Walk 21: Penarth to Lavernock Point Linear Walk: “Can You Hear Me”…”Yes Loud & Clear”

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4.4 miles (7.1 km)

Time to walk: This is a linear walk (there & back) rather than a circular one & we’re walking to a rocky beach with some fabulous rock formations so it can either be a couple of hours or, if it’s a nice day, a lot longer

Difficulty: A mainly flat walk which starts on road, then a park path followed by rocks (some unsteady) on the beach. The short rock steps down to the beach can be slippery so take care

Parking: We parked on the seafront near the pier in Penarth. Alternative there are several Pay & Display parks around the town including the one on Cliff Parade

Public toilets: All at the start of the walk in Penarth & none that we could find at the other end

Map of the route:

This is an interesting little stroll that can be done at all times of the year as the flora etc will always be changing as will be the mood of the sea

It takes us from the charming seafront of Penarth along the cliff path to Lavernock Point where it’s well worth going down to the rock beach under some impressive cliffs which are a mecca for fossil hunters

On a clear day there are great views across to the Devon coast & Weston Super Mare

We started this walk in fading light on an early October evening so the photos aren’t that great. We were also rushing to meet the oncoming night on the way back &, as some of the path is secluded, it may be wise to be accompanied

Anyway we’ll give some more of the history etc en route so…as the light’s fading…Let’s Walk!

1. Because we did this walk on a late Sunday afternoon parking was free, but it’s usually a 2 hour limit

Penarth lies about 5 miles south of Cardiff & can be accessed by a longer walk from The Bay area across the Barrage although it will mean a steep climb up to the town

It’s one of the most affluent towns in the area & has links going back 5000 years to Neolithic times. During the Victorian era Penarth was a popular holiday destination, promoted nationally as “The Garden by the Sea” & was packed by visitors from the Midlands and the West Country as well as day trippers from the South Wales valleys, mostly arriving by train

Today the town, with its traditional seafront, continues to be a regular summer holiday destination

The number of holiday visitors has now greatly declined & the town now has a substantial retired population, representing over 25% of residents. It’s also predominantly a dormitory town for Cardiff commuters

Penarth retains extensive surviving Victorian & Edwardian architecture in many traditional parts of the town

2. Opposite where we park is Penarth Pier. It has rather a lot of history attached to it…

The Penarth Pier Company laid the foundations in 1894 & the 750 foot pier opened in 1895

In 1907, a small wooden theatre was built at the end & in 1930 the current art deco pavilion was added

In 1931 a fire started in the theatre after which a sea and land based rescue saved all 800 people. The pier was rebuilt but without the wooden theatre.

In 1947 the 7,130 ton steamship the SS Port Royal Park collided with the pier causing severe damage that was not repaired for several years

In August 1966 a 600-ton pleasure steamer, Bristol Queen, hit the pier causing an estimated £25,000 damage

In March 2011 planning permission was granted for a £3.9 million revamp of the pier to re-open the pavilion as a major tourist attraction which is what we have today

I see no ships...

I see no ships…

3. Across the road from the pier are the old baths…

In 2012 they were converted into an exclusive property – see this link

4. Right…come on the light’s fading & we’ve got 4 miles to walk!!

We move along the promenade away from the pier…

Nice seafront

Nice seafront

There’s reminders along here that we’re walking the Wales Coast Path

On the right, in an old converted beach shelter, is a restaurant that gets a great write up…The Fig Tree

…& the Victorian Italian gardens along this side are pretty too with many exotic plants…

5. This really is a classy little prom & the next restaurant sounds good too…Romeo’s by the Sea…the a la carte menu looks tasty!

We could just stop here & have dinner but no!! There’s a sign telling us to beware…

…& just beyond is the Penarth Yacht Club

The Penarth Life Boat Station is on the right…

The crew have been involved in several brave incidents – see this link

6. Ok…the road splits at this point & we need to head right up Cliff Hill…

…& at the top take the left path along the cliff top…

Along here on the right is a young tree which was planted to replace a more famous one lost to cliff erosion as the plaque tells us…

Alfred Sisley was an English artist living in France & was known as one of the ‘French Impressionists’

He completed two series of paintings in Britain, including around Penarth & the Gower Peninsular in 1897. Six of his paintings were around Penarth & one of these was of an oak tree that sadly was lost over the cliff due to erosion around 2001

The one above was planted to replace it. Here’s his painting…

…& another a view of the actual walk we’re doing…

…as you can see, even with the erosion, it’s still pretty accurate…

7. The path continues to follow the cliff into a park…

On the right’s a cafe (Cioni’s) that would make a good stop for a cuppa on the way back if it’s open, but beware it doesn’t get brilliant write ups…

Bit too cold for one today!

