By Joy Strangward

THIRTEEN walkers joined Joy from Penarth and District Ramblers on the northern side of Romilly Park near the Gorsedd Stones which were quarried at Cadoxton, at the start of a 4.5 mile evening walk.

Setting off in glorious hot sunshine, they passed through the park which was laid out between 1898 and 1911and crossing the road made their way into Birch Grove Wood which is classed as a Local Nature Reserve and is cared for by a group of volunteer conservationists.

Heading out onto the open hillside below Marine Drive, as they climbed uphill they were met with great views over the old Barry Docklands and the town, towards Friar’s Point and Barry Island with misty views towards Weston-Super Mare, Flat and Steep Holm and the Somerset coastline across the Bristol Channel.

The grassy clifftop led them into the southern end of Cliffwood and following the pathway keeping an eye peeled for exposed tree roots on this well-used track they reached and descended the Golden Stairs into Porthkerry Country Park. The tall cliffs from where they had just come were highlighted in the evening sunshine and continuing along the coast path through Porthkerry Bay there was a grand view to the east of the pebble beach and Cold Knap Head.

Crossing the boardwalk the path led them steeply uphill through woodland, where the shade was much appreciated and into an open space and circumnavigating the field, with its landing lights for Cardiff Airport, they learned it was the site of the Bulwarks hillfort.

The large hillfort dates back to the Iron Age and hillforts were not only used for defensive purposes but were also a symbol of power. This fort occupying the cliff top was bounded by the sea and tall steep cliffs on the south, overlooking what would later have been a port at Porthkerry on the southeast, another steep drop to the northeast which only left the western part, where the main entrance was situated vulnerable, as the ground was more level.

As a protection against intruders on the west it was protected by three massive banks that were separated by ditches which are still visible in amongst the trees that separate the hillfort from the more modern Porthkerry Leisure Park. During excavations in 1968 the remains of three buildings were found along with some 12th century pottery.

Making their way through the caravan park and the road bridge over the main Vale railway track, the road led them to Porthkerry village and passing Church Farm a descent on a narrow sunken pathway brought them out into a meadow overlooking the magnificent 110- foot Porthkerry Viaduct. Another narrow track led them to a footbridge over the Bullhouse Brook and into fields containing frisky young bullocks who accompanied them as they crossed the Whitelands Brook twice, before heading uphill and alongside fields cropped with ripening wheat with grand views back to Cardiff Airport.

Then making their way through several kissing gates they trudged through long grass at West Ridge before descending gradually on a narrow path through woodland overlooking the main Vale railway line and back into Porthkerry Park.

Then on past the cute carved dragon named Derwen and over the Nant Talwg Brook to enter the quiet green Cwm Barri which has been used for farming purposes since 1622. A footbridge led them across the Barry Brook for the sting in the tail, a short but steep climb up steps to bring them out onto Fishpond Hill and then past the remnants of Barry Castle for the short descent at Romilly Park Road back to their start.

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