Half-Day Shortish Strides Walk from Rhoose Station

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MEET at Rhoose station car park under overcast skies, the group of twelve walkers joining Joy for a half day walk of Shortish Strides were greeted by a very blustery cool wind – so it was to their advantage to begin, especially as heavy showers were forecast for later on.

Crossing the main Vale railway line, some kerbs passing through the village of Rhoose saw them follow a narrow path where the sun was blazing as they made their way around the perimeter of Cardiff Airport, to join the road past The Highwayman Inn and through Nurston.

Turning away from oncoming traffic down a narrow lane, their first climb took them to a field where archery practice takes place, but not that day, and down to a muddy upright, they entered Fonmon Wood. After recent heavy rains there was a flow of water in the Ffwl-y-mwn stream and walking along the muddy path covered in autumn leaves took them up steps through the pretty forest where activities take place bush and forest and on the road.

Fonmon pond was teeming with ducks making a racket as they thought there was food in the way and as they left the road and climbed steps back into a bare forest to come out into a cultivated field .

Heading cautiously around the edge of the field, a few more uprights took them along a narrow track and into open grassland leading to Port Road, which they followed south past the huge Aberthaw Quarry to reach the Blue Anchor thatched roof inn which dates back to 1380.

A descent to Well Road led under the railway arch and along a narrow path under the railway to enter East Aberthaw Nature Reserve which is SSSI listed and a break by the reed beds to hear a bit of local history. The name derives from aber meaning mouth or estuary and in this case the River Thaw and Roman pottery and tiles have been found indicating that settlement in this area probably dates from the 2nd or 3rd century.

During the medieval period, a small village stood between Port Road and Well Road, which was previously called Marshe Way, as it led to marshes and a ford crossing the River Thaw. A thriving port was there with ships making a daily passage to North Somerset and in the 17th century ships sailed for England and France, Spain and Ireland. Contraband was rampant in the area and goods found illegally were no doubt hidden in the village.

Heading through the reedbeds to the dyke, they looked across the lake to the ruins of Aberthaw Limeworks which opened in 1888. Its two kilns produced 40 tons of burnt lime a day from pebbles collected from the nearby beach which were moved up a tram and dropped. in the ovens. This blue lias limestone also has hydraulic qualities and could therefore be used in the construction of locks, canals, quays and lighthouses.

A few steps led them across the seawall and a stop was made using the wall as a backrest in the glorious warm sunshine sheltered from the breeze for their refreshment break, as they overlooked the salt-filled lagoons and sand dunes. Then cross the salt pans for the short steep climb up the renovated cliff steps to enter Fontygary Leisure Park, following the Wales Coastal Path past the cliff top caravans with their spectacular views of the sea as the wind began to blow again.

Continuing along the WCP, long distance views of the Bristol Channel were obscured by mist and the waves began to thunder into Fontygary Bay as they passed the disused limestone quarries beside the coastal path. Then descending and ascending the steps, a gusty wind blew them along the cliff path towards Rhoose Point, where they headed inland overlooking the flooded Rhoose quarries and across a final field that brought them back to the start, luckily still in dry weather.

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