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Following the trail of smugglers today

The farms once owned by Arthur the ‘smuggling king’ still exist at Great and Little Highway, near Pennard Church on the way to Southgate (on a minor road leaving the B4436 at Pennard). They are now private residencies, but with some imagination you might be able to picture Arthur and men hauling casks of liquor along the lane or wrestling outside with Customs Officials!

Brandy Cove near Caswell (on the B4593) unsurprisingly takes its name from the illicit cargo that was once brought ashore here in the dead of night! The cove is almost concealed by rocks and is often deserted – a great place to experience the secluded atmosphere in which smugglers went about their business.

Pwlldu Bay can be found along the road from Southgate car park, following the track on foot for about three miles down to the isolated beach. Pwlldu headland was an important landmark that guided smuggling boats to into the bay itself. It is claimed that more contraband was landed here than anywhere else along the Bristol Channel. The 300 foot high cliffs would have provided a very convenient vantage point for keeping an eye out for Customs Officials.

The name ‘Pwlldu’ is Welsh for ‘black pool’: a shingle bar blocks the river flowing into Pwlldu bay, forming a pool behind it. The house behind the pebble bank was once the Beaufort Inn. The landlord here was said to have made a convenient arrangement with local smugglers — they used his cellars for storage and in exchange the landlord received a share of the goods. A cottage on the cliff path west of the beach was also used by smugglers, though it is now in ruins.

It is from here that Arthur the ‘smuggling king’ and his men once transported casks of liquor and other contraband along the Bishopston valley to the farms at Highway, where the goods were stored and distributed.