Monday, 28 August 2017

Cardiff Barrage


Nice to see you again.

As we're down in Cardiff Bay, we're going to have a walk all the way round the 494 acre fresh water lake, controlled by the Cardiff Barrage.  

The Bay used to be subject to the tides from the Severn Estuary/Bristol Channel but by erecting the Cardiff Barrage from the Docks to Penarth, opened in 1999, the rivers Taff and Ely flow into and are contained in the lake that is Cardiff Bay, ideal for boating and which looks much more attractive than the mudflats of the previous low tides.  This encouraged regeneration of the area too.

Starting at the Millennium Centre, we'll head for the water turn right onto Mermaid Quay, walking past the restaurants and shops with the water on our left.  You pass the large Techniquest building. There are all sorts of different areas and buildings to enjoy.

Round the corner, the Wetlands Reserve supports a wide diversity of wildlife.  Across the Bay, Penarth is visible with it's pretty white cottages.

After the Wetlands Reserve, there's spacious grassland of Hamadryad Park and then we have to head through the residential streets for a while to cross the River Taff via the Clarence Bridge. At this point we realise we could have taken a short cut from the Millennium Centre and missed all that out but where's the fun in that!  Ha!

On the other side of the river, the trail passes through the International Sports Village which includes an ice rink, international swimming pool and Cardiff International White Water.  There's lots of building work going on in this area and the path can be difficult to find but what you are looking for is another bridge over the River Ely.

Now we are back to the interesting bit  by the river full of fishing boats, marinas and pretty houses.  This is Penarth.

From here you can see the Barrage.  One of the locks was opening as a boat was entering the Bay from the Estuary. Can you see the piece of road that has lifted up?

You can also look back to the Millennium Centre.

We're stopping off for lunch at the Customs House.  Such a shame that the building next door is all boarded up.

Suitably refreshed, all the exciting sights and  sounds of the Barrage itself are right in front of us.  At 1.1 km long, it has 3 locks, 5 sluice gates to control the water in the Bay, a fish pass to allow sea trout and salmon to return to the rivers and a pink hut for yacht clubs to use to start races and for other events. Let's have a look.

Gate Closed

Gate Open

Locks from the Estuary side

Looking through the harbour walls

Looking back to the Bay from the harbour walls

Mudflats in the estuary

Pink hut

When the gates open and the roadway lifts up, as you'd expect alarms are sounded and lights flash, to warn everyone.  It's really fascinating watching it all in action.

Over the other side, whilst enjoying the sailing boats, the white sails on land remind us of Cardiff's link with the sea.

There's so much to do, especially for children - parks, watersport activities, skate plaza, history of coal, Dr Who Experience and an enormous crocodile bench from Roald Dahl's books.

There's even a Norwegian church, more on that another time.

Now we're back to the Millennium Centre, definitely ready for a cup of tea.

Of course, you could get a water bus instead of having to do all that walking.



  1. Looks like a great trip. I enjoyed visiting today and seeing the wide variety of boats, sparking off memories of a recent visit to a marina with the family.

    1. The boats are so colourful and jangle and Bob about. There's always something to watch around a marina.

  2. I remember doing the same walk a few years ago. It's a great area that they have created beautifully. I think we parked at Penarth walked around the barrage through to old Cardiff and then caught the train back to Penarth. Quite exhausted by the end! B x

    1. That's a good way to do it as you miss out the less spectacular bits! It's a great walk with the light changing all the time highlighting different buildings along the way. x