Walked 11th June 2012
Approximate distance: 14 miles
This section comes within the Vale of Glamorgan. Their Rights of Way Officer is Gwyn Teague, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01446 704810
I had left the last section just short of Barry Island and had taken the train from Cadoxton station back to Chepstow via Cardiff. So on this day I parked in the street by Cadoxton station and walked back down the hill to re-join the path as it follows the busy single lane highway that heads into the centre of Barry. I also had with me my brand spanking new Canon G12! Up to now all the pics have been taken on a Canon IXUS 860. It was a dull and at times a pretty wet day.
At the next roundabout, cross over to the other side of the road and continue in the same direction (signposted “The Docks”). The road is called Fforydd Millenium. After this roundabout the road remains as busy but the landscape improves with a wide grassy flower-filled verge and hedge of shrubby trees to your right. The railway line is in a deep cutting on the other side of this hedge. To your left the views are more open towards the dockland area.
Continue straight over the next roundabout passing Barry Docks Station on your right. The impressive 19th Century Barry Docks Office building (now used by Vale of Glamorgan Council) is set back from the road .
You pass a statue of David Davies. He was a Welsh industrialist and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1874 and 1886 and was responsible for the construction of the docks at Barry.
Continue on Fforydd Millenium to the next roundabout and then cross the road to turn left and walk down to the dockside. This development of smart flats is part of the “Waterfront Barry” initiative.
The pleasant couple of hundred yards walk along the wide path ends by returning you to the road you have just left. Turn right at the roundabout and then immediately left. The road passes a large railway goods shed and The Waterfront Railway Station – a tourist railway of diesel and steam trains that runs between here and Barry Island.
Just as the road rises turn right underneath a railway bridge. You are now in Barry’s slightly shabby shopping area. Turn left at the traffic lights and walk along the road, passing the Masons Hall on the right hand side. Built in 1905, it is now used for social functions.You pass Barry Station on your left (Barry seems to have a lot of stations!).
At the brow of the hill the road forks left, crosses a railway bridge and descends to a junction. The harbour lies straight ahead of you and The Ship pub is on the right.
At this point the path continues along Cold Knapp Way, with Barry harbour on the left. However the path also offers a mile and a half circumnavigation of Barry Island. Fans of the TV series “Gavin and Stacey” would not miss this for the world as you will pass the amusement arcade where Ness was based! And much more besides. Non fans should still take this detour as there are some nice sandy beaches and on a sunny day the chance of ice cream.
Barry Island circuit
The path is on the right hand side of the causeway road (built in 1896) that leads to the Island, with Barry harbour on your right. At the far end of the road a large car park is situated below you to the right. If you want to do the circuit anti clockwise (some people are funny like this) you can take a path down to the car park and head West. For the clockwise walkers you carry on a hundred yards further, past Barry Athletic Cricket Ground on your right to be greeted by the slightly underwhelming sight of the Barry Island Pleasure Park (opens weekends, and school holidays). On a wet week day in June it looked rather forlorn!
Turn left up Station Approach Road and walk past the station. (I understand that the Gavin and Stacey Tour leaves from here).
At the top of the road, I found the signing confusing. The Rights of Way officer is aware of the problem and is sorting this out. (18.6.12)
You need to turn left and follow the signs for the RNLI station initially. After turning the corner by some shops, turn left again down Dyfrig Street. At the bottom, follow the road with metal railings on your left. Thre’s a nice view back to Barry from here.
At the top of the hill, turn left.
Again I found it difficult to see the direction signs here but I am told this will be improved.
You come to a wide open grass park. Immediately on your left a narrow path descends to the sea. Take this path, which leads down to Barry Yacht Club (and a public toilet). If you fancy a paddle, here is your first opportunity of the day.
