Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes
You wouldn't think a nature reserve like this would exist so close to somewhere like Bridgend. But the sand dunes of the pretty thatched village of Merthyr Mawr, just a couple of miles out of the town, will amaze you. First a bit of cooing at the general prettiness of Merthyr Mawr is in order: it’s a gorgeous estate village that once largely served nearby Merthyr Mwr House and is home to a lovely 19th century church and medieval cross, and surrounded by a host of Neolithic remains. Beyond the village, you can park at a small car park, in front of which lies an army of massive sand dunes – the second highest in Europe, no less, which provided the setting for parts of David Lean’s film of Lawrence of Arabia, and are one of the most remarkable dune and woodland habitats around. Make a day of walking around the dunes and exploring the adjacent ruins of medieval Candleston Castle. You're also just a small bridge and short walk away from the stunning ruins of the Norman Ogmore Castle and its 52 stepping-stones across the Ogmore river. Locals believe that the stones were laid for a girl who lived in the castle and used the stones to meet her lover across the river. You can stumble back and forth a bit before settling down for a picnic – the conclusion, we hope, to a fabulous day.