Nine intrepid Wick Wanderers plus dog Jet met at the Village Hall and headed by car to St Brides Major. Most of us parked by the shop and started the walk by tackling the steepish hill up past the church onto the common. Some of the group very sensibly parked at the top of the hill and met us there.
We headed across the common on a path that Graham had never walked before, which must be very unusual, and stopped to admire the lollipop trees and the stone masonry of the wall edging the drive of the farmhouse. From there we headed down the sandy path of Pant Marie Flanders Valley. We stopped to look at the well and the remaining gable ends of the house on top of the ridge – and there was much discussion about who Marie Flanders was to have this route named after her. After the walk Graham kindly sent a link to Southerndown Golf Club website’s history page which explains that this valley takes its name from a weaver who came here as a Flemish refugee in the Middle Ages to help deal with the wool produced on the great sheep walk that stretched over downland and farmland alike. In the days before mains water was installed Marie Flanders’ well was an important water source not only for livestock but also for those living at Heol y Mynydd and Norton Farm. There is more interesting history of the area on this site. www.southerndowngolfclub.com
Following the Wales Coast Path from Portabello House to Ogmore-by-Sea, we stopped for a coffee and Helen’s homemade flapjacks whilst looking across to Merthyr Mawr beach where volunteers were undertaking a beach clean. To the disappointment of some – the ice cream van was not in place on Ogmore beach.
We stopped for lunch and a photo in a sheltered dip near Black Rocks before tackling the steep hill up the valley. Seven of us plus Jet then continued across the cliff path to Southerndown and stopped to look at the blow holes in the cliff where spray comes out from the caves below at high tides and rough seas. Some of us had walked that path many times and never seen these. On descending to Dunraven Bay, we had a brief ice cream stop before continuing our walk along a very pleasant path through the wooded area and farmland back to St Brides Major. En route John fearlessly demonstrated his technique for deterring cattle who were somewhat bearing down on Marie who was walking with Jet.
The weather forecast was for early showers followed by sunshine, but we had a walk where every time we took off our waterproof jackets the showers started and we had to put them back on again. It was however nice to do the walk in slightly cooler weather than we have had recently, and thankfully we never got soaked despite some very dark skies at times.
After the walk Graham sent me a note to identify the two plants that had intrigued us en route. The funny pimply plant on the walk down to Dunraven Bay was a Bristly Ox-Tongue (Picris echioides) and the odd group of flowers near Ogmore Beach car park was White Horehound (Marrubium vulgar).
Thank you everyone for a very enjoyable 7 mile walk along our beautiful coast.