168 Peterstone Wentlooge to Cardiff Bay

I park my car in the Welsh village of Peterstone Wentlooge. A footpath leads down to the bank of the Severn Estuary, where I stand and take a photograph looking back towards the village.

01 Peterstone Wentlooge

It is sunny, but cold, with no wind. A perfect February day. My main concern is to keep up a good walking speed. I travelled down from Lincolnshire this morning and it is already 2:30pm. The sun sets at 5:00.

My usual long-distance walking speed is about 2 mph, but today I need to maintain a speed of 3 mph to reach Cardiff Bay before it gets too dark. I have 10 miles to cover and only 2.5 hours of daylight left.

The bank stretches in front of me. Flat and featureless. The sun is low in my eyes. I begin walking.

02 bank of the Severn, walking towards Cardiff

The sea is some way off to my left. But the tidal range of the Severn is huge and I soon realise the water must reach all the way up to this bank. A large pile of flotsam is a reminder of the power of the waves. I wonder if it was washed up in last year’s storms?

03 driftwood and rubbish on shoreline, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

I was hoping to see the coast of North Somerset across the estuary. I always enjoy looking across to a distant shore and tracing the path I once trod along that way. But, despite the sun, the horizon is obscured by a murky haze.  I can’t see across to Somerset today. What a shame.

04 looking towards Somerset, Ruth walking the Severn Estuary, Wales Coast Path

There is nobody up on the bank and I meet no other walkers. Only a few horses for company.

05 horses on the Wales Coast Path, Ruth walking towards Cardiff

After a couple of miles, I come to an area which is being restructured. A couple of newish looking bridges cross over a recently dug pond. A digger is busy working in the distance.

06 excavations and improvements, Wales Coast Path, Ruth Livingstone

[At this point I really should have left the bank of the estuary and headed inland. But I didn’t know this. There was no obvious sign, and I didn’t bother to check my map because I was in a hurry.]

I continue walking along the shoreline.

07 shoreline, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path near Cardiff

But the path becomes increasingly muddy and difficult to navigate. Horses have been this way. Their hoof prints make an obvious, if uneven, track. I follow this and find myself stumbling across piles of rubbish. What a tip!

I reach the mouth of a river – the Rhymney River – and am forced to turn inland, following its bank. The path disappears. The rubbish gets worse.  I check my map…

… and discover I am walking over a place marked as marshland and with the name ‘Lamby’. It is also marked as the site of an old and disused tip. [Unknown to me, I am walking around the edge of a large waste recycling plant.]

A high fence constrains me to a wide strip of muddy land between the fence and the river. I wonder if I should turn back, but I have already invested precious time walking this section and so I decide to continue. If I stick to the edge of the river I should reach a road soon and there I will re-join the official Wales Coast Path, which follows the road for a mile or so.

After a while, the road comes into sight, just over a hedge. I walk the final stretch of wasteland along a very muddy and steeply sloping bank. Glad to have my walking poles!

But then I reach a final hurdle. Just before the road is a deep ditch. But I can’t jump down into the ditch because someone has erected a makeshift barricade of old wooden pallets and planks, wound through with barbed wire. The obstruction isn’t very high, but it takes me some time before I manage to climb over it and tumble down into the ditch.

Eventually I emerge – scratched and muddy – onto the pavement. At this point I must look like a tramp.

I follow the road as it crosses over the Rhymney River and makes its way along the opposite bank. In the slanting rays of the sinking sun I see a collection of boats moored in the river.

08 Rhymney River, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path, Cardiff

Then I reach a place called Pengam Moors. This was the site of an old airfield, but is now taken over by light industry and a shambolic collection of mobile homes and static caravans. There is rubbish everywhere and the sound of large dogs barking.

I feel very uneasy and am glad to get past this place. The path rises up and I stop for a last photograph back the way I have just come. In front is Pengam Moors, behind the mouth of the Rhymney River, and the high bank in the distance is the waste tip around which I recently struggled.

09 looking down on Pengam Moors, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Cardiff

Up on a cliff, the path winds around following the shoreline. This is lovely and the best part of the walk. I meet a couple of dog walkers – and take photographs of the shapes in the mud beneath the cliff.

10 dusk, Severn Estuary, Ruth on Wales Coast Path, near Cardiff

The scenic view is slightly marred by a burnt out and abandoned car.

11 car in the mud, near Cardiff, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

Ahead the sun has almost set. The industrial buildings of Cardiff’s docks are silhouetted against the skyline.

12 industrial zone, Ruth walking into Cardiff

To my right is fencing and on the other side is more industry. I can smell gas and other strange chemical smells. Tanks and pipes and round structures. I wonder what is going on here?

13 industrial structure, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path into Cardiff

The sun is almost set. But I can’t resist a final photo of rising smoke from a couple of tall chimneys.

14 industrial zone Cardiff Docks, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

After walking around this industrial section, I join a busy road.

From here the Wales Coast Path follows a series of roads and heads inland as it circumnavigates the Cardiff dock area. It is too dark for more photographs. The route is well signed, but I find it very tiring. Rush hour traffic, oncoming headlights, and the lack of any pleasant scenery, all make this section of the walk very wearying.

Finally I reach Cardiff Bay – a new and attractive development of high-rise buildings – and am relieved to see my hotel. It is on the other side of a busy road. [Working out how to get to the building on foot is another story… but I won’t bore you with that today.]

