Having retired early from teaching I found myself with time to spare, so I joined the Valeways walkers to keep myself in shape. I really enjoyed the walks and the social aspect but felt it was time to explore a little further than the Vale of Glamorgan. Another pastime I had also wanted to explore was photography; I bought myself a good SLR digital camera and a multipurpose lens. My forays with the Valeways ramblers also included familiarizing myself with my camera. Once I had turned 60 I applied for my Bus pass and when it duly arrived I thought that I now needed to use it. Walking with bus pass came to mind. So I was ready to enjoy photography, walking, wildlife and bus rides. The Valeways ramblers would not be ignored and other wildlife outings were not to be missed. However, the Welsh Coastal path was beckoning. This is going to take me years to complete… Never mind I must start somewhere. So The Glamorgan section was the obvious place. This takes me from Cardiff Bay to Margam. Research was required. It may not be possible to walk along the coast in the specified order, but I will try to cover all sections at sometime. A section of about 4 – 6 miles would probably suit my abilities and allow me to concentrate on the photography as well. My God Glamorgan section will take long enough.
I will tackle other parts of the Welsh Coastal Path (WCP) when I visit the areas concerned. It is a long path to follow: 870 miles. It has been quoted that the route can be covered in 57 daily stages from Chester to Chepstow; that’s about 15 miles per stage.
Oh well to begin…
First, how do I get there? Park the car at end of journey because I probably won’t feel like a bus ride after all that walking and I will want to get home for a soak and lie down. Researching the bus route takes some patience using Traveline Cymru. A two car strategy would also work if I have someone to walk with. Alternatively I could get someone to drop me off somewhere and then pick me up later. I think I have this sussed.
The trips will not be consecutive along the coast but I will attempt to complete most of the WCP and also other walks when travelling around Wales.
The photographs I will try to document and label but I am no expert at identification of flora and fauna, so please forgive me if I get it wrong.
Look for the 3 lines to access WALKS and PHOTO GALLERY.
The drop-down option WALKS will allow you to access the individual walks.
Photographs of the flora and fauna are similarly accessed under PHOTO GALLERY.
Valeways is a charitable organisation whose walks and path clearing are all led by volunteers. Much of its work is only possible through donations.
” Valeways is a volunteer based project for the maintenance, protection, preservation and promotion of public rights of way in the Vale of Glamorgan.” valeways.org.uk
Walks will be uploaded as and when:
Index to the walks follows.
Indicates Wales Coastal Path
Indicates other Trails
2018 – So far I have tackled walks from Newport to Pembrey Country Park.
All summaries of the walks are listed below. They are not in order so scroll down until you find one you would like to read.
Penarth to Sully
A walk with fine views, historical interludes, interesting geological aspects and opportunities to investigate the flora and fauna of the area.
Porthkerry to Fontygary
This is a walk over cliff top, through parks and wetlands. The geological Jurassic coast is still in evidence together with the reclamation of old industrial sites.
Fontygary to Gileston, Limpert Bay
This is truly a coastal walk with historical and present day industrial sites. It also has regenerated areas, tidal pools and beaches.
Limpert Bay, Gileston to Seawatch Centre, Summerhouse Bay.
Here the pathways take you through fields, meadows and pastureland, and copses. There are coastal views but only a small section is walked on the coast itself. There are cemeteries, churches and WWII coastal defences to explore before reaching our maritime heritage and the Seawatch Centre.
Summerhouse Bay (Seawatch Centre) to Cwm Colhuw (Llantwit Beach)
This walk is dangerously close to the cliff edge, but is safe if you stay on the path. Navigation through kissing gates and stiles is necessary, but the rewards of magnificent views are worth it. A visit to the Seawatch centre is informative. The “hanging gardens” are spectacular in the summer months.
Cwm George and the Salmon Leaps
This is a Valeways circular walk. It is a delightful nature walk through meadow and pasture land, a glacial valley and magnificent woods. It passes the cascades of the Salmon Leaps and also the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort.
Cwm Colhuw to Nash Point
There are some wonderful views along this walk. Cliff tops and beaches, woods and pasture land all feature. WW11 sites, a castle, 17th century barracks, a lighthouse and a foghorn, a church and a nature reserve are all located within the area. Stiles, gates and steep inclines present themselves along the route, however, all are easily navigable and the views are worth it.
