Overall, there’s nothing to be overly concerned about in terms of health when travelling in South Wales. The biggest health risks are likely to be when enjoying the great outdoors, but by taking sensible (often obvious) precautions, for example applying suncream if you’re out walking and it’s hot, you can mitigate against most potential problems.
If you are planning on doing any walking – particularly in wooded areas or long grass during spring and summer – one potential hazard to look for is ticks, parasitic arachnids that embed their heads in the skin and suck on your blood (it’s not quite as vampirish as it sounds). You can reduce the risk of a bite by wearing lightly shaded, tightly woven clothing, in addition to applying a permethrin-based repellent.
The major A&E hospitals in South Wales are Glangwili in Carmarthen, Morriston in Swansea, the Prince Charles hospital in Merthyr, the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend, the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant, the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, Withybush General in Haverfordwest, and the University Hospital in Cardiff. These are complemented by Minor Injuries Units all across the region.
Wales is an extremely safe place to travel, though the usual precautions apply when in some of the bigger cities, especially at night. The biggest risk to one’s safety, ironically, is the great outdoors. If, as is likely, you’ll be doing some walking here in South Wales, then be wary of cattle. Don’t come between a calf and its mother, be a little more circumspect in May when the beasts have just been released from being cooped up indoors for months and always keep your dog on a lead when there are cows about.
Walking the coast path, stay away from cliff edges, however tempting it may be to peer over – that said, where there has been rockfall or slips, places are usually fenced off pretty quickly. Beaches of course present their own dangers. Many beaches in South Wales have lifeguards in the peak summer months, but as many of them are so vast, they are often only able to patrol one section, or zone, which is usually denoted by flags. Be aware of potential rip tides and currents too.
Travelling with a disability
Much work has been, and continues to be, done in Wales in terms of providing facilities for travellers with disabilities. While older hotels have limited facilities and access, the majority of accommodation providers (even hostels) have at least one accessible room available, with ramps and fully accessible wet rooms.
As transport facilities get upgraded, such as new electric buses, access is becoming increasingly standardised. If travelling with a wheelchair by train, advanced warning will enable station staff to prepare ramps at the appropriate station. Traveline Cymru has comprehensive details on access and facilities on its website, while another useful resource is the National Rail website.
Many visitor attractions are now fully wheelchair-accessible (certainly most museums), although inevitably there are some buildings whose configurations simply don’t lend themselves to decent access, most obviously some (but by no means all) of the region’s castles. Visit Wales has a list of some of the accessible accommodation and attractions in South Wales, though this is by no means comprehensive. Another useful website is the RNIB.
During the 1984 miners’ strike, miners received support from an unlikely source, namely the lesbian and gay community, although they weren’t from Wales but from London – manifestations of gay life in Wales were virtually non-existent at that time. Establishing themselves as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group, by the end of the strike nearly a year later, 11 different lesbian and gay alliances from across the UK had emerged in support of the miners, and together had donated more money to their cause than any other fundraiser.
These events, and the subsequent relationships that developed between the miners and the gay community were the subject of the fabulously entertaining film, Pride, in 2014.
Things have moved on a bit since those dark days, although manifestations of gay life beyond Cardiff and Swansea are still conspicuous by their absence. Cardiff’s Pride event takes place at the end of August, but otherwise there are a few bars and clubs in the city, as well as an excellent shop, Queer Emporium, in the Royal Arcade.