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Walking on Merthyr Mawr Warren

Weather station, wireless and wind power

This can be a great enjoyment if you can walk a few miles; there is so much to see.

There are many access points. Parking is possible at Candleston Castle and, for a few cars, on the track from Tythegston to Candleston Farm. Walking from Porthcawl entails going to Newton and one way is to pass in front of the Jolly Sailor (with its maritime themed interior) and find, shortly after the church and opposite the allotments, the Newton to Candleston waymarked footpath.

Access along the All Wales Coastal Path past Trecco Bay is straightforward. Buses can be alighted at Wig Fach or Tythegston, or The Pelican on the road to Ogmore by Sea. Very useful information boards with a map are at all the entry points and at the river mouth.

There are many possible spots for a picnic lunch, the best may be near the highest place on the dunes, marked as Viewpoint, with The Pelican, Ogmore Castle, Southerndown Golf Course, Portobello, OBS, the river-mouth, Tusker Rock (if the tide is low), and the sweep of the sands to Porthcawl all visible. Also from there the Devon coast and Exmoor, with Porlock Weir, Foreland Point lighthouse, Lynton and Lynmouth and Ilfracombe, Valley of the Rocks and Bull Point can be crystal clear in fine weather.

Old maps show that there was once a windmill on the dune ridge, but the site is now covered with dense and almost impenetrable sea buckthorn; however a 1920 photograph can be found on the internet.

The warren has hundreds of paths of different surfaces: stony, sandy, grassy, rocky, and muddy. Posts at many strategic places show which of the trails you are on – red, black, blue, yellow or white. The open sandy slopes are great for children. To explore them all may need several visits but you will then discover the weather station (near the river mouth), Burrows Well (spring) and pools, the Ridge path and in spring the bluebell wood near Wig Fach, the limestone outcrop and the two disused firing ranges.

If you are lucky you may see a stag with does, a fox, or an adder. Buzzards often circle in the thermals and updraught over the easterly facing limestone outcrop near the viewpoint.  Kestrel, heron, swifts, magpies, jay, peacock, pheasant, woodpecker, common garden birds, gulls, squirrels, rabbits, mouse, lizard, slow worms, dragon flies, frogs, grasshoppers and various butterflies.

Near to the houses lilac has spread to give a glorious grove in spring, and many trees grow widely: apple, pear, hawthorn, elder, sloe, willow (coppiced in places), oak, silver birch, alder, maritime pine. Red and yellow poppies, carpets of miniature pansies, burnet rose (white, occasionally pink), wild rose, orchids, bird’s foot trefoil, cowslips, sea holly, honeysuckle, iris, gladioli italicus, rest-harrow, fireweed (rosebay willow herb) and bitter sweet. Many types of fungi and lichen abound.

Adrian Warner