Ruperra Castle

Duo to having a minor operation, I have not been able to get out and about this week so the photos you see here of Ruperra Castle were taken about three years ago on a sunny, Summer’s evening.

Ruperra Castle is a Grade II listed building that is situated between Cardiff and Newport in the borough of Caerphilly, UK grid reference ST 219 863. A word of warning: I’m not sure if this place is private property or not so I would advice keeping a sharp eye out for any warning notices. I saw none when I visited.

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Here is a short, truncated history of the place. Ruperra Castle was built in 1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan. It was destroyed for the first time by fire in 1785 and rebuilt. In 1909, Courtenay Morgan refurbished the Castle and built a new stable block to replace the one that was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Apparently William Randolph Hearst, the American newspaper owner, immortalised by the movie Citizen Kane wanted to buy Ruperra but was turned down. He later bought St Donuts Castle. By the 1930s,  the Morgan family had lost most of their money and Ruperra Castle was only used as a weekend hunting lodge.

By the time of World War II, the Castle was basically abandoned and was taken over by the British Army. In 1941 an electrical fault caused a massive fire and the whole place was destroyed once more.

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After the war ended the whole area was sold as farmland and the Castle has remained in ruin ever since. In 1998 Mr Ashraf Barakat bought the place. His application to construct nine flats within the Castle building failed when it was discovered that there were Horseshoe Bats nesting there. His other application to have the whole place knocked down and houses built was also turned down!

The castle is now up for sale, just £1.5 million pounds and it is yours. The Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust has been set up to obtain funds to acquire, repair, conserve, interpret and maintain the Castle buildings and surroundings. Here is the website if you would like to support them:-

www.ruperratrust.co.uk/

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The whole history of this beautiful place is tragic. I’m sure that if the Trust were able to take control of the Castle then it would be one of South Wales’ most popular tourist attractions.

Even in it’s isolated desolation, the Castle has an elegance and strength. The main entrance, in it’s present state reminded me of one of the sets from the 1930’s Frankenstein film. Inside it is just a mess and possibly dangerous, so be careful before going in. I looked out of an upper floor window and had a magnificent view of the setting sun through the trees that surround the property.

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Looking into the remains of sunlit rooms through the windows on the West facing side of the Castle, I imagined how glamorous the place could be if it were to be restored. Hopefully, one day this might happen. There was an old, abandoned Citroen C2 pram type car in the grounds which lent a surreal edge to the visit.

You can see more pictures of Ruperra Castle by clicking on one of the images on the right, which will take you to my Flickr account.

Thanks for reading, bye

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The Wales Coast Path From Rest Bay to Sker

One beautiful morning in June, I decided to take a walk along The Wales Coast Path which is 870 miles in length. I tackled about two miles of it from Rest Bay in Porthcawl to Sker Beach. The Path was developed by the Welsh Government in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales, sixteen local authorities, a couple of National Parks and help from the European Regional Development Fund.

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One of the most impressive things for me was how the new path allows even wheelchair bound people access to the beaches of Rest Bay, Pink Bay etc. Whereas previously, there was no chance you could get to these places over the old rocky, twisted paths if you were in anyway disabled… or even a bit unfit! I can vouch for the latter part. You could easily twist an ankle between two rocks in those days.

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Rest Bay has a beautiful long, flat, beach and is popular with surfers. Its one of my favourite local beaches with lots of parking, toilets, clean sand with plenty of space for everyone on those rare hot sunny days when everybody heads to the coast for a swim and sunbathe. I fondly remember going there for the day many times when I was a child. As the tide came in on a warm evening, the waves would be huge and we would dive into them and be thrown to the shallows. There is a manned lifeguard station if you were wondering….

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Further along the path is Pink Bay. Its named that I guess from the pinkish brown rock that is everywhere. Just a shot in the dark. It’s a little less popular than Rest Bay but it is very relaxing. Many young people camp there overnight and light fires on the beach. There may be a few alcoholic drinks available but I don’t know too much about that.

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As you leave Pink Bay and approach Sker Beach the planked part of the path stops. It’s open ground from here on but it is mainly grassland. See my last post for details on Sker Beach.

If you want to see other pictures of this trip then click on link below which will take you to my Flickr page-

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA6A2Xq

Thanks for reading, till next time…. bye

Kenfig Pool and area part 2: Sker Beach

Sker Beach can be reached by walking about a mile West from Kenfig Pool. An alternative and easier route is from Rest Bay along The Wales Coastal Path but more on that next time.

Sker Beach stretches on into the distance

The most interesting time to visit Sker Beach is in the morning in my opinion. You get the place mostly to yourself and you can enjoy the flat yellow sands and dunes in peace and quiet; a rare sense of isolation. The sea there is popular with surfers and the waves are fantastic to ride. The advantage of its relative isolation is that not many people go there, so it is never crowded and so is litter free. There is a lifeguard station but I don’t think it is manned constantly so be careful with children in the water. And yourself of course!

Surfers making the most of the waves.

In April 1947 a cargo ship called The Samtampa crashed onto the rocks at Sker in a storm. 39 crew died but even more tragically so did 8 lifeboat men who tried to save them. One of my family went to see the wreck as a child and apparently it was very large ship, dominating the view of the beach. Fortunately there are no traces of the wreck to be seen now.

