Wales Coast Path Run – Ogmore-by-Sea to Port Talbot
Coast Path Vital Stats
Ogmore-by-Sea to Port Talbot
- Distance: 19.22 miles
- Elevation Gain Today: 160m
- Highest Elevation: 37m
- Time: 3:03:44
- Av. Pace: 9:34 mins/mile
- Calories: 1583
Totals to Date
- Total Distance: 736.01 miles
- Total Time: 135:51:23
- Total Elevation Gain: 21575
- Total Calories: 66824
- Distance to go: 355 miles
Another perfect day for running along the Wales Coast Path. I nearly didn’t bother today as I had driven all the way to Carmarthen and back yesterday in order to take Anna to a hospital appointment. It felt silly to make exactly the same drive today plus some extra, but in the end I decided that I would, and I’m glad that I did. The forecast was for a nice(ish) day which made the drive and subsequent run tempting. On top of that I have various new jobs on the horizon so I might be a little too busy in the next few weeks to fit in a Coast Path run. So, my mind was made up and I was going to go for it. A day out on the Coast Path would do me good and would ease the stress of new web design projects. There’s little I could do on the projects for now anyway so being away from my computer was the best thing for me.
There was quite a strong frost on the ground first thing as I left home and fog hung heavy in the valleys. The sun was already up though and it was looking set to be a fine day. There was a slight case of Deja Vu on the drive to Ogmore-by-Sea and the traffic on the motorway was a little congested but I made fairly good time. I parked in exactly the same spot as last week and was soon kitted up and ready to go.
One of the nice things about running is that it doesn’t really take much in the way of ‘kitting up’. A pair of running shoes, some shorts and a ‘T’-Shirt is about it really. I also have a Heart Rate Moniter and my trusty Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch. On my back is a rucksack containing a bladder of water, some snacks and a few extra clothes in case it gets cold. Today I just had a thin waterproof jacket and trousers, a hat, gloves and a buff for such eventualities. I always carry these, and an emergency space blanket but never use them! I also of course have money for the train / bus back to where I started and my phone to take photos.
Around the River Ogmore
My run started through the car park at Ogmore-by-Sea where surfers were doing Tai Chi on the grass and paddle-boarders were heading out from the river mouth into the tiny little surf. The sun was shining, there was barely a cloud in the sky, there was no wind and all was just the way it should be. I was feeling good too as I set off along the sandy trails on the southern side of the Ogmore River.
My first task for the day was to cross the Ogmore River. This involved heading inland a little way to find a bridge. The Coast Path signs took me along sandy trails up above the banks of the river, then across the road and along more sandy trails on the side of the hill. It was cool in the shade which was perfect for running.
There were a few dog walkers out and about but things were generally quiet along here. After a while I crossed the road once again and had views of Ogmore Castle across the fields in front of me.
I ran through the fields and crossed a little bridge over the River Ewenny.
Next was another field and then a jog across the Bouncing Bridge which spans the Ogmore River at Merthyr Mawr. The sleepy village of Merthyr Mawr had some picture postcard thatched cottages, one of which had a thatcher re-thatching it as I ran past. The church of St Teilos was looking lovely in the morning sun too.
I was now on the other side of the river so made a left turn and started heading along a small road towards the coast once again. After a while I came to a car park for the Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve. Merthyr Mawr Warren National Nature Reserve is home to the highest dune in Wales, known as the Big Dipper.
For me this obviously meant a few miles of running through soft, energy sapping sand dunes. Running through dunes is never easy, but these were particularly difficult. The sand was really deep and very soft. The paths themselves were eroded into deep gulleys so I was forever clambering up and down into and out of the gulleys or jumping from side to side to clear deeper parts. All the while the sand was giving way beneath my feet. It was a lovely place though and very peaceful. Eventually I dropped down off the sand-dunes and out onto the the sand and mud banks on the northern side of the Ogmore River.
The path followed the high tide line between the river and the sand dunes, snaking its way around the edge of the dunes and around the point of Merthyr Mawr. From here it opened out on the large sweep of sand with the houses of Newton in the distance.
The Beaches of Porthcawl
The running was somewhat easier along the sea-shore but it was still on relatively soft sand. Dog-walkers were out in force here, enjoying the gorgeous morning weather. After a while the path took me back up into the dunes where it ran along the shore through yet more soft-sandy paths.
At the end of the beach I entered the little village of Newton. I’d been windsurfing from here once or twice in the past but today all was still. There were a couple of people getting ready for a SUP paddle and one person already out paddling on the calm water.
The path took me alongside the huge caravan park of Trecco Bay and out towards Newton Point. From here I could look back across to Ogmore-by-Sea where I had started earlier today.
