Exploring the outdoors
The Vale of Glamorgan has a renowned coastline, and also many beautiful gardens, parks and green spaces that it is equally proud of. Dyffryn House and Gardens, a National Trust property, has stunning gardens and also the magnificent Dyffryn House itself. The lesser-known but equally beautiful Slade Farm Gardens is set right on the spectacular Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Just a few minutes from Slade Gardens is the wonderful Dunraven Gardens. Alternatively, the 12th century Fonmon Castle is open for tours and visits to their gorgeous gardens. Visit the Vales' Parks and Gardens page has more ideas for a great day out.
Porthkerry Country Park has 220 acres of woods and meadowland with great walks. It backs on to a pebbly beach and is home to an iconic viaduct. Cosmeston Lakes and Country Park is a mixture of countryside, activity adventures and history. It's home to Cosmeston Medieval Village where you can step back in time to the 14th century. There is a café and parking at both parks and dogs are welcome all year round.
If you fancy something maybe a bit more unexpected for Wales, how about a wine tour? Nestled in the countryside are two beautiful, award winning vineyards, Llanerch Vineyard and Glyndwr Vineyard, both offering wine tours and tastings.
Everyone benefits from a few days away, even our four-legged friends. There are loads of ideas on the Paws in the Vale website where you and your hounds will be made to feel welcome, and on top of that we have fantastic beaches and countryside walks for the perfect break.
The Vale is also full of walks for all abilities. Not only can you explore the fascinating coastline using the Wales Coast Path, you can also head inland for some gorgeous views across the countryside. There are 10 'Vale Trails' available and you can also download the Vale Tales App which brings to life the stories along each of the trails. The free app is GPS triggered, and narrated by ‘Iolo Morgannwg’. Barry is host to the popular annual Vale of Glamorgan Walking Festival, usually held in May.
Life's a beach in Barry
Come and seek out the all-year round resort of Barry Island for all the fun of the seaside. You may have already seen it on BBC's award winning TV series Gavin & Stacey, which is set in Barry and Essex.
Whitmore Bay is a brilliant beach - perfect for families and dog walkers (seasonal restrictions apply). Imagine a huge crescent of golden sand and plenty of space to set up your sun umbrella. You can hire one of the colourful, iconic Barry Island beach huts for the day or explore the dazzling lights of the nearby Barry Island Pleasure Park. To top it off, the recently refurbished promenade is full of thriving cafés, traditional fish and chip shops, amusement arcades and all the things you need for a great day out at the beach. The beach is also accessible to those less able with the free loan of beach wheelchairs from the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
There is a lot more to Barry than the seafront. Barry Tourist Railway runs regular heritage train rides. Barry War Museum is on the same site and has loads of information about the local area in wartime - there's even a First World War replica trench and an Anderson shelter from the Second World War. The Knap Lake and Gardens is a favourite spot with model boat enthusiasts and the gardens are lovely to walk around.
The market town of Cowbridge is an absolute delight with historic town walls, a blue plaque trail to follow and lots of fashionable independent shops. The Physic Garden and Old Hall Gardens are a must to sit, relax and take a breather. There's a superb range of eateries to finish off your Cowbridge experience.
Ancient buildings are everywhere in Llantwit Major, one of the Vale of Glamorgan’s most beautiful villages – the first church was recorded in the settlement more than 1,500 years ago. Lush countryside, caves and beaches make for glorious surroundings. St Donat’s Castle houses an Arts Centre with a year-round programme.
Penarth is an elegant seaside town with independent shops, its very own arcade and great eateries. Head east and you come across Penarth Marina and the Barrage, head towards the coast and you can’t help but find the magnificent Art Deco Pier and Pavilion with the splendid Esplanade running the length of the seafront with a range of high-quality restaurants, cafes and shops. For a special treat, a visit to the Michelin starred Restaurant James Sommerin restaurant is highly recommended.
Things to do
Watch the potters at Ewenny Pottery
A chance to see a really authentic experience at the oldest working pottery in Wales, a small pottery where pot-throwing was first recorded at the start of the 15th century. See the family at work and perhaps take home your very own piece of iconic Welsh history, handcrafted on site by seventh and eighth generation potters at the Ewenny Pottery.
Nash Point Lighthouse
Engineer James Walker designed the Nash Point Lighthouse to protect the coast during the mid-19th century, and it was the last manned lighthouse in Wales before being automated in 1998. Opened to the public in 2007, it’s an excellent starting point for a cliff-top walk with dramatic views.
Ever dreamed of meeting Lawrence of Arabia? Sequences from the 1962 classic were filmed at the historic Merthyr Mawr sand dunes here, overlooking the River Ogmore. Discover two castles, and a number of cottages you’ll fall in love with. The 19th century mansion Merthyr Mawr House also makes Ogmore a village well worth visiting.
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