Postcard From Penarth to Sully

Fishermen on Penarth pier.

Penarth is literally just around the corner from Cardiff. Home to a famous pier and much else besides. The town itself has a pleasant promenade to walk along, and numerous eateries along the sea front. There is also the cliff top café which is where this walk begins and indeed ends, thanks to a large car park. There is a section of the Welsh coastal path that takes you past a residential area and then out along the coast to Lavernock and the Swanbridge where you can view the Isle of Sully. There is a pub on the mainland side where it would be rude no to stop off for refreshment after the first part of the trek. You can then either return the same way ou came or swing inland and loop back around o the start. Either way is good.

Penarth pier looking out towards Flat Holm and Steep Holm.
A lone boat cruises along the Bristol channel.

From the cliff side path and indeed all the way along the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm can be seen. Flat holm has an interesting history stretching back to the Bronze age. Saint Cadoc is said to have lived on the island as a hermit for seven years. It has been occupied by Saxons, Vikings and Normans, and was used for smuggling in the 18th century. Flat Holm is part of Wales.

Flat Holm and Steep Holm from the Wales coastal path.
Flat Holm and Steep Holm under brooding skies.

Steep Holm has some evidence of Iron age and Roman habitation. In the 10th century it was used as a base for Viking raids in to England. During the 1800s a fort was built as part of coastal defences. During both world wars it had look out posts stationed. This was in conjunction with antiaircraft batteries based at Lavernock. Today it is home to a bird sanctuary. Steep holm is part of England.

Beach near Swanbridge looking out in to the channel.
Sailing boats on the Severn Estuary.

Lavernock marks the end of the Severn estuary and the beginning of he Bristol channel proper. Here can be seen the Marconi tower or hut which broadcast and received the first wireless transmissions in morse code. It is rather neglected today which I feel is sad considering that it was such a fine achievement. Nearby is the AA battery used in WW2.

The Marconi tower.
AA battery emplacement at Lavernock point.

Lavernock Point is established as a particularly fine nature reserve where wildlife interest is combined with historical interests in a dramatic and picturesque coastal reserve. The unimproved limestone grassland supports varied and colourful plants such as dyer’s greenweed, devil’s-bit scabious, common spotted orchid and fleabane. Butterflies have been observed and recorded by the reserve’s warden for over twenty years and more than twenty five species have been identified. Lavernock and the nearby Cosmeston Lakes continue to be an important landing point for migrating birds. Many bird migration routes across the Bristol Channel cross the reserve, and Steep Holm and Flat Holm islands act as staging posts. Bird sightings vary through the year, with visiting summer migrants, seabirds off the coast and resident breeding birds.-Wikipedia

Lavernock nature reserve.
Bench at the nature reserve.
The footpath crosses through a farmer’s field.

Sully Island  is a small tidal island and Site of Special Scientific Interest at the hamlet of Swanbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, 400 yards off the northern coast of the Bristol Channel, midway between the towns of Penarth and Barry and 7 miles (11 kilometres) south of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Access to the island is on foot at low tide from the car park of the Captain’s Wife public house. It is 14 and a half acres in extent and is one of 43 (unbridged) tidal islands which can be reached on foot from the mainland of England, Wales or Scotland.
During the 13th century, the island was the base for Alfredo De Marisco, a Norman pirate known locally as The Night Hawk. In the Middle Ages the island was well known for its involvement in the local smuggling trade.-Wikipedia

Sully Island is only accessible on foot at low tide.
Walking towards Swanbridge.
Sully Island in the sunshine.

© Jonathon Davies 2018

(See also walks from Blorenge, Sirhowy Valley and LLwyn-on)

(Made using information from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons ShareAlike License. All photos by © Jonathon Davies.)