An Interlude at Cefn Onn
It is a grade 2 listed country park. It contains a magnificent collection of native and exotic trees: all set within the valley of Nant Fawr stream. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas are a fabulous sight in May/June. There are purpose made paths which follow the stream to the pond and through the woodlands. Other paths lead into the woodland and across the stream via bridges; these are just tracks. The whole area is a haven for wildlife.
Nash Point to Dunraven Bay
Close to the edge cliff paths are a feature of this walk. There are some steep inclines and declines but are navigable with care. Excellent photo opportunities present themselves: the many bays along this stretch of the coast and the Somerset coast across the water. Its geological structure is highlighted in all its glory. Flora and fauna consist of a plethora of species.The path leaves the cliff top and descends into the Cwm Mawr valley, then ascends to the cliff again. Here the plant and animal life is quite different: a varied tableau of shade loving vegetation. The end of the walk is punctuated by the site of historical Dunraven Castle and its environs.
Aberthaw Nature Reserve
This is a hidden gem amongst an industrial background. The paths circulate a saline lagoon, through woods and beside a sea wall. An old lime-works and disused slag heaps serve as a backdrop to the lagoon. Regeneration of the locale has now turned it into an important eco-site. The winding paths through the wooded area and beside the stream are bedecked with interesting vegetation, attracting a myriad of wildlife.
Dunraven Bay to Ogmore Castle
This walk is fairly flat if you keep to the prescribed path. A nice easy walk to blow the cobwebs away at any time of the year.There are a few small inclines if you venture off the path and onto the road; it is way above you and parallel to the path. The views are of both coast and river. You may wish to visit the castle which is at the end of the walk.
Barry Island to Porthkerry
From the hustle bustle of a sandy beach to the tranquillity of a wood within a park, this walk encompasses many delightful ecosystems. There is plenty of opportunity for people watching and quiet contemplation.
Return to Cwm Colhuw Nature Reserve
The nature reserve has many paths to traverse. This is just one route; the trail from the road passing through the meadow then onto the cliff path. A pre-Roman Iron Age site is located along here. This walk is on my patch, so to speak. This was undertaken in June, the flora and fauna are indicative of the time of year. I will return here throughout the seasons. So keep watching for updates.
St. Andrew’s Major Circuit
This is a Valeways circular walk: hills, stiles, hills and yet more stiles. Although this is not an easy walk if you have mobility issues, the views are magnificent and well worth the climb. I undertook this walk at the end of March. Spring images were all around: emergent spring growth, colourful spring flowers and of course lots of little lambs.
Ogmore to Newton Point
An interesting walk which includes castles, nature reserves, sand dunes, woodland and beaches. Rivers needed to be crossed by stepping stones or bridges. The stepping stones could only be crossed when the tide was out. Lawrence of Arabia sand dunes are vast and should be traversed using the marked routes. I missed the WCP route while I was exploring but I followed the red route, which took me further down the beach than planned. There is a great variety of ecosystems, all with a plethora of flora and fauna.
Newton to Rest Bay, Porthcawl
This walk, for me, was one of reminiscences. Memories of my childhood came flooding back to me as I traversed the bays: Newton Beach, Trecco Bay, Sandy Bay, Coney Beach and Rest Bay. It was high summer so there were crowds of people relaxing, swimming and playing. An ideal walk for people watching, rock pooling and generally enjoying oneself. There were plenty of opportunities for refreshment.
Rest Bay, Porthcawl to Kenfig Pool.
A walk along well maintained paths, skirting the coast from Rest Bay to the dunes of Kenfig Warren. Bays and beaches are picturesque with large sandy areas and many rock pools uncovered when the tide is out. The seas around here are dangerous due to the presence of rocks and the ferocity of the tides. But safety is paramount and lifeguard stations are judiciously sited along the coast. Kenkig Warren, as its name suggests is a warren of paths. Tops of the dunes afford a good inspection point at which to get your bearings. Although paths are sign posted, it is still easy to lose your way. You will always be able to see the caravan site in the distance, so always head in that direction. This will take you to the Nature Reserve Building. History abounds all along this walk and the ecosystems allow for a varied and interesting mix of plant life.
