Day 49 – Bridgwater to Cardiff

Day forty-nine!!  YES!!  That means we will complete our entire loop of mainland Britain’s coast today.  We are both feeling super excited!


Photo of the day

Coastal Road Trip, Royal Sands and Uphill, Driving on the beach, Julian, Jarno, Thumbs up
Driving on Uphill Beach



Coastal Road Trip, Burnham-on-Sea, Burnham on Sea Motor Boat and Sailing Club, River Brue, Sunrise
From Bridgwater we made our first coastal stop of the day at Burnham-on-Sea.  As we arrived the sun was just rising over the local sailing club & the mouth of the River Brue.
Coastal Road Trip, Burnham-on-Sea, Mural, Street Art, Seaside scene
The sailing club walls, with the colourful Burnham-on-Sea mural detracting from the security atop!
Coastal Road Trip, Burnham-on-Sea, Beach, Low Lighthouse
The warm morning light gave Burnham-on-Sea’s beach a deep bronze glow, contrasting with the bright white Low Lighthouse…
Coastal Road Trip, Burnham-on-Sea, High Lighthouse, Somerset
…and behind that, the High Lighthouse was towering above Burnham-on-Sea’s coastal houses.



Coastal Road Trip, Berrow, St Mary's Church
Just outside Burnham-on-Sea, the 13th century St Mary’s Church at Berrow.   As we wandered around, we realised the church had flood protection…
Coastal Road Trip, Berrow, Golf Club, River Parrett, Hinkley Point Power Station
…as we walked behind the church, we realized why.  Just the low-lying Burnham and Berrow Golf Course were separating it from Berrow Beach and the Bristol Channel.  In the distance you can also just make out Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, an area that we skipped at the end of yesterday’s journey.
Coastal Road Trip, Berrow, Beach, Warning, Sinking Sand
We tiptoed down Berrow Beach.
Coastal Road Trip, Berrow, Beach, Groyne Posts, Longshore drift prevention
Groyne posts lined (fairly) neatly down the beach.  There’s always one annoying one out of place 😉
Coastal Road Trip, Berrow, Beach, Fisherman, Brean Down
A solitary fisherman was patiently fishing in rather rough and chocolaty brown looking sea.  Brean Down and its Fort in the background.


Brean Down

Coastal Road Trip, Brean Down, National Trust, Julian, Jarno, Bristol Channel, Windy
Driving past many static caravans hugging the coast, we arrived at the National Trust’s Brean Down.  Despite the sunshine it was very cold and windy at the top of the limestone peninsula.
Coastal Road Trip, Brean Down, Panorama, National Trust
Looking back inland along the ancient field system to Weston-super-Mare to the north and Berrow to the south.



Coastal Road Trip, Royal Sands and Uphill, Beach, Kite Surfers, Weston-Super-Mare
On the northern side of Brean Down, after quite a detour inland, we arrived back at the coast at Uphill Beach, with Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier coming into view.  The beach was busy with kite-surfers.
Coastal Road Trip, Royal Sands and Uphill, Beach, Kite Surfer
Look how murky and churned-up that Bristol Channel water is!
Coastal Road Trip, Royal Sands and Uphill, Driving on the beach, Julian, Jarno, Thumbs up
Driving on Uphill Beach.  In the distance you can just about see Steep Holm island off Brean Down in the middle of the Bristol Channel.



Coastal Road Trip, Weston-super-Mare, Royal Sands, Beach, Beach Huts
Pastel coloured beach huts lining Royal Sands as we drove into Weston-super-Mare.
Coastal Road Trip, Weston-super-Mare, Grand Pier, Entrance
Driving alongside the seafront promenade past Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier entrance.  Like so many piers, it had been badly damaged by fire in 2008.  After a whopping £39-million restoration it was reopened two years later.
Coastal Road Trip, Weston-super-Mare, Birnbeck Pier, Abandoned
Meanwhile further along the seafront, the Birnbeck Pier was looking a little sorry for itself.  The closed and deteriorating pier is unique in that it links the mainland to an island (Birnbeck).
Coastal Road Trip, Weston-super-Mare, Birnbeck Pier, Abandoned, Close-up
There was a small cafe and information hut near the original pier entrance.  The volunteers explained the several regeneration attempts of the pier since it closed in 1994.  But so far sadly nothing has come to fruition.


Sand Bay

Coastal Road Trip, Sand Bay, Sand Point, National Trust
As we continued along the coast we stopped briefly at Sand Bay, with views north to the National Trust’s Sand Point.



Coastal Road Trip, Clevedon Pier, Heritage Trust
The rather elegant Clevedon Pier, originally opened in 1869 as a landing for ferries crossing the Severn Estuary to South Wales.



Coastal Road Trip, Portishead, Battery Point Lighthouse, Esplanade Road
If you had mentioned Portishead to us before this trip, we would have thought you were talking about the 90’s band.  Anyway, it turns out the band Portishead was named after the place, and here we are!  The Battery Point Lighthouse at the end of the esplanade.
Coastal Road Trip, Portishead Quay Marina, Yachts, Apartments
Around the corner from Battery Point, we arrived at the surprisingly large and busy Portishead Quay Marina.


Tyntesfield House

Coastal Road Trip, Tyntesfield, National Trust, Wraxhall, Sunny, Blue sky
Before crossing over the River Severn, we decided to drive inland to another National Trust property, Tyntesfield House and