DAY FOUR – Home via Cardiff Bay

A happy and satisfied bunch of Torbay Ramblers left Swansea on the coach, heading today for Cardiff Bay, for a little welsh history on our fourth glorious sunny morning.

Cardiff owes much of its history to the Industrial Revolution of the 1790’s, which stimulated mining in the valleys of South Wales. It also gave rise to the building of the Glamorganshire Canal in 1794, which brought iron and coal down from the valleys. As this industry expanded it became obvious that a more efficient form of transport was required and in 1840 the Taff Vale Railway opened.

Tiger Bay, now known as Cardiff Bay – Cardiff’s dockland district – is Wales’ oldest multi-ethnic community. Sailors and workers from over 50 countries settled here. Some of the largest communities included the Somalis, the Yeminis, and Greeks. Residents of many races and backgrounds socialised together and intermarried, creating a distinct community. Tiger Bay was also notorious as red-light district with gambling dens between Cardiff’s city centre and its docks it had a powerful character of its own. Its most famous former residents are former rugby star Billy Boston and singer Shirley Bassey, who were both born in Tiger Bay.

Today, the Cardiff docklands area has been transformed by the Cardiff Barrage that impounds the Rivers Taff and the Ely to create a massive fresh-water lake. A number of boat tours operate from Mermaid Quay, which allow you to gain an understanding of the history and fauna of this exciting and upcoming area. There is also a water taxi service which operates throughout the year from the Bay to the city centre and Penarth.

Cardiff Bay is home to a number of attractions such as Techniquest Science Discovery Centre ideal for all the family, Craft in the Bay, The Welsh Assembly at the Pierhead, Butetown History and Arts Centre, the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and the Wales Millennium Centre, a stunning international arts centre. The Red Dragon Centre provides further options for family entertainment.

The harbour at Cardiff Bay experiences one of the world’s greatest tidal ranges up to 14m. This has meant that at low tide, it has been inaccessible for up to 14 hours a day. The new barrage will eliminate the effect of the tide, which has acted as an inhibitor to development, releasing the potential of the capital city’s greatest asset –  its waterfront.

The construction of the barrage is one of the largest engineering projects in Europe. Completed in 1999, it has created a 500 acre freshwater lake with 8 miles of waterfront and it is hoped it will stimulate the future development of the Bay as a tourist and leisure destination.

A short walk to the Barrage was led by Karen today and we were enthralled to see the lock opened to allow entry to the Bay.

Once again lunch was enjoyed by all in various locations around Cardiff Bay, bathed in sunshine – ice-creams were certainly popular!

Our final journey took us back to Devon and most were indoors by 7pm.

A wonderful trip made perfect by the weather, the service and food at the Hotel and the unique friendliness of the Torbay Rambling Club, supporting each other with a smile,  as always.  A very big  THANK YOU to all who helped Mandy and I put this trip together.

Karen H