Places to visit over Easter

With the Easter holidays upon us I thought I’d share some of my easy to get to, favourite places in Wales, that are well worth a visit for a day out.

1. Rhossili, The Gower

If going to the coast is your thing over the holidays why not visit one of the best beaches anywhere in the UK. Whether it be endless sand to enjoy games on the beach, shipwrecks to explore or a walk along the coast path towards Worm’s Head. Rhossili has it all, the views are breathtaking. If you’ve never visited, why not?

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The shipwreck of the Helvetia on Rhossili beach

2. Gigrin Farm, Rhayader

If you love wildlife and birds of prey then Gigrin Farm in Rhayader is a must. Not far from the beautiful Elan Valley, the farm is home to the Red Kite feeding centre. Feeding is 3:00 every afternoon (after the clocks change in March) and takes place every day of the year. The spectacle of seeing so many Red Kites, which once faced extinction in Wales, is a sight to behold.

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Red Kite at Gigrin Farm

3. Big Pit National Coal Museum

Learn about the heritage of mining in Wales. See and hear how coal was king and how Welsh coal powered the world. Underground tours give you the real experience of the conditions miners faced every day. There is plenty more to see in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Blaenavon as well, the Ironworks, the steam railway and beautiful scenery looking out over the Sugarloaf from the Keepers Pond.

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Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Raglan Castle

If you love history and grand buildings then Raglan Castle is a great place to visit. A late castle by Welsh standards with work beginning in the 1430s. It played host to one of the last sieges of the Civil War, when it held off parliamentarian forces for thirteen weeks. If you are good with heights check out the view from the Great Tower over the rolling Welsh countryside.

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Raglan castle

5. Ogmore Castle

Another beautiful ruin of a castle. Ogmore Castle dates from around 1100. The castle is open daily from 10:00 – 4:00. If the water level is low try out the famous stepping stones. If you’re looking for a walk why not explore Merthyr Mawr, which you can walk to along the path from the castle.

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Ogmore castle

6. Newport Wetlands

A great place to visit for a stroll or for spotting wildlife. There are a number of different routes around the reserve that you can take, bird watching hides are available looking out over the reed beds, there is also a visitors centre where you can grab some refreshments while watching the birds. Why not check out the East Nash Lighthouse, one of the smallest lighthouses on the Wales Coast Path.

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Views from the Newport Wetlands reserve

7. Llanthony Priory

The ruins of the priory date from around 1100 and are found a short drive outside of Abergavenny. Set within the Brecon Beacons National Park the priory is backed by the beautiful Black Mountains. Not far from here is the world famous Skirrid Inn, why not stop here too, one of the oldest inns in Wales.

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The ruin of Llanthony Priory

These are just a few suggestions, but there’s loads of amazing places in Wales to visit. So get out exploring.

If you need more inspiration for places to visit, check out some of the places on my website: www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com or on Instagram: www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones

All the images used in this blog are the copyrighted property of Nathanael Jones.

Port Eynon

Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsula has special memories for me, it’s where the majority of our family holidays were spent when I was young, at Highfields caravan park over looking Port Eynon bay.

Port Eynon is the most southernly point on the Gower Peninsula and has a beautiful sandy beach, it’s a great place for making cool images. As well as the beautiful bay, there are also plenty of historical features to explore and incorporate into images.

The ruin of the Salt House on the sea front is perfect for adding some drama to a landscape. It has been extensively excavated and is a listed historic building. Stories say that the Salt House was linked by an underground tunnel to Culver Hole for smuggling and piracy.

Culver Hole is another historic location. Follow the Wales Coast Path up on to Port Eynon point and walk along the headland. The Culver Hole is found on a narrow steep path that drops down from the cliff top and Overtone Mere. The Culver Hole will not be visible until you get to the bottom of the path. It’s tall thin structure stretching up into the cliff side.

Every time I visit here I still find it amazing how it was ever built into the cliff face. The coast here is daunting, with jagged unforgiven rocks. At high tide the sea fills this area, so be aware. Stories tell of smugglers and pirates waving lanterns from the Culver Hole to draw ships onto the rocks and then take their cargo. It’s a location that still causes debate, smugglers hideout or elaborate dove cot?

The coastline at Port Eynon is notoriously hazardous and there are many shipwrecks that highlight its reputation.

One shipwreck that can still be seen is that of the SS Blue Bell, which floundered on the rocks here on February 15th 1913. All 12 crew survived and made it to shore.

At low tide you can walk to the remains of Blue Bell from Culverhole. Walking over the jagged rocks is hard going though, so you should take care. Always monitor the tide times, the tide comes-in fast here. Tide Times is a useful mobile app which I always use when I’m at the coast.

