Kenfig and Rest Bay both beautiful stretches of sand….

Today was cloudy but mostly dry, so to make the most of our last one in the Vale of Glamorgan, we took an early start and headed for Kenfig Nature Reserve. The reserve is some 1300 acres of dunes and marshlands and leads to the long sandy stretch of beach known as Sker Beach. We followed one of the many trails towards the beach with just birdsong for company.

As this section of the beach was quite busy with dog walkers we decided to head south along the coastal path to take a look at Rest Bay with the tide out and what a joy to find the first section of this beach completely empty, beyond on the main section you could see quite a few surfers chancing the waves.

Anyway not ones to miss the opportunity of an empty beach, Poppydog was like a whippet off starting blocks once I let her go and then happily ran around, occasionally allowing me to throw the ball for her. Though the sun wasn’t out it was quite warm enough for me to wander around in just a T-shirt and sit for awhile whilst Poppydog played in the rock pools.

From here we returned to Sker Beach, which stretches on for miles with the ominous chimneys of Port Talbot in the distance.

Once we had walked a considerable way along the beach we headed in back through the dunes in the rough direction of the car park, encountering some seriously wet ‘wetlands’ on the way!

Guess what? The wellies I bought in February are leaking already- Grrrrr!!!!Briar wellies – don’t bother! So we squelched past Kenfig Pool (though we thought the yellow irises were pretty) all the way back to the car.

Two thoughts of the day:

Well we have experienced some massive expanses of virtually deserted beaches in the Vale of Glamorgan – we like!

The site is full for the bank holiday and Poppydog is beside herself with excitement – I have closed most of the blinds to stop her jumping from sofa to sofa to see what’s going on!

Barry in the rain…..

Well it started raining at about 9am and stopped about 5.30 pm – still we’re on a schedule (only 2 days left here) so as we planned to visit Barry today, we did. Aside from getting wet, but once you are it doesn’t really matter, I think it worked in our favour as the place was deserted! We parked up in Porthkerry Country Park, a fabulous mature parkland at the western end of Barry and home to the amazing Porthkerry Viaduct.

From here the tide was still far enough out for us to walk across the mostly pebble beach to The Knap (headland).

Along the esplanade past the swans happily gliding across the large pond totally unperturbed by the rain!

The Knap then gives way to the pretty, sandy Watch House Bay, revealed at low tide outside the old harbour wall – I’m afraid the greatness of the day and falling rain does not do any of the following beach photos justice.

Here the tide was low enough for us to cut across to Little Island and Friars Point, but instead we walked the long way round the inner harbour, which to be fair was more mud and slime than sand and not very attractive at all (and a wee bit smelly!).

From here we crossed Little Island to Barry Island (no longer an actual island) to the stunning Whitmore Bay (seasonal dog ban) with its impeccably combed sand! Here too were all the arcades (Gavin and Stacy?) and typical sea side shops and famously Marco’s Cafe – we even bought a bag of hot donuts in support of the local community!

Energised by our (my) little sugar rush, we continued our walk around Nell’s Point, looking back over Whitmore Bay, past the Lookout Station and the lighthouse signaling the entrance to Barry Docks.

And found this little gem – Jackson’s Bay, dog friendly and all to ourselves!

Well that was a 4 mile revelation just got to trudge all the way back again! Hey Ho!

Two thoughts of the day:

Tents seem to come in two sizes – tiny or marquee size!

The best thing about wearing shorts – they don’t take so long to dry out!

From Lavernock Point to Cardiff Bay…..

The day started grey and by lunchtime, yes it was raining and continued through most of the afternoon – so we had a bit of a damp excursion out today. We drove to Lavernock Point, parking up outside the little church (also the site of the first radio transmission across the sea to Flat Holm Island) and joining the coastal path at the point. Incidentally, a line from the Point across to Sand Point in Somerset marks the end of the Severn Estuary and the start of the Bristol Chanel – oh I am going to be so good at Pub Quizes!

The path from here, runs along the cliff top but mostly behind a hedge of hawthorn, so just brief glimpses of Lavernock Bay and in the distance Penarth.