Cardiff Bay to Penarth Cliff Top
Cardiff Bay a vibrant district of cosmopolitan Cardiff. The Coast Path through the bay to the barrage is a lovely flat walk with the chance to catch the waterbus back to the Bay, or even to return along the path. Walking to Penarth waterfront is a little harder going. Steep hills to climb and steep gradients to descend. Penarth waterfront is idyllic. Plenty of eating establishments and numerous benches to sit and watch the day pass by, whether on the pier, the esplanade or in the gardens. Views of sea, people and beautiful flowers. The walk has something for everyone: areas of interesting history, art displays, entertainment and opportunities for relaxing.
Kenfig Pool to Margam
The destination for this walk, TATA Steel Plant at Margam, is nearly always in sight. Many ecosystems were traversed while following the winding paths over sand dunes, through marshes and along unused railway tracks. There were varieties of flora and fauna that I had not encountered before on my walks. The paths encircling Kenfig Pool were not overly frequented, but once attaining the bridleway, which is on the main WCP route, there were lots of people and animals. (This was the track I veered away from, taking the alternative route,on the Porthcawl to Kenfig Pool walk).
An Evening at Aberthaw Nature Reserve
Regeneration of this industrial site into a nature reserve is remarkable.This return visit sheds a different light on a gem of a nature ramble. A balmy late summer evening, the twilight slowly ebbing away into darkness, and the colour of the sky is ever changing. The vegetation is donning its Autumn coat; fruit is ripening and seed-heads are shedding their precious cargo. The ambience of the place is completely different to my last visit. The smell of the damp earth after an earlier shower is all pervasive.
A Visit to Dinefwr
Dinefwr is a country park much loved by Iolo Williams. A great day out for all the family. There are plenty of walks, a castle to clamber over, Newton House and estate to explore, the White Park Cattle to see and a first class tea room to quench your thirst and indulge in delicious food. Dinefwr Park and Castle are steeped in history and Welsh culture.The walk we took was the ‘ Dragonfly Walk’, We walked past historic buildings and around the Deer Park. The route through Bogwood and around the Mill Pond is mostly boardwalk. So much nature to observe; you may not complete this walk in the suggested one hour.
Aberavon to Baglan Bay, Briton Ferry
A lovely walk, not many inclines and with the majority of the route on well defined walkways. Walk from river to river, the River Afan to the River Neath.To sum up this walk I would have to say “Sand, Sand and more Sand”. Sand dunes and good tarmac paths lead to the beach, Aberavon Sands, and promenade, which in turn lead to more sand dunes, sandy paths, and another beach. After crossing the sand dunes, which back on to the beach, the paths become easier to navigate until tarmac paths take you to the end of the route. The industrial heritage of the area is clearly seen and regeneration is well advanced following the demise of much of it. Seashore flora and fauna predominate.
Further Trips to Cwm Colhuw and Nature Reserve
Previously Cwm Colhuw and the Nature Reserve featured in the June account “Return to Cwm Colhuw”and also the May trip “Summerhouse Bay to Cwm Colhuw”. The following walks were undertaken in August, September and January. Each of them brought a different quality to the landscape. In the first two the scenes were of verdant vegetation, colourful fruits and fly-away seed-heads. Birds and insects were still abroad. The August walk took the meadow route, while the September walk was through the Nature Reserve. Winter produced a very different panorama. A bland overview which was punctuated with stirrings of spring green life.
A Stroll Around Cosmeston Lakes
Cosmeston in the Autumn is a riot of colour. It does not matter which trail you take, everywhere a glorious tapestry of foliage assault your eyes. There are plenty of areas to sit and take in the beauty of the lakes and its surroundings. Birds in all shapes and sizes are flying, swimming and waddling about. Their antics are sure to amuse you.
Jersey Marine to Port Tennant – Tennant Canal
This is a very pleasant tranquil walk through unspoilt landscapes despite its industrial associations. The canal runs along the edge of a large national nature reserve – Crymlyn Bog and Pant y Sais. Aside from the canal itself, additional wetland habitats include a fen and a small area of wet woodland. There is easy access along a towpath and a cycle route. The larger canal veers into the Crymlyn Bog , which is a Special Area of Conservation, whilst the path passes through the Ashlands Wood area and picks up sections of the weed choked canal along its route.
