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Wales Online
Wales Online
Bethany Gavaghan

Countryfile made a programme all about the coastline around Porthcawl and this is what they found

Porthcawl and other beauty spots on the south Wales coastline were shown off in all their glory in an episode of Countryfile. Dedicated to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Welsh Surfing Federation, the programme focused on the popularity of surfing, as well as environmental issues affecting the area.

The magical landscape of the Kenfig sand dune system was showcased during the episode: 'Porthcawl Surf and Sand' as well as Rest Bay and places like Gower. To kick off the programme, John Craven met Linda Sharp, the UK’s first female European champion who helped shape Welsh surfing culture in the 1970s.

They started by looking out across the sea in Porthcawl and discussing the sport and its impact in Wales, as well as how it has become more common for female surfers to get involved in it, competitively. Craven also spoke to former British champion Mark Vaughan, the director of the Welsh Surfing Federation, who compared the South Wales Coast to the likes of Australia for its surfing opportunities.

Read more: The eco entrepreneur who invented a surf board made entirely from mushrooms and coral

He said: "Every now and then we get those really, really special, unique days where the swells come in. We get the offshore wind and there's lots of nooks and crannies that give us waves - on its day it's comparable to places like Australia.

"We have one of the world's biggest tidal ranges here in south Wales. That presents its challenges because places like Australia have a one metre tide and here it can be up to 14 metres which is a huge swing and people must be careful in terms of watching the tides and understanding it when they come to the beach for the day."

A surfer taking on a big wave which was shown on the BBC Countryfile episode about Porthcawl (BBC Countryfile)

Considering the future of surfing in the area, things were looking bright according to Mark. He noted: "The popularity continues to grow. We're seeing more and more people taking to the water with all sorts of different craft these days."

The episode also covered how surfboards have developed - and why people need smaller boards to perform above the wave in the air, and do more tricks, as well as the importance of wetsuits in south Wales to be able to practice in a range of temperatures.

Kenfig Hill Nature Reserve (BBC Countryfile)

A few miles away from the beach of Porthcawl is Kenfig National Nature Reserve, which has a wealth of habitats including grasslands and the largest natural freshwater lake in Wales, as well as sand dunes.

There, Joe Crowley explored how nature could be threatened by the UK’s growing demand for water. He highlighted how much the glorious landscape had to offer and emphasised how much people wanted to protect the species living there, including grass snakes, the rare shrill carder bee, and the smallest species of butterfly - the small blue.

The very rare carder bee that inhabits Kenfig Hill Nature Reserve (BBC Countryfile)

Further along the Welsh coast, John joined Swansea’s Surfers Against Sewage at one of their monthly beach cleans to help combat the never-ending battle against beach litter, on what otherwise look like pristine beaches. The group is also calling for all bathing spots in the UK to be protected, and a 90% reduction in sewage discharge by 2030.

He also visited Broughton Bay on the Gower Peninsula to help them with their beach clean and meet the person running the group, Jake Chadwick, who is a passionate surfer. Jake said: "For me, the ocean is my playground. I get my food from the ocean. In winter, it's where we get a lot of our oxygen from. So, for me, campaigns and beach cleans, it's protecting what sustains me." You can get more Porthcawl and Bridgend news, and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.

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