Wales


Hello and welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

My name is Derek and I was born in the City of Swansea, South Wales, UK. I have visited practically every part of Wales and am passionate about this "land of my fathers".

South Wales, within easy reach of from most parts of the UK, has tended to be associated with coal mining and heavy industry. But now, steeped in history and legend, there are some fascinating places to visit in Wales. Well I think so anyway, but being from Swansea in South Wales and living in Cardiff for the past 30+ years, maybe I am biased! I hope you enjoy the postings here and please feel free to click on the email link if you have any questions. It is a fairly new site, and I am constantly creating more articles about some good places in Wales worth a visit. So please feel free bookmark this site, or drop me an e-mail so I can let you know of any updates.

I hope you enjoy what you read about Wales in these pages/page. Just click on the article/post links you that interest you about Wales above or in the sidebar on the right. I will be adding new articles and posts, so please feel free to return...

Birds of Wales:The Red Kite

The Red Kite has been referred to as the National Bird of Wales as for many years in the UK, Mid Wales was its only breeding place.  However, I have noticed one or two in the skies of South Wales and the bird is now well on the road to recovery from being on the edge of extinction in the 20th Century due to human persecution over much of the UK.  During those bad years it was in Mid Wales that a handful survived in secluded woodlands.  

The killing of Red Kites began when farmers had the erroneous beliefs that the birds attacked and killed lambs but it turned out that the Kites were totally innocent and fed mostly on carrion and smaller rabbits and other mammals, but it would take out pheasant and other game birds. It’s diet can also extend to  beetles and worms.

The Red Kite is an impressive looking bird in flight with a wingspan of around 2mtrs (5½ ft) and has a swallow-like forked tail. It soars higher and higher with the thermal winds and has keen eyes to seek out prey or carrion on the ground. In medieval times, was quite a common site in the British Skies.

Since the late 1980s there has been a program to reintroduce the Red Kite into the wild. There are now protected and it is illegal to harm or kill one or remove eggs from its nest.

Tinkinswood and St. Lythan Neolithic Burial Chambers

Around 6-7 miles west of Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan, down a quiet country lane off the A48 trunk road, are two ancient burial chambers from the Neolithic Age. To get there, get on the A48 west of Cardiff and follow the signs for Dyffryn House once in the village of St. Nicholas. Go about a mile down that road past the entrance to Dyffryn House and a sign will appear in a lay-by on the right-hand side of the road indicating Tinkinswood Burial Chambers. And finally, to get to the site, you then need to walk cross a stile and walk across two fields.

Although not a large attraction it is another of the places to visit in Wales that I would recommend that takes you off the beaten track.


Tinkinswood


neolithic burial chamber, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber
A pillar has been inserted to support the heavy capstone


Tinkinswood is a burial chamber that was constructed about 6000 years ago and during an excavation in 1914, the chamber was found to contain the remains of 50 people together with earthenware and stone tools from the Neolithic age.  It is believed to have been attached to the village of Tinkinswood. The soil in this area is highly fertile and there are many rocks lying around that would have been ideal for tool-making, so it is understandable why Neolithic man would have settled here.

neolithic burial chamber entrance, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
What caught my imagination was the size of the capstone. Weighing in around 40 tons and measuring 7.3 X 4.4 metres (24 X 14ft ), I had an image of how the stone must have been put into place with hundreds of men pulling and lifting, and perhaps levering it into place.  And what is more surprising is that this dolmen, as such burial chambers are known, predates Stonehenge by around 1000 years.

Situated within a courtyard, originally the chamber would have been covered by an earth mound, but over the years this has disappeared. 

And we have a legend... some sort of curse that may be attached to the place. It is said, that if anybody spends the night at this site
neolithic burial chamber, north view, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber
North View
on the evenings leading up to May Day, St John's Day or mid-winter's day, they will either go insane or be transformed into a poet!  And... another curse may have been even more potent at one time. A  group of boulders nearby are said to be three women who were turned into stone for dancing on the Sabbath. So
perhaps there was a Welsh relative of Medusa at Linkswood!



St. Lythan's Burial Chamber


Known as Gwal-y-Filiast, St Lythan's Burial chamber lies about a mile further down the lane from Tinkinswood. This is not quite such a large site and there is just one single stone chamber remaining from what was once a much larger structure.

St Lythams Neolithiic Burial Chamber, Vale of Glamorgan
St. Lytham's Burial Chamber
V ale of Glamorgan
St. Lythan's is also around 6000 years old and was also covered by an earth mound.  It's size has been estimated to be around 24 X 11 metres (80 X 30ft).  The capstone here is still quite a size, but smaller than Tinkinswood weighing in at a mere 35 tons, but it still would have needed many men to place this in position. 

