Walk 20: Cardiff City Walk: Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5 miles (8.05km)

Time to walk: This is another of those walks that you’ll never do quickly as there’s too much to see so, if you’ve never been to Cardiff before, take a day, or even two to do this walk. You’ll see that we only had a couple of hours & got waylaid by ‘The Rev James’ & finished it in the dark…naughty Reverend!

Difficulty: Very easy as completely flat & on hard paths

Parking: We were staying in The Bay area & there’s plenty of parking around there

Public toilets: Loads in the cafes, bars etc en route

Map of the route: 

Cardiff’s one of our favourite cities in UK

Small, walkable, friendly, a mix of cultures, some great restaurants, the stunning Bay area feeling like being abroad on a summer’s night &…probably the best Rugby Stadium in the world!!

The area we’re going to walk around has had lots of investment in recent years but, like any major city, Cardiff has its poorer areas as well

Cardiff is the capital & largest city in Wales & the ninth largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country’s chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural & sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, & the seat of the National Assembly for Wales – we’ll see most of these venues on our walk

It’s also the home (filming-wise) of Doctor Who

Right…enough of the pre-amble because the light’s fading…

If you’re ready…Let’s Walk!!

1. Our walk starts in the beautiful Bay Area of Cardiff outside The Norwegian Church…

On a warm summer’s day there’s no better place to be than Cardiff Bay – if you’ve never been check out the link…

Cardiff Bay is now widely regarded as one of the most successful regeneration projects in the United Kingdom. The Bay is supplied by two rivers, the Taff & Ely to form a 500-acre freshwater lake round the former dockland area south of the city centre

The Bay was formerly tidal, with access to the sea limited to a couple of hours each side of high water, but now provides 24-hour access through three locks. It’s home to numerous watersports, theatres, The National Assembly, restaurants, bars etc & is just a fab place!

The Norwegian Church is a historic Lutheran church building & formerly a place of worship for the Norwegian community in Cardiff

2. Looking across towards the barrier we can see the new home of the Doctor Who Exhibition which used to be in the nearby complex, but now has a much better home – spot the flying Tardis

…also next to the Church is a statue that means quite a lot to us as, for years, we’ve been fascinated with Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic ever since seeing his diary in the British Museum as a child…

Unveiled in June 2003, this amazing tiled memorial overlooks the point where his ship, Terra Nova, set sail on its fateful journey in 1910. In 2012, to remember 100 years of the expedition, the National History Museum put on an incredible exhibition, recreating a life-size version of Scott’s Hut. It was simply awe inspiring…

If you want to know more then click on this link which will take you to The British Library’s amazing virtual copy of Scott’s diary…click on the page & then on “Listen” for it to be read to you. We promise that once you start you won’t be able to stop until the end…

3. Ok…let’s head round towards the centre of The Bay…

…on the way passing a World Harmony Peace Statue

Every year the World Harmony Run carries a flaming torch in a relay run around the world. This statue was unveiled in March 2012 when members of the Urdd Gobaith Cymru & the World Harmony Run set out together on the Welsh leg

You can see the handle of the torch is shiny as people are encouraged to hold the torch & make a wish for peace – go on…you know you want to!

4. It’s a lovely balmy autumn evening as we progress around the bay & you could easily be in the South of France…

The next building of note we come to on the right is the Welsh Assembly Building (Senedd)

The National Assembly for Wales is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. It is commonly also known as the Welsh Assembly. The Assembly comprises 60 members who are elected for four-year terms

Tonight there was a celebration recognising the competitors who took part in the 2014 Commonwealth Games – unfortunately it didn’t look particularly well supported…

The media are out in full force

The media are out in full force

5. Pass in front & around the far side of the Pierhead building. Last time we were in Cardiff we went inside & had a look round – unfortunately it was closed tonight which was a shame because the interior’s fab

The Pierhead Building, a Grade 1 listed property, is one of the city’s most familiar landmarks & was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. Today it’s also a Welsh history museum.

It was designed & built in 1897 by the English architect William Frame. It was a replacement for the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company which burnt down in 1892. Frame’s mentor was William Burges, with whom Frame worked on the rebuilding of Cardiff Castle, which we’ll see later on this walk

The clock on the building is unofficially known as “Baby Big Ben” or the “Big Ben of Wales”

The Bute Dock Company was renamed the Cardiff Railway Company in 1897. A coat of arms on the building’s façade bears the company’s motto “wrth ddŵr a thân” (by fire and water) encapsulating the elements creating the steam power which transformed Wales.