Cross the sandy beach of Jacksons Bay. As you do, pause to admire the rich red sandstone that makes up the cliff face. At the far side a wide concrete path that hugs the cliff just above the sea is called Clements Colley Walk (named after a previous Chief Executive of the Council). If it is a blustery day and the wind is in the wrong direction, the waves breaking here might give you quite a soaking. If it’s fine (it wasn’t for me), your views are to North Devon and the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel.
The path rounds Neils Point, past the Coast Watch building to present you with the much larger Whitmore Bay and its broad expanse of sandy beach .
This is where the amusement arcades, cafes and beach side stalls are located. And two rather fine concrete shelters built out from the cliff face. Very useful for sheltering from the rain! If you haven’t got a packed lunch with you, I’d suggest you get something now as there are no other refreshment opportunities directly on the path until you get to Llantwit Major (which isn’t actually on the path). You might call in at Marios cafe, made famous by Gavin and Stacey.
The path takes you briefly across the end of the beach and cuts across the small peninsula which leads to Friars Point. The headland here is a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is one of the best examples of calcareous cowslip dominated hay meadow in South East Wales. If that’s not enough to tempt you on this small detour, the headland is also home to a Medieval pillow mound where rabbits were kept and bred as an important food source. I didn’t stop to see any of this as it was raining quite hard!
The Wikipedia entry is surprisingly full for Barry Island. Here is something from there that you probably didn’t want to know: the ashes of Fred West, British serial killer, were scattered on Barry Island after his body had been cremated on 29 March 1995.
Once you have got back to your point of departure for the Barry Island trail, turn left down Cold Knapp Way. The path follows a passage by the side of a thatched house which has black Victorian style street lamps in the middle. The path turns to the right just by what looks to be a disused water treatment works .This is the site of the old Lido. Round the corner is a long promenade, with a wide pebble beach on your left. You pass a large rather ornamental pond with swans on the right. (It is actually shaped like a harp, though this might not be obvious).
At the end of the promenade the path climbs up the side of the cliff to a wide grassed cliff top with houses off to the right. You follow the tree edged cliff top as it continues to rise (to about 200 feet). The path enters a wood with some rather nice yew trees and then drops down quite steeply to Porthkerry Country Park. Over to your right is a view of a railway viaduct (built in the 1890’s to carry coal to Barry Docks), but you want to keep left walking along the coast below a pebble beach. The path climbs again though another small wood and then drops down to a field at the edge of what was once the site of a fairly substantial Iron Age settlement known as the Bulwarks Camp but other than a slight rise in the field, there’s not much left of it nowadays.
The path passes through Porthkerry Caravan Park. After this it drops down to near the beach. A little stile just to the left of the path takes you to the beach. So if you fancy taking your lunch by the beach, this is a nice little detour. The pebble beach is backed by the low cliffs and there are some comfy ledges at the foot of the cliffs to sit and enjoy the sound of the sea.
Returning to the path, climb up the steps and onto a long and narrow sheltered pathway, edged by hedgerows and wild flowers on either side. Follow this path straight down for a further 500 yards towards Rhoose Point. On your right is a strange landscape of rough undulating ground and several pools. Beyond this a settlement of houses sits on an escarpment. This is the site of an old quarry and cement works.
The cliff top path runs alarmingly close to the edge, but does give you great views over the flat stone shelf below you. A short way further brings you to a very shabby plaque in front of a wire fence announcing that this is Rhoose Point: “Most Southerly Point on Mainland of Wales”.
An impressive stone circle and upright four metre obelisk sits in front of a break in the even more impressive limestone cliffs and the stony beach beyond. You won’t get a better look at the geology than you are walking on today than from here.
A footpath goes off to the right to Roose (where there is a station and Cardiff International Airport!) just a quarter of a mile away. But our path continues past another disused quarry area. There are several points where you get fantastic views of the cliffs and stone platform beach before you arrive at the Fontygary Holiday and Leisure Park.
It is fascinating to see how the surroundings of the static caravans are decorated with little gardens and playful, some might say kitsch, decorations. The views out are restricted here by a thick hedge and unfortunately there is rather a lot of rubbish by the side of the path.
