The Bridgend Valleys have splendid landscapes, walking and myths.
Llynfi Valley with the historical market town of Maesteg at its heart where the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, was first performed in public at the Tabor Methodist Chapel on St David’s Day, 1856 under its original title of 'Glan Rhondda'.
The town is dominated by its impressive Town Hall, a grade II-listed Pennant sandstone building opened in 1881, whose prominent clock tower is visible from afar, and where it is reputed a young Richard Burton first trod the boards during a local Eisteddfod in 1939. Today, the building houses a number of works by renowned Welsh artist Christopher Williams, who was born locally, and is a busy arts and entertainment venue.
The origins of present day Maesteg and its neighbouring communities further up the Llynfi Valley, such as Nantyffyllon and Caerau, date from the 1820s when the area’s coal and iron-ore resources were exploited and developed. In 1828, the 15-mile horse-drawn Dyffryn Llynfi and Porthcawl Railway (DLPR) was completed to link the area to a new harbour at Porthcawl on the coast.
Just to the south of Maesteg, the historic hilltop village of Llangynwyd with its church and two old pubs set amidst pretty countryside certainly merits a visit. One of the oldest pubs in Wales, the thatched Old House (Yr Hen Dy) dates back to 1147 and is one of the few remaining places where you can still witness the famous 'Mari Lwyd' every New Year's Day, an ancient custom to mark the passing of the darkest days of midwinter.
In the early 18th century, the Corner House pub was home to local bard Wil Hopkin who wrote the much-loved song 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn' at the Old House, which tells of his love for Anne Thomas, the Maid of Cefn Ydfa, a young heiress forced into marriage with a rich man. Broken-hearted, Anne died two years later and Wil never married. Both he and Anne are buried at Llangynwyd church, Anne in the family grave in the chancel, and Wil in the churchyard under the shade of a yew tree. The original gravestones have been replaced and taken to the bell tower of the church.