The Pierhead became the administrative office for the Port of Cardiff in 1947

The architecture's worth a close up look

6. Heading now towards The Millennium Centre we arrive at another statue, this one of Ivor Novello (real name David Ivor Davies)…

There’s other plaques all around the plinth…

David Ivor Davies (15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951), better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer & actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century

7. On the right’s another new development…The Millennium Centre, an amazing looking building by day & even better by night…

The Centre comprises one large theatre & two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It houses the National Orchestra & opera, dance, theatre & literature companies, a total of eight arts organisations in residence. It’s also home to the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 & the Weston Studio Theatre 250.

Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two poetic lines, written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The Welsh version is “Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais a wen”, which means “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration.” The English is “In These Stones Horizons Sing”. The lettering is formed by windows in the upstairs bar areas & is internally illuminated at night – we’ll see this later

The piazza outside the Centre’s also impressive & there’s nearly always something going on. The statue below normally has water running down it – today it was advertising the Cardiff Festival 2014

8. It’s time to leave The Bay area now & head into the city itself. On the right’s another entertainment centre, The Red Dragon Centre, which used to host the Doctor Who exhibition. It now has cinemas, bars & restaurants etc…

Our road into the city is along Lloyd George Avenue which reminds us very much of an American / Milton Keynes type boulevard…

It’s quite a slog, but there’s plenty of opportunity to learn some Welsh along the way…

…plus some interesting sculpture…

9. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the Avenue comes to an end at the junction with Herbert Street…

…where we turn left under the railway bridge…

…& cross straight over the junction with Bute Street (which we’ll return along later)…

10. It’s worth crossing over the road on the right here into the park area & continue in the same direction…

…until reaching the roundabout with the fountain below where we turn right & under another railway bridge…

11. At the junction with Saunders Road we need to turn left & follow the signs to the station, however there’s a fantastic statue on the right that’s worth having a closer look at first…

…a pair of gigantic fists clutching a piece of rope, otherwise known as ‘All Hands’ (2001) by Brian Fell. Salvador Dali was the master of this sort of sculpture which uses sheer scale for maximum impact, as well as the well-known surrealist trick of putting objects in new & surprising situations to shock the viewer. The inspiration for this sculpture grew out of its location, the site of the former Glamorganshire Canal. The hands are a reminder of the once busy canal & the efforts of the workers as they pulled their boats along

12. Ok so it’s now straight back across the busy junction towards Cardiff Central Station…

…passing the rather splendid Gothic looking hotel on the corner…

…& finally arriving at the rather splendid station…

13. Cardiff Central railway station (Caerdydd Canolog) is a major railway station on the South Wales Main Line. It’s the largest and busiest station in Wales & the 11th busiest station in the UK outside London. Cardiff Central is a Grade II listed building managed by Arriva Trains Wales

In the early 1840s the South Wales Railway was trying to find a suitable site for a railway station, but the area that is now Cardiff Central railway station was prone to flooding. It was Isambard Kingdom Brunel‘s solution to divert the River Taff to the west, creating a larger & safer site for the station

The station was opened by the South Wales Railway in 1850

Between 1932 and 1934 its successor, the Great Western Railway (GWR), replaced the station building (designed by their architects’ department) with an impressive new booking hall of Portland stone, with Art Deco light fittings & the outside topped by a clock cupola.

The inside really is worth a look at…

Initially named Cardiff, the station was renamed Cardiff General in July 1924 & Cardiff Central in May 1973

Memories of days gone by...

Memories of days gone by…

14. Our next stop’s The Millennium Stadium & the view from the station shows exactly how in the middle of the city centre this fantastic arena is…

Our path away from the station lies to the left with our back to it & turning left to reach the River Taff

We need to follow the river right alongside the Stadium, but it’s worth just crossing the bridge to get the view from the other side. It looks a lot bigger from the inside as about 1/3rd is sunk below ground level

15. So back across the bridge & first left along the path between the Stadium & river…

Oops..better get a move on or we'll be caught out!

Oops..better get a move on or we’ll be caught out!

So…what can we tell you about probably the best stadium in the UK?

The Millennium Stadium is the national stadium of Wales & home of the Wales National Rugby Union team. It’s also staged games of the Wales National Football team

Initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it’s gone on to host many other large-scale events, such as the Tsunami Relief concert, the Super Special Stage of Wales Rally Great Britain, the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain & numerous music concerts

Costing £121 million to construct, the stadium opened in June 1999. With a total seating capacity of 74,500, it’s the third largest stadium in the Six Nations Championship behind  Stade de France and Twickenham, which is the largest. It’s also the second largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof

When the roof is closed there is no better stadium for sheer noise & atmosphere

Unfortunately we could get inside this evening, but managed to get a tantalising glimpse…

16. As you walk along the path outside the Stadium it’s worth keeping your eye on the ground as there’s lots of commemorative paving stones etc & towards the end there’s ones of every rugby nation…

Guess who’s is at the far end?

