Glamorgan, incl. Cardiff
Glamorgan has much to offer visitors, other than being the seat of Wales' capital city Cardiff, the great seaport that lies on the Bristol Channel. The unspoilt Glamorgan Heritage Coast is the name given to the coastal part of this region, with its centre at Dunraven Bay, Southdown, where informative displays outline the history and status of the glorious 14-mile stretch of protected coastline. Inland, the rich farmlands of the Vale of Glamorgan, spreading out from the spectacular valleys of South Wales, offer an enticing green alternative to the salty pleasures of the Heritage Coast to the south. The Vale is rich in history, as evidenced by numerous castles in various states of disrepair; Norman warlords were responsible for the construction of the majority of these. Perhaps the most convenient way of exploring the many delights this rural part of South Glamorgan has to offer is by car, following one of the leafy country lanes, which criss-cross the lush green swathe of wooded hills and rich farmland, dotted here and there with clusters of charming homesteads.
The Ogmore, Garw and Llynfi Valleys of this part of Wales were once synonymous with coal-mining and heavy industry, but now much of that has gone and nature has reclaimed the hills and vales once scarred and blackened by the mining industry. The legacy of pride in past endeavours remains strong however, in the shape of heritage centres, country parks and nature trails.
Many villages around the South Glamorgan town of Bridgend have well-preserved ancient remains. Coychurch has a 13 th century church: Ewenny's fortified medieval church was founded in the early 12 th century and its priory in 1411; ruined Ogmore castle is 12 th century Norman and its grounds are rumoured to conceal buried treasure guarded by the ghost known as Y Ladi Wen --the White Lady. Nash Point, on the coast, contains the remnants of an Iron Age fort as well as boasting twin lighthouses. Ragged and half-concealed by ivy stands the wonderfully ruined 15 th century Candleston Castle, on the sandy fringes of Merthyr Mawr Warren, Europe's largest dune system. Llantwit Major is perhaps South Glamorgan's most historic site, a charming little town of narrow winding medieval streets, cosy inns and quaint old dwellings that have grown-up around an ancient seat of Christian learning, the oldest of its kind in Britain. The Church of Illtud dates from about AD500, where the centuries-old practice of laus perennis (unending prayer) was introduced; such prayers were also practised at the ancient sites of Old Sarum and Glastonbury.