Human remains and pottery were discovered here during the mid to late 1800s.

So there you have it. I have visited both sites, and would highly recommend taking just a few hours to check them out. If you have a sensitivity to atmospheres and auras of ancient places, you won't be disappointed

Boverton Village & Castle

Boverton Village


Boverton Castle (Manor House)



Boverton Village, near Llantwit Major, has stood since the time of William the Conqueror (1028-1087).  The main point of interest these days is the ruins of Boverton Manor also known as Boverton Castle, that was built by Robert Fitzhamon, a 12th century Norman conqueror of Glamorganshire in South Wales.

boverton manor hous
Boverton Manor House
Overlooking
Boverton Village Square

During the reign or Richard 1st the manor house was owned by the Earl of Gloucester.  His daughter Hadwisa went on to marry Prince John and it is rumoured that this union lead to something quite sinister in the Manor that was witnessed hundreds of years later.



Boverton Manor (left and above)is rumoured to have a ghost called the "Black Lady" who terrified some workmen during the early 19th Century.  The ghost was dressed in black mourning clothes (hence the name Black Lady) and believed to be the restless spirit of Hadwisa, estranged wife of King John.  He had divorced her and banned her to exile in the Manor house.  However, still being in love with him, she lived a sad and pitiful existence there for the rest of her days, and it was her forlorn appearance made itself known to the workmen along with the sound of her mournful sobs.

It was later rebuilt in the 17th Century as a fortified manor house by Roger Seys who was the attorney general of Wales, but then fell into decay.

Boverton Manor is currently fenced off and can only be seen from the road outside, but it is well worth just standing there and soaking up some of its history. There have been no reported sightings of a ghost there in recent years, but that's not to say that the Black Lady won't appear again. 


Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page also linked at top of page

Ogmore Castle, Vale of Glamorgan.


Ogmore Castle is situated in St. Bride's Major, Vale of Glamorgan on the east bank of the River Ogmore and south of the River Ewenny.  The castle stands at what was once a strategic position to protect the towns of Bridgend and Coity situated further inland to the north and east. 

What was originally a timber fortification, Ogmore Castle was later
ogmore castle fire hearth
Old Fire Hearth, Ogmore Castle.
reinforced by stone and when looking up inside the Great Hall, the remains of the upper first floor can be seen with a large and ornate fireplace and arched windows.


The Castle is thought to date back to before the Norman Invasion but was given to William de Londres by Robert Fitzhamon who was the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan.

In 1116, whilst William was away, his butler Arnold successfully defended the Castle against a Welsh invasion, and was later knighted, Sir Arnold Butler and given Ogmore Castle along with the nearby Dunraven Manor as a reward for his bravery.

main gate, ogmore castle
Ogmore Castle Main Entrance
(from inside the grounds)
I find that old castles are amongst my favourite places to visit in Wales, having visited many of them in my youth both alone and on our school outings. Ogmore Castle, whilst not huge, certainly captures the imagination. The tranquil peace of the area where it is situated, plays on the imagination and I can often "hear" the battles that seem to echo
Ogmore Castle Main Entrance
Ogmore Castle, Main Entrance
around ancient walls and ruined battlements,  now silenced by the passing of the centuries.  Ogmore Castle has free admission and whilst not a large structure to explore it is a great place to visit for a picnic or to play games with the kids hopping across on the River Ogmore on the stepping stones adjacent to the Castle


The Ghost of Ogmore Castle
The legend goes that a local man once accosted the White Lady - the ghost of Lady Ogmore - demanding that she give him some gold that he knew she had hidden in the castle.  She led him upstairs into the one of the towers and beckoned him to raise a large stone slab from the floor.  There under the slab, was a container full of golden guineas. She told him that he could take half but leave the other half for her.  He accepted her offer and left with his windfall. Later on though, he was overcome by greed and couldn't see why he should not have the entire fortune. After all, what would a ghost do with such a worldly fortune anyway? So he returned to the castle get it.  As he was about to take the money, the ghost caught him in the act. He tried to talk his way out of it, saying that she was mistaken and that he was only checking on it.  But the White Lady knew that theft was in his heart and set about him, slashing deeply into his flesh with her talons.  He left Ogmore Castle bruised, bloodied and badly injured but made it home. There was a lot of questioning as to how he got these bruises and he must have confessed to the truth  just before he died of his wounds because his sickness and subsequent death was referred to as the White Lady's Revenge.