The tide was high and apparently both beaches do have exposed sand as the tides recede, though I’m not sure that either would compete with Porthcawl’s display.

The path soon came out into a grassy strip of parkland, bordered by some large houses with fabulous sea views (mind you the sea is pretty brown here) as we wondered down onto the esplanade at Penarth.

The coastal path took us up and over Penarth Head with a pretty amazing viewing point (on a clear day that is – which it most definitely is not!).

And down the other side, past the impressive Custom’s House (which is now a restaurant) to the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

We walked across the Barrage to the Cardiff side where they are getting ready to host the Volvo Ocean Cardiff Race Stopover (Round the world yacht race) with Marquees going up all over – but could we get a cup of tea?

On a clear day the walk across gives a lovely view of Cardiff and with pleasure powerboats and other craft in the bay it must be quite a spectacle – we enjoyed it even on this dull day.

Yes that was a lump of coal (in the name of art?). On the way back we were lucky enough to watch a Catamaran going through the bridge and lock system on its way back out to sea.

It was a 9 mile round trip, so I for one am done!

Two thoughts of the day:

This would have been a very different experience in the sun! Just saying.

It’s raining again now – let’s hope that gets it out of the system for a while.

Porthcawl and it’s lovely beaches….

At the risk of sounding boring, it was another stunning day and so after doing the laundry we were off out to explore. Today we went to the far side of Merthyr Mawr and parked up in the little village of Newton, just on the outskirts of Porthcawl. Our first look at the sea was back along Merthyr Mawr Sands which just carry on and on, with pristine soft white sand and grass covered dunes as a backdrop.

We then walked round Newton Point to Trecco Bay, a pretty Cove with a mix of sand and stone, though more sand gets exposed as the tide drops. This beach has a dog ban but we were able to walk along the promenade, with a huge holiday park running alongside the promenade. At the end of the beach was a small headland and a series of soft sand dunes leading on to Sandy Bay (dog ban), a lovely sandy crescent, this time backed by some hideous arcades and cheap seaside shops, but shut them out and look how pretty?

Still it goes on, around Porthcawl Point are two more coves but they appeared to be mostly bedrock (one was closed for refurb?).

We continued beyond Hutchwyns Point and walked along Lock’s Common to take a look at Rest Bay beyond.

This is a long stretch of sandy beach popular with surfers, though the above photo was taken just after high tide. Well if you live in or near Porthcawl you have plenty of choices beach wise and even during the main holidays I reckon you could still find some tranquility if you were prepared to make an effort to get there!

On the way back, we stopped off at the Newton end of Merthyr Mawr beach for a well earned dip (for Poppydog- I am still to be tempted!) – a long and warm walk but well worth it!

Two thoughts of the day:

The sea is still not properly blue here – I wonder where that will happen?

I wonder if Poppydog realises how well travelled she is?

Merthyr Mawr – small but perfectly formed and located….

Another fabulous day – we are certainly getting a May to remember! And today’s walk was a complete delight, with a little taste of everything that this journey is about. We parked up in a lay-by just outside Ogmore and set off across open fields, crossing the river, with a view of the ruins of Ogmore Castle in the distance.

We then happened upon the little hamlet of Merthyr Mawr, a thatched leafy delight.

Our walk continued along a tree lined lane until we reached the Warren, a huge area of sand dunes criss crossed with footpaths and horse exercising paths. This section was quite heavy going as the footpaths were deep soft sand, most of which ended up in my boots!

The path then left the dunes and followed the wide river valley until we reached the sea. We were now on the opposite side of the river to where we were yesterday at Ogmore-by-sea.

Round the corner and wow what an amazing stretch of lovely beach and pretty much deserted.

After a cool down in the river, Poppydog was happy to chase stones, which meant I could just sit and enjoy the sunshine! Hey so my life is tough but I manage! The return journey included another swim in the river for Poppydog and a better look at the castle.

What a lovely walk.

Two thoughts of the day:

It definitely pays visiting beaches that are difficult to access.

Does Fry’s Turkish Delight count as one of your five a day?