Autumnal Family Walks in Cardiff and south wales - South Wales Family Photographer
It’s raining. Again. This is the second time I’ve had to start a blog with those words in the past two weeks. I used to be a Nursery and Reception teacher and used to say things like “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. But seriously, when it rains like this, there’s no way I’m going for a walk. Yes, the fresh air would do me a world of good, but it would take me hours to dry off after I got home, leave me with 2 extra loads of washing to do and leave my utility smelling of wet dog. No thanks. I’m really hoping that the sky is going to rain all its rain now so that when my Autumn Sessions start in a couple of weeks’ time, the weather will be gloriously crisp and fresh.
When the weather does eventually dry out, I do love getting outside, breathing in the fresh air and going on ‘adventure walks’ (as my 4 year old daughter calls them). An adventure walk basically means that you’re not on pavements and roads, and can forget for a while that you’re not in the middle of the Anglesey countryside. You can find treasures, see birds and animals, and hear sounds other than sirens. Having 2 very energetic dogs means that we do get out for walks quite often, so I’ve put together a list of our favourite walks in the hope that it might inspire you and your family to embrace this gorgeous season. I’ve mentioned in another blog about how useful the My Cardiff and My Vale of Glamorgan websites are for finding public footpaths, and a few of these walks are best done with these maps on your phone so you can refer to them along the way!
1. The Red Bridge Walk. We’re really lucky that in Cardiff, we’re never far from green spaces. Bute Park is such a gem, and when you’re there it’s so easy to forget that you’re still in the middle of a city. We lived in Pontcanna for a good few years, and one of our favourite walks took us through Bute Park. We used to start at the car park in Pontcanna Fields, then head down to the weir. Cross the bridge into the park, then follow the path to the right and keep going through the woodland until you reach the Secret Garden Cafe. After that, cross the red bridge back over the Taff and keep walking with the river on your right until you’re back to where you started! This used to take you past the Mochyn Du pub (and it would have been rude not to stop for a small glass of Pinot), and while that’s not there anymore, there are still plenty of lovely places on Cathedral Road if you make a little detour.
2. Radyr Woods. This is a fairly new find for us! There are plenty of paths and loops around the woods so you can tailor your walk to your own family. There’s a large map that shows you the options, and you can either stay on the lower, flatter level, or head up a steep hill and back down again. There’s also a river and a boardwalk, so plenty of opportunity to play at being pirates too!
3. Coed y Wenallt. Coed y Wenallt is situated just past Rhiwbina, in North Cardiff. It’s another place that has plenty of paths and loops - you can spend hours wandering, or have a quick 20 minute stroll. The paths are signposted if you fancy following a loop, or if you’re worried about getting lost, it’s also really easy to retrace your steps.
4. Fforest Fawr. As I’m writing this blog, I’m noticing that lots of our favourite walks are through woodlands! It’s no surprise really though at this time of year, with all the gorgeous colours. Fforest Fawr in Tongwynlais, North Cardiff is glorious at this time of year. There are 3 clearly signposted walks that vary in length and difficulty. If you’re a fan on Sherlock (I love love love Benedict Cumberbatch), you might recognise the Three Bears’ Cave - it’s where they filmed lots of ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’. We love the sculpture trail, although it always catches me out that it’s not a circular walk (my memory is awful, it surprises me every time!). There’s a little cafe down the road and of course it’s right next to Castell Coch, so you can make a whole day out of this forest.
5. Cefn Onn Park. This park, located near Lisvane in north Cardiff is so so beautiful in the Autumn. It has lots of buggy-friendly paths that are perfect for exploring all the different colours of the season. The only downside in my opinion is that it’s right next to the m4, and you don’t feel like you’ve escaped from the city when the lorries go thundering past!
6. Forest Farm. This is another location that’s just off a busy road (j32 at Coryton), but somehow it feels a lot more removed from the hustle and bustle than Cefn Onn. There’s LOADS of wildlife to see here, and a sweet little nature trail with sculptures, carvings and a nature play area for children. Walk along the canal or through the woods and feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside, not just off the m4.
7. Hensol Forest. Hensol Forest is situated near Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, just off the A48. It is vast. There’s no other way of putting it really. While there are plenty of signposts giving direction, this is one place where you’ll definitely want to make sure you’ve got Google Maps on your phone (or bring a compass…). If you’ve never been here before, you’re in for a treat - the paths are beautiful and take in forests, roads and a lake.
8. Aberthin. Staying in the Vale, if you’re a foodie, you might already know where Aberthin is as it’s home to the Hare and Hounds, a lovely country pub which serves AMAZING food. This walk is really best done with access to the ‘My Vale’ maps. Starting close the the pub, it takes you on public foothpaths through fields and meadows into Cowbridge itself, then through woodland back into Aberthin village. And if you’re passing the pub twice, then surely you should be popping in to support local business?!
9. Porthkerry Country Park. Near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, Porthkerry is another location that has a lot to offer. This is one place where I feel like we’ll never see everything that’s on offer! It has woodland, meadows, a pebble beach and a very cool viaduct, with several circular walks available.
10. Dunraven Park. The Dunraven Estate is a huge area along the coast of the Vale of Glamorgan. Dunraven Bay is probably better known as Southerndown Beach, and the beach car park is actually where this walk also starts from. For someone who loves being on the beach and going for coastal walks, you’d think I’d be used to checking tide times. But the amount of time we’ve rocked up at the beach only to find that the tide is in is absolutely ridiculous. The plus side of this is that we’ve found a few gems that we wouldn’t have found if the tide had been out. If you’re facing the beach, there’s a path to your left that goes up a hill, passed some walled gardens (also very pretty), and to the coast. Once you reach the top of the hill, there’s a lovely view and you can either go left to keep going up the coastal path, or turn right to go over a hill and back round to the car park.
Hopefully you’re found at least one new walk on this list to try this Autumn! If you have any suggestions for walks that your family love, please do let me know in the comments section below - we love exploring new places and trying new things!
Hi, I’m Clare, a South Wales family photographer who loves working outdoors with natural light. I cover Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for maternity, newborn, child and family photoshoots. Get in touch if you’d like to book your family’s photoshoot, I can’t wait to meet you!