Llantwit Major: Ghost Story

Llantwit Major, being one of the most ancient villages in Wales just has to have a ghost story or two.

River Ogmore & Castle Ruins
River Ogmore & Castle Ruins
A tailor in the town had a wife called Barbara who's dying mother-in-law entrusted to her the task of distributing her wealth equally with the rest of the family. However, Barbara's head was turned by the wealth and she decided to say nothing of the inheritance and keep it for herself.  But the ghost of her husband's mother returned to exact vengeance on the woman for her dishonesty. She did this at first by constantly pinching Barbara all over her body whilst she rested in bed each night, completely depriving her of sleep. This continued until Barbara felt very ill and was covered in bruises.  At this point the ghost reappeared and ordered her to either share the money equally with the family, or throw it downstream into the River Ogmore.

Barbara, not wanting to reveal the theft to the family by sharing the wealth at this late date, decided to throw the money into the river, thinking that this would allow her to keep the respect of the family.  However, it seems that she had more trickery in mind and  did not throw it downstream as she had agreed, but upstream. I don't know why she threw it upstream, but it suggests to me that the was trying to trick the ghost and would set about retrieving it later.  But the ghost was obviously not stupid and this didn't work for the hapless Barbara and threw her into a deep whirlpool in the river.  She was found later by some villagers battered and bruised, but with no memory of what had happened.

The ghost returned again and haunted the home that she shared with her innocent husband and children with ghostly bumps and crashes for the rest of their days. The story goes  that even her children were punished. Locals were said to be "ghost ridden"

Llantwit Major Beach


As you move towards the older village of Llantwit Major down Boverton Road, just before you get to the Town Hall another narrow, single-track road on the left is signposted, "Beach". You can walk or drive down this narrow road for around a mile or so through a valley of fields that is used for camping, and eventually you will come to a car park car park with a café and other facilities.  Straight ahead then lies the beach on the Bristol Channel and on a clear day, the coastline of Somerset is visible.

Llantwit Major beach is not one of those beaches with long stretches of sand. There is some sand there, but it mostly consists pebbles and rock pools that most children love to play in.  To each side are high cliffs that are the habitat of many nesting birds and wild plant life.    


This coastline is part of the Glamorganshire Heritage Coast that begins in Aberthaw in the East and stretches to Porthcawl in the West. Llantwit Beach with its high cliffs and large foreshore, is one of the best beaches in Wales for fossil hunters and due to frequent rock-falls, there is always ample opportunity to excavate new fossils.  Jurassic fossils such as giant gastropods, bivalves and brachiopods are to be found.  But for those interested in more detail regarding fossils in Wales check out this article on Wales on Line   
Please note: Great care need to be taken when searching for fossils that one does not venture near to the base of the cliff face as the cliffs are quite dangerous, and there have been many rock-falls in the area. 

Llantwit Major Beach also attracts surfers as there are some good breakers here over the reefs, but it is more suitable for the experienced surfer and not a good place for the novice surfer or swimmers due to riptides and currents that can occur.

For the rambler, there is also access to the cliff top paths up a steep but stepped path and then a long walk along the Glamorgan Heritage coastline in Easterly and Westerly directions from Llantwit Major with some spectacular views over the bay and surrounding coastlines. 
It is strongly recommended that visitors stay to the paths provided as the cliffs in the area tend to be prone to rockfalls on to the coast hundreds of feet below

Survey Craft off Llantwit Beach

Sandy Part of Llantwit Beach



Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page ..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan is a fascinating, and one of the most historically-rich places to visit in South Wales.


With a population of around 14,500, Llantwit Major is a small rural town, but to those who live in the area, it is often referred to as "the village" as its shopping centre consists of just one main street (Boverton Road) but does in fact reveal a surprise for the visitor...

By road, there are several routes from the west, north and east into Llantwit Major. In this article, I will describe the route from the east - that is, you would travel west from Cardiff past Cardiff (Wales) Airport.. and then following the road, through St. Athan and eventually into Llantwit Major via the village of Boverton, and a mile or so along Boverton road and find yourself adjacent to the town shopping centre laid out on the right hand side of the road. You could be forgiven at this point, for thinking that Llantwit Major is a modern town, but if you were to travel a few hundred yards more, the road would narrow and twist and you would enter "old Llantwit" with a much more medieval feel as the buildings you can see there scan back up to 1500 years.

What's in a Name?







