Cold Knap & Porthkerry Country Park, Vale of Glamorgan
Pebble beaches, stunning cliff top views across the Bristol Channel and a 220-acre country park to explore. The Knap to Porthkerry Park walk offers a whole lot to hikers and nature lovers alike
Having lived in Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan for approximately 5 years of my life, I have enjoyed the Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park walk on more occasions than I can remember.
It is one of those walks that I never get bored of and its close proximity to the town of Barry makes it extremely convenient too. Didem and I often head here after work for a walk along Cold Knap Beach and around Marine Lake.
Where is the Cold Knap and How to Get There?
The Cold Knap Beach is situated approximately a mile from the main Barry resort beach located at Whitmore Bay. It is therefore a far quieter option although it can still get very busy in the summer months and on weekends.
Located in the more up market West End of Barry, the Cold Knap area does have a more pleasant, low key and more affluent feel to it.
Being located in the town, the Cold Knap is easily accessible whether driving or arriving on bus or train. If you plan to arrive by car, then you may be interested to know that the Cold Knap postcode is CF62 6TA for Sat Nav users.
The map below highlights the Cold Knap’s location:
The Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk
Directly behind the Knap Car Terrace you will notice a path that runs up the hill side in a westerly direction. This is the starting point for the Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park walk.
The path leads you gently up the hill side for approximately 200 metres. As you pass the last block of flats on your right hand side, you will encounter a series of shallow steps. Once the steps end, a short but fairly steep grassy climb lies ahead.
When I am having one of those moments of excessive energy I have been known to run right to the top of the hill, by which time my thighs are literally burning! I typically collapse on one of the awaiting benches to give my legs and lungs a chance to recover.
Once at the top, follow the cliff around to the left. At this point, you will probably want to catch your breath and admire the views that already await.
Looking to the east can see the town of Barry, and beyond that the Islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel. The English county of Somerset is clearly visible to the east and south.
The view is always beautiful regardless of the time of year or the weather conditions that you encounter. Whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring, there is always a unique vista reserved just for you!
The next section of the walk is along this large swathe of grass that separates Marine Drive from the hedge protecting walkers from the cliff edge. This area is a dog walking paradise so you will almost certainly encounter a selection of pooches as you stroll.
In approximately 400 metres you will reach the end of this open grassy area and the coastal path leads into a magical wooded cliff-top haven.
This section of the walk is in total contrast to the part that preceded it; from open grassed area with wide-ranging coastal views to narrow muddy cliff top path, bordered by shrubbery to the left and extensive wooded area to the right. It feels as though you have just entered a mystical, fairy-tale kingdom where secret treasures await you!
This path meanders along the cliff top for a few hundred metres where on occasion you will be able to catch a glimpse of the super views to your left, when the shrubbery permits.
Glancing to your right you will be looking down through Cliff Wood, the wooded area that forms the southerly boundary of Porthkerry Country Park.
Within a few minutes, you will reach the beginning of the 130+ concrete steps that lead you down into Porthkerry Park. These are a pleasure to go down but not such a treat to climb back up.
When walking this route with my young Nephew, William, he typically challenges me to a race up these steps, a challenge I cannot refuse! I typically regret this once at the top and spend the remainder of the walk recovering!
We have even witnessed a real-life action man jumping up each of these steps from bottom to top, with both feet together! I only realised how incredible this achievement was when I attempted this myself, only to manage 20 steps!
At the bottom, follow the path around to the right and you will be faced by the majestic Porthkerry viaduct that stands proudly above the park.
Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk – Plenty of history and nature to interest you!
This magnificent viaduct truly dominates the country park with its fifteen piers and sixteen arches and stands over 33 metres high. This incredible structure has enabled coal and passengers to be transported between Barry and Bridgend for more than 100 years!
Take a look at this Porthkerry Park map as it will give you a real sense of your bearings while on the Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk.
As you follow the path you will pass the Porthkerry pitch and putt golf course and a children’s outdoor play area on your left. To the right, the park opens up and you will see the vast grassed recreation area bordered by woods to the north and south.
If you have an interest in history or nature, be sure to stop along the way to read the information boards off to the left and right of the path. You will learn about the 13th century Medieval Flour Mill and Corn Mill just off to the right of the path in Cliff Wood.
If you would like to find out a little more about the Park’s history, head over to the history of Porthkerry Country Park.
