I was on my own today. My husband dropped me off at East Moors while he went to Tesco in Pengam, where I would eventually meet him. East Moors is now an industrial complex to the east of Cardiff and the Docks. East Moors steelworks was located here. It opened in 1891 by Lord Bute, then passed on to Dowlais Company of Merthyr; that is why the site used to be called ” Dowlais by the Sea”. Finally taken over by Guest Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN), it ran through the war years ,but, due to the decline in heavy industry in the area it closed in 1978. The main road to Pengam is Rover Way. The Wales Coast Path runs almost parallel to it, running along the coast of the Bristol Channel . The land around Pengam was the base for Cardiff Municipal Airport . In 1905 it was a private airfield, with scheduled commercial flights began in 1931. It served as a military base during WWII, known as RAF Pengam Moors, and also was used for repair and maintenance of fighter aircraft. After the war it reverted to a civilian aerodrome until 1954. Many of the hangars in Seawall road are still used as factories and workshops. The area now has a large housing estate and retail facilities.
The walk started on some disused land, where a way marker and boulders lead up to a gap stile. I needed to push past some overgrown Buddleia bushes before I trod on the path beside an enormous sewage works.
There was a wide area covered in flowering plants, which, of course, caught both my eye and the camera’s eye. From here I could see a tributary running into the Channel, through a very muddy pebbly beach. On the other side of the tributary were the docks and heliport.
Across the water I could just make out the coast of Somerset and the islands in the channel. Black -headed and Common Gulls were probing the mud for juicy morsels. Buddleia bushes were surrounding the path and would be a feature of this whole walk. This flat sector played host to a number of plants, which I did not expect to see here. Yellow was represented by Smooth Sow-thistle, Tall Rocket, Trailing St. John’s-wort, Black Medick, Common Ragwort and Evening Primrose; white was represented by Mugwort, Scented Mayweed, Common Eyebright and Sea Campion; purple/pink was represented by Teasel and Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill.
Soon the path narrowed, squeezing between the spear sharp fencing of the sewage works and a prickly barrier of Brambles, that hid the drop to the beach. The brambles were clothed in a colourful array of green, red and black fruit, and white flowers. This is truly a plant for all seasons, providing nectar for flying butterflies and insects and continuously ripening food for birds and other fauna. Another berry carrying plant, Sea Buckthorn, was also in attendance. More Evening Primroses accompanied by Common Mallow, Great Willowherb and Hemp Agrimony hugged the area in front of the fence.
Talking about flying, suddenly I was assailed by flying objects. Firstly a couple of Large Whites fluttered among the flowers of the ever-present Buddleia. Then a large red, a very large red object, making such a racket: across the beach a great whirring sound emanated from behind some bushes; it was a helicopter lifting off from the Heliport.
Through a gap in the hedge were other things not flying but sailing at speed; tens of small yachts had come out of the marina. Their sails, blue, white, red and multicoloured, caught the breeze and whisked them up the channel; they passed Flat Holm and Steep Holm and were soon out of sight. Whoa! What a sight.
Fennel, Common Fleabane and Burnet Saxifrage were punching through the Brambles, while Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Silverweed and Great Plantain snuggled beneath. A Painted Lady came to rest upon the path and I carefully edged my way towards her. Although she tried to escape by landing on plant after plant, she kept to the path and I was able to get a good shot with my camera. It must have been my lucky day, because a Meadow Brown then landed on some Brambles growing close by.
The fence around the sewage works was still present to the left of me. The right-hand side was clear of dense hedging but Teasel and Ever-lasting Peas, full of seed-heads, were forming a filigree hedge of sorts, through which there was a view to the water below. The waves were gently lapping the shore and seagulls were floating upon them. Beyond the Rhymney River estuary many wind turbines and an industrial complex could be seen.
