Sunday, 20 October 2013

Neath Abbey and Heatherton World of Activities

Below is my “Days Out” column from The Weekend supplement in the Saturday, October 5, 2013, issue of the South Wales Evening Post.






















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Days Out! 
With Richard Thomas
...IF THE WEATHER'S GOOD
From spectacular natural scenery to stunning monument settings, the historical and archaeological landscapes of South Wales have lots to offer. One great place to visit is Neath Abbey and Gatehouse.
Originally founded as a daughter house of Savigny in 1130, the abbey was absorbed into the Cistercian order in 1147. Fairly complete remains of the abbey survive, together with the 16th century mansion raised within its precincts.
As well as its ancient history, in more recent times the Abbey has been used as a filming location for Doctor Who. Scarier than the Daleks, though, are the many stories of ghostly monks that are said to haunt the ruins and have been reported by visitors. On 16 November 1326 Edward II was captured by forces loyal to Queen Isabella, the king's own wife, whilst making his way from Neath Abbey towards Caerphilly Castle. According to local legend a monk at the abbey betrayed the king, who was later killed, and still haunts the ruins today.
WHERE? The abbey is located in Neath Port Talbot. Although situated near an industrial area, the Abbey's location, on the banks of the Tennant Canal, makes it a tranquil and memorable site to visit. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Neath Abbey and Gatehouse, Monastery Road, SA10 7DW.
 WHY? Admission to the site is free and it’s a fascinating and quiet place to wander around. While only a ruin remains today, at one time it was the largest abbey in Wales and gives a good impression of what things were like before the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 by Henry VIII. It is also a wonderful spot for photographers to take some snaps. 
 WHEN?
 The site is open daily between 10am and 4pm. Last admissions are 30-minutes before closing.
 CONTACT:
 For more information call 44 292 050 00200.
 HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? 
There is no charge to see the Abbey and Gatehouse, so you can spend as much time as you like taking in the surroundings.
 WHO WILL ENJOY IT? Whether you’re a fun seeking family or a couple looking for a romantic setting for a picnic, all ages will enjoy this beautiful historical site.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS
? Children less than 16 years old are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 
 HOW DO I GET THERE? 
 Off the A465 follow the A4320 Skewen signs. Turn left opposite the Hope & Anchor public house. A map can be found at www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/neathabbeyandgatehouse.

 LUNCH?
 The Abbey is a great place for a picnic, so pack one.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Located in Port Talbot, along the eastern rim of Swansea Bay, Margam Country Park boasts a magnificent 18th century orangery, picturesque Tudor-Gothic style Victorian mansion house, a 12th century chapter house, ornamental gardens and one of the best deer herds in Wales. Children will enjoy the narrow gauge railway, adventure playground, farm trail and Fairytale Land. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: Margam Country Park, Margam, Port Talbot, SA13 2TJ. Visit: www.margamcountrypark.co.uk.
…IF THE WEATHER’S BAD
Open all year round Heatherton World of Activities is a family leisure park with a wide range of both indoor and outdoor activities, offering something for the whole family to enjoy.
Admission to the park is free as visitors only pay for what they want to do. Each activity at the park holds an individual price as well as a credit value. For the best value for money buy a credit pass. These range from 5 to 100 credits and the more credits you buy the more money you can save on the attractions. Visit www.heatherton.co.uk.
WHERE? Heatherton World of Activities is located near Tenby in Pembrokeshire. 
WHY? The park is perhaps best known for its fantastic outdoor activities like its Tree Tops Adventure Trail and paintballing missions, but there is also a wide range of indoor activities to try too when it’s wet outside.
WHEN? The park is open 10am to 9pm on weekdays and 10am to 7pm on weekends.
CONTACT: Phone 01646 652000.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? The activities at the park are open every day between 10am and 5pm. But check the website as some activities don’t start until 11am.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT? There is something suitable for all ages, including go karting on the 300m race track, getting some target practice on the Big H Air Pistol Range and Laser Pigeon Shoot, or taking an archery lesson from qualified coaches. There’s also a regular and adventure golf course, baseball range, indoor and outdoor play area, maze, and lots more. 
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? The indoor play area caters for children aged 1 to 10 years old. The soft play area consists of ball pools, safe climbing frames, tunnels and slides.
HOW TO GET THERE? For sat nav-users the address and postcode is: Heatherton World of Activities, St Florence, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 8RJ.
LUNCH? There is a restaurant and coffee shop to get a bite to eat.
WHERE CAN I PARK? There is a car park on site.
ANYTHING ELSE IN THE AREA? Folly Farm is much more than just a zoo, the 200 acre park is also home to Europe's largest undercover vintage funfair with a huge collection of working rides and stalls including a vintage big wheel and giant helter skelter ride lovingly restored to their 20th century glory. The address is: Folly Farm, Begelly, Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire, SA68 0XA. Phone 01834 812731.

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