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Welcome to Southerndown

Fruit, vegetables, potatoes, jams, eggs, meat, etc     The next Village Market will be held on Saturday, 8th November, 2014 from 10.30 am to 12 noon in St. Brides Major Village Hall. For more details and photos click left red button. Click right red button for diary     Click to go to Latest News, Diary & Archive page   

Village sign for Southerndown depicting Dunraven Bay

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 letAs 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. 

Horse Riding at Heol-y-Mynydd

Heol-y-Mynydd

Alternatively, do not take the detour but continue to follow the road around the bend to the right and you will pass Southerndown cricket ground with its pavilion, and All Saints Church on the left. 

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

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 (just out of shot of the picture), exposing a previously-unknown decorative wall. Visit youtube.com website to see the moment this part of the wall fell away.

Seamouth Lodge, Southerndown

Seamouth Lodge

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 roofs can be made with: long straw (with a life of about 25 years); wheat straw (with a life of about 40 years); or water reed (with a life of about 65 years, although some have been known to last 100 years if looked after). 

Thatched Cottage at Dunraven Bay

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. 

Great 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.  Dunraven Bay has banded sandstone cliffs.

Signage warning not to attempt to climb the cliff face owing to the danger of falling rocks

Signage warning not to attempt to climb the cliff face owing to the danger of falling rocks

The 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

Overlooking Dunraven Bay, Southerndown

Trwyn-y-Witch (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 fishermen.  This area is designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). There are dangerous whirlpools here as the tide and current flow both sides of the outermost part of the bay. 

At 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 looking out to the western approaches Bull Point across the water and, around the coast to the right, Oxwich, Worms Head.  

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