Monmouthshire, Wye Valley, Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and Forest of Dean are our playground at Upper Glyn Farm. Mountains and hills, valleys, trees and rivers, castles, abbeys and ancient monuments, lovely towns and great places to eat and drink.

You can spend a lifetime getting to know all that is on offer as it changes with the seasons and weather conditions. Truly an environment to enrich the soul.

I love living here but sometimes  I feel the need for the sea  and you’ll be pleased to learn that within an hour or so’s drive from us you can be walking on a wonderful coastline, visiting seaside resorts  or surprisingly, some of the finest sands dunes in Europe.

We had guests staying in the Sugar Loaf cottage recently who had gathered for a family wedding in Chepstow, but they arrived a couple of days early and decided to go the coast.

The nearest bucket and spade resort is Barry Island, which was given a new lease of life in the TV comedy series Gavin and Stacey. There’s plenty of traditional seaside fun occurring at the famous beach resort. Barry is about an hour’s drive away.

Our guests travelled a bit further west to Ogmore, Southerndown and Dunraven Castle. This a wild and more remote stretch of beaches and rugged cliff tops which are fantastic for walks. We used to love taking our dogs there.

But I’m going to let you into a secret; just the other side of the estuary at Ogmore there is a magical place few know about. It’s called Merthyr Mawr and it is a nature reserve with a network of sand dunes stretching across 840 acres including the highest sand dune in Wales – the big dipper.

It is a favourite training area for runners. If you can run up the big dipper without stopping, you are fit. I once saw Steve Ovett doing interval training on the sands at the height of his fame when he was winning Olympic gold medals and it is also a regular venue for rugby teams for pre-season training.

If you are a runner check out the Christmas Pudding Race in December which is run over the dunes including up the big dipper. Awesome!

We visit the dunes to walk our dogs, and my wife Chris has taken the horse lorry down a few times and ridden. There’s a large car park but bring coins because you need to pay.

From the car park you can walk for miles up and over the dunes until at last you reach the sea. It is a wide-open beach stretching into the distance. Few people get there but for horses, dogs and humans it is a joy.

In my running days we would park at the car park and run to the seaside resort of Porthcawl and return on the higher ground. About an hour in those days on energy sapping sand.

To round off your visit pop into the café by Ewenny Pottery for enormous home cooked meals and too tempting traditional puddings. The girls that serve you have the richest, most lyrical Welsh accents you’ll hear.

Merthyr Mawr is about an hour and a half from us. There is so much to do round Upper Glyn Farm but if you are staying for several days and you fancy a change you can fit a trip to the sea into your itinerary but don’t tell too many people – Merthyr Mawr is a treasure only for those in the know.

Featured image: Merthyr Mawr

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

 Dunraven Beach

Skirrid holiday cottage under construction


Skirrid holiday cottage under construction

The Big Dipper at Merthyr Mawr. Are you fit enough to run up it?