In Welsh Llantwit Major becomes Llanilltud. 'Llan" can be translated as "church" and "Illtud" refers to St. Illtud , the name of an early Celtic Monk who arrived from Brittany and established a monastic school for his followers around the 5th Century. The school went on to become famous and gave Llantwit Major the reputation of famous religious centre in the Celtic Church.The church building remains to this day,and is thought to be one of the oldest parish churches in Wales. A must visit, because inside the church with its crooked walls, is to be found ancient stone carvings dating back to its beginnings.

Llantwit Major Town Hall

Llantwit Major Town Hall originates from the 13th Century,but was ransacked by Owen Glyndwrduring his rebellion in the 1400s against the rule of Henry IV of England. But Owen Glyndwr's rebellion was later overthrown by the superior resources of the English. In the 15 century the Town Hall was rebuilt.

In the turret of the Llantwit Town Hall hangs a bell bearing a Latin inscription "Sancte Iltute, ora pro nobis" that translates as "St. Illtud, pray for us"

Throughout its history, the Town Hall has held all sort of events up to modern times when there is a Victorian Fair held in the grounds during the summer months.





Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page ..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Old Beaupré Castle

Old Beaupré Castle is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan, in the Valley of the River Thaw near the village of St. Hilary, near Cowbridge.



Old Courtyard
Getting to Old Beaupré involves a bit of walking across some fields, but in my opinion it is well worth it. There is a small area to park at the edge of a style that leads across some fields to the building. 





old beaupre castle, welsh black cattle
 On our last visit we encountered some young Welsh Black cattle who whilst quite harmless, were very playful and were bounding around us, that unnerved my wife a little.  Fortunately, I grew up around farms and dealt with cattle and just gave a sharp clap of my hands that sent the cattle cavorting in the opposite direction leaping in the air playfully.

If you like old buildings that have a history, then the ruins of this
old beaupre castle, placesinwales.blogspot.com
little publicized old mansion house will be sure to impress with it grand Tudor-styled stonework.  To me, its a peaceful setting next to the River Thaw and a "must-visit" for tourists interesting in seeking places in Wales that are off the beaten track. Another favourite of my places to visit in Wales.

Well, a picture paints a thousand words, and I took several on my visit, so the pictures below that give a better idea of what there is to see should you choose to visit Old Beaupré  Castle on your visit to Wales.

Main Gate

Coat of Arms
River Thaw, Old Beaupre Castle
                       









Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments.  




Places in Wales: Dyffryn House and Gardens.

Dyffryn House and Garden is currently a work in progress carried out by the National Trust...

The Dyffryn Estate dates back to 640 A.D. when it was then known as the Manor of Worleton. The manor, which included St Lythans and St Nicholas, was granted to Oudoceus Bishop of Llandaff in Cardiff.

In the 18th century the Dyffryn Estate was sold to Thomas Pryce, who created the first building to be known as Dyffryn House in 1749. There was no extensive work carried out on the gardens, but Pryce did construct the walled garden, and a few other features and did some ornamental planting.

It was in 1891 that a wealthy industrialist named John Cory bought Dyffryn Estate who commissioned Thomas Mawson, a well-known landscape architect who created the wonderful garden that is still enjoyed by many visitors today. Mawson was the first president of the of the Institute of Landscape Architecture (London).
 Work began around 1894 and wasn't completed until 15 years later. John Cory's died in 1910, and his third son, Reginald, had inherited the estate. A fitting choice for Dyffryn it seems as Reginald Cory was keen horticulturist and plant collector and leading member Royal Horticultural Society https://www.rhs.org.uk/. During the early 20th Century Reginald sponsored several expeditions hunting out plants all over the world. Many which can be seen on display at Dyffryn.

Reginald died in 1934 and his sister Florence took over the house until her death in 1937 when it was owned by Sir Cennydd Traherne who two years later leased the property to Glamorgan County Council on a 999-year lease. 1972 saw the dissolution of Glamorgan County Council. In 1995 Sir Cennydd Traherne died, and responsibility for the estate went to his nephew Councillor Rhodri Traherne who sold the freehold of Dyffryn House and Gardens to the Vale of Glamorgan.
Come forward to 2000...  Cadw, a Welsh Government historic buildings and heritage environment protection service, awarded Dyffryn a Grade I status in its register of historic landscapes, parks and gardens in Wales.
In January 2013, the National Trust took a 50-year lease over the care of Dyffryn House and Gardens from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and is currently bringing the house back to it's original grandeur which at the time of writing is currently being carried on. For more information on visiting times and enter visit their website here - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens/


Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments.