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

Last updated  

12.2.11

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Nash Point and St Donats Circular Walks

A short circular walk of 4 miles from the lighthouses at Nash Point to St Donats via Marcross or combine it with the Llantwit Major circular walk to make it 9 miles. The walk covers part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast path with dramatic views of the coast. The going is flat and easy although the cliff-tops can be muddy after rain. Be careful not to go too close to the cliff edge and check the tides if you intend to walk along the beach. The walk goes past the Horseshoe Inn at Marcross. A limited range of cans, crisps, tea etc. is sold in season at the Nash Point car park and there are toilets in the small building when it is open. There is a charge for car parking but only in season. The long walk offers toilets and refreshments in Llantwit Major town and by the Llantwit Major beach. An alternative start for the long walk is from Llantwit Major.

Start: Nash Point Car Park, grid ref 916683

For a map showing how to get to the start click here.

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From the cliff top looking back along the valley towards the nature reserve

Aim for the small white building at the beginning on the Nash Point car park. To the right of this is a barrier - take the stony path here which descends into the valley heading away from the sea. At the bottom you come to a barely visible sign saying Nature Trail straight on and Coastal Path to the left. Go straight ahead towards the trees crossing a stream which we shall cross several times. There are stepping stones to assist crossing the stream or a wooden bridge 30 yards to the left of the stepping stones.

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Inside the reserve

Cross the stream a second time then follow the yellow waymark sign to the left. Cross stream for third time and then fourth. Down wooden steps and cross stream for fifth time. Path now ascends to continue through the nature reserve. Eventually you get to a fenced-off area with a footpath through it but do not take this. Drop down the steps to the right and over a wooden bridge. A few yards beyond this go onto the road and turn left. Follow the road into Marcross village (see below for Variation 1). Pass the Marcross Church on the left and, at a road junction the Horseshoe Inn. (30 mins). Just after passing the church as you walk by a low stone wall on the left, look ahead to the farm buildings on the left of the road where you should be able to make out some old wall remnants - the remains of Marcross Castle.

Turn right at the road junction and proceed along the road with care. You pass Channel View houses on left, ignore a road junction on the right and then look out for Marcross Court on the left. Just past Marcross Court take the road junction to the right a narrow country lane. After a barn on your right, the lane gets to a junction turn right and head towards a gate beyond a small garage-sized building. Go through the gate following the stony path into the trees. Where the path diverges go to the left following the descending path (see Variation 2). You eventually emerge with battlements of St Donats Castle ahead at a junction with other paths. (45 mins).

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Left, St Donats Castle 1907; centre, ruined building; right, St Donats Church

Just to the right is an old ruined building in the trees and beyond and to the right is the Church of St Donats. Where our path met the walls go to the left with St Donats on your right, past a car park on your left and then turn right and immediately left. Note that the castle and grounds of St Donats are not open to the public. The road passes student accommodation blocks, then aim for metal gates which mark the exit from St Donats. Go onto the main road keeping in the same direction and staying on the right-hand side of the road. You come to a large concrete lay-by on the right. At the end of the lay-by look out for a kissing-gate set in the wall to the right. (60 mins).

Go through the kissing-gate and head along the right-hand edge of the playing fields. Go through a small wooden gate by a larger wooden gate and emerge onto the cliff top. (At this point, for the longer walk, see below). For the short walk go right, crossing a stone stile and carry on along the cliff-top with the sea on your left. Where the path forks go to the right following the arrow indicating Coastal Path. The path skirts a field with clear views to St Donats and then goes back into the trees. Descend, ignoring other paths to left and right, to emerge onto the large concreted area in front of St Donats on the edge of the beach. Go straight ahead to cross the slipway and then take the path ascending into the trees, (1 hr 15 mins). The main path runs parallel with the sea but a diversion to the right with your back to the sea brings you after 5 minutes through the trees to the ivy-clad watchtower of Sir Harry Stradling. Retrace your steps to resume the original path.

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The Nash Point lighthouses

Cross a stone stile to emerge onto the cliff-top with the top of Nash Point lighthouse visible in the distance. Cross two further stone stiles to get to the buildings by the lighthouse. Join the road which runs past the two lighthouses to emerge finally onto the wide grassed cliff-top area where the walk started. (1 hr 40 mins).

Variation 1

This variation, not shown on the map below, reduces the amount of walking on roads and lanes by crossing several fields - but you also miss the Lighthouse Inn! 50 yards beyond Marcross Church and immediately after the white bungalow called Playas take the footpath to the right. After 20 yards the path curves to the left, then becomes grassy and heads towards a stile by a metal gate which you cross. Head along the left-hand edge of the field ()you are now on the Millennium Trail) and when the hedge curves left aim slightly left towards the waymark post ahead. Just after the post follow the hedge to the left to cross a stile. Keep along the left-hand edge of the next field towards another waymark post and go through the metal gate. Turn right along the lane.

As you pass a bungalow on your left, follow the track straight ahead, with farm buildings to your right. After 100 yards take the stile on your left and go straight ahead across the field to a wooden stile. Cross this and then head diagonally right across the field towards a metal gate and wooden stile in a gap in the stone wall with waymark post. Turn left along the left-hand edge of the field towards some buildings. Cross the stone stile set in the conifer hedge and follow the recently diverted footpath to the left of the buildings to emerge on a road. Turn right and keep ahead to reach a small gate to the left of a garage-sized building. Follow the footpath onto a path that descends through the trees. You are back on the original route (see above) from the point "... a gate following the stone path...".

Thanks to Chris Harris for suggesting this alternative route.

Variation 2

Where the paths diverge in the woods take the right-hand path which ascends gently and then levels winding its way through the woods until it emerges on the coast where you turn right to return along the cliff-tops to Nash Point. In the woods you will pass the ivy-covered watchtower of Sir Harry Stradling. This shortens the overall walk distance by around three-quarters of a mile.

Long Walk

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Looking back towards St Donats

After emerging onto the cliff top (see above) turn left and head along the cliff-top with wire fence on left and cliff-top bushes on right. The path drops down to Tresilian bay and then ascends the far side. With the path back on the cliff-top, after about 50 yards you will see a stone stile on your left. At this point you are on the last part of the Llantwit Major walk. Do not take the stile but carry on along the cliff-top until you get to Llantwit Major beach car park which is the start of the Llantwit Major walk. Follow this route which eventually brings you to the stone stile referred to above. This time you turn right retrace your steps from earlier to get back on the Nash Point walk. It takes about 15 minutes to walk the gap between the two walks each way, so add 30 minutes to the combined walking time. You can combine the two walks in the same way if starting with the Llantwit Major walk.

Map of walk