Day 078: Llantwit Major to Margam

Distance: 22.77 miles

Ascent: 2707 feet

Weather: Sunny

Accommodation: Wild camp Near MArgam


I felt well rested, and well fed after my rest day, and after being dropped back at Llantwit Major Beach I was off on the Wales Coast Path again. Fortunately, the sun was out and was forecast to be for the whole day. The path took me straight up onto the low cliffs, where the path gently undulated up and down soon passing St Donat’s College which appeared to be a strange mix of castle, barracks and college, and was a very imposing building.

The path continued gently undulating up passed Nash Lighthouse, which was very impressive and scale wise was more like the lighthouses you see out to sea than the much smaller ones you normally see around here. And from there the path became a bit steeper with several quite steep ravines that the path had to descend and ascend before reaching Dunraven Castle ruin. In fact the Wales Coast Path skirts just inland from the fort and the OS map doesn’t really do it justice and if it hadn’t been for spotting it during plotting I would probably have walked straight passed without really noticing it. So I diverted through the couple of walled gardens which had been very well preserved/restored considering it costs nothing to go in them. Strangely just at this exact point, my belt broke for the second time of the walk, rather than ask them to replace it this time I will just get something else that will fit the trousers.

From the fort I soon reached Ogmore, which had been on my mind since the rest day as at low tide you can normally wade/walk across the river rather than divert the 3 miles or so inland. I arrived a couple of hours before low tide (but an extremely low tide) and it was not the tide that was the issue but the Ogmore River, presumably due to the melting snow and already saturated land the river was just too powerful and even right down at the seas edge was still deep, so I made the decision to divert inland to the stepping stones near Ogmore Castle.

The walk up the valley was fairly pleasant, and I soon reached the castle and stepping stones. Unfortunately, the river was very high and so was covering most of the stepping stones with an inch or so of water. But I decided to give it a go, and just 4 stones across of probably 30 in total, the inevitable happened and I fell in the river, somehow I stayed upright so I only got wet up to my knees. I made a quick retreat to the bank and tipped the majority of the water out of my boots. The stupid thing was that only a mile extra further diversion inland there was a bridge so I ended up having to head there anyway. I am glad that at least the two men on the other side got to see the fall.

It was annoying now having wet boots, but there was nothing I could really do about it so just carried on. I decided to head through the dunes of the Merthyr-mawr Warren Nature Reserve just of the beach, rather than along the beach just for a bit of interest. This area was very beautiful, and I even saw a bird that I am not sure I have seen before, very distinctive based on the way it crept up/down the trunk and I think it is a treecreeper (see photo below.)

Porthcawl oh Porthcawl, what can I say about your sort of arcade area that I entered the town through. It was probably the most tacky thing I had been through on the walk and not in a good way. It was also incredible strange, amusement arcades and then what looked like it should probably be a fire escape having a piece of cardboard with beer prices on it, £2 a beer in fact, and an arrow directing you in. It slightly made me think of the the SAW horror movies and I don’t know quite why.

But Porthcawl itself was nice, and I decided to head into a little café and have a snack, before stocking up on supplies in the Co-op. Once I had finished eating, the cook asked where I was walking and on telling her about the challenge she very kindly and to my surprise gave me back the money I had spent.

The path heads out of Porthcawl and passed the Royal Porthcawl Golf Course on a very smooth path some concreted and some boardwalked, before these solid paths finish at the Kenfig Pool & Dunes Reserve. It was here that I came across a dog in a pretty remote place, and seemingly no owner around. Slightly disgustingly he appeared to be eating a decaying sheeps leg. I approached, and he seemed calm enough until I got to about 2m away, then he got very aggressive low stance mouth open and growling so I stepped back and he calmed down again. There clearly was no owner around so presumably he was lost but after trying another couple of times to get close enough to grab his collar so I could get the number I had to give up as he almost bit me once. So, I left him behind and will send the picture to a local lost dogs organisation tonight.

From here it was a quick dash through the dunes, with the large industrial units of Port Talbot now clearly visible, before pitching my tent just short of Margam on the edge of the dunes. It feels like a very good spot, though strangely for the first time on my walk some one came up and said hi from outside the tent which panicked me a bit. But I popped my head out and in fact it was just someone who was interested that there was someone backpacking at this time of year and we had a quick chat.

So a day that when I stared writing the diary felt like a nice day, but I am sure for people reading it this sounds far more calamitous a day; with broken belts, falls into rivers and defensive lost dogs. The wet boots are a bit annoying, but hopefully the way I have opened them and aimed them toward the wind they will not be to wet tomorrow.

charles compton