beautiful places

5 Dream Writing Retreat Locations in Wales, Part I

March 28, 2015

The humble little country of Wales, located at the south-eastern part of Great Britain, boasts an interesting distinction: it’s sometimes called the castle capital of the world, and for good reason. Wales has had about four-hundred castles over the course of history, with about a hundred or so of them still left standing. And castles, as we all know, are wonderful because of a ton of reasons, most of these reasons having to do with history, but perhaps a good chunk of these having to do with the fact that castles have a distinctly inspiring spirit about them that just makes them perfect for retreats of all sorts. In this list, we’ll run down five of Wales’ many castles, as dream locations for writing retreats. This is just the first part of a longer series of lists on castles on Wales, mind you, so buckle up, and get ready to have a brief trip in Wales, as we look at some of its beautiful castles. We’ll start with five castles from Bridgend. Take note that they’re ruins, however, so exploring them as if they were in their glory days is not something that can happen. Don’t let that stop you from actually exploring them, however, especially if you’re looking for something about them that can inspire or fuel your work.

1. Candleston Castle

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This 12th century castle is thought to be named after its first feudal tenants, the Norman family of Cantilupe. It stands on Merthyr Mawr, and its structure suggests a defensive position. Interestingly, Candleston did not start out being referred to as an actual castle, but as a manor, fortified later in the 14th century, when it was given the name “Candleston Castle.” The castle had, since being given away by its first tenants, passed through the hands of so many owners. It now stands as no more than a set of ruins surrounded by woodland and situated at an area with shifting – but now stabilized – sand dunes. The ruins themselves are already a sight to see, perhaps something to inspire a writer, especially through a writing retreat. There’s much history to be uncovered from Candleston.

2. Coity Castle

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Coity Castle is an 11th century castle in Glamorgan, Wales, and was built by Sir Payn “the Demon” de Turberville, who was one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. That should already be reason enough for this castle to be a site of a writing retreat. Although it’s already in ruins, Coity Castle still has a lot going on for it – one just has to sift through the site to find something inspiring. And with the weight of history backing this castle, perhaps that would not be too hard to find.

3. Kenfig Castle

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Kenfig Castle is yet another set of ruins, this one appearing to be more overcome by nature and time than the past two items in our list. Whatever is left of the old structure is now crawled over by greens, and appears to be little more than a kind of jagged stone jutting out of the earth. While an actual retreat within the castle cannot be realized, one can set a retreat somewhere where one can visit – or at least look at – this ruin. The castle was sacked at least six times, and abandoned at some point because of sand dunes that encroach it. Only the top of the keep is visible today.

4.  Newcastle Castle

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This medieval castle is found on Newcastle Hill in Glamorgan, and was originally constructed as ringwork by another of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan, William de Londres. The castle passed through the hands of three families, and is now in a state of ruin, though unlike Kenfig Castle, there’s still a substantial amount of things that one can look at and explore.

*First two images are from Ancient Monuments

5. Ogmore Castle

We come to the last castle on this list, Ogmore Castle. It is one of the 12th century castles in its area, the other ones being Newcastle and Coity (both of which are found on this list). It has been used for various purposes, a prison and a court of justice, for instance, but is now – like the other castles in this list – left in ruins. Still, it is a landmark, and can still be visited. Something interesting about Ogmore is that it is a site of a folk tale revolving around a ghost who supposedly guarded the castle’s hidden treasure.

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*Final image from Castle Wales

**All images, unless indicated, are Wikimedia.

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