From Port Eynon Point the wreck can clearly be seen in the rocks below at low tide.

Another historic monument is found in the village at St Cattwgs churchyard. The marble statue of a lifeboat crewman remembers the Port Eynon lifeboat disaster of New Years Day 1916. Lifeboat Janet responded to distress signals from S.S. Dunvegan. Whilst trying to get to the stricken ship Janet capsized multiple times, with 3 crew men being lost.

The RNLI still have a lifeboat station at Port Eynon, it is situated close to the beach at Horton if you want to visit it.

Another wreck which cannot be seen is that of the Prince Ivanhoe which sank here in 1981. Everyone was rescued but sadly one person later died of a heart attack. For years the wreck was marked in the bay with 2 large marker buoys, it was a favourite spot for divers. The buoys have been removed now and it’s unclear how much of the ship actually remains.

You can see more of my Port Eynon and Gower images at www.nathanaeljonesphotography.com/Gower

and on my Instagram www.instagram.com/nathanaeljones

Here we go

It starts

For as long as I remember I’ve loved the outdoors. As a child most weekends were spent exploring. My dad had a motto that if you took kids to shops on weekends it made them unhappy, as all they wanted was stuff they couldn’t have, so getting in to the wide outdoors was the perfect solution. Endless fun that didn’t make us grumpy and it didn’t cost anything either.

Most weekends found us either in the mountains of South Wales or having a bonfire on the beach and cooking a tin of beans.

As the grandson of a Cornish man on my mums side and Pembroke man on my dads side, I guess I was destined to love the sea and the coast. The sound of the waves breaking on the shore, even the sand blasting me in the face when the wind is blowing, I love it!

Photography

In 2007 I went to Canada to explore the wild outdoors with my trusty compact Casio camera, which was about 2 mega pixel and ancient by today’s standard. One day sailing between Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island on the BC Ferry, a bizarre incident took place where a British woman approached me as she had been told I was a professional from England. She asked to see my photos of Canada and asked if I would give a presentation of my images to the Women’s Institute in Kent. Ever seen a pro photographer use a compact camera? me neither! I don’t know who told her that but I owe you a thanks, I didn’t do the presentation but it did make me think maybe I should do more photography.

Fast Forward…I decide to buy a digital SLR. teaching myself shutter speeds, iso and composition.

Motorsport

By 2010 I was photographing motorsport events with my brother. We had both always loved motorbike racing, so why not, it was fun for us. Our images got noticed and in a short space of time we had just under 3000 followers on Facebook. We covered major events, the UK motorcycle show at the NEC, the Isle of Man TT. We met celebrities like Murray Walker and Guy Martin, we got given food, hospitality it was a blast.

It all cost serious money though, every weekend up and down the country non stop. Weirdness too, people copied our shots, copied our captions, followed us to stand in the same spot, copied everything. You couldn’t make it up! It was all a bit cut throat. It was one big learning curve.

My Ford Fiesta was soon starting to disintegrate and generally shedding parts in various places around the UK, just from the miles we were covering. The inside of the passenger door would fill up with water every time it rained and then freeze as a solid block of ice on cold days. This was a rock n roll lifestyle. When I was dating my wife, she would always ask what’s that water sloshing around in the door…my water feature!

Remember the motto from earlier…..why do something that costs you if you can do something better for free.

Landscape

So I started taking pictures of Wales instead and people seemed to like them.

Waterfalls, coast, wildlife and nature.

Then I started to use filters, getting creative and making different shots.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it” – Ansel Adams

Landscape is everywhere and it’s different everywhere. So many options of how you can take a photo. I became like the robot in Short Circuit…need more input, constantly reading and researching finding new places to go.

Why do I love it?

It means I’m out in the fresh air. My wife and our son who is 2 come with me.

In Wales, where I live I can be in the Brecon Beacons National Park in under an hour walking in the mountains or in an hour and a half walking on Rhossili Beach in the Gower, Newport Wetlands and marshes are 15 minutes away. All these places are different, have unique features. I could visit each one, every day for years and capture different things.

If it’s raining and I get drenched, so what it adds something to the photo.

And it’s not just Wales either it could be Cornwall, Yorkshire Dales, Lake District etc. the same applies.

This is why I love it.

Finally

I’ll end this post with one of my favourite quotes

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams

Every photo I make has me in it, hopefully as you join me on this adventure you’ll find you in each photo too.

I’ll be posting about places I go, images I capture and all sorts, it’s going to be fun!