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There are some outstanding hidden gems in South Wales, waiting to be discovered, so we have devised a list of seven of the somewhat unusual, lesser-known attractions that will ensure a memorable break away from the bustling, more popular tourist destinations in this remarkable region.
South Wales has a bit of everything, boasting the UK’s only Coast National Park in Pembrokeshire, the outdoor opportunities in this area are nothing short of magnificent – from the gloriously sandy beaches to the picture-perfect countryside and much more. Further east, discover a series of enticing shopping towns and cities, many of which hold intriguing heritage, with some also affording marvellous coastlines to appreciate at the same time.
Welsh tourist attractions such as Cardiff Castle, Folly Farm and Saundersfoot are high up on every South Wales tourist’s list of things to see and do, and so they should be! However, you can marvel at the wonders of South Wales from a number of other spellbinding, hidden spots, seven of which are listed below.
Our first hidden gem of South Wales is certainly one for the more active explorers among you. Ceibwr Bay, accessed along the idyllic Pembrokeshire Coast Path, is a site to behold in itself. However the Witch’s Cauldron, or “Pwll-Y-Wrach” as it is known locally, adds a further hint of beautiful mystery. This fascinating geological feature was formed by a collapsed cave and can be accessed only via the waters of Cardigan Bay, which helps to maintain the discreet reputation of this attraction. When the conditions are right, a body of iridescent, emerald green water fills the cave, which was first discovered by kayakers. Legend has it that the Witch’s Cauldron is haunted by a witch who is said to devour anybody who enters alone, hence the name.
Also known as St Tyfi’s Church, find this almost camouflaged building within the National Trust-owned Dynefwr Park in Llandeilo, on the western fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Visitors may take a trip to this serene National Nature Reserve to get a look at the stunning 12th century Dynefwr Castle, meanwhile you are also more than likely to stumble upon this church dedicated to Saint Tyfei, somewhat disguised by the surrounding greenery in a quirky manner. A day at Dynefwr is sure to be a memorable one with Dynefwr Castle, the Grade II listed Newton House, Llandyfeisant Church and more, making it a fabulous Welsh day out. The astounding Brecon Beacons are easy to reach for those who adore the outdoors, while those pursuing a slower-paced break can head to the splendid towns of Carmarthen, Ammanford and even the coastal city of Swansea, all of which lie within driving distance.
Wales is known by many as the castle capital of the world; it’s difficult to compete with the likes of the history-rich and ever-popular castles such as Cardiff, Conwy and Caernarfon, however the 19th-century Gothic Castell Coch puts up an admirable fight. Its name means “Red Castle” in English, due to its construction being mainly from red sandstone. Despite being built in the late 1800s, this beautiful woodland site in Tongwynlais boasts a history reaching back to the 11th century, with this being the second castle built on these grounds. The interior of Castell Coch is equally as impressive as its fairy-tale exterior; you will be in awe of the eccentric furnishings and artwork. Castell Coch is a must-visit if you’re in and around the capital of Wales, Cardiff, as it lies just outside of the striking city.
Set at the south-western-most point of the renowned Gower Peninsula, in the UK’s first ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Worm’s Head is most certainly one of the gems of South Wales. The name derives from the Nordic word “wurm” meaning “dragon”, which hints towards the undulating rocky structure stretching out from the mainland, attractively overlooking the expansive Bristol Channel. From here, you can also enjoy views across Bae Caerfryddin towards Tenby and Saundersfoot. The scenery-engulfed Worm’s Head point can only be accessed two-and-a-half hours before and after low tide if you want to avoid getting stranded for hours on end, as the famous Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas once discovered, which resulted in him mentioning it in his short story “Who Do You Wish Was With Us?”.
A ruin since 1462, Carreg Cennen Castle, within the Brecon Beacons National Park, may be somewhat overlooked in the list of Wales’ best castles. Nevertheless it undoubtedly deserves a place on our list of hidden gems in South Wales. Despite being damaged by Yorkists during the War of the Roses, the Grade I listed castle is perched atop a limestone outcrop, making access to any of its four sides extremely difficult for invaders. Spellbinding scenery of the Brecon Beacons can be enjoyed from this elevated position, while audio tours of the castle are available for those who are looking to discover the intriguing history that the site exudes. You can pay a visit to the dramatic Cerreg Cennen Castle with great ease from our wonderful cottages in Llandeilo or Ammanford.
This quirky, one-of-a-kind hermit’s cell was beautifully carved out of the cliffs at St Govan’s Head in the 14th century, in memory of the Irish monk, Saint Govan, who was said to have travelled to Wales in his later life and lived in a fissure within the rocks. Discover this unusual structure along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path; the number of stone steps leading down towards St Govan’s Chapel is said to differ depending on whether you’re going up or down them. The chapel boasts a number of fascinating stories regarding its features and uses, and rests within a location of jaw-dropping scenery, experienced best at the nearby St Govan’s Head. This area of South Pembrokeshire plays host to a number of other unique landmarks which can be easily found on foot or by bike along the Coast Path; Hunstman’s Leap, The Cauldron and Green Bridge are all worth visiting while you’re within close proximity.
An intriguing and far-reaching history is not the only thing that surrounds this Neolithic burial tomb, with the magnificent scenery of the Gower Peninsula also assisting to make this 2500 B.C. monument a real gem of South Wales. There are countless theories regarding the origin of the 25-tonne structure, with the most favoured suggesting that it was a stone thrown from Llanelli by King Arthur, which then grew with pride after being touched by the hand of the King. Arthur’s Stone rests slightly north of the summit ridge of the picturesque Cefn Bryn, making for a sublime stop-off during a walk throughout this hard-to-beat landscape.
These are just seven of the seemingly infinite list of hidden gems in South Wales. Whether you’re looking for things to do with the kids, examples of awe-inspiring scenery or enchanting history, South Wales is sure to have something to answer your needs. Discover things to do in Wales, as well as places to stay, unmissable events, incredible walks, excellent spots for a drink and a bite to eat and plan your trip to Wales.
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