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Walking in Glamorgan, South Wales. Guided walks, routes & local information

Last updated  

6.9.11

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Around Cardiff Bay

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Looking back across the Bay from the Barrage

The footbridge over the River Ely, completed in 2010, makes this walk around Cardiff Bay possible for the first time. Just over 6 miles, flat easy walking, uncomplicated route-finding and facilities all the way round make this an attractive circuit for many. It is also wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Connects with Taff Trail and Glamorgan Coast Path. Note that the barrage coast path closes around dusk.

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Pierhead Building in terracotta

Explorer map 151 covers the area but may not include newer features. At least 5 places to start from. Our route starts from Channel View Leisure Centre where there are free car parks on the waters edge ST 18161/74339. Other options are free public car park by White Water Rafting centre, chargeable car parks at public car park near St Davids Hotel and chargeable street parking around Norwegian Church. There is a chargeable car park alongside the barrage from the Penarth end but you can park free off-street at the top of hill in Paget Place and walk down Paget Road.

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Start at Channel View Leisure Centre

From the Channel View car park head along the tarmac path on the edge of the river (upstream) to your left, boats to right and apartment blocks to left. You approach a main road and the path meets a pavement (8 mins). Turn right to cross Clarence Bridge and then first right down Clarence Embankment, the river now on your right. Where road turn sharp left go ahead through a blue gate into Hamadryad Park. To your left in the trees is a large building that was once the Hamadryad Hospital.

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To left, Hamadryad Park. To right, the wetlands area

Pass a circular lagoon on your right following the path alongside the river. Eventually the path curves left alongside the big road bridge, then heads underneath it. Go through the gate and railings to leave the park. Cross a roundabout going straight ahead to enter a wildlife area, Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. When you get to a large stone monument you can take a walk along the boardwalk for views across the bay or to do some birdwatching - otherwise, turn left at the monument along the path with reedbeds to your right (and later your left). Note the row of terraced houses to your left. You reach a large sculpture of a knotted steel cable on the edge of a car park (29 mins, 1.46 miles) - now turn right towards the bay passing the car park on your left.

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Pierhead building to left, Assembly building to right

At the end turn left following white railings to pass round the bay side of St Davids hotel. Up some steps and turn right following the water on your right to pass Techniquest, then Harry Ramsden's on right and Cafe Rouge on left. There are public toilets near the circular cafe which are well-concealed - go through the glass door by the Glee Club. Otherwise carry on with the bay on your right, across a wooden bridge, then to the right of the terracotta building, the Pierhead Building, and then the Welsh Assembly Government building. Now curve right to pass the Norwegian Church, (45 mins, 2.35 miles, ST 19364/74244) and Scott memorial, cross a bridge and follow the path as it continues to skirt the bay - the Cardiff Bay Barrage Coast Path. The next building on your right, the Cardiff Bay activity centre has public toilets.

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Cardiff Barrage Locks system

Pass a skateboard area and play area to head across the barrage along upper or lower paths. Views to the left include Flatholm and Steepholm islands and the hump of Brean Down near Weston super Mare. Cross the lock gates, noting the yellow markings which are an artwork and best viewed from above. Pass the Pay and Display car park (3.57 miles, 1hr 12 mins, ST 18995/72529). Then follow path to the right, keeping to the edge of the water, head left and then right across a footbridge, right still along the water's edge to follow the path as it curves left - this is Penarth Quays Marina - to meet the bay again. Head left keeping the bay on your right. Pass a slate sculpture on left, the path then going under projecting flats. When the path ahead is blocked by metal railings , turn left for 20 yards to reach a road then right along the pavement with the Oystercatcher pub and Tescos to the left. Look out for the footbridge which crosses the water to your right, (4.65 miles, 1hr 33 mins).

Cross the bridge to your right then turn right to pass the White Water Rafting area. If the water is running, take a break to watch the canoes negotiating the rapids. There are picnic tables, cafes and toilets here as well. The free car park here is at ST 17990/72873. Go past the car park, passing the swimming pool and then ice-skating buildings on left. On reaching the water, head left along the boardwalk eventually reaching the large road bridge overhead. Pass under the bridge keeping straight ahead to get back to the start, (6.16 miles, 2 hrs 2 mins).

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Map of route - description starts from Sports Centre