Southerndown can be reached by travelling along the B4265 then at St. Brides Major turning onto Southerndown Road (the B4524) – you will arrive at the village of Southerndown with The Three Golden Cups pub on your right and the turning for Dunraven Bay on your left. Alternatively, turn off the B4265 at Ewenny onto the B4524 and travel via Ogmore, which is the journey that follows.
After leaving Ogmore-by-Sea, you will come to a
narrowing of the road and pass West Farm on the right, which houses functions rooms known
collectively as The Barn.
Travelling on you will pass the
site of Little West
on the left, behind which are
Little West Bungalows B&B/holiday let.
As you follow the road round you will come to a small cluster
of cottages and houses.
By taking a detour and turning left on the sharp bend then travelling straight ahead up a slight incline you will come to Groes Farm incorporating Groes Farm Equestrians where you can organise to stable your horse/s. With this building on your right you can then travel on to St. Brides Major via the hamlet of Heol-y-Mynydd.
On the next left bend is
The Three Golden Cups
(very well situated, as if you have walked from one
of the other villages you will be just about ready for some refreshment!) and if you continue on this road you will arrive at St. Brides Major.
The turning on the right takes you down to Dunraven Bay and the beach,
passing the building that was once a café and general store
then later converted to
Frolics Restaurant (briefly La Plie) and a semi-detached dwelling that used
to be two shops. The road then
travels towards the sea, past a marshy area on the right known as The Glouty.
For those who do not mind the walk down to the beach (and the steep return!) there is the Cimla car park on the right hand side just before the road passes through the boundary walls and descends towards Dunraven Bay. Remember to keep to the marked pathway and do not go near the edge of the cliff as it slopes away and is made up of loose material.
To watch the South Wales Fire Service rescue someone from Southerndown cliffs at this point, visit www.youtube.com website.
For those who do not fancy the steep climb back up from the bay, there is limited parking at the bottom of the hill near a small seasonal shop/café selling mainly ice cream, snacks, and confectionery. During peak times overflow parking is allowed through the gates of Dunraven Park.
Path to Dunraven Bay and Southerndown Beach
From the lower car park
there is a concrete slipway to the beach, or you can walk across the pebbles.
The Heritage Coast wardens and council staff try to clear the pathway to keep it
free of major obstructions but it is sometimes strewn with pebbles and large
boulders that have been thrown up by the pounding of the waves; every year a
large portion of the
sand is washed away, exposing many rocks, and then it is brought back again by the action of the tide. At
St. Donats Castle in 2011, work was finished on repairing the sea wall that had
been broken down and almost destroyed in places as well as rebuilding of the concrete breakwater that was smashed to pieces during a ferocious storm.
During the gales and storms of January and February 2014, Dunraven Bay car park
flooded several times; it was also covered with debris and stones, leading to
the temporary closure of the road at Cimla car park; in addition, the sea wall
shown below on the right was breached three times
The gates next to Seamouth Lodge were made in line with old drawings detailing how the original gates were fashioned. Inside the grounds is the site of Dunraven Castle, tumuli and an ancient hill fort (the earthworks are in the form of a triple entrenchment). The Heritage Coast have been kept busy with restoration, repairing walls, planting new trees and stocking the flower garden. They also replaced a plaque marking the spot where an arrow landed after being shot by Sir Ralph Frankland Payne Galway from the tower of Dunraven Castle in 1911. At the top of the hill you can look down upon Temple Bay and the beach known as Temple Shore which becomes completely covered by the tide – this area should be considered inaccessible unless you are very fit and know the tide times because it is very easy to underestimate the speed of the water and be cut off. This is especially important to bear in mind if you stray from the Wales Coastal Path onto the beaches to continue your walk as there is limited access back onto the land.
Staff and Rangers at the
Heritage Coast Centre
man a small tourist information shop, arrange exhibitions and organise various
activities, walks and tours. Nearby is
Seamouth Cottage which has been depicted on many
seaside postcards and in recent times featured in films and TV dramas. It
was re-thatched in 2002.
Thatched Cottage at Dunraven Bay
Dunraven Bay is very beautiful, and Southerndown beach has a large expanse of sand when the tide is out that extends outwards up to 975 feet/300 metres and across up to 1,625 feet/500 metres; these figures are average (and approximate!) because of differences between high and low tide throughout the seasons. It is an extremely popular tourist beach as even on a busy day you can find usually somewhere to sit and not feel overcrowded.
In 2012 the RNLI increased patrols to include safety cover for Southerndown beach from mid-July to the beginning of September. The small Lifeguard Station is usually manned by volunteers from the local surf club during the day in the summer and at peak times. There is an emergency telephone available. red flags mean do not enter the water. Red and yellow flags indicate the safest place and boundary for swimming or body-boarding; black and white flags fly for surfing, kayaks and other non-powered craft; an orange windsock shows offshore winds or unsafe water conditions.
care should be taken when walking around the bay as it is easy to be cut off by
the tide, which can be extremely hazardous if the water is being driven in by
the wind and when tides are high; it is not possible to climb the cliffs (to the
top) to escape the sea because the shale
and fine-grained material is so soft and crumbly. Similarly, it is not safe to walk or sit under the cliffs; notices remind visitors to keep at least 130 feet/40 metres away from the cliff face.
Signage warning not to attempt to climb the cliff face owing to the danger of falling rocks
cliffs at Southerndown rise to over 200 feet/63 metres and are very
dangerous, as they are composed of beds of lower lias interspersed with
calcareous and argillaceous earth. Atlantic
gales, especially during the winter months, have taken their toll as the cliffs
face south west. During the last
150 years or so the cliffs have fallen away to such an extent that a cave (known
as Booker’s Hole) which used to run under them to a depth of approximately 60
feet/18 metres no longer exists.
Approximately one metre is lost to erosion every ten years, although some
individual falls are greater than this.
On Friday, 23rd September, 2011 a cliff fall in Cornwall was captured on video by a geologist who was there to assess the area; visit www.youtube.com website to see this amazing footage. On Monday, 31st October, 2011 a similar fall occurred at Porthkerry Park, Barry, that left caravans overhanging the cliff edge; visit www.youtube.com website
Overlooking Dunraven Bay, Southerndown
(Witches Point), the rocky outcrop at the end bay on the left as you look out to
sea, is formed from carboniferous limestone and is a popular site with
night, the lights at Minehead and other locations along the Somerset/Devon coast
are visible. Several navigation
lights can be seen along the opposite coastline. On a very clear day it is possible to pick out the differently
coloured fields and various bays; it is said to be a portent of more good
weather when the white North Foreland Lighthouse at Lynmouth can be seen and
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