It's time to shake off the tinsel, step outside, and enjoy the refreshing winter air with 6 of Bridgend County's best breathtaking walks. Walking has been proven to improve both physical and mental wellness: Exactly what you need after the stress of Christmas. Whether you are looking for a leg-busting ascent into the heights of the Welsh valleys or simply fancy a family ponder around wild parklands, it can be found in Bridgend County.
1. Hike the rolling hills of Ogmore Valley
Ascend the sloping heights of Ogmore Valley Trail on a stretching trail from Aberkenfig to Nant-y-Moel using a 12.3km peaceful walking and cycle path. Surrounded by the dramatic views, quaint villages and nearby woodlands, the valley of Ogmore's natural surroundings make it the idyllic escape after the Christmas rush. Keep your eyes peeled for the odd rusted railway ramparts, ageing symbols of the area's locomotive and mining heritage.
Difficulty Medium - Hard
2. Peep inside ponds, wander through wetlands and run wild at Parc Slip
Dust off the Christmas cobwebs and let the kids run wild with adventures across Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. Spanning over 300 acres, wander through the reserve to discover the secret wild world of the species who call it home. Spy the elusive harvest mouse nestled amongst the grass, or look skyward for the chance to spot the beautiful lapwing flying above its wetland habitat. You and your family can explore every corner of the reserve using one of the child-friendly routes within 10km of twisting paths. Spy the elusive harvest mouse, peep into ponds to spot frogs or look skywards to see resident birdlife such as heron, mallards and the wetland lapwing. Afterwards, treat the little ones to a hot chocolate in the comfort of the fully-accessible on-site coffee shop.
Difficulty Easy - Medium
Distance up to 9.5km
3. Beat the winter blues with ambles along the banks of the river Afon Garw at Bryngarw Country Park
Escape to the outdoors for a winter amble along the banks of the river Afon Garw at Bryngarw Country Park. Relax to the sounds of the flowing river as you walk down the eastern end of the park on a tranquil 2-mile route weaving through the Green Flag award-winning park. With over 100 acres of protected land to explore, choose from native woodlands, formal gardens and family-friendly play areas to stretch your legs. Afterwards, grab a warming hot-drink in the comfort of the on-site coffee shop.
Distance up to 3.5km
4. Wander the hills surrounding the peaceful Parc Calon Lan
Start your walk in the peaceful parc Calon Lan, home to trickling streams, a pleasant lake and interesting sculptures. Named after the famous welsh hymn of the same name, find pleasure in hearing the birdsongs as you explore the parklands. Take the circular 9km walk which leads explorers into the upper region of the valley and through forested woodlands. Discover interesting sites such as quaint bubbling waterfalls as they speed downhill and the remains of former coal mining communities.
Distance up to 9km
5. Explore Europe's second-largest sand-dunes with seasonal saunters around Merthyr Mawr
Take a stroll through the impressive sand-dunes of Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve with twisting paths which stretch a total area of 840 acres during the wintery off-season. Choose from a variety of clearly marked trails which weave through the terrain. Put your leg muscles to the test by ascending the in-famous slopes of 'The Big Dipper', the largest sand-dune in Wales which can be reached on a half a mile route from Candleston car park. Alternatively, enjoy the seaside views with the one-mile beach walk which guides walkers along the scenic coast.
Difficulty Moderate to strenuous
Distance Ridge Walk (from Newton car park) 4km, Beach Walk (from Candleston car park) 1.5km, Big Dipper Walk (from Candleston car park) 1km.
6. Boost your health with coastal hikes
Press the reset button with a revitalising seaside walk between Porthcawl's Pink and Rest bays along the Wales Coast Path. Focus on your wellbeing with the winning combination of sea air and low impact exercise, ideal for combatting those extra mince pies. The journey between the two bays overlooks the pristine greens of the Royal Porthcawl Golf Course, the pebbled beach and the blue sea. The accessible boardwalk allows all ages to enjoy the coastal path, including a number of benches for relaxing and taking in the scenery.