Ahead on the horizon is the tall chimney of one of the Aberthaw Power Stations, with its faint yellow sulphurous smoke. The path goes right up to the railway line and should descend down through what turns out to be Aberthaw Biodiversity Area.
I made the mistake, I think because the signing is not clear here, of crossing the railway line and having to walk by the road for a short while before a track back over a bridge takes you back down to the coast.
As you approach the sea wall you pass the well preserved remains of the old Aberthaw Lime Works.
The Aberthaw Lime Works was opened on 22 December 1888, by the Aberthaw Pebble Limestone Company. It was built to utilize the huge number of Limestone pebbles that had previously been taken inland or been moved by boat. It operated until 1926. The structure is a Grade II Listed Building.
The industrial scenery continues as you walk along the perimeter of the Aberthaw Power Station. You might think that you would be used to seeing these massive structures up close by now, but the sheer size of the place, with its mountain of coal, is still difficult to take in. Aberthaw burns approximately 5000–6000 tonnes of coal a day. The current power station on the site, Aberthaw B Power Station, uses coal and biomass (it would seem in the form of wood as I observed a huge pile of it) and as of 2008, its generating capacity is 1560 megawatts. The station is also the location for a trial carbon capture system.
If this kind of scenery is your thing you might consider a stay at the Limpert Bay Guest House (Sharne and Tucker- 07881 803380, 07801 301018) which sits alongside the path at the end of the power stations boundary and has fine views over Limpert Bay. The description on the website of the surroundings of this originally 16th Century Boat house, perhaps unsurprisingly, does not mention the power station.
At this point it really began to rain in earnest; and I wasn’t prepared to give my new camera a soaking on its forst outing. so that’s it for pics!
The path follows a minor road that leads to the edge of the small village of Gileston and then turns left up a farm track. Beware of the farmers two sheep dogs if you see them, one of which, according to him, is “too loving”. It had a nip at my leg- no harm done. Be prepared also for considerable difficulty making your way up this track and past the farm. It was a very wet day on my walk and the pools of water filled the track to their edges. If this wasn’t difficult enough at one point the track was completely blocked by a deposit of a thick sludge that in my view had been deliberately dumped there. To avoid it I had to go down into the adjoining field and trek through very soft and sticky soil to a bank and then climb over this bank to re-join the track.
I am assured by the Vales Rights of Way Officer that these problems with the track have now been sorted.
For much of the next mile or so the path continues along field edges which have not been kept clear enough at the edge to allow you to avoid tramping through waist high crops.
The only building that you come across in this very agricultural stretch is the rather utilitarian two storey brick Seawatch Centre at Summerhouse Point. The building is a converted H.M. Coastguard lookout station for the busy shipping lanes of the Bristol Channel and is now used as a Maritime Interpretation Centre.
Climbing over a stile I got a horrible stabbing pain in a calf. It felt like cramp. I was also being rained on quite heavily and was not such a happy bunny. I was under pressure of time, as well, as the train timetable for Llantwit Major suggested I would have a long wait if I missed the next one back to Cadoxton.
Another rather painful (for me, at least) mile and a half of walking by fields follows, the views out to the sea blocked by hedges to your left. Shortly after the path goes around Stout Point a poorly marked (there is no finger post) small path heads off to the right for Llantwit Major, which is about ½ a mile away. In fact I headed off to the town before reaching this point and had to trek by the edge of more fields, stopping occasionally to rub my painful leg. I found the station with just 10 minutes to spare!
This small coastal town has a medieval town hall, the ruins of a manor house, the foundations of a Roman villa, an interesting Parish Church, a medieval gatehouse, a house which is a fine example of Tudor architecture, a castle, and a wealth of history which is told in a series of blue plaques throughout the town. There are several pubs and restaurants and a handful of places to stay. It would make a great base for the next leg of the walk along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.