These views are from Rhoose and the coast path in this area. Today the views were very hazy, but on a clear day the Somerset Coastline can easily be seen in the distance. Nevertheless, the walk circumnavigates the wetlands which are located in an old quarry and industrial area. The flora and fauna are varied . Depending on the time of year you could see Dragonflies, Frogs, Newts , Slow Worms, Moorhens and Grey Herons. Unfortunately, my walk was in early Spring and I saw none of the above but I did see plenty of other interesting plants, birds and other fauna. A lovely short ramble in the sunshine.
Swansea Marina to The Mumbles
This is an easy walk along flat concrete paths around Swansea Bay. There are magnificent views and an ever changing ecosystem. The walk is peaceful even though it is never far from the urban sprawl, the City of Swansea and many built up areas. Looking towards the coast you might be lulled into a sense of always being on the beach. If you should want to deviate from the track you can find alternative diversions close by.
The Mumbles to Caswell Bay
What a lovely walk! The cliff top path is well maintained and affords magnificent views all along its length. There are a number of hills to climb but handrails and benches (a few) are strategically placed. I delighted in the flora, as it included some plants that I had never encountered before. I attempted this walk in late April and many of the plants were just emerging. So later in the year it should form a spectacular colourful floral picture. Although some of the dainty flowers would be swamped or would have past their best. Many people were out and about enjoying the walk, whether it be Mumbles to Langland or Langland to Caswell, and marvelling at the scenery.
Caswell Bay to Three Cliffs Bay
A lovely day. A family affair. The walk affords stunning coastal views, some of the best in Wales. The inland scenery is equally gorgeous, ranging from wide vistas of heath to cool, serene woodland. Both offering tantalising glimpses of the coast and the sound of the softly lapping waves, and sometimes roar of the sea below. This walk, however, is not for the faint hearted. Some of the terrain is quite difficult with rough paths and steep inclines. Walking boots and poles are advisable. Tide times should also be noted. So always be prepared. Our walk produced some unexpected outcomes, enjoyable almost to the end. Read on…
Three Cliffs to Oxwich
Beach, dunes, marshes and woodland all are traversed on this walk. The scenery is diverse and magnificent, especially the coastal cliff section. Each of the habitats has something different to offer. We had a beautiful sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was very hot walking through the dunes, marshes and on the beach but cool and inviting in the woods. The bog area was a bit of a surprise but we successfully negotiated it and eventually found purchase on dry ground. There is an alternative route; however, I am glad we were able to see and sample yet another completely different habitat.
Castle-upon-Alun and Coed-y-Bwl Nature Reserve
A hidden gem in the Vale of Glamorgan. A small woodland habitat that has a great deal to offer all year round. However, for real impact the Spring is the season to really appreciate the splendor of the place. It is in early spring that the magnificent Welsh wild Daffodils appear in all their glory. Late spring sees the emergence of the natural Bluebells. The atmosphere of the wood changes perceptibly with the changing seasons. This is also true of the flora and fauna. A wood full of light and colours from yellow and white to blues in one season; a wood dark and foreboding consisting of green hues in another season. The surrounding area can also boast some interesting man-made structures too.
Oxwich to Port Eynon
The prettiest coastal scenery on the Gower. Beautiful beach to beautiful beach. First through woodland, part of Oxwich National Nature Reserve, past a lovely old church. It is a steep climb but worth every step. Then once the open coast is reached, it is an easy walk with sweeping vistas from rocks and sandy shore to the high rising cliffs. An interim beach called The Sands is an idyllic sandy cove with lots of rock pools at its extremities. a lovely place for a dip in the sea on a sunny day. A diversion, because of cliff erosion, means a little further to walk but again it will not disappoint. The huge semi-circle of Port Eynon beach and the sea is very inviting.
