RELAX AND UNWIND, WONDER AT THE WILDLIFE, OR DANCE TO THE MUSIC!
Where to start...? In a county that could almost be described as one enormous country park, there's a wide variety to suit everyone. From Victorian and Edwardian, to medieval and modern, including some that hold lively and popular annual music festivals. There's leafy-green woodlands, lakes, and of course beaches. Plenty of choice, and many fully accessible expanses to enjoy,
Here's a few ideas to get you started...
Enjoy Duffryn House and Gardens. A glorious Edwardian revival project featuring lawned and themed garden rooms, a walled kitchen garden, and many acres of woodland walks through the arboretum. There are play areas for children, a cafe serving hot food, and a garden shop.
Porthkerry Country Park in Barry, features the famously photogenic Porthkerry Viaduct, and has lots and lots of woodland and green walking spaces that lead towards it's own beach. Popular with visitors and locals alike, and there's so much space for family picnics and a game of rounders or football. You can pick up a nibble at Mrs Marco's Cafe, or the new seasonal concession, locally known as the armadillo due to its comic appearance!
And don't miss Cosmeston Country Park near Penarth, a haven for local and visiting water birds and wildlife. Lots and lots of easy, quiet walking, reed-bed boardwalks, hides to watch the birds in their natural environment, and one of the best children's play areas around. There's plenty of parking, with a cafe and gift shop and public loos.
In Barry, there's the Knap Lake and Gardens just off the Cold Knap promenade and beach, with a shop and a number of places to eat.
Romilly Park is just around the corner, with its large expanse of leafy and open walking, with tennis courts, children's play area and loos. In the summer, Romilly Park hosts the annual 'GlastonBarry' and 'GlastonBarry Juniors' music festivals featuring tributes to modern tunes and pop and rock classics.
Cowbridge Physic Garden was originally part of the Old Hall Gardens, laid out by the Edmondes family in the 18th century. Badly neglected in the 20th century, it was brought back to life by enthusiastic volunteers and today is a glorious array of medicinal plants and herbs, typical of physic gardens from centuries past. The site is relatively small, just ½ acre, but is laid out in a formal pattern and contains a fascinating variety of species that would traditionally have been used for healing, cooking and dyeing fabrics.
Uniquely located on the beautiful Glamorgan Heritage Coast are the Dunraven Gardens, the walled gardens provide a safe haven for visitors to Dunraven Bay when weather or the tide limits use of the beach.
Penarth has lovely walking at Windsor Gardens, Clifftop Park, and at Alexandra Park you can marvel at the topiary trees and bushes. If you sneak slightly off the beaten track a little, there are lots of benches and some of the best views from Penarth Head Park.
Or customers at Hensol Castle are treated to the most beautiful grounds to explore, and the castle itself is stunning in its gothic style. An ideal opportunity for a sweet treat with one of their perfect afternoon teas, perhaps laced with a little champagne or Hensol's own Welsh Gin.