A Trip Around Glamorgan’s Ghostly Vale

Ogmore Castle

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Cardiff is a vibrant city full of green spaces, interesting architecture, and history. The surrounding countryside is no less fascinating, and I jumped at the chance to go on a trip to Glamorgan’s Ghostly Vale arranged by Visit Wales. I was a guest of Shân’s Wales Tours, and we were about to discover the Heritage Coast, a starkly beautiful area teeming with history, ghosts and real life tragedies.

The ruins of Ogmore Castle, one of many in the Ghostly Vale
Ogmore Castle is one of many ruined castles in the Ghostly Vale

Into The Ghostly Vale

Wales is said to be the most haunted country in the world, and the Ghostly Vale its most haunted region. There was certainly no shortage of ghosts on this tour, a non-stop parade starting with the eccentric 4th Earl of Bute who frequents Cardiff Castle. Shân was a lively raconteur, with a constant flow of stories. She joked that there were occasions when she seemed to summon up the spirits herself. As if to prove the point, we turned the corner and giant waves lashed up over the sea wall and onto the road in front of us!

Everywhere we went had its own tale to tell. There was the field where an (allegedly) unfaithful wife was buried up to her neck, and the road where a traveller rescued a ghostly head from a group of football playing demons. Then there were the atmospheric ruins of Ogmore Castle, with their legend of a mysterious White Lady. (She is said to be watching over some hidden treasure, but no-one has discovered its hiding place yet…)

St Donat's Castle
St Donat’s Castle is the most haunted place in the Ghostly Vale

The most spooky place of all was St Donat’s Castle. This is the domain of Lady Stradling, who was murdered in the castle, and who is always beautifully dressed when she materialises. Unfortunately her appearance tends not to be appreciated, because her visits invariably presage a death in the family. St Donat’s has several other ghosts, including a dog with bright red eyes. However Lady Stradling is the “senior” phantom, and she is scornful of the more recent apparitions.

The Glamorgan Heritage Coast

This trip wasn’t just about ghosts. Shân had an extensive knowledge of Welsh history, and she pointed out abandoned villages, old wells and prehistoric sites as we passed. She told us about famous shipwrecks and about aristocrats whose interest in the supernatural and taste for laudanum may not have been entirely unconnected.

Then we stopped for lunch at the historic Plough and Harrow, a 14th century pub whose bar was once used to store the bodies of shipwreck victims while their coffins were being built. Not surprisingly the pub has a few ghosts of its own.

Inside the Plough and Harrow
You can imagine lots of ghosts inside the 14th century Plough and Harrow

Shân built up a picture of Wales in an earlier era. “They were harsh times,” she said. Justice was cruel and landlords were pitiless. Pirates and plunderers abounded, the seas were treacherous and the lonely roads a peril for the traveller.

I thought of all this later, as I stood on the cliff at Nash Point, where the steam vessel Frolic sank in 1831, losing all 78 people on board. It was a wild place: the wind whistled in my ears, and blew so fiercely I could hardly keep my balance. Far below were the sandbanks and jagged rocks that led ships to their doom. No wonder there are so many ghosts around here.

Cliffs on the Glamorgan coast
Even today the rocks look treacherous

Thanks to Shân of Shân’s Wales Tours for a fascinating day out, and to Visit Wales for sponsoring the trip.


6 thoughts on “A Trip Around Glamorgan’s Ghostly Vale”

  1. You’ve made the Glamorgan Heritage Coast sound hauntingly appealing. I visited Wales for the first time this fall, although not this particular area, and I could well imagine the atmosphere and harsh beauty.

  2. Visiting a site is so much more interesting when there are stories to be told. As for visiting the Plough and Harrow where they stored the bodies of shipwreck victims…..ugh…OK, maybe.

  3. Gosh! Who knew Cardiff and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast could be so appealing? I have friends who live in Newport and have visited them, we’ve been to Cardiff city centre a couple of times. But you’ve tempted me to make a visit now and explore more thoroughly – thanks!

  4. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    I remember reading many romance mysteries in my teens that featured Wales and its fascinating history and even today Wales brings to mind images of great beauty that your photos prove are true. And what fun to take a tour with an entertaining guide who can spin even more exciting tales.

  5. I would love to visit Glamorgan. You’ve painted a wonderful picture of wildness, desolation,and intrigue. Perfect for ghostly materializations!

  6. I’ve long wanted to go to Wales- I’m a bit Merlin fan. Glamorgan looks wonderful. Love the old sites.

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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