Cowbridge is a major market town in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan. It is well contained within its 13th century town walls. It boasts many individual clothing, food and vegetable, gift and bespoke shops. It has an interesting array of eateries from the typical coffee shops to refined dining. For relaxation there is a celebrated Physic Garden where you can while away an hour sitting among plants with wonderful fragrances. However, there is another calming oasis not far from the High Street. It is a pleasant walk around a small lake with interesting planting. The day we were there,however, calming would not be the word I would use to describe it. Please read the walk details to find out more.
Port Eynon to Rhossili
This section has a glorious unspoilt beauty all along its coastline. High cliffs jutting into the water of the swirling seas. Long Slades/Valleys, lush in vegetation, running down to small hidden coves and magnificent Bays. It has long stretches of moorland or heath, usually inhabited by sheep. However, this walk is not for the faint hearted, because of its undulating and sometimes rough terrain, but is extremely pleasant if you are able. The whole area is steeped in history, from early man to the industrial age. Evidence of their activities is plain to see, in places, or hidden among the cliffs. These areas are for the more adventurous among you. The day we walked this section the weather was unkind at first but eventually the sun shone. The misty views of the cliffs and the dampness of the Slades soon transformed into a veritable feast for the eyes.
East Moors to Pengam
An interesting but a different walk of contrasts along the coast. There are some excellent views but much of the walk is centered around the industry in the area. There are patches of waste land where industrial complexes once stood. This section though was being used, probably illegally, by trail bikes. Away from here and closer to the coast the countryside is much pleasanter. Until, that is, you arrive at a traveller’s site. I would walk quickly past here; avoiding the dumped rubbish and burnt patches. Also be mindful of the dogs, who are continuously barking, straying onto the path.
Pengam to Peterstone Wentlooge
Rivers, parks, canals,bridges and sea-walls all feature in this walk. To reach the sea-wall at Rhymney Great Wharf and the estuary, we traveled over the River Rhymney, through Tredelerch Park, then along a canal. The River Rhymney runs into the Severn Estuary, having made its journey from the Brecon Beacons. The Severn is the longest river in the UK and has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world. It is a boundary between Wales and England; the north Somerset coast looks very close on a sunny day. On the day I walked this stretch it was very clear. I was also able to see the two Severn Bridge crossings. The tide when out leaves huge expanses of mud-flats and salt marches. Both the park, canal and salt marshes are a haven for wildfowl. Some of which are mentioned in the walk.
Loughor Castle to Penclawdd
This is a lovely, easy walk on tarmac paths, cycle tracks, woodland trails and some narrow roads. It passes a castle in ruins and skirts along the Loughor River estuary, where mudflats and salt-marshes can be viewed. However, in winter these can look rather bleak with only a mosaic of bedraggled-looking vegetation and almost devoid of life. Look carefully and you will see a rich variety of wild-life. You are unlikely to see beneath the surface but it must be teeming because of the abundance of waders and wildfowl that flock to the area in the winter months. My walk was quite wet and murky, washed out colours and mud, with a few glimpses of spring . In summer it would be beautiful with more birds and colourful plants.
A Walk Around Llangynwyd Village
Llangynwyd is the village I grew up in, so this walk has brought back many memories for me. The details of the walk will therefore contain many reminiscences some of which are linked to historical facts. Llangynwyd is situated in the Llynfi valley, between Bridgend and Maesteg. The walk is fairly easy, taking in a number of different ecological areas: stream-valley broad-leaf woodland, rough and pasture land, minor roads, farms, marshy ground, old tramways and fantastic views over the surrounding hills. There is also the opportunity to make a small detour into the village itself, where you can visit the church and public houses, which are mentioned in the script.
Lougher Estuary Part 1: Lougher to Llanelli Wetlands
This is a short easy walk along the Lougher Estuary. It is wide track which facilitates both walkers and cyclists. However, the path veers away from the estuary and below a seawall. Unless like me you want to walk on the wilder side, then there is opportunity to walk on a narrow path alongside the seawall. This offers lovely views of the estuary, the villages on the other side and the saltmarshes. It is also quieter and you are more likely to come across more wildlife.
