After a night of heavy rainfall and high winds which lasted into the morning, eleven people cancelled, but for the thirteen hardy walkers and dog Bruno who joined Joy from Penarth and District Ramblers for a 6.5 mile Shortish Strides walk, the rain stopped just as they set off and they were even rewarded with sunshine!
Setting off from the Gorsedd Stones that were quarried in Cadoxton to mark the site of the Eisteddfod in 1920 a descent through an almost empty Romilly Park led them below the railway bridge and into the Knap Gardens, passing swans and Canada Geese strolling around. The wind had whipped up the water in the Knap Lake and they received a free boot wash as they walked beside it to cross the site of the old Knap Lido which was built in the 1920’s as a tidal pool designed to fill at high tide. It was one of the largest open air pools and sadly closed in 1997 despite opposition and was filled in by 2004.
Joining the promenade above Watchtower Bay the tide was surging into the Old Harbour as they followed pavements past the thatched Cole Farm, the oldest occupied building in Barry, to make their way to the Parade Gardens and along the causeway. Deviating through the main car park on Barry Island, the strong gusting south westerly wind almost stopped them in their tracks as they tramped up through the path past the Tennis Club to descend steps onto the beach at Whitmore Bay which was populated mostly by dog owners.
Steps led them up onto the eastern end of the promenade past the climbing wall and the brightly coloured beach huts and along the Clement Colley Walk where they received a soaking of salty spray from the waves crashing onto the rocks at Nells Point.
In 1900 the Barry Fort was built above Nell’s Point along with a coast artillery searchlight emplacement during WW1 that was one of a series of coastal defences to protect the ports along the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary. This one protected the entrance to the docklands where coal from the valleys was exported and used to fuel the ships required for the war effort. By now patches of blue sky were beginning to show and by the time they reached the delightful Jackson’s Bay, the sun had burst through just in time for their refreshment break utilising rocks as seats whilst overlooking open water swimmers. The bay was named after Sir John Jackson (1851-1919) an eminent English Engineer and contractor who built Barry Harbour and the Graving Dock.
Refreshed they moved on past Barry Yacht Club and climbed steeply to Redbrink Crescent with its glorious views and on past St Baruc’s Chapel ruins. Barry Island is named after him and the legend is that Baruc who was a disciple of St Cadoc forgot a notebook belong the Cadoc on a visit to nearby Flat Holm and was sent back in a rowboat with Gweldes to retrieve it. But on their return a storm blew up, the boat overturned and both were drowned. Baruc’s body washed up at Barry Island and he was buried there and the chapel was built in his memory attracting many thousands of visits from pilgrims.
Following Breaksea Drive and crossing the bridge at the railway station, a narrow path led them onto Ffordd y Mileniwm and on past Asda where during the 1950’s Woodham Brothers who were scrap metal merchants had a steam graveyard with old locomotives and rolling stock which attracted railway enthusiasts from far and wide. Along Hood Road and beneath the tunnel onto Broad Street to follow Island Road uphill to the green area leading to Jenner Road named after the Jenner family from Wenvoe Castle.
Then along Pontypridd Road to Nant Talwg Way where a narrow pathway between houses and the fast flowing brook brought them to the Millwood used for timber production for around 150 years. Crossing the brook a steep climb led them to the muddy waterlogged Four Fields, across the top end of Cwm Barri and across their only stile to follow pavements back to their start after what had been a lovely way to spend three hours.
You can follow the group’s exploits at www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com or Facebook