This was the third year in which Ramblers Cymru had staged a walk from the Eisteddfod, following many years when the walk was organised by the Countryside Council for Wales and then Natural Resources Wales. Their enthusiasm flagged and so, two years ago, the Ramblers (whose idea it was more than 20 years ago) took it back.
We met at Mermaid Quay on Cardiff Bay where we were welcomed by Ramblers Cymru director Angela Charlton. Ramblers Cymru’s president, Will Renwick (the youngest person to walk the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke) was there, and a number of other Ramblers and colleagues from kindred organisations, including Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. It is a great opportunity to meet others in our field and chat in pleasant surroundings.
We boarded the Princess Katharine which took us round the bay then up the River Taff to Bute Park where we disembarked. Others had come to meet us in the park, including Arthur Lee from Hereford (on his tramper); he represents Disabled Ramblers.
There, Richard Tyler from Powys Ramblers, spoke about the Cambrian Way trail which starts in Bute Park and heads north for 468 kms to Conwy. Will Renwick spoke of his experience walking the Cambrian Way (from north to south), and called it ‘the jewel in the crown of trails’. Then our leader, Meriel Jones, who is education officer for Bute Park, gave us a brief introduction.
Bute Park is 56 hectares (or 75 football pitches) and is the green heart of Cardiff. It receives over two million visitors a year, and has been in public ownership since 1947.
We stopped by a picture frame, a useful piece of sculpture which enabled us to take a group photo.
The Cambrian Way starts at Cardiff Castle, at the southern end of the park.
We walked to the gorsedd circle of local stones, erected when the Eisteddfod was in Cardiff in 1978.
The arboretum is one of the largest in a public park. There are over 3,000 trees, including 40 champion trees. A champion tree is the tallest specimen recorded in the British Isles, or has the largest trunk-girth measured at 1.5 metres off the ground. Each of the champion trees has a plaque which has the following information: name of tree (centre); family (top left); date it became a champion (top right) and whether the accolade was for height (H), girth(G) or both (H&G); record number (bottom left), and year of planting (bottom right).
Bute Park produces a series of leaflets, and there are two (north and south) giving the location and details of the champion trees.
We passed the terrific herbaceous border, in fine colour despite the drought. It was first established in the 1950s, partly to shield the park from the smell of the River Taff which runs nearby to the west.
There is a leaflet in the education centre which has a plan of all 113 plant species in the border.
We continued alongside the River Taff which we glimpsed through the trees.
When we reached the elegant Blackweir Bridge we turned back.
The northern part of the park is a woodland and it is hard to believe that one is so close to the city centre.
We ended at the education centre and Secret Garden Café for a splendid lunch of local produce.
It was an excellent walk, and credit goes to Catherine Morgan, Ramblers Cymru’s area support officer, for organising it.
I then walked up to the northern end of Bute park with Helen Lloyd Jones. We passed one of the many sculptured tree-trunks (you can find them on the interactive map).
We came to an avenue of massive redwoods.
My walk ended with a lovely sighting of an egret on the River Taff.
Bute Park has an active friends’ group. You can read about it here.