Bridgend

Just 22 miles from the Welsh capital, Bridgend or Pen-y-Bont is a Cardiff suburb that takes its name from the end of a bridge over the River Ogmore, which is the main river serving the town, along with the River Ewenny. The last census in 2001 showed there to be around 39,000 people living in Bridgend. With its excellent travel links, it’s a popular settlement for tourists and city workers.

Bridgend is home to a number of rugby teams. Bridgend Ravens are a semi-professional team who play their games at The Brewery Fields, as do Bridgend Town football club. Bridgend Athletic RFC and Bridgend Sports rugby teams also play in the area, so there’s plenty of opportunity to catch a rugby or football match. Rugby is a massive part of Welsh culture, so be sure to experience the passion that surges around the stadium. It can actually be quite overwhelming! As well as sporting greats, Bridgend is the birthplace of alternative rock bands Funeral For A Friend and Bullet For My Valentine, both of which have had massive international success. So, it certainly has a history of creating superstars and you just might spot some future successes as you wander round the streets.

As it’s such an unspoilt, natural area, where can you explore? Bryngawr Country Park is 113 acres of walking, running and cycling space. There’s also a children’s play area, woodlands, barbecue and picnic areas and freshwater environments to check out and relax in. The park is also home to the Oriental Garden, which as well as featuring oriental plants has pagoda and lanterns. More walking opportunities lie in the Bridgend Circular Route, which is a flat route through the footpaths and woodlands, or for a bit of a challenge, take the Ogwr Ridgeway Walk which takes you over rockier, more hilly terrain. Prefer to pedal rather than walk? The Celtic Trail cycle route passes through the north of Bridgend, so there are many options with regard to how you choose to explore.

Well, that’s the chill-out done. Now for some physical onslaught! Go 4 It Activities Wales specialises in gorge-walking and coasteering and they provide a number of packages for team-building weekends and stag/hen parties. From raft-building to rock climbing, they’ve got everything you could possibly want to throw yourself into in either a rural or coastal location. They’ve got a site in Bridgend, so if you wanted to just book a day with them, you should definitely find out what they have available for you. If you wanted something a little less strenuous, then there are a number of amusement arcades in Bridgend, such as Stardust, where you’ll find all the classic arcade games. This is a great place to take your kids on a rainy day (which is more than common in Wales) and keeps them from complaining that they can’t go outside. If it is nice weather though, you might want to cart the kids to Lakeside Farm Park, where a petting zoo is available. They’ve got goats, ducks, lambs, micro pigs, Shetland ponies, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs and there’s also a fishing lake and café on site.

If you’ve got no kids with you, the petting zoo might be cute and everything but it’s not going to hold your attention for long. Check out Bridgend’s shopping facilities at The Rhiw Centre, which is a great mixture of small businesses and big high street chains. The north bank of the River Ogmore is the town’s main shopping district and it suits all tastes from well-known brands to unusual family-run shops and cafés. Of course, if you want a bit of a splurge but haven’t quite got the budget, then you should definitely take a look at Bridgend Designer Outlet. A plethora of designer labels including Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Timberland offer discounts of up to 60% on a whole range of their products, so it’s a complete haven for bargain hunters!

Picked up a cheap Lacoste perfume or Ted Baker top and want to show it off? Then you’ll be pleased to know that there are numerous pubs in Bridgend. There is only one main nightclub, Sax, which offers cocktails from just £5. However, a few of the pubs do double up as nightclubs, including The Roof on Market Street and Phoenix on Wyndham Street. So you’re guaranteed to find a great party somewhere in town!

Bridgend is the perfect place to chill, shop and party and you can probably see a lot of it in just a couple of days. Cardiff is only a short distance away, where there are plenty more places to go and have a good time but Bridgend town itself is an exciting, bustling place to be.