City and seaside merge between Cardiff and Penarth
On a sunny day, the walk between vibrant Cardiff and the charming Victorian seaside town of Penarth offers tranquil coastal scenery interspersed with the kind of heritage sites which bring history to life. And even when the weather's not that great, those stop-off points mean you'll never be short of ideas and inspiration.
A 6 mile stroll around the bay
Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay by Paula J JamesThe route around the beautiful bay is an easy six miles. Along the way you'll be able to see everything from a Norwegian church shipped from Norway for the benefit of the Scandinavians working in Cardiff docks during the 1860s, overseen by a Captain Scott memorial near the point his Terranova ship sailed from in 1910 – to the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. This nature idyll is a must-see for bird lovers, but it's also full of interesting and varied wildlife, creating a haven with a city backdrop in a space originally created in 2002, when a freshwater lake emerged after the Barrage was finished. Look carefully and you might see the Barrage Circles – a beguiling optical work dreamed up by Swiss artist Felice Varini which reveals a set of perfect concentric circles if you stand on an x-marked yellow paint spot.
See the sights
Senedd, Cardiff BayThen there are the great buildings: the Water Tower, say, where a stream of water drops 70 feet (it was made famous by the BBC show, Torchwood), or The Senedd, which has been the home of the Welsh Assembly since opening in 2006 and has the distinction of being perhaps the most eco-friendly piece of parliamentary architecture anywhere in the world. It’s built from traditional Welsh materials and topped with a wind cowl in the roof which spins to summon warm air out of the chamber beneath it.
If you want to explore the amazing history of the docks, try the Pierhead – a Grade I listed building and visitor centre which is a museum with a clock tower. It's near the Roald Dahl Plass, named after the great author and used as a centre for activities in front of the unmissable Millennium Centre. Techniquest science centre isn't far from here, and there's much more to discover – not least the thrill of the Olympic standard white water rafting facility at Cardiff International White Water.
Penarth Marina, Glamorgan Heritage CoastTo get to Penarth Marina, where spectacular views await, you'll need to cross Pont y Werin. Translating as The People's Bridge, it's adorned with imposing sculptures of great Welsh sportspeople on either side, having been completed in 2010 as a bridge, which can shift to allow large boats through. If that makes you feel the lure of the sea, try something different with a boat ride from Penarth Pier or a water taxi back across, admiring some of the scenery you'll have covered on your way there. Wherever you visit, you'll be able to relax in style on the bay, which is renowned for its excellent food and drink, as well as its shops, galleries and parks. It's a fantastic area to relax in, with the beach as your constant companion.
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