17. Alongside the Millennium Stadium is another old famous rugby venue…Cardiff Arms Park. This stadium dates from 1967 & today is the home of Cardiff RFC & the Cardiff Blues. In the early 1930s the Welsh Rugby Union built a new stand, but the 4th Marquess of Bute was upset that his view from the castle to Penarth was blocked that he built some flats in order to spoil the view. The stand was bombed in WW2 & the stadium was rebuilt, but the view was gone…

Moving out of the restricted area we move through more structures…

…before finally arriving at Cardiff Bridge…

18. It’s time to turn right & head into the city centre passing Bute Park on the left. We didn’t really have time to visit the park tonight, but it get’s good write ups & looks intriguing behind the stone walls…

Bute Park is 130 acres of landscaped gardens & parkland that once formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The park is named after the 3rd Marquess of Bute, whose family resided in the castle

The Castle Green was landscaped in the late eighteenth century by Capability Brown, but the park itself was laid out from 1873 onwards by Andrew Pettigrew, Head Gardener to the 3rd Marquess. The 5th Marquess of Bute presented the park to the Council in 1947 & the park is still owned & managed by Cardiff Council

This wall is known as Animal Wall & is topped by stone animals clambering over them. This wall & other buildings appeared in the cartoon Super Ted TV advertisement about crossing the road safely. It was designed by architect William Burges in 1866 & was originally built in front of the castle & then moved in 1925

Want to see the advert? Here you go…

19. As mentioned, the gardens were part of the castle & this is the next landmark we come to on the left…

Cardiff Castle is a great place to visit with a fantastic history across the years. Click on the link to learn more. We went inside last time, but didn’t get time this, but here’s an image – well worth a look!

20. Before moving on we decided it was time for a little refreshment & therefore popped into a very local pub on the right…The Goat Major

The Goat Major's on the right...

The Goat Major’s on the left as we look at this..

The pub serves Brains, the national beer of Wales &, at £2.20 for a pint of ‘Dark’. It has something to do with not finishing this walk in daylight!!!

21. We unfortunately have to move on, so cross back over the road & follow the castle walls round the corner…

They're excited!

They’re excited!

…past the first underpass to the other entrance into Bute Park…

22. We need to head across the road via the underpass emerging besides City Hall & the Law Courts…

City Hall has served as Cardiff’s centre of local government since it opened in October 1906. There’s some lovely gardens behind the buildings if you have the time…

At the end of this road is the National Museum of Wales which has a fine collection of impressionist paintings…

23. Heading towards the junction we see another ‘art form’ in a car parked on the right…

Love it & so patriotic!

Love it & so patriotic!

Also in Gorstedd Gardens on the right’s a statue of David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George was a British Liberal politician and statesman

As Chancellor of the Exchequer (1908–1915), Lloyd George was a key figure in the introduction of many reforms which laid the foundations of the modern welfare state. His most important role came as the highly energetic Prime Minister of the Wartime Coalition Government (1916–22), during and immediately after the First World War. He was a major player at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 that reordered Europe after the defeat of Germany in the Great War & arguably made a greater impact on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war introduction of Britain’s social welfare system, his leadership in winning the war, his post-war role in reshaping Europe & his partitioning Ireland (between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland which remained part of the UK)

He was the last Liberal to serve as Prime Minister

24. Arriving at the junction we turn right into Park Place & then cross straight over the crossroads…

…where on the right’s a comedy club & The New Theatre

Interesting...

Interesting…

At the corner is the Thistle Hotel where we turn right along  Queen Street…

It's getting dark...

It’s getting dark…

25. Queen Street is one of Cardiff’s main shopping streets but, as well as the shops, there’s more amazing statues along here. This one’s called ‘Mother & Son’ & sculptured by  Robert Thomas

Another one of his is slightly further on of Aneurin (Nye) Bevan which we love & have caught it against the setting sun & the castle

Here’s an image in the daylight…

Aneurin “Nye” Bevan was a Welsh Labour Party politician & Minister for Health in the post-war Attlee government from 1945 to 1951. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice & the rights of working people

He was a long-time Member of Parliament (MP), representing Ebbw Vale in southern Wales for 31 years. He was one of the chief spokesmen for the Labour party’s left wing & his most famous accomplishment came when, as Minister of Health, he spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service, which was to provide medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons

He resigned when the Attlee government decided to transfer funds from the National Insurance fund to pay for rearmament

26. Just after the statue we turn left into St John’s Street..

…where we feel compelled to stop at another famous Cardiff pub…The Owain Glyndwr. On rugby days this is a fabulous place to be. It’s one of the oldest inns in Cardiff established around 1731 & once called ‘The Tennis Court’ due to the real tennis court that was once behind it

St John’s Church above is the oldest church in the city centre &, apart from the Castle, is reputed to be the oldest building in the city dating back to the 12th century

