Glamorgan Heritage Coast - David Kennedy

I took the opportunity of being in Wales last week to get some images of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.

There are 43 designated Heritage Coasts in England and Wales. The "heritage coast" classification scheme was initiated in 1972 to protect coastline of special scenic and environmental value from undesirable development. Much of the designated coastline is owned by the National Trust, through its Project Neptune appeal.

In England the heritage coasts are managed by the Countryside Agency, while the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) administers the coasts in that country. Some 31% of the coast in England and 42% in Wales is protected under the heritage coast scheme. Many of these coasts are part of larger National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and the protected area extends inland for an average of 1 1/2 miles.

I stayed at the Heritage Coast Campsite in Monknash (www.heritagecoastcampsite.com), which also has a nearby pub called the Plough and Harrow which is quite good for a little good ale or cider and a few nice dishes. The locally made faggots were great. Dogs allowed in the bar on the lead and in the garden. The pub was built in 1383 and used by monks for storage and also as a mortuary for the bodies of sailors wrecked on the shore. There are other good pubs in the area and some have accommodation.

The Vale of Glamorgan has some great visitor resources available at www.visitthevale.com and they publish excellent walking maps which seemed to be very freely available in the area. The Heritage Coast is part of the Wales Coast Path (www.walescoastpath.gov.uk) and again maps of the whole path are available from their website.

My visit was just for two nights and the first morning was far too miserable and wet for much photography, but I and faithful Lola got out at about lunchtime, having had a leisurely “Big Teddy” breakfast at Teddy’s café on the campsite.

The walk from Monknash to the coast is through a lovely nature reserve with a brook (Nash Brook) and waterfalls running through it. There is a ruined building which I believe was a Corn Mill, and just by there you can get to a couple of good positions to capture the waterfalls. I used just a little extra length of exposure to keep the delicate nature of the lightly terraced falls.

As you come out onto the beach, you realise that it is mostly stones and rock. It was low tide so I was able to get some great images of the cracks and eroded shapes off the rocks and the cliffs which look magnificent. Views to the West towards Porthcawl and to the East towards Nash point were stunning even in not the sunniest of conditions.

I spent several hours in this area getting a range of perspectives and also some slightly abstract patterns using both my OMD EM-1 II and my Canon 5D Mk4. I made a strong mental note to return to this beach one day. However be careful - the tide rises a long way in quick time around here and you need to watch out not to get stranded between Monknash and Nash Point. Apparently over 50 people usually need rescuing each year.

The following day was very windy which made it not the best day to visit Nash Point Lighthouse and walk along the clifftop path. If you ever do this watch how close you get to the edge, it is not always secure. Also if you have a dog keep him or her on a short lead as they may not realise that there is such a big drop. Lola was tied to my waist and I used the harness rather than just collar so that she would not fall.

Nash Point Lighthouse was built in 1832 and one light (to the East) still operates. The lighthouse and cottages are owned by Trinity House and you can stay in the old lighthouse keepers cottages. There are two to let at www.ruralretreats.co.uk and they are named ‘Ariel’ and ‘Stella’. There is a cafe a car park that you access from Marcross (or along the coast path) and a good walk along the top to the lighthouse and, if you want, beyond. I only had a couple of hours before meeting friends for lunch at the Horseshoe Inn in Marcross (www.theshoesmarcross.co.uk).

On my next visit I hope to stay longer and get some dawn and sunset action, and will watch out for the right tide pattern. A strongly recommended location for outdoor fun and photography.

David

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