Average moving speed = 3.1 mph
Average speed including photo stops and fence climbing = 2.8 mph

Miles walked today = 10
Miles walked since beginning = 1659.5


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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15 Responses to 168 Peterstone Wentlooge to Cardiff Bay

  1. paul Sennett says:

    Classification: External Communication

    Sounds like canvey island and Rochford area!!
    All the best

  2. Jean says:

    You’ve posted some beautiful photos, even if the area was quite cruddy. Tell me, when you have to push on a bit, do you have tunes in your head to stride out to?

    • Hi Jean, I sometimes hum to myself – marching tunes like The Grand Old Duke of York, but on this particular day I think I was just concentrating on keeping my pace going and can’t remember any tunes in my head 🙂 Sometimes I invent wonderful stories.

  3. jcombe says:

    I did this walk yesterday, from Newport to Cardiff Bay. My first (new) coastal walk this year! I certainly agree with you about the caravan park. As I got closer there were ever increasing amounts of dumped rubbish all over the ground, along with lots of burnt areas where the rubbish (or something else) had been burnt. All the dogs barking too as you say. They also had a fire going so had to walk through the thick smoke wafting up from the caravan park. Then the hill up looked like an old rubbish dump so I was worried what I was going to come across round the corner. And then suddenly it’s back to countryside and a wonderful view. But 5 minutes later you round the corner to all that heavy industry. Certainly a walk of contrasts. I enjoyed the section alongside the Severn (though it was being used, probably illegally, by trail bikes at one point). Also the area around Cardiff Bay was very interesting and attractive. But the rest? I’m glad I won’t have to repeat it anyway! The walk seemed to have been routed through the worst residential areas and heavy industry. Not too attractive!

  4. Marie Keates says:

    Well, that was an eventful walk Ruth and not much fun by the sound if it. Hopefully the next section will be better.

  5. It was very brave of you to have attempted such a walk so late in the day and then to have to undergo the challenges of marshland, barbed wire, smoke and all the rest! I think I’ve seen some of the industrial structures from this side of the Channel but yes, it’s too often a bit grey and murky when I try to look across as well. Could this be pollution? Somerset’s landscape, particularly across the Levels, is increasingly like this throughout the year.

    • Hi Olly. When I walked the end of the South West Coast Path (Porlock Weir to Minehead section) I enjoyed some wonderful views over the estuary towards Cardiff. Could even see the Millennium Stadium! So I was looking forward to being able to enjoy the view back across towards Somerset and was disappointed not to be able to see anything beyond a few hundred metres. I think you are right and there is a lot of atmospheric pollution in this area.

  6. Good to see you back on the trail again. There is that low-sun-winter-magic-light to the photos. Your late finish brings to mind that lonely feeling on a walk, when, in late afternoon it dawns on you that everybody else has gone home and you are still plodding along in a sort of ghostly silence. That happens to me anyway and I wonder if others have that experience?

    • Yes, I bet most walkers have experienced that late afternoon where-has-everyone-gone feeling. Along with the weird phenomena of walking along a crowded beach and feeling the first few drops of rain fall. Five seconds later and the beach is mysteriously empty – except for you, still plodding on :/

  7. Gayle says:

    A bit late commenting here, but when I originally read this post in February I hadn’t walked this section. I did exactly the same as you at Lamby. I knew the WCP turned inland, but when I got to the relevant point the signage was contradictory and suggested I could go straight on, so I opted to stay by the water. Like you, I considered turning back when it became clear that there was no path this way, and started to get concerned as to whether I would be able to get out onto the road at the other end. Sounds like I had an easier time than you in making that escape back onto the road (by moving a piece of the wood barricade to one side and ducking under the barbed wire).

    After the dumping and burnt-out-dumping by the caravan site (behind which I got chased by a goose, whilst worrying about dogs), I climbed up onto that waste-ground-esque hillock in the path and such was my discomfort with my surroundings that I back-tracked and explored the local industrial and housing estates (urgh!). I was certainly pleased to reach Cardiff Bay.

  8. David L says:

    Walked this today, from Newport.

    Signage still confusing at Lamby. Heading W you come to an information board about the Coast Path. That’s where you’re supposed to drop off the sea wall, though there’s nothing to say so and nothing specific to Lamby. It’s 50 yards before the 9m trig point on the sea wall. The path drops down, crossed two wooden bridges, one with a little blue and yellow WCP sign, then runs besides a water channel all the way to the road, where you turn left to a little roundabout. Reaching it, there’s a sign to go right, i.e. S, which is counterintuitive, when the road W heads to the river crossing.

    What you’re supposed to do, having followed the sign to go right at the roundabout, is to immediately (10 yards, maybe) turn left, i.e. W, under a barrier that leads to a car park next to a lake. It is far from obvious, and I got lost here for a while. The path then parallels the road, emerging just before the bridge, which leads to the delights of rubbish and the shanty town. A lad on a bike hurled abuse at the inhabitants as I passed. Dogs barked.

    Not the best of routes, but the worst, I found, was the slog into Cardiff, though the soul-less grid of offices and innovation centres in the Bay development. Was glad to find Central Station.

    • Thanks for the detailed description of how to navigate this section, David. Sure it will be helpful to other walkers. A shame the WCP hasn’t got the signage right here. Also a shame that the approach to Cardiff is still very unappealing.

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