Lougher Estuary Part 2: Llanelli Wetlands to Machynys and Bwlch y Gwynt
A walk through a variety of landscapes: woodland, industrial waste ground, lakeside, salt marsh and estuary. An ever changing vista with flora and fauna adjusting to the environmental peculiarities.Once an island within a salt marsh, this spit of land is a man made area. Tidal marsh was drained and a seawall built to accomodate the arrival foundries and heavy industrial works and their workers. There is now a new phase to the use of the land. Demolition of properties has allowed for regeneration. This part of the Welsh Coastal Path is called the Mellennium Heritage and Coastal Park. An easy, almost flat, enjoyable path for both walkers and cyclists.
Penclawdd to Llanrhidian
This walk is on the Lougher estuary but is on the opposite side to my “Lougher Estuary” walks. Obviously the estuary outlook is the same but the path covers different terrain. Some of the walk is along a busy road, unlike the purpose built Millennium Heritage path. Mudflats and saltmarsh are in view the majority of the time. A close-up picture of the flora and fauna of this unique ecological habitat is afforded to the walker. There are a variety of Waders and Gulls on the mudflats. This part of the coastline is associated with the Cockle industry with many of the workings are evident. It is one of the few estuaries left in the country in which commercial hand gathering with rake and riddle continues.
Parc Slip Nature Reserve
Parc Slip Nature Reserve near Aberkenfig, Bridgend is an area of 300 acres containing a fantastic mix of habitats such as grassland, woodland and wetlands, restored from its previous status as a coal mining area.
Open water ponds, the wader scrape and wetlands provided habitat for many species of water bird, although in August the bird sightings were not that numerous. There were several open access hides and viewing areas throughout the reserve, overlooking the wetland areas. We accessed these as we walked around the well-maintained paths throughout the reserve. There is a Heritage Trail which enables you to explore the mining history and the natural areas. However, we went off piste and explored some of the more out of the way areas.
Lougher Estuary Part 3: Machynys to Pwll – Llanelliby the Sea
Continuing along the Millenium Coastal Path through the Millenium Coastal Park. The path is still a delight to walk with its purpose built cycle and walk way. However, one needs to be always aware of speeding cyclists. This section was once a site of heavy industry but has been developed into a landscape of leisure and nature. Mud flats, both on the estuary and the rivers, leading towards it, were dotted with birds. The whole walk was peppered with lakes, streams, sculptures and odd features. The Discovery Centre and the Pavilion Cafe offered sanctuary from the winds with opportunities for a comfort stop and sustenance. Alternative walks to the Sandy Water Park, Cefn Coed Padrig a wooded area and Llanelli Beach are accessible. Although we just walked upon the Coastal Path with the occassional forays up hills or mounds to look at the scenery which was sometimes obscured from view on the path.
Lougher Estuary Part 4: Pwll to Burry Port
The Millennium Coastal Path (MCP), part of the Welsh Coastal Path (WPC), is a walk from Loughor to Burry Port and then on to Pembrey. This is the last section of my estuary walk, Pwll to Burry Port. Cutting the 15 miles walk, from Loughor to Burry Port, into sections has allowed more time for observations and reflections. It is a very walker friendly path attested to by the number of people using it.
A major section takes in the estuary with a varied display of sea birds. However, the meandering path also has woodland, small lakes and dunes, all with their own distinctive flora and fauna. At the end of the walk is a small marina and the dumpy Burry Port Lighthouse.
Peterston Wentloog to Dyffryn Newport
A relatively flat days walking the majority of which is along a seawall. From the top of the seawall you will be faced with stunning views of the Somerset coast line across the channel. In the Channel you will see Flat Holme and Steep Holme. Looking inland there are views of lowlands overshadowed by distant hills. The whole of the coast here is salt marsh and mud flats. This area is known as the Wentloog Levels, it is an outstanding site for bird watching. Nearing the end of the walk, which is no longer upon the seawall, the path follows the Ebbw River inland. Views of Newport docks, industrial complexes and the famous Tranporter Bridge can be seen.
There are some historical features, such as Peterston Gout and the West Usk Lighthouse along the track. A convenient watering hole, the Lighthouse Inn at St. Brides, would supply refreshment if required.