At the end of the fence was open waste ground, where once buildings stood, which looked very barren but a few Knapweed and Yellow Wort plants had taken residence. The shore line of pebbles and boulders was peppered with red bricks and other masonry. I walked uphill on a dirt track; a young lad on a motorised scooter was enjoying himself riding up and down it. At the top I seemed in a quandary. There was a three-way option: follow the track to the right or take one of the two paths on the left which were screened by boulders; one went uphill the other down. I chose the uphill one. Buddleia again had a strangle-hold on the area. However, Scented Mayweed, Teasel, Rosemary, Brambles, Sea Buckthorn and Creeping Thistles were also evident. Pockets of Self-heal, Primroses and Ragweed appeared on the grassy banks, where fine views over the channel were afforded. I was quite high up on a flat piece of scrub land where it was obvious that the space was devoted to motor-bike scrambling; ruts and channels wound their way up and down from here. There was even a make-shift seat made of a plank and some stones. I soon realised my mistake and I should have taken the low road, as this path just went nowhere. A natural water course, between boulders , presented itself and I gingerly climbed down onto the path below. This was more like it. Hawthorn and Blackthorn bushes, laden with berries, lined the route. Many of them were on the mossy banks that I had to climb down. All seemed calm and greenery was around me. A Blue Dragonfly, a Hawker, silently darted between the bushes .I was so intent on watching and following him, when there was an almighty scraping and scattering sound; a large Rabbit crashed out of the bushes and across my path, heading for places unknown. I waited for my heart-beat to regain its normal pace before I moved on.
The path began to climb. A seat and information board, about the WCP and the surrounding area, were conveniently placed to view the Channel and the Somerset coast. I sat awhile, I noticed there were Scarlet Pimpernel plants around me, before I moved on.
The Buddleia was starting to crowd in on me again and I pushed my way through to be confronted with more boulders barring the way. I stood on top of them and could clearly see my destination, Pengam Tesco. There was no way to reach it , as the crow flies. I still had to follow the path. On the opposite side and below me was a small muddy bay with a spit of land stretching into the Channel. Along it a weather-worn jetty stood, its rotting wooden posts sticking up like broken teeth. Also above this bay was a travellers’ site, a rag-tag bunch of caravans and dwellings. I looked back to see a pebbly slope, which was hidden while I walked through the Buddleia, and on it were a number of fishermen casting their long rods into the sea. Along the shore line were lots of flotsam and jetsam, some of it quite dangerous, wire and other metal objects.
I descended on large steps towards the bay. I was confronted by some “travellers” and their rather vicious looking dog. They assured me that he was ok. I had my doubts and quickly made my way past them. The steps and many of the branches were covered with Lichen. I hastily took some photographs of them and some Pale Toadflax.
Previously, I mentioned the metal on the beach. However, nothing prepared me for an upended burned out van, but there it was resting alongside the Hawthorn and Brambles at the top of the beach. Right on time another thug of the plant world assaulted my eyes, Japanese Knotweed. I can see why plant-hunters of old would be drawn to it with its large ovoid leaves, red veined stems and spikes of creamy white frothy flowers. Rather picturesque.
The path then paralleled the road, Rover Way. It was characterised by burnt-out patches of waste ground and small ponies, some tethered, others left to roam free. There were regions of grass, White and Pink Clover, Creeping Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Knapweed, Buttercups, Common Ragweed, Fleabane, Teasel and Bird’s-foot Trefoil on which they could feed.
Masses of Gulls paraded the shore-line as I made my way from the estuary up the Rhymney River. The tide was out so reed beds and mud banks were exposed. At a bend in the river was a boat yard. Some boats were left high and dry, others floated as the tide started to turn, while others were pulled further inland and covered by tarpaulins.
It was time to cross the road at the traffic lights and head in the direction of Tesco. As I descended the bank to the road Yarrow, Common Toadflax, Great and Ribwort Plantain were crushed beneath my feet. Dandelion white clock seed -heads took to the air; their little parachutes gently floated to the ground. Spikes of Teasel brushed and crunched against my coat-sleeves. Hard ground at last was under my feet.
Eventually at Tesco, there was my hubby waiting for me. He had done all the shopping and also bought me a few treats. So off we went home .