South Wales

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South Wales, particularly around the Vale of Glamorgan is an area of contrasts. To the east, Cardiff and Barry's maritime heritage. To the west, the traditional seaside resort of Porthcawl. Sandwiched between the two is a rural aspect, with the northern part of the Vale of Glamorgan marked by the M4 motorway.

The largest and most important place in South Wales, without a doubt, is Cardiff. The capital of Wales is home to the Welsh Assembly and Wales' national stadium, The Millennium Stadium. St. David's Hall offers first class live entertainment, Cardiff Castle is situated in a tranquil part of the city centre, whilst being close to the shops and its indoor market. Since the new millennium, Cardiff Bay has been redeveloped, fronted by the Wales Millennium Centre. Its prominence has increased Cardiff's status as a possible conference venue.

Only next door to the city of Cardiff is the seaside resort of Penarth. The town was promoted as 'The Garden By The Sea'. Its pier would greet holidaymakers from the West Country and the West Midlands. Today, it is mainly a dormitory town for Cardiff commuters, though the pier has recently been restored. 

A few miles south west is the resort of Barry Island. At the height of its popularity, it was known for its amusement park. After a miserable childhood holiday there, this inspired Billy Butlin to open his first holiday camp in 1936, in Skegness. Barry Island's came 30 years later. Today, the camp has since been demolished and for many, Barry Island is known for the BBC sitcom 'Gavin and Stacey'. It is also a place of pilgrimage for rail enthusiasts with the Barry Tourist Railway following on Woodhams' Scrapyard, where a great many of British Railways' steam locomotives awaited the cutter's torch. Thankfully, two-thirds of the steam locomotives would be preserved.

Towards the west is Bridgend, a town on the banks of the River Ogmore with a proud history dating from Roman times. Newcastle Castle, at one time among three fortified structures around Bridgend, looks out to the town centre from Newcastle Hill. To the north east of the town centre is Coity Castle. It is a predominantly industrial town, with most of its recent development thanks to the discovery of coal.

There's ever chance the town's miners would have flocked to Porthcawl each summer for the Miners' Fortnight. Porthcawl is a lively seaside resort with, like Barry Island, its own amusement park. Coney Beach overlooks Sandy Bay, one of a number of bays around Porthcawl. On the Esplanade is The Grand Pavilion, a popular venue for live performance.

In relation to sport, there is a fair number of golf courses within the Vale of Glamorgan. Fans of Rugby Union are well catered for, not only with the Millennium Stadium but also clubs like Bridgend Athletic Rugby Football Club. Lovers of the spherical association football game are catered for by Bridgend Town and Barry Town.

South Wales is well connected by road and rail. The M4 links the area with Cardiff, Swansea and London, as well as Milford Haven and Fishguard. Regular rail services to London Paddington call at Bridgend as well as Swansea and Cardiff. There is also a local service to Barry Island and Bridgend - the latter calls at a station near Rhoose Airport, which is served by a connecting bus. Rhoose Airport is Cardiff's connection with mainland Europe, offering a variety of scheduled and charter flights.

For an alternative to the usual spots, South Wales, particularly the Vale of Glamorgan is not without its charms. You may be surprised with the number of conference venues it has.

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