27. Looking out of the window we realise that we’re not going to finish this walk in daylight & we still have a confession meeting with ‘The Rev James’…

So come on…let’s get a move on! Following the path round past the church…

Again it just shows what a great idea it was to integrate the stadium into the city centre

Again it just shows what a great idea it was to integrate the stadium into the city centre

& at the crossroads turn left into the main street again heading back down towards the station junction we passed earlier…

If ever you come shopping in Cardiff you must explore the six Victorian Arcades that run between the streets in the city centre…

28. Hunger is now starting to creep in but resist, resist…

…&, at the corner with the hands statue, turn left into Mill Lane & head straight on towards the Marriott Hotel

Bit pricey...

Bit pricey…

29. At the junction with John Lewis ahead turn right & head down Bute Street which we’re going to follow all the way back to The Bay…

Straight over the lights...

Straight over the lights…

…& under the railway bridge…

30. It was at this point we slightly began to regret coming back in fading light. Bude Street runs parallel to the new & impressive Lloyd George Avenue, but is completely different with a feeling of edginess . We put our heads down & didn’t  take many photos…

Don't go down there!!

Don’t go down there!!

One plaque on the path was of note though of Tiger Bay‘s favourite daughter…

What's this fad with "pulled" everything? It's not good & also annoys the chicken!!

What’s this fad with “pulled” everything? It’s not good & also annoys the chicken!!

31. Eventually we emerge into the lights near The Bay area again, but keep heading straight down Bute Street…

It even feels Parisian…ha!

It even feels Parisian…ha!

The scale of the buildings around here’s impressive, dating back to when this was once the world’s busiest port…

It really is dark now...

It really is dark now…

Cory's Building

Cory’s Building

Cory’s Building is a 5 storey grade II listed building situated at the corner of Bute Place and Bute Street. It was built in 1889 for Cory Brothers & Co

The brothers were John Cory & Richard Cory & their business included ship’s chandlery, brokerage & the sale and export of coal. The company also owned several collieries in Wales

The brothers became the largest private wagon-owners in the UK, with over 5,000 wagons

32. Straight across the busy junction & we’re now in vibrant Mermaid Quay…

Mermaid Quay is Cardiff’s fantastic waterfront shopping & leisure district. Opened in 1999 it has numerous restaurants, bars, cafes & shops

We can heartily recommend the pub on the left called the Eli Jenkins…a really good traditional pub & the venue for our ‘confession’ meeting with ‘The Rev James’

Rev

There’s a great sculpture called ‘People like Us’ on the Quay & it’s caused even more of a stir this year as it’s been ‘Yarnbombed’

The bronze sculpture represents the people who lived & worked in the area, then known as ‘Tiger Bay’, in the days when it was a thriving commercial port. The work was created by sculptor John Clinch in 1993. The dog was included to attract children

33. Well that’s our stroll around Cardiff almost done so we stroll along the waterfront past the many restaurants & bars & back towards The Millennium Centre…

…& here’s why we came back to see it in its full glory…

So that’s Cardiff City Centre & The Bay area completed. It’s a very easy flat walk &, to do everything along the way full justice, it’s best to put aside a whole day, or combine a day in The Bay with a day in the City

Cardiff is a great place, especially when the sun’s shining & you can enjoy the ‘continental’ feel of The Bay

If you visit go & find The Rev James & tell him we hope to see him again soon 😉

Go Walk!!

Update…October 2014

A few weeks later we decided to walk across The Bay Barrage from Cardiff to Penarth & were treated to an amazing sunset. Here’s a few of our many photos…

Walking past the Norwegian Church we come to the new Doctor Who Exhibition

…& it’s landed…

The path’s easy to follow, but be careful of cyclists coming in both directions. The sky was beginning to treat us to some spectacular displays…

Passing the coal display we come to a structure that protrudes out into the Bay but looks like Sails…beautiful…

This is another tribute to Captain Robert Falcon Scott & his ill-fated race for the South Pole. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the expedition aboard Terra Nova left from Cardiff Bay on 15th June 1910. Little did they know what lay ahead

The mural-type display tells the story brilliantly…

Here's our statue

Here’s our statue

We were so engrossed by this story that’s enraptured us a child that light was now running out fast & we didn’t have time to reach Penarth. The view across the Bay with the Cormorants roosting on the posts is pretty special though..

Heading back now the Bay area starts coming into view again & it looks stunning in the evening light…

…& we’re pleased to see they’ve lit up the Scott sculpture…

The World Harmony Peace Statue looks good as well…

Finally we turn the corner & the bright lights of Mermaid Quay are very welcoming…

What a fabulous late evening stroll onto The Barrage &, to top it off, we had a short ‘confessional’ with The Rev James…

Amen…

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