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Penarth Ramblers explore history and nature on walk

Penarth and District Ramblers report

It was girl power when ten female walkers joined Joy and sheepdog Bracken from Penarth and District Ramblers at Penarth clifftop for an 11.5 mile walk, with no stiles only gates and which would see them experiencing the weather of all four seasons in one day. They set off on a socially distanced walk in lovely spring sunshine across the old pitch and putt course before joining part of the old railway line, now a walk and cycle way, and heading through a built up area Lavernock Road led them into Cosmeston Country Park.

Past the eastern lake with its floating jetty where canoes can be safely launched and making their way through the eastern paddock with its carpet of pretty cowslips, open meadows led them towards Old Cogan Hall Farm, where they deviated into the churchyard of St Peter’s for morning break in glorious warm sunshine reminiscent of summer. Admiring the herring bone masonry which dates to Celtic and Saxon times and the ancient yew trees that could even pre-date this lovely old church, which allegedly is the oldest building in Penarth and hearing some of its long and interesting history, it fell into disrepair in the 18th century. By the 19th century the ruinous building was a cattle shelter until the latter part of the 1880’s when the 3rd Marquis of Bute was persuaded to pay for its renovation.

Mile Road built by the Bute family led them to the western paddock and through the sun-dappled Cogan Wood to re-enter fields where a footbridge led them across the Sully Brook for the short climb up to Home Farm, with its glorious views towards the eastern end of Barry and the surrounding farmland. Exiting through a gate, some road walking in a southerly direction brought them into Sully village and pounding pavements to reach the Jubilee Hall and the cricket field, the full beauty of Sully Bay with its views across the Bristol Channel towards the Somerset coastline and Hayes Point to the west confronted them.

With the wind beginning to pick up they tramped by track and field to the public slipway at Sully beach and stopped for lunch utilising rocks for seating whilst gazing eastwards towards Sully Island and Flat and Steep Holm beyond, as clouds thickened overhead and the temperature dropped making it feel more like autumn.

Time to move on along part of the long distance Wales Coast Path, through the playing fields to exit onto Beach Road, following it to the car park of the Captain’s Wife where there were only a few people sitting at outdoor tables for food and drink, not really enjoyable in the cool breeze.

The fairly quiet St Mary’s Well Bay Road brought them up past The Bay Caravan Park and into fields with growing crops where, without any warning a sudden short sharp shower of rain engulfed the group forcing coats to be swiftly donned.

Crossing a wooden footbridge into the delightful Lavernock Nature Reserve the grassy path led them into the remains of the WW2 gun emplacements. Initially in the late 1860’s the original Lavernock Gun Battery was built to protect the Bristol and Cardiff shipyards and the Bristol Channel, but unfortunately most of the original buildings now lie underneath the caravan park.

Being bombarded by a short hail storm whilst moving on through the nature reserve, lovingly cared for by volunteers and passing the man-made pond with its surrounding carpet of bluish/violet bugle, a plant which attracts moths, butterflies and bees, before exiting onto Fort Road; their route led them past the Marconi Holiday Village and the Church of St Lawrence before heading along the clifftop. With thick black clouds heading up the English side of the Bristol Channel, the race was on to get back before the rain hit. As the weather turned wintry and the wind increased, a huge shower of hailstones and heavy rain struck them on the open Penarth clifftop soaking them as they made their way back to their start point.

You can follow the group’s exploits before, during and after lockdown on Facebook.

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