I am nothing if not consistent. Consistently late with posting, that is. Autumn is closing and winter is approaching fast, and the dark short days we have in the UK provide an opportunity to look back. Not too far back, mind, only September, to a short walk Aunty I took along the coast between the old Sea Watch Centre at and Barry. Another stretch of the coast ticked off the list. The weather was mild, the sun was shining, well at the start of the walk at least, and it was a fantastic walk.
Again we were organised enough to take two cars so we could put in a decent distance. The main challenge to getting to the start so we could walk back east towards Barry. This involved driving down a narrow one track lane which also happened to be the entrance to a National Ploughing Competition Field. The young stewards worked very hard to direct us into a very muddy field and demanded “£10 for parking please”. We managed to persuade them that we really didn’t want to go the ploughing competition and reluctantly they let us drive past down the lane. Mind you when we got the very small car park at Summerhouse Point it was equally muddy there are well.
The Sea Watch Centre was once an old Coast Guard Station used to monitor the approaches to Barry and Cardiff Docks. Now though it is used as a maritime interpretation centre. It houses navigational and metrological instruments, radar, VHF radio, and a wireless weather station which can measure air pressure, wind speed, rainfall, solar radiation and the intensity of the sun. It’s always been closed whenever we’ve been here, and it was closed again today. Oh well, there’s always next time.
The hedgerows were alive with life still, with Red Admirals everywhere. I gave up counting after 24. It seems to have been a good year for fruits of all kinds. One of my favourites are the fluffy seed heads of Traveller’s Joy, Clematis vitalba. The flowers are not at all showy, but the seeds in the autumn make up for this, and when massed among the hedgerows. It is the seeds heads that gives the plant it’s other name of Old Man’s Beard.
There is one small section where the path no longer exists and it necessary to walk along the pebble beach just west of Aberthaw Powerstation. Aberthaw is a coal-fired power station, which began full operation in 1971. Aberthaw can generate around 1555MW of electricity providing enough power to meet the needs of some three million households. Which in reality covers the population of Wales maybe. But despite the improvements over the years in relation to carbon capture, reduction in Nitrous Oxide emission, it.s lifespan will be limited due to the UK government’s commitment to cease energy production based on coal by the mid 2020’s.
As we rounded the corner beyond the power station we were presented with a fantastic set of tidal and freshwater lagoons over looked by the old Aberthaw Limeworks. Originally built in 1888, it produced lime from the surrounding limestone and pebbles, before closing in the 1920’s.
The cliffs along this stretch are not as spectacularly high as further west, but they still retain the Lego building block appearance. Layers upon layers of sandstones shales, mudstone, almost like the bottles of coloured sand we sued to make as kids. This very evident at Rhoose Point, the southernmost point of mainland Wales. The cliffs are just a stump of what they once were. Behind the walls here is a huge hole, left over after quarrying.
The limestone pavement underlying the sandstone cliffs provide a fantastic geology lesson, showing how the rock strata have build up over millions of years as tectonic plate movements have moved this past of the the earth’s crust around the globe. If you look carefully, well in fact you don’t have to look carefully, you’ll find fossilised sea shells everywhere under your feet.we got a little exited as we sat down on the pavement for lunch and found a fossil, then as we looked further we saw hundreds around us.
This was an easy and gentle 8.5 mile (14km) walk along the coast. But at each point there was variation in views, geology, wildlife to enjoy. We are slowly progressing and almost completed the Glamorgan Coast with only a few short stretches to fill in now. A sunny day is September is a great day for a walk.
17th September 2017