Margam to Aberavon Sands

Well it is the first day of Spring and we have decided to increase the pace and start walking some weekends with the kids as well (well some of them at least) – might be harder to convince the big ones!!

The compromise on this route was that because most of the walk coincides with national cycle path 4, the kids were allowed to use bikes (plus with them riding ahead then coming back they did even more miles) and it allowed Cleo to get a ride part of the way.

So we parked up at junction 38 of the M4 by Margam Crematorium and walked towards Aberavon Sands – this isn’t a single leg in the book we are following – but the end of the Porthcawl to Port Talbot route, and the start of the Port Talbot to Swansea route, so it will make both of those legs a bit more manageable in future weeks.

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Cleo getting ready in her basket

We soon found the coastal path sign (along with the alternative red route which goes through Margam park) – do we have to walk that as well in the future to say we have done it all lol?

The first couple of miles really are not anything to write a blog about – So Cleo stayed tucked up in the basket with Rhiannon navigating.  Here is a selection of what we saw!!

Then you end up on the main road to Aberavon and past a new blue cycle bridge, and along an estuary which is when it starts getting more picturesque and Cleo got to stretch her legs and walk for a few miles.

You head up a slight hill, and suddenly notice sand on the path and as you walk around a corner – bang – the most amazing views:

The walk along the sea front is beautiful (as long as you don’t look behind you towards the industrial area) and we stopped for hot chocolate and cookies on, of all things, a whale!!

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I’m queen of the whale
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Sharon chilling with the penguins

We decided to walk a bit further, so that when we resume this walk another day we can cut down from Baglan station, so it meant walking as far as the kids could cycle before the path diverted in land.

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Taking in some art (or trying to scale it)
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What a view!!

And that ends the coastal path element for today 6.5 miles done, making 63.5 miles completed and 806.5 to go.

But we had to get back to the car – so in a first for us, we had to then walk back again!! After a stop to play on the beach of course:

Nothing much to say about the return journey, pretty much the same as the way there and thankfully the kids rode a bit slower (until they got a couple of mini magnums inside them!!).

But it was good for us to have pace setters to keep us moving – according to Strava the total was 22.1 km (which is 13.7 miles in total today), and we managed it in just over 3 and 3/4 hours. Definitely getting fitter which is a good thing with all the walks we have got planned in the coming weeks, sometimes back to back as well – might have to take the kids again.

Andrew and Sharon

Cardiff to Penarth Marina and optional loop

The primary aim today was to complete a small section between 2 completed walks…. Cardiff to Newport starts from Tyndall Street, and our Penarth to Barry walk started at Penarth Marina, but there were around 2 miles unaccounted for between Tyndall Street and Penarth Marina. So with the sun shining what better weather for a nice stroll.

The first thing to say is that if you haven’t done this part of Cardiff as one of your regular walks then you will need to allow a lot of extra time for sightseeing along the way. The first part from Tyndall street is just along roads but once you get to County Hall it gets more interesting. For instance who knew that the Red Dragon centre is on the coastal path?

Outside the Red Dragon centre with a sign on the lamppost
Outside the Red Dragon centre with a sign on the lamppost

Andrew at the marker sign with Cleo

I have sprouted horns!!
I have sprouted horns!!

The walk continues pass the Millenium Centre and ahead you can just make out Penarth Church which we walked right past yesterday..

In the distance is Penarth Church
In the distance is Penarth Church

Famous sights litter the walk, from where the Welsh government meets to Dr who and the Norwegian church (now a cafe).

Talking shop
Talking shop
Norwegian church
Norwegian church

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Dr who
Dr who

This is by far the busiest part of coastal path so far.

The crowds
The crowds

The walk continues along the bay, past a play area and with time for us to watch the boats while Cleo played fetch with Mr Stickman.

View across the bay
View across the bay
Fetch
Fetch

The walk then heads across the barrage, which is a fascinating place to watch boats raise and lower to get out to the open sea.