Burry Port to Pembrey Country Park
The purpose-built cycle and walking path meanders parallel to the Lougher Estuary from the harbour in Burry Port to the outskirts of the Pembrey country Park. It is a very popular route and can be quite busy at times during the summer months. Avoiding cyclists is a continued obstacle if you are ogling the view. However, on the whole most cyclist alert you to their presence. It is a pleasant stroll with a number of different habitats and historical industrial sites, which are well publicised. The Country Park offers a good range of activities and facilities, with sites for camping.
Llanrhidian to Llanmadoc
This walk covers part of the tranquil north Gower coast, which is of very different character to the busy and spectacular south Gower coast. The walk passes through a quiet and gentle landscape of fields, woodland and saltmarsh, passing an ancient church and a castle, with views across the Loughor Estuary. On the adjacent marshland you will see marsh ponies and the salt marsh sheep. The Estuary sometimes is lost from sight and is always a fair distance from the coastal path. The National Trust Nature Reserves at Cwm Ivy, Betty Church and Whiteford are inspirational for nature lovers, with their unique mix of flora and fauna.
Kenfig Pool Circumnavigation
Our walk was completed at the end of summer. The changing aspects of the walk were a joy; from dunes to marsh, from dry sand and brightness to damp and darkness. A myriad of flora and fauna both colourful and drab presented itself. Of course the Pool or Lake is natural and despite local legends it is actually very shallow and does not contain any ancient buildings underneath it. It was not always in sight but when it appeared was magnificent with many wildfowl in attendence.
It’s also a great walk to do in winter, especially on a fine and crisp day. There are still plenty of plants to see and the Pool attracts a large number of over-wintering waterfowl.
RHS Harlow Carr
This is a Royal Horticultural Society Garden set in rural North Yorkshire about a mile or so from Harrogate. It is a garden to inspire the amateur gardener, the nature lovers, and the plant enthusiasts. The 58-acre site is laid out into several diverse areas of interest, herbaceous borders, wildflower meadows, kitchen and scented gardens, an alpine zone, woodland and streamside walks and a teaching garden.
Scampston Hall, the Park and Gardens
This Garden is again set in rural North Yorkshire. It is the family home of the Legards. The house has been lovingly restored to its Regency period and displays many of its art treasures collected by the family. There are 80 acres of parkland / lakes designed by Capability Brown. Also, a Walled Garden designed by Piet Oudolf in 1999. It is a delight to see the house interior and to walk in the park and gardens. The experience provided many thought provoking vistas.
Newby Hall and Gardens
Near Ripon is a lovely Queen Anne style house with extensive gardens. The hall has been in the Compton family since 1748 and faithfully restored to the neo-classical design of Robert Adam. The rooms are adorned with Axminster carpets, Chippendale furniture, Japanese lacquered cabinets, Wedgewood and Minton china, “souvenirs” from their Grand Tours of the 18th and 19th centuries. together with many portraits of their ancestors, painted by prominent painters of the day. The gardens are laid out in compartments with various themes and complementary plantings. Trees and shrubs together with fountains, streams, ponds, sculptures and other ephemera form the backbone of the garden. Colour and scent is suplied by the flowering plants; some rare, some architectural and others down right stunning. The herbaceous borders running between the house and the river are a wonderful riot of colour, from one season to another. While, Sylvia’s Garden is planted with soft and subtle shades of plants to provide peace and relaxation. Throughout the garden are planted the National Collection of Cornus, over 100 Flowering Dogwoods. You will need a full day to discover the whole garden or a number of visits if you don’t want to rush, but savour each aspect to its maximum.
At the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors sits Castle Howard the ancestral home of the Howard family since it was built in early 18th century. It has been lovingly renovated and restored so that visitors can enjoy its beauty. The manor house is set in extensive grounds with grass terraces, woodland trails and waterside paths meandering around it. The estate is studded with statues, temples, lakes and fountains with a backdrop of sweeping countryside views. It will take you some time to visit all the areas, but the Walled Garden and House tours are not to be missed. In 1940 during WWII the house was devasted by fire and the iconic dome, unique among country homes, was destroyed. The restoration was true to Vanbrugh’s original designs. Castle Howard is also the setting for “Brideshead Revisited” an epic story by Evelyn Waugh of the fictional Flyte family, with a series and a film being made there. If you have time, The Temple of the Four Winds, The Mausoleum and Ray Wood are also of interest.