Bit too cold for one today!

There’s also a pitch & putt course on the green plus kids’ swings etc

8. It’s now a case of following the hard path for about 1/2 mile to a gate into the woods. On the way we pass a stone plinth with a map on top showing the various points in view – shame it wasn’t a better evening to appreciate the views…

We're heading towards the woods...

We’re heading towards the woods…

Someone's fondly remembered sitting here

Someone’s fondly remembered sitting here

There's some pretty impressive properties around here!

There’s some pretty impressive properties around here!

9. There’s some good views, despite the weather, out to the islands in the Bristol Channel including the lighthouse on Flat Holm Island which we’ll catch a closer glimpse of later…

10. Finally we arrive at a gate into the woods & follow the narrow gravel path…

This is the area we mentioned is best walked in full daylight as it’s quite covered in places. So come on…best foot forward or we’ll be returning in the dark!

11. There’s plenty of fauna & flora around here & it’s also a great area at different times of the year to watch migrating birds…

The path’s quite up & down & the gravel’s loose in places so watch your step!

12. Across to the left is a closer glimpse of Flat Holm Island & its lighthouse

Flat Holm has a long history of occupation dating back to Anglo-Saxon & Viking times. It became a sanatorium for cholera patients in 1896 as an isolation hospital

Because of frequent shipwrecks a lighthouse was built on the island, which was replaced by a Trinity House lighthouse in 1737

Flat Holm Lighthouse is 98 ft high & has a 100 watt lamp that flashes three times every 10 seconds, and is visible up to 15 nautical miles

The island’s also famous for something else, hence the title of this walk – we’ll come back to that in a moment!

13. Just a few steps further on we get our first glimpse of the end point of our walk, the rock beach & cliffs of Lavernock Point…

A mixture of Jurassic & Triassic rocks is a magnet for fossil hunters. Shells including giant gastropods, bivalves & brachiopods have been found & the beach is home to ammonites

14. Eventually the path ends & on our right’s a gate leading out into a lane…

…which we walk up to reach St Lawrence Church on the right…

There’s plaque here to mark an extremely important event which happened between Lavernock Point & Flat Holm in May 1897

15. This is where the first wireless signals were transmitted & received over open sea. Guglielmo Marconi & George Kemp transmitted the first message in Morse code. It read:

“ARE YOU READY” followed by “CAN YOU HEAR ME”

…to which the response was…

“YES LOUD AND CLEAR”

After this the equipment was moved to Brean Down Fort near Weston Super Mare which was 3 times the distance

16. Right…enough history, let’s have a look at the beach!

So, we retrace our steps towards the gate, but turn right at the end of the small car park through the gap down the path towards the beach

Be careful though as we need to climb down a few rocks at the end that are steep & can be slippery…

…but it’s well worth it as it’s quite unlike any other beach we’ve come across with some amazing cliff rock formations that look quite unstable…

Amazing rock formations

Amazing rock formations

The rocks that form the beach are also fascinating but be careful as you walk across them as they’re pretty unstable. Have a walk, but be careful about the incoming tide too…

17. We think this is a place we’ll return to on a nice summer’s day & it’s possible to walk further across the stones back towards Penarth & climb up the cliff

However, in the fading light, it’s time now to retrace our steps up the path we came down & head back along the path through the woods & back out into the open cliff top again

Although the light’s fading there’s still great views back to Penarth…

18. Eventually we arrive back at Cliff Hill & head back down towards the Esplanade & where we left the car…

…where we get a great black & white photo of the pier in the fading light…

So that’s the end of our short (& very quick) walk from Penarth to Lavernock Point

If we’re in the area again & it was a bright day then it’s definitely one we’d return to as we’d like to spend much longer exploring the beach area which is really fascinating

When we started out though we didn’t realise the historic importance of this area in the field of communication – it’s pretty awe inspiring

So our over-riding impression of this walk is:

“ARE YOU READY”

“YES…GO WALK!!”

 

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