The barrage
The barrage

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Penarth Marina
Penarth Marina

And at the roundabout is the sign which marks the starting point of yesterday’s walk and the end of today’s …..or is it??

The sign
The sign

So for the coastal path stats that is 2 miles completed today making 57 miles completed and 813 miles to go.

But… If you have the time we highly recommend continuing on the 10k Bay walk to see the rest of what Cardiff bay has to offer. We had a motive…. Sharon’s youngest was swimming in a gala at the pool and we wanted to stop by to cheer her on (plus Sharon likes walking circles)…. So along the Marina we walked, over a footbridge and past the white water rafting to the pool.

Shadows on the bridge
Shadows on the bridge
White water rafting
White water rafting
Cardiff pool
Cardiff pool
Showing off her new swimming top
Showing off her new swimming top

Then on we walked behind the skating rink, round the bay…

Bay views
Bay views

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Up some steps, along the road ridge over the bay and straight on up takes us past techniquest and back to Mermaid Quay to complete the loop. Total walk today 7.1 miles in just under 2 hours. Add on the 12.8 miles of yesterday and that is a grand total for the weekend of 19.9 miles…. Almost made the 20!! Off to Bella Italia to out some calories back in now.

 

Penarth Marina to Barry

A warm spring day, a little overcast, but a good day for walking – so we parked the car at Barry train station and took the train to Cogan (£5.20 single). Don’t ask how Cleo managed to get a muddy face before we even started!!

A muddy faced Cleo on the train
A muddy faced Cleo on the train

Cogan was about 1 km from the official start of the trail, so we strolled down to Penarth Marina and the starting point:

Penarth Barrage
Penarth Barrage
The start
The start

The first part was a steep uphill section of road into Penarth itself, past a church and along residential streets

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Then suddenly there is a left hand turn to the coast and the most amazing views of the sea and Penarth Pier

A new coastal path feature
A new coastal path feature
Looking back towards Cardiff
Looking back towards Cardiff
The pier
The pier

We wound down the hill and along the seafront – stopping for a well needed bacon roll and coffee at The Fig Tree – roll OK, service very very slow so I stopped the clock on this one!! We continued up the hill and hit some decent path, the pace was good at this point, 1 km every 10 minutes or so.

A long straight path
A long straight path
The view below
The view below
One of the islands
One of the islands

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Past an old WW2 lookout, and Lavenock church, and we then headed across Lavenstock nature reserve where things got a bit sitcky:

Mud mud glorious mud
Mud mud glorious mud

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Just time to stop for a couple of selfies on a benchIMG_1295 IMG_1294

There was a stop to see an old WW2 gun fortress at Lavernock point, and then we had a clear view of Sully Island

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Sully Island in the distance
Sully Island in the distance

At this point the coastal path goes inland behind the campsite – so we did as told – but our advice to those following in our footsteps would be to head down and along the beach and back up and save a boring mile or so.

On down into Swanbridge, and a great view of Sully Island –  The tide was out, and we chatted to some locals about the danger of heading across just before the tide turns – definitely one to come back to another day.  On past the Captain’s Wife (a pub not a person), and along the coast some more past Sully.

Captain's wife
Captain’s wife

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At this point after a snack the path has to head inland to get around Barry docks (although we suspect there is a way through somehow), a loo stop followed and then the longest most boring stretch of road into Barry with just lampposts to count.

Loooooo
Loooooo
one lamppost, two lamposts...
one lamppost, two lamposts…

Past the docks council offices, IMG_1318 IMG_1317

And then back to a nice part along the docks with the sun shining and the jumpers coming off.

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Under the railway line, turn left and there was our car by the train station. So the official walk was 19.4 km(or 12.1 miles) in 3 hours 32 mins, but excluding getting to Penarth Marina that is 11.5 miles of coastal path walked.  Taking our total to 55 miles done, 815 miles to go.

Then a stroll down to Barry Island for an ice cream added a further 1.2 km to our day (but not part of the walk) making 12.8 miles walked today (for Darren’s count!!).

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reward time
reward time