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