The rocks at Sker Beach

Another famous part of the area is Sker House.  There has been a building on the site for about 900 years. I remember as a child being told ghost stories about the place and was always scared when I walked past it, even on sunny evenings after a day out at the beach. The reputation Sker House has for being haunted comes mainly from a novel, The Maid of Sker by RD Blackmore written in 1872. He also wrote Lorna Doone. The ghost tale is a mix of this novel and local legends, of a woman prevented from marrying her true love by her father and eventually being locked in a windowless room in the house. Her ghost is supposed to haunt the place.

Sker House, no ghosts

If you want to see more pictures of the area, click on the link below. Thanks for reading, bye

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzS3cCt

Kenfig Pool and area part 1

Kenfig Pool is the largest fresh water lake in South Wales and is situated in the Kenfig National Nature Reserve. Leave the M4 at J37 and follow your sat nav to postcode CF33 4PT.

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When I was a lad, the area was covered with sand dunes and we used to pretend we were in the desert. We had hours of fun on those long summer days of the 1970s. Now the dunes have become overgrown and there is very little sand to see apart from the paths that lead to the pool and beyond.

One of the first things you’ll notice when leaving the area of the Nature Reserve building is the sudden silence, only broken by the call of wild birds.

The first part of the pool you will come to is The Tree which you can see above. Most of the time it grows from within the water but after a few hot, sunny days you can walk up to it via a sandy beach. It is especially attractive to photograph at sunset. You might get lucky and have a wild swan glide gracefully into the frame! It happened to me some years back.

Further along you come to one of the bird observation huts that look out over the pool. Please be quiet around here as you would not want to disturb a photographer just as they are about to take the shot of the day. You have to be careful beyond this point as you walk along the path that goes around the pool. Even in summer, this area can be boggy and wet.

You can walk west from here, all the way to Sker Beach which I shall talk about another time.

And now to some strange and mysterious stories about the area……..

The ancient town of Kenfig is rumoured to lay under the pool, on a still night you can hear the old church bell ringing under the water. It’s a creepy story but not true. The old town was buried bit by bit in the middle ages by the encroaching sands, blown in by the sea winds. The remains of the castle can still be seen if you walk about a mile north of the pool. C4’s Time Team visited in 2011, it was a bit disappointing as they did not find much.

I have been told that one summer in the early 1970s, two silver, metallic orbs were seen zooming around the pool on a bright, sunny evening. They were observed from the place you see in the picture above.

Finally I come to the Prince of Wales pub, which you can see above. The upstairs room has a reputation for being haunted. Strange sounds can be heard coming from it at night, when it is locked up. Scientists spent a few nights there and recorded strange sounds…. Click on the link below to see a tv news report about it.

http://youtu.be/hJzRzOI555Y

Spooky eh? Its a great pub, pop in for a drink. Maybe a spirit? Sorry…..

If you want to see more photos of Kenfig Pool then click on the link below for my Flickr page:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzVvCd7

That’s it for now, I shall continue talking about the Kenfig area next time. Thanks for reading. Bye

The Bwlch Continued

The Bwlch mountain is about 10 miles from the town of Bridgend at the head of the Ogmore Valley. Just follow the A461 road from J36 of the M4.

There are a couple of waterfalls on the left of the road on the way up, so keep your eyes peeled at the first tight bend you come to.

Once you reach the top of The Bwlch you will be greeted by sheep and possibly an ice cream van! If you climb to the top South facing hill from the car park, you will be able to see down the Ogmore Valley. Beyond that on a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast of Somerset and Devon.

Turn to the North and you will see Treochy and beyond that the mountains of the spectacular Brecon Beacons.

There are a number of walks across the top of the mountain. You will see many hang gliders and para gliders drifting over the valley on some days. Occasionally, if you are unlucky you might meet a motorbike scrambler disturbing the peace.

The mountain sides at the top of the Ogmore Valley have a fantastic golden light playing on them about an hour before sunset. It’s a great opportunity for photographers.

It can get windy up there, even on the warmest of days so take a jacket just in case. Some people feed the sheep in the car park. Not a great idea as they will surround you and/or your car, leaving a mess and possibly making it difficult to leave…..

Here is a photo of a clear mountain stream, just off the road on the right as you clear the last houses on the way up.Image

There are quite a few of these over the mountains. They all feed the River Ogmore which eventually finds its way to the sea at Ogmore By Sea.

This is the view from the stream looking West

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Pay a visit and take some yourself. You might bump into me there…. but you are more likely to bump into a sheep. It’s ok, they are friendly

You can see more photographs connected with this blog by clicking on’ more photos’ under the thumbnails on the right, which will take you to my Flickr page or click on this link to go direct to the Bwlch photos there:-

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzPZ8ba

Until the next time, bye

Hello and welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog. I live in a very pretty and spectacular part of South Wales. I love to take road trips and discover new, scenic places. Most people never get to see some of the great photographic and beautiful parts of South Wales.

I intend to write about and show pictures of some of the great places I’ve discovered. I shall start with a picture taken 10 minutes drive from my home. The mountain is called The Bwlch.

Until the next time……..

View of The Bwlch mountain from near my home