The caravan park of Trecco Bay is huge so I was following its perimeter from Netwon Beach around to and along the top of Trecco Bay for a while. We had actually stayed here a few years back on a family holiday. We were there for the best part of a week, but the weather was horrible. It literally poured with rain the whole time and was freezing cold so we didn’t really see much of the local surroundings. Instead we went on days trip to indoor attractions in South Wales and braved the odd walk on Kenfig Dunes and in Margam Park. We got soaked everytime we tried to do anything! It’s a shame really as the beaches and coast path along here looked lovely in the Spring sunshine today.
There would have been some nice walks for us to do out to the point and around to Coney Beach. At least today I was getting to see it in all its glory at last.
After passing the Lifeguard tower at the point between Trecco Bay and Sandy Bay I ran along the sands and then up into the holiday resort of Porthcawl. The burger bars, fairground stalls and ice-cream stands were all closed today as I made my way along the seafront and then out to the marina.
From here it was up onto the tarmac roadside for a run along the Esplanade of Porthcawl passing hotels, restaurants and other tourist related businesses. It wasn’t busy today but there were still plenty of people about. The path then led me out onto the rocky shore around Box Bay and on towards Rest Bay. The footpath was pretty substantial along here.
After a little climb up to Rest Bay and then a nice section of boardwalk all along the edge of the golf course it was out onto Kenfig Dunes. At first this was through easy going grazed grassland with skylarks singing overhead. Then onto a seemingly endless track at the far extremes of the dunes complex. I couldn’t quite see the sea from the track except for occasional glimpses through the dunes but it was there just to my left. To my right was the never ended dunes of Kenfig Nature Reserve. As well as being an important habitat for wildlife, the dunes complex is also home to Glamorgan’s largest lake. Kenfig Pool, is set on the edge of the nature reserve with spectacular views across Swansea Bay to the Gower.
My route didn’t take me to the lake but instead hugged the coastline for what seemed like mile upon mile. Eventually it headed inland a little and crossed a bridge over the River Kenfig.
From here it led into dune slacks where willows grew in pools of water and boardwalks kept me raised above the bog.
The paths then took me up a steep sandy hill and around what looked like a very unnatural huge sandy hill.
Towards Port Talbot
After a while the sandy paths gave way to rockier soils and scrublands as I followed the railway line that supplies the heavy industry of Port Talbot. The railway itself was hidden from view by the trees, as was the large Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir beyond it. The reservoir provides water for the nearby steelworks and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its fertile environment and diverse birdlife. The huge towers, chimneys and other buildings of the TATA steelworks could be seen dominating the skyline to the West. The trees weren’t able to hide these.
Despite the proximity of such heavy industry and the transport links of the railway and the M4 it was surprisingly quiet along here. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower. Gorse and Blackthorn was in bloom and there was no one around.
After a while I turned right and crossed the numerous railways lines of the Margam Knuckle Yard. This is a major freight terminal for the area. I counted 11 different lines that I had to cross before emerging onto a tarmac road at the far side of the yard.
Next I passed more heavy industry as I ran around the edges of a BOC gas plant and the Western Wood Energy Plant.
Running Through Margam
The Coast path then led me out onto the busy A48 and then into the back streets of Margam. Here I was following signs for the Coast Path but also seemed to be on lots of other trails too.
The signs had me meandering through residential streets, along little lanes, under bridges and alongside playing fields. All the while there were glimpses of the huge steelworks that seem to occupy more space than the rest of Port Talbot and Margam combined. Such places always fascinate me, if only I knew what all the various pipes, towers, chimneys, converyer belts and giant buildings did!
The path then brought me back up onto the A48 for a while and into Port Talbot. I soon found the railway station, bought a ticket to Bridgend and headed to the platform.
As I arrived, a very smart looking High Speed GWR Train train bound for London Paddington arrived at the station. I quickly checked the information boards and it looked to me as though it would stop at Bridgend so I jumped on.
Within no time at all I was at Bridgend Station. I jumped off the train and headed to the bus station. I had about half an hour to wait here before boarding the bus for Barry which gave me time to check out the stats of my run.
Not a bad pace for a run that was close to 20 miles. OK, there was virtually no elevation gain all day but the going was pretty tough at times thanks to all the soft sand.
The bus soon dropped me off at Ogmore-by-Sea. It was then just a short walk to the car and time for a 3 hour journey home. This included a quick stop for some food and petrol, a stop at the University to swap the car for the van and to say hello to Anna and then a stop in Borth at the pharmacy and to collect Morgan from the school bus.
Back at home and it was still a lovely day so I headed over to the beach for a nice Surf Ski paddle to Aberdovey and back before settling in for an evening of eating pasta and writing this blog post.