park right next to the beach, and there is an information centre, a little kiosk, which I assume on busier days sells refreshments, and toilets. (when you have kids you always breath a sigh of relief when you discover there are toilets, am I right?)
It's always great when you can have a family adventure knowing there are tantrum preventing services close by!
On this particular bank holiday Monday, to say it was windy would be an understatement. But we are not easily deterred from adventure. So we wrapped up warm and set about exploring. The tide was in and the waves were wild, but it made for some fascinating viewing. The beach was covered in giant rocks, great fun for the kids to scramble over, and I can only assume when the tide is out there is sand too and rock pools to explore. I had packed a beach bag of buckets and spades and other such toys, but before I had chance to ask if the kids wanted anything they had found a giant stick and were on the hunt for more beach treasure.
We also discovered that Dunraven is so much more than just a beach. There is a wall along one side of the car park, and if you venture through the gate you discover a path that leads you through fields and beautiful countryside. A short* walk (*by short I mean not enough time for any of my 3 children to complain) along the path you come to a lovely old door that leads through to a walled garden, or the secret garden as my children called it. They had so much fun exploring and were very excited when they discovered a little castle ruin awaited them on the other side.
Even after we had explored the garden and castle ruins, there was further woodlands to see and when we ventured up the hill a bit further we were rewarded with breathtaking views.
Dyffryn Gardens was the next stop on our #glamadventure. As a national trust property it was already on my radar of places we should probably visit at some point. For some reason I was under the impression it was "just a garden" combine that with the fact it's about a 50 minute drive from our house we'd not made it there before now. Turns out I was wrong, it is anything but "just a garden".
At just a 30 minute drive from Dunraven Bay, and a very picturesque drive at that, it's well worth adding Dyffyn to your to-do list! We parked up and immediately the kids spotted the park. Cue 3 excited children. We sat down at one of the many picnic tables and took in our surroundings. A large national trust cafe; so you're guaranteed delicious cakes, a nice looking shop; so you're guaranteed your kids will fall in love with something, that if asked they couldn't tell you what it was or what it did. But they do know they want it. And of course the park. After lunch and a little play in the park our kids were already sold on Dyffyn gardens, but we hadn't actually gone inside yet! You're under the impression you're somewhere pretty, and then they let you inside and, well, magic happens.
As a photographer I'm a sucker for spring flowers and pretty light, so I was sold right away. The kids didn't need much convincing either. There is so much to see there; Flowers, trees, secret pathways, huge open spaces, walled gardens, fountains and even a little stream complete with huge fish and newts. Adventure is unavoidable.
In case you're thinking, that still sounds like "just a garden". Here's the thing. There is also a huge Manor House there. Complete with stained glass windows, ceilings that'll make your eyes turn heart shaped and some pretty special views of all that garden too. The rooms are all so pretty, there is lots to admire and take in. Including a huge library of second hand books, yours for the taking for a small donation in the honesty box. I very nearly lost my husband to that room ;) So even if you find yourself at the mercy of Welsh weather and get caught in the rain, there is still so much to see and do there.
Suffice to say we had an amazing day out. We took home 3 exhausted children, with another "best day ever" under their belt. Whether you are local to South Wales or dreaming of visiting someday, the Glamorgan Heritage coast is well worth exploring. We barely scratched the surface on our day out; take a look at this website to see just how much more there is to see and do there. if you're looking for a great family adventure then look no further. I know we will be visiting again very soon.
Here is a video I made of snippets of our day. (Music by Josh Garrels).
If you're familiar with this area I'd love to here your favourite places to visit, just let me know in the comments below. Or if you've had a look at the website, which places will you be adding to your must visit list? And if you want to win your own #glamadventure click here.