Kenfig nature reserve
Kenfig National Nature Reserve covers 5.3 square kilometres (1,300 acres) of managed sand dunes and wetlands. The area is regarded as one of Europe’s finest examples of dune habitat. Dunes once stretched right along the coast from the river Ogmore to the Gower peninsula, but in most places have been replaced by towns, hard coastal defences and other man-made structures.
Kenfig dunes are home to rare flora and fauna. The various types of orchid here include the fen orchid Liparis loeselii var. ovata.
The reserve includes Kenfig Pool, the largest freshwater lake in South Wales. Visitors can use bird hides to watch the wildfowl attracted to the lake in all seasons.
A castle and town were built in what is now the reserve in the 12th century. From the middle of the 13th century, the buildings were constantly threatened by sand and were largely buried by the mid-15th century. Today only the top of the castle keep is visible. Stone from the town’s church was removed and used to create St James’ Church in Pyle. According to local legend, this “upside-down” church was built with the stones removed from the upper parts of the 12th-century building placed in situ first, followed by the larger stones that were originally at the bottom of the original walls.
Kenfig pool and dunes were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1953. Today the area is managed by Bridgend County Borough Council.
Kenfig is spelt Cynffig in Welsh. The name of the medieval borough came from that of the local, which probably took the name of a person. Documents from the 12th century record the name as Chenefec, Kenefec and Kenefeg.
With thanks to Richard Morgan, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, for information on the place name