Summer Sundowner at Dunraven Bay, Southerndown (Real Wales Tours)

Archway in the historic walled gardens at Dunraven bay

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to experience Real Wales Tours’ Summer Sundowner tour along with some other local bloggers including Hills and Daffodils, Explore With Ed, Miss Nicklin Blog.

Set up by Director and Guide, Nia Lloyd Knott, Real Wales Tours offers signature day tours of the Welsh countryside. Options include Highs, Lows and Falls; a tour of the waterfalls, mountains and caves of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, the River Valley Tour; a chance to explore the idyllic Wye Valley, and the Beach Tour; a visit to the beaches that make up the Gower Peninsula in Swansea, amongst others. All  day tours cost £75 with lunch and £65 without, including transport, tour guide, drinks and snacks, preferred lunch option and entry to scheduled stops. The majority of the day tours begin in Cardiff city centre at around 8am, with drop-off in the same location later that day or in the evening.

In addition to day tours, Real Wales Tours runs a series of ‘special’ tours (such as the Summer Sundowner tour), alongside bespoke tours tailored to your preferred itinerary (from £65), and airport and ferry port transfers. 

Summer Sundowner Tour

The Summer Sundowner tour is an evening tour of Dunraven Bay (known locally as Southerndown) near Ogmore, Vale of Glamorgan, that Real Wales Tours is currently trialling. Leaving from the back of Cardiff Central train station at 7.30pm, the tour began with a scenic, 30-45 minute journey out to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. We passed through a number of villages in the Vale of Glamorgan on the way, including the quaint market town of Cowbridge. 

On the way, we passed several local landmarks including Ogmore Castle, The Pelican in Her Piety (a pub with a fantastic reputation for its food), and Merthyr Mawr beach and sand dunes. 

When we arrived at Dunraven Bay, we embarked on a guided tour through the historic walled gardens and ruins of Dunraven Castle.

Historic walled gardens at Dunraven Bay

We were lucky enough to spot not one, but several bunnies bouncing over the grassy hills as we walked along and when we reached the historic walled gardens, we were greeted by the sweet smell of flowers and the gentle buzz of bees. 

Flowers in the historic walled garden at Dunraven Bay, Southerndown

As Nia explained, the  tower in the walled garden pictured below was known as the Ice Tower, because it was filled with freezing cold water and used as an early form of refrigerator for keeping foods chilled.

Ice Tower at Dunraven Bay/Castle

Passing through the elegant archways of the gardens, we reached a winding path that led us to a leafy forest, filled with the pungent aroma of wild garlic. 

Wild garlic forest at Dunraven Bay

This brought us out to a cliff-side viewpoint that offered excellent views of the limescale and shale cliffs, and the sea.

Limestone and shale cliffs at Dunraven Bay

After pausing for a few photos, we continued along the path through the forest and emerged on a large, open grassy plain high above the beach, offering excellent views over the whole of Dunraven Bay.

Sunset at Dunraven Bay

The castle was actually built as a fortified mansion by the Wyndham family in 1803, but it became known as a castle because of its defensive design and turrets. In World Wars 1 and 2, the castle became home to a convalescent hospital and it was also used as a travel hostel, before being demolished in the 1960s. 

After the tour, we made our way back to the beach  in the hope of catching a decent sunset. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on our side, but we all managed to get some stunning photos of the coastline nonetheless. As Nia explained, you have to be careful not to go too near to the bottom of the cliffs, as they are prone to crumbling and rock falls are common. Luckily, I’d worn my jelly sandals, so I enjoyed paddling in the waves (although you have to take care while doing this, some are quite powerful; it’s easy to see how you could get swept out to sea!)

Dunraven Bay, Southerndown
Paddling in the waves at Dunraven Bay

After taking some snaps of the sea, we headed back to the pebble beach (when the tide is out, there is a lovely stretch of sand to explore as well). Nia had kindly set up a beach fire for us, complete with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and Welsh cakes from Cardiff Indoor Market in just about every flavour you can think of; including some I never even knew existed, like jam and coconut. 

Once gathered around the fire, we roasted the marshmallows on skewers, while Nia told us a spooky ghost story linked to Dunraven Bay. 

Roasting marshmallows on a beach fire

I had such a good time on the Summer Sundowner tour at Dunraven Bay. The tour was very informative and it went at a steady pace, giving us plenty of time to take photos of the picturesque routes along the way. It was so relaxing to spend time at the beach, and the fire was the perfect finishing touch. 

Normally, when I finish work in the evening I simply head home and have dinner before catching up on some blogging or watching TV. Once or twice a week, I may go out for a meal with a friend. Spending the evening at Dunraven Bay made me realise how lucky I am to live in South Wales, home to many natural beauty spots and historic landmarks, and that I really should make the most of my free time in the evenings and weekends to explore everything that South Wales has to offer. So, from here on, expect to see more posts on The Rare Welsh Bit about things to do and see in South Wales!

To see a full list of Real Wales Tours’ available tours and dates and/or to book, please visit www.realwalestours.com

I was invited to attend the Summer Sundowner tour by Real Wales Tours on a complimentary basis; however, I was not obliged to review my experience. 

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4 Comments

  1. June 30, 2016 / 11:47 am

    These tours sound brilliant… I was hoping to join you but was heavily pregnant and didn’t want to risk going into labour on the beach… Although in hindsight what a beautiful place for that to happen haha! Xx

    • July 6, 2016 / 11:13 pm

      Aww bless you, would have been lovely to see you there. Have you had your baby now? x

  2. June 30, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Great to read your perspective. Lots of fun, wouldn’t hesitate doing this again :D.

    • July 6, 2016 / 11:12 pm

      It was a great evening, would definitely go again. I love Dunraven Bay 🙂

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