Monday, December 29, 2014

On your doorstep - don't miss it

It's been a fantastically gorgeous day in Cardiff - wall to wall blue skies and sunshine. It's difficult to believe it's 29th December.

Making the most of the unseasonal weather we've been on a circular walk of Cardiff Bay. It's a great walk - about 5 miles give or take that we've now done a few times, but the key for me given my very dodgy knee, and other aching bones is that it's flat, and all or pretty much all on paved surfaces. A decent pair of trainers will see you all right unless it's chucking down.

We started at the free car park on Marconi Avenue just down from the Oystercatcher pub, and went anticlockwise, taking in the barrage first, passing Penarth Marina with it's collection of boats of all shapes and sizes. In fact the number of craft in the Marina, the river Ely and the bay itself is tremendous, and needs to be seen to be belived. The best place to view is on the Pont y Werin bridge looking down the Ely towards the bay towards the end of the walk.

We stopped in Mermaid Quay for a Starbucks coffee before the second half taking in the wetlands nature reserve  before crossing the road bridge and then Pont y Werin footbridge over the river Ely completing the walk and finishing off with a very good value meal in the Oystercatcher, which is one of the Hungry Horse chain of pub/restaurants.

As is so often the case, it's a reminder of what's on your doorstep and either taken for granted or, in many cases completely overlooked. As well as the barrage, impressive in itself with it's three sea locks and now, huge freshwater lake fed by the Taff and Ely, there are many important and historic buildings along the way. The Senedd, Norwegian Church with it's Roald Dahl connections, the Millenium Centre, Pierhead building and Millenium Stadium are all visible in the photo taken from the Penarth side of the barrage. Mermaid Quay is a bustling centre these days with coffee shops, ice cream parlours and eateries to suit every taste and pocket. The newer builds of the St David's hotel and spa, flats and unseen here, white water rafting centre, ice rink and swimming pool show how vibrant this area is these days.

On our way round we were ruminating about the "old days" of the mud flats, the Red House pub and the scrappies along Ferry Road. Rose tinted spectacles perhaps. The number of people out and about with kids or just adults around on their own today, whether taking in the weather or a visit to the Dr Who Experience or the wetlands nature reserve behind the St Davids hotel would never have been possible without the foresight to redevelop what was a pretty run down area of the City not too long ago.

It was a lovely walk in lovely weather, but whatever you do, just take the time to pop down and regardless of whether you do the whole circuit, or just a short stroll on part of it, don't miss it.

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