Perfect Welsh village where none of the houses will ever go on sale

The homes in this thatched village paradise will never go on the market for one special reason
The homes in this thatched village paradise will never go on the market for one special reason -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

'It's hidden down a country lane that winds through green and gorgeous Welsh countryside and crosses a river via an old stone bridge so narrow that only one car can cross at a time. In short, everything about this gorgeous village is like stepping back in time by at least a few decades.

Its location and lack of any through road means it's not somewhere many of us would ever go - though lots more people will have passed through it recently thanks to the presence of an equally idyllic festival in the forest on the village's borders.

The village is Merthyr Mawr, and describing it as something which looks like it has been lifted straight out of the Cotswolds is arguably not doing it justice, reports WalesOnline. I couldn’t believe my eyes whilst driving through as part of my mini-Welsh road trip with a gorgeous country pub practically around every corner. It's home to a number of perfect thatched cottages and a 19th century stone church with a cemetery almost entirely carpeted in bluebells and snowdrops in the spring. It's magical.

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To get there, your best bet is to go by car. But you can also get to it via public transport from Bridgend town centre, if you board the 303 bus and get off at Ogmore village, where it’s just a short walk down the hill to thatched-roof paradise surrounded by nature.

If you’re driving, you could park at Merthyr Mawr Nature Reserve's car park at one end of the village and then take a walk past the fields, woodland and into the main streets. And if you’re catching a bus, you will get to walk past the ruins of Ogmore Castle and over the stepping stones of the river that flows through the area (so long as the water level isn’t too high - as I soon found out when I headed there, but more on that later).

Go down the footpath and over the ‘wobbly’ bridge (which I can confirm does wobble but that didn't put off a horse crossing with its rider) and you’ve reached Merthyr Mawr. From your very first glimpse, it’s like stepping into a fairy tale, serene with birds chirping above the prettiest houses you ever did see.

There are thatched roofs on gorgeous cottages everywhere you look
There are thatched roofs on gorgeous cottages everywhere you look -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

But one thing that’s especially unique about the village is that all of the houses there are rented out by Merthyr Mawr Estate, so they will never be for sale. All the buildings with thatched roofs are also listed, so the look of them all can’t be changed too much.

Liam James, who works on the estate, lives in one of the thatched cottages with his chihuahuas and two kittens. He moved out when he was 23 and worked in Italy and France for seven years, but after the pandemic he realised there was nowhere else he wanted to be.

Liam James, who works on the estate, lives in one of the iconic thatched cottages
Liam James, who works on the estate, lives in one of the iconic thatched cottages -Credit:WalesOnline/Bethany Gavaghan

“It was amazing growing up, it was a bit difficult not having loads of people here when I was younger, but the social aspect of it here has definitely changed. There’s a good community spirit, with new people moving here over the years,” he told us in December when we first visited.

“We tend to have meetings now and again and we get together and have a few drinks and things. Some new people have come in, and they’ve kind of brought people together in a way.

"I do love the quietness and the feel of it here. A few of the cottages have changed and are a bit newer, but mine is still thatched - which the peacocks love because they can stand on the roof and shred it.

"It’s definitely a nice place to live, and you do get some people wanting to buy even though it’s all rented. I think my father had an offer from someone here once, but we had to say obviously that we don’t sell them.”

Sarah Morris, 66, is one of Merthyr Mawr's oldest residents
Sarah Morris, 66, is one of Merthyr Mawr's oldest residents -Credit:WalesOnline/Bethany Gavaghan

Sarah Morris is one of Merthyr Mawr’s oldest residents. Aged 66, she was born on the estate and believes she has lived there longer than anyone else. Her childhood memories of being there were of the village before it was as well-maintained as it is now but when the sense of community was strong and it even used to have its own library.

Like Liam, Sarah has also noticed that there has been a surge in the number of people placing value on the feeling of community on the estate.

“We used to have quite a good social life here but it sort of died a bit of a death, and now it seems to be picking back up again,” she told us last year. When I was growing up, everybody who lived in the village worked on the estate.

"All the cottages then were thatched when I was a child. It was only after a fire took place in one of the cottages here that thatched roofs became less popular. We’ve got our own WhatsApp group as well which is great.”

Sarah added: “My parents died here, so I’ll die here and we’re expecting our second grandson soon so he’ll hopefully take on the mantle as well so that’ll be the fifth generation. So we’re doing ok.

"I’m standing here now just looking at the fields, and watching the sun go down and it is amazing. It’s out in the fields, and in the countryside and it’s like a little secret nugget.”

Kristian Kane lives a little further out from Merthyr Mawr. But when it comes to his place of work, a video production service called Fine Rolling Media, it has provided the perfect place for creative inspiration.

Kristian said: “We’ve got free-roaming peacocks who live in the village, who literally stride into the office sometimes, which is a bit different. But you get used to it somehow, which is amazing.

"Our business has been based here for three years, but we were keen to be here because it was both nice to look at, with great scenery for filming. We do all sorts here, and the best thing about it is probably the fact that it is so tranquil.”

The area has become alive with local walkers and tourists alike in recent years. As well as the Forest Feastival in spring, when the woods outside the village host several pop-up food stalls in a magical woodland setting, the village is also home to Merthyr Mawr music festival Between The Trees which takes place in August, with the aim of encouraging people to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying the entertainment that is provided there.

Walkers Rosie Salvatore and Steph Iveson, who live closeby to Merthyr Mawr were out bright and early when I went to explore the area, and were walking through the village with their four-legged friend, Bella. They summed it up perfectly: "It's a beautiful place, and it's so peaceful here."