You will also find out some interesting facts about Porthkerry’s shy and secretive snake – the Adder. Learn more about the wildlife and habitats of Porthkerry Park.
Thankfully, we have never come across a single adder during any of our Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park walks. As it is the UK’s only venomous snake and has been responsible for deaths in the past, neither one of us are in a desperate hurry to see one! Adders have been seen in Porthkerry Park as you will see from these pictures.
Ahead you will now see the Porthkerry Park café, “Marco’s in the Park”. We have dropped in many times for a tea, coffee or ice cream. The service is always top notch and the staff are very welcoming. There is a substantial decked seating area where you can enjoy your refreshments while soaking in the surroundings.
When the weather is good and especially during the weekends and summer holidays, the café gets extremely busy. As the park is a real family favourite and dog walking paradise, there is always a good proportion of young families and their four-legged friends, enjoying the refreshments on offer.
Birdlife is in abundance too and it is not uncommon to see little birds landing on your table or waiting on the ground for crumbs to drop.
Keeping the café on your left, cross the park access road and follow the prepared track into the woods, known as Knockmandown Wood. The path runs parallel with the road for a few hundred metres.
When the path ends, cross the access road once more and continue walking along the grass, keeping the road on your left. When you reach the hedge at the end of this grassed area, head right and stick to the hedge until you can see a wooden footbridge crossing a small stream.
Upon crossing the bridge, you will find yourself in Cliff Wood. Immediately turn right and follow the unmade footpath along the bank of the stream. This path is often muddy as the trees do a great job of preventing the sunlight from reaching the ground and drying it out following rainfall.
Simply follow the path along the stream and eventually you will reach a crossing point adjacent to the pitch and putt golf course. You are now back on the path that you entered the Park on. Turn left, head in the direction of Porthkerry Beach and take the left split in the path. You are now back at the bottom of the steps that lead you out of Porthkerry Park.
Now, you simply retrace your tracks back along the cliff top and down to the Cold Knap beach.
Your Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk is complete! This may not be one of the tough Vale of Glamorgan walks but it is a real treat nonetheless.
Useful Information About the Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk
How far is the walk and how long does it take?
The walk as described is approximately 6 km (3.7 miles). We are both pretty fit and walk briskly and we completed the walk in 1 hour 30 mins.
If you choose to explore Porthkerry Beach and/or other parts of the Park, the distance and time will obviously increase.
How difficult is the walk?
There is a short but steep climb shortly after leaving the Knap as well as 133 steps to as you leave Porthkerry Park on the return sector. Apart from that the walk is easy and will suit those of all ages.
Why not try the walk in reverse?
Instead of starting out from the Knap, you can always drive to Porthkerry Park and commence the walk from there. If driving, you can park your vehicle in one of the parking areas in front or adjacent to “Marco’s in the Park”. The Porthkerry Country Park Postcode is CF62 3BY
Other Useful Information
If you choose not to take refreshments with you, you needn’t go hungry or thirsty! “Marco’s in the Park” is a super little place in Porthkerry Park. We haven’t tried any of their hot food but we can definitely vouch for their tea, cakes and ice-cream!
If you fancy something a little more sophisticated, we highly recommend Romilly’s Coffee Shop at the Knap in Barry. Here is the address: 1-2 Bron-y-Mor, The Knap, Barry, CF62 6SW
Romilly’s is just great and we personally love the full Welsh fried breakfast and the pancakes! It is a very popular eatery and on weekend mornings it fills up fast! Get there early or you will walk away hungry and disappointed!
Other things to see
Whilst at the Knap, go for a stroll along the promenade and up on to the promontory at the eastern end of the Cold Knap Beach. From here you will catch sight of Watch Tower Bay that leads into Barry harbour.
Behind the promenade sits Cold Knap Lake or Marine Lake as it is otherwise known. This is also worthy of a leisurely stroll where you will see the resident Swans as well as a variety of other birdlife.
The gardens surrounding the lake are beautifully kept by the local council and during the spring and summer months they literally burst into an abundance of colour.
Cold Knap Lake Poem
There has even been a poem written by the Welsh poet, Gillian Clarke, called “Cold Knap Lake”. The poem is about this very lake and an experience that she remembers having there as a young child.
Gillian Clarke’s work has been a part of both the GCSE and A Level syllabus for the past three decades.
Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk – Have you done it yet?
If you have already completed the Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park walk, please share your experiences with us. If you have any questions regarding this walk, simply enter them in the comment box below and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.