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Visit Porthkerry Country Park

On the western side of Barry is Porthkerry Country Park. This is a large area of open space, with extensive woodlands, streams, wildlife, a rich history, and a few modern attractions too.

Cwmciddy HouseOn the northern side of the park is the site of the old village at Cwmcidi, which came into existence before the middle of the 13th century. In 1622 Cwmcidi contained 5 houses bordering "Comkedye Street" interspersed with a number of tofts (dwelling sites) plus three scattered dwellings. By 1812 there remained only three cottages and a farmhouse. The cottages were finally swept away in the 1840's when the area was landscaped by the Romilly family to form Porthkerry park.

In 1588 Owen Williams was granted a vacant plot of ground measuring half an acre, 'lying below Barry Hill next to the stream' on which to build a cottage. The foundations of a later rebuilding on this site can still be seen at the foot of Lover's Lane. This lane was once the main highway from Barry to Porthkerry.

The Barry mill stood in woodland within Porthkerry park (near the stream junction by the golf course). It was probably destroyed during the Glyndwr revolt in the early 15th century and was never rebuilt. By 1622 the site was overgrown by woodland and was lost completely.

Cwmciddy SawmillThe Cwmciddy sawmill was built around 1835 by the Romilly Estate. It was worked originally by Joseph Williams, a journeyman carpenter. After his death in 1880 the business was taken over by another Joseph Williams, the estate bailiff who established a blacksmiths and wheelwright's shop nearby. His son George was the last to manage the sawmill until the late 1920's. The building was then apparently used as a scout headquarters, before being abandoned. The building was erected across the stream bed, and was driven by a cast iron waterwheel.

The Barry Railway Company ViaductThe most spectacular structure of the Barry Railway was the viaduct in Porthkerry Park. Made of stone and with 13 arched spans of 50' and three of 45', it stands 110' high and dominates the little valley that leads to the beach. There were problems due to subsidence in 1896 but this was not disclosed to the Board of Trade inspector who approved the structure. The line opened on 1st December 1897, but disaster struck on 10th January the following year when one of the piers slipped and that part of the line was closed at once. A loop line was made 2½ miles to the north, around Porthkerry Rectory, and this was used while the line was repaired. The Viaduct dominates the valleyThe line reopened for goods trains on 8th January 1900, and for passenger trains on 9th April. The problem was due to a combination of insufficient foundations, unsuitable cement and poor workmanship. The line is still in use today, carrying coal to Aberthaw power station, and all types of diverted traffic when the main Cardiff to Bridgend line is closed for maintenance.

In 1944 military vehicles were gathered in Porthkerry Park, and in June 1944 21 ships left Barry Docks for France, filled with troops, vehicles and equipment for the Normandy landings.

The present Barry Cricket Club was formed in January 1899, and played at Porthkerry Park before moving to the present site on Barry Island in 1904.

The FishpondsThe park today is designated as a Country Park. The entry is via 'Fishponds Hill' at the Suburb (off the junction of Salisbury Road and Park Road), down a steep, wooded hill alongside the Nant Talwg valley. At the bottom of the hill are 'the fishponds', and a small car park.

Nightingale CottageFurther along, the road bends under the railway line, and then continues west along the main field past Nightingale Cottage towards the viaduct. The main car park is just before the viaduct, along with the shop, toilets, 'Pitch and Putt' golf, and childrens playground. There is a car parking fee levied during busy times such as bank holidays.

Visitors to the park are requested to park only in the official car parks, and to respect the countryside. Tadpoles and similar small aquatic creatures taken from the streams should be retuned unharmed. Plants and flowers should be left for everybody to enjoy. Barbecues should only be used in the area of the beach, particularly if there is dry grass around, due to the risk of fire. Dog owners are asked to clear up after their pooches, and litter should be taken home!

Portkerry Beach and Knap Beach at low tideThe park wardens are normally around and can answer any questions about wildlife, natural history and the park itself.

From the car park there is a walk of a few hundred yards to the pebble beach, which is probably the quietest beach in the Barry area. The are public barbecue pits near the beach which can be hired for a small fee, and are big enough for large groups. The Pitch and Putt golf course has 18 holes, and all the equipment can be hired on the spot. The Children's PlaygroundThe children's playground has a suitable 'rustic' feel, but the equipment is sturdy and sound.

The main field in Porthkerry Park is huge, with plenty of space for all types of field games, picnics and sunbathing. There are miles of track and paths in the park, suitable for walkers of all levels, and some of the tracks and paths are also suitable for cyclists.

BluebellsFrom the brown, leafless trees of winter, the woodland becomes a mass of bluebells in the spring, before the trees gain their summer foliage. Later, the summer greens fade into autumn, when the trees become a mass of golden leaves, before the onset of winter again

The Glamorgan Coastal Path passes through Porthkerry Park, to the East via the 'Golden Stairs' to the clifftop, and to the West via steep paths up to Porthkerry Caravan Park,Porthkerry Church or the old village of Porthkerry, depending on which path you take. A Celtic settlement, a large defended enclosure of about 10.1 acres (4.1Ha) has been located at the Bulwarks, in the old village of Porthkerry, on the cliffs above the eastern side of the park.

Apart from the one access road, which is heavily 'speed bumped', traffic is not normally a problem, although obviously care needs to be taken with small children and pets.

The road continues beyond the car park, and under the viaduct, but is closed off by a barrier. This is probably a good thing, as it is not a good road! The track continues north to the Egerton Grey hotel, and then joins the airport road south of the main terminal.

The track through the MillwoodIt is possible to walk into (and out of) the park from a number of other points. From the Cwmciddy Public House near Port Road, there is a good track to the park. The bottom of the dip in Pontypridd Road has access onto the main track through the millwood. At the end of Salisbury Road, behind the flats at Parkland Walk, you can walk the valley into Porthkerry. There is a footpath alongside the main entry road, and halfway down, the 'Silver Stairs' lead down into the Nant Talwg valley. From the top of the road, if you walk past the flats at Coed yr Odyn then you come onto 'Lovers Lane', which leads down into the main field. Paths off Lovers Lane lead across to the clifftop, and down to Porthkerry Beach via the Golden Stairs. You can walk along the beach from Barry or Rhoose (tide permitting), and there are a couple of paths leading up to Porthkerry, plus and the track from the airport past the Egerton Grey. There are many other smaller public footpaths running through and around the area, and a good ordnance survey map is useful if these take your fancy.

Click here for more photographs of Porthkerry

Click here for more photographs of Porthkerry



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