Walking in Glamorgan, South Wales. Guided walks, routes &
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A 7 mile walk around the dune system of Kenfig with a wealth of historical, ornithological and botanical interest. As it is mostly sand underfoot you will encounter little mud but one area can be wet in winter or after rain. Park at the Kenfig National Nature Reserve Centre – the Information Centre is well worth visiting. It has information on recent sightings of birds, runs a series of short walks in the Summer identifying plants and has an extensive range of leaflets and booklets on the area. Particularly interesting are those published by the Kenfig Society. Toilets near the Information Centre. No refreshments.
For a map of how to get to the start click here
From the car park at the Reserve Centre (SS 80157/81033) aim for the bus shelter/toilets building by the road and turn left to follow the road along a tarmac pavement. Pass a caravan park to your left and then good views over Kenfig Pool. Pass the Prince of Wales pub on your right. Ignore the footpath sign by the bus shelter on your left and then 10 yards past a red triangular road sign indicating ‘road curving to the right’ and marked by a heap of sand (SS 80390/81936, 0.74 miles), turn left on to the grass and then go diagonally right in the direction of some tall pylons visible in the distance.
'Look ahead to some trees..' - the castle is barely visible in centre of picture
The path ascends as you approach some dunes. From the highest spot look ahead across the trees to some factory buildings. To the left-hand edge of the buildings but nearer (within the dune system) you should see some ruins projecting up. You are heading for this point although you will lose sight of it at times. The path descends to the left of the main clump of trees just in front of you, then resumes its original direction with the pylons in the distance. You will also see a tall metal chimney, silver with black top, ahead. The ruins of Kenfig Castle soon reappear – aim for these, ignoring side paths (SS 80106/82687, 1.24 miles). (20 mins)
Left, the original motte and bailey castle. Right, Kenfig Castle sketched in 1804.
From the castle with your back to the motorway the route now takes us to the sea (you can sometimes hear the breakers in the distance). There are a number of paths to get to the sea but the basic rule is to have the Kenfig River and its trees on your right and never too far away. From the castle retrace your steps about 20 yards and take the path to the right. After about 20 minutes walking you should see a short but distinctive fir tree close to the main path. A few hundred yards beyond you come to a bend in the Kenfig River with extensive reed beds ahead. Beyond this flatter area you will see a tall dune system which is what we are heading for but a direct crossing is prevented most of the year by the wet and boggy land.
The lonesome pine
To avoid this, when you meet the river go to the left and slightly ascend a sand dune (SS 78518/83103, 2.47 miles), curving further left and after 20 yards drop down to the flatter area. Keep going parallel to the distant dune system for about 50 yards and then turn right to aim for the dunes again. There is no precise path here – just pick a point which seems drier and it tends to be drier the further away you are from the Kenfig River. After a few hundred yards you should see a small fenced-off area, (SS 78339/82759). From here head to the right keeping the dunes on your left and the rushes, reeds and pools on your right. The route brings you into low dunes and then merges with a wide grass track coming from the left (55 mins). Keep along this this track – you will see tall industrial buildings and chimneys in the distance. Where the green road meets the Kenfig River, curve to your left along the edge of the river until it emerges on to a beach. You may need to climb into the dunes alongside the river as the flatter lower route may be under water. Once on the beach, in the distance to the right you can see Swansea and Gower (SS 77918/83523,3.68 miles, 1 hr 15 mins).
The wreck of the Altmark
Our route take us to the left, back along the beach. This area was used for games of Bando in the last century. You can take any route along the beach – just keep going until you meet the unavoidable barrier of Sker Rocks which will take about 45 minutes steady walking. After about 12 minutes you pass the wreck of the Altmark. When you get closer to Sker Rocks aim for the point where the rocks ahead meet the dunes to your left – you will see a prominent rectangular sign above the skyline (SS 78983/80130, 5.98 miles, 2 hrs).
'The path passes a pond...' - Sker House in the distance
From this sign take the path which heads back towards the sea to the left of and beyond Sker Rocks curving gradually to the right to a metal gate with the remains of a stile. Cross the stile and follow the clear path which now curves to the left away from the sea. You will see the large and distinctive ochre-coloured building, Sker House ahead. The path passes a pond on the right, then runs alongside a stone wall until, alongside Sker House, the stone wall meets a wire fence (6.46 miles, 2 hrs 10 mins)
Sker House, early 20th Century
In this corner there are stone steps which you can go over to get a better view of the house which is being restored. Take the road with your back to the house and wire fence to your left until, where the now tarmac road curves to the right, you meet a stile. Go over the stile and then through a wooden gate alongside a metal gate. The path now crosses a golf course and several fairways so keep a good look-out for golfers as their view of you may be obstructed. After about 200 yards from the wooden gate you pass a green on your left by which you will see a metalled path at rightangles to your direction. The stony path you were on curves to the right but you want to aim straight ahead with larger dunes to your left and smaller ones to your right (SS 79959/80255). THIS PATH IS EASY TO MISS. After about 100 yards the grassy path becomes stony again and you will glimpse the houses of Kenfig ahead. Keep in this direction crossing several fairways with the final one marked by short wooden posts. Head through the bushes and bracken to the Reserve buildings which you can now see ahead. ( 7.37 miles, 2 hrs 25 mins)
Crossing the final fairway with the Visitor Centre in the distance
OS map of route
Map of walk
If the tide is in and there are a lot of pebbles, it can be laborious walking along the beach. Just cut through the dunes and you will meet the wide grass road. Turn right along this which brings you close to Sker House to pick up the original route. Alternatively, some way along the grass road take the waymarked route to the left which brings you back to the Visitor Centre through the dunes.