When I was a student living in a crammed, manky house that was full of mould, dirty dishes and the remnants of the previous night’s pre-drinks, I told myself that one day I would have a little flat in Cardiff Bay. I had always wanted to live close to the water and I also wanted a place that was cosy, had a pretty view and was all mine. Fast forward a few years and I now have my flat in the Bay and truly love living here. I feel I have all I could want on my doorstep as I’m so close to the hustle and bustle of the city centre, yet the calmness of the sea and marinas are just a short walk away.
Lockdown life has revolved around our daily walks in Cardiff Bay and there is never a shortage of beautiful places to visit. I feel as though a lot of people visit the Bay for dining out and socialising — the restaurants and bars overlooking the water are packed out on a sunny evening and I can totally see why — but I think there is so much more to the area too. It’s peaceful, filled to the brim with nature and bird life, the perfect place to walk, run or cycle after a busy day, and it provides the perfect escapism.
What’s more, it has a rich history and the area played a major part in Cardiff’s development. It exported coal from the South Wales Valleys to the rest of the world, helping to power the industrial age, putting the city on the map and making the Third Marquis of Bute, who owned the docks, the richest man in the world at the time. It has a unique multicultural character, as coal exports grew and dockworkers and sailors from around the world settled close to the docks, as the area became known as Tiger Bay. Much of the industry closed down after WWII and became derelict but in 1999, the Cardiff Bay Barrage was built. It was one of the most controversial projects of the time, but one of the most successful, and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Here’s why…
I have never realised how much I love living a short walk away from the sea until lockdown. I mean, I knew that I loved it, but I can’t imagine how hard I would find it to be locked somewhere away from the water. The water is my happy place and the barrage is the perfect place for this. The barrage itself extends from the docks in the north, to Penarth in the south, and you can walk across with beautiful views of the bay to one side and the Bristol Channel on the other. It is really so peaceful and calm and if you time it right you can watch the sun set or rise. I truly love it.
This part of the Bay has a really contemporary feel with restaurants and entertainment venues perched right along the waterfront. There are so many delicious places to dine al fresco in the sunshine, and some great bars offering panoramic views of the water too (and probably the classiest Wetherspoons with a terrace). I also love the Wales Millennium Centre which hosts fantastic West End musicals and wonderful Welsh theatre shows. There is the Glee Club where you can watch stand-up comedy with a pie and a pint, and the waterfront also hosts food festivals and fairgrounds too. Of course, it’s all closed for business now, but it’s such a lovely part of the Bay and holds happy memories.
I truly love this place. I don’t know why but I find marinas so calming. Seeing the boats gently bobbing on the water, the sun setting behind them. It’s a really relaxing and peaceful environment and Penarth Marina is no exception. There are also some tasty places to eat such as The Custom House and The Galley, and if you take just a short walk uphill from here you’ll find yourself in the seaside town of Penarth. Noted for its beautiful gardens and award-winning regenerated pier, it is the perfect getaway from the city and has also been voted one of the happiest places to live in the UK.
Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
I don’t think that many people know of this little pocket of green space in Cardiff Bay, but it is absolutely one of my favourite places to go for a walk at the end of the working day. It is calm and peaceful, with stunning views of the barrage and Penarth. It also has lots of bird life and in the spring you can expect to see signets and ducklings wobbling across the water. We’ve really enjoyed walking there in the last few weeks as spring has certainly sprung and we can see lots of babies starting to make their way. There is also a lovely green park nearby that boasts some cracking sunsets too.
The Marl Park
Before I moved to the area and started getting out more for walks and runs, I didn’t realise that Cardiff Bay had so many green spaces and parks. The Marl Park is a really pretty one. It’s right on the edge of Grangetown and has lovely grassy areas and pretty trees, and it’s a short walk to the water too. I love coming here on my lunch breaks as there are always lots of dog walkers which means loads of cute pups too.
Lots of love. xoxo