Newport to Barry Island via the Cardiff Barrage and Penarth. (1 day- 26 miles)

Barry Island is a small beach fronted holiday resort, as a child it was the nearest place to paddle in the water (dirty brown water, I might add). Recently made famous by the TV series ‘Gavin and Stacey’. Barry Island is not isolated from the mainland, it is more of a spit. There was a massive coach park bringing in the holidaymakers or you could travel by train, with its own station. The resort also had a permanent funfair with a famous log flume. Butlins had a resort on Nell’s point overlooking the beach. Sadly Butlins shut in the late eighties, the resort fell into decline and despite improvements and money thrown at it, it never regained the crowds of the previous era. Needless to say, when I was competing we rode there and back in one night, but like Butlins; those days have gone, though it was still worth a ride (if only one way).

First leg- Newport to cardiff

Transporter bridge We start the ride near the Transporter bridge then along the Wentlooge marshes, a flat land reclaimed from the sea with drainage ditches on both sides of the road. It winds and twists through all the way to Peterstone. From here the quiet country roads open up, as we approach Cardiff and gives way to busy industrial estates. We cross the Rhymney River on Lamby Way then through Tremorfa park. You could go left down Rover Way, but this pass’s a steel works with heavy traffic (and more importantly, increased potential of punchers).

We head through the back streets of Splott which once had a dire reputation when the docks were in full use, now it’s rows of terraced streets are filled with everyday people. We travel into the area of Bute and along Bute East Dock, now no longer used as a Dock and built up of posh flats overlooking the water. The only remnant left of the Docks working life is a crane mid-way along the dock. We cross the A4232 and ride along Roath Basin (another disused dock) and into Britannia Park which houses an unusual church; the Norwegian church, now an arts centre and cafe. Here we had a cup of expensive coffee and moved on to skirt the edge of Cardiff Bay past the “Doctor Who Experience.”

Second leg- Cardiff to Barry Island via Penarth

Cardiff Barrage Prior to 2001 this route was not possible, now the Cardiff Barrage cross’s the bay to Penarth. With water on both sides it feels like we are on the sea, the Bay has massive locks to enable boats in and out. Back on dry land there is a lovely old derelict hotel next to the Old Customs House (now a restaurant). We climbed a steep hill into Penarth and before continuing on, we visited the restored Victorian pier. Then back up a hill onto the Taff Vale Railway branch of the Vale of Glamorgan Line, now Sustrans ‘Railway walk’. Now the quiet and straight path passes under former railway bridges, shaded by trees, and at this time of year, its strewn with thousands of blackberries. Half way we turned off left to take in the fantastic views over the channel to the Island of Flatholm. Back on the path it ends near Cosmeston where we jump onto a path running alongside the busy B4267.

Cosmeston medieval village At Cosmeston there is a medieval village, based upon remains discovered during a 1980s archaeological dig in the grounds of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, it is a re-creation of 14th century peasant life in Wales in the Late Middle Ages. We had a walk around the lakes and the village and moved on. We are on the main road now through Sully, a heavy industrialised area. There are cycle paths on the side of the road but they are dirty and not continuous, making us stop and start. We turned right and left around Barry docks (still a working dock) and onto the Ffordd Mileniwm road. I was hoping to cut across from Powell Duffrn Way to fields where hundreds of steam locomotives were stored right up until the early eighties, but alas, all are gone now and the area is sealed off. We crossed harbour road and into Barry Island and headed for O'shea's award winning fish & chip cafe on the Promenade, then onto Finnegans Bar for a few beers. After a few pints we headed for the station, now unmanned, it’s a sorry state of its former glory. The station used to have four platforms, now there’s one. The bonus is the trains are frequent and are cheap.

It was a good ride, with lots to see, but perhaps it’s not good to go back and see the degeneration of good childhood memories. Barry has certainly regenerated, and I’m not being negative, but with the advent of cheap foreign holidays in europe, it will never retrieve the popularity of it’s hayday.

  • Gallery

    gallery page Why not have a look at the gallery relating to this ride. Click the image or the title.

  • The Coal Exchange, Cardiff

    The Coal Exchange, Cardiff In the nineteenth century Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world, the Coal Exchange was built as a base to conduct trade negotiations selling the coal from the South Wales Valleys - most of which was shipped to Bute Docks for distribution all over the world.

  • Penarth Pier

    Penarth Pier With the close proximity to Cardiff and the growing popularity of Penarth beach, a new landing was needed to expedite the passengers on and off the steam packets, construction was finished in 1898. In 1930, a spectacular Art Deco pavilion was built, housing a concert house. The current pier renovation was completed in 2013.

  • Woodhams scrapyard in Barry

    Woodhams scrapyard Ones mans scrap is another man’s gold, with the demise of steam, Woodhams scrap yard bought the rights to the Southwest engines and rolling stock. The small coal trucks were easier to dismantle and this is what they began with, leaving the steam trains to last. Preservation societies seized this opportunity and bought the trains, the owner made more money from this than scrap.

  • Barry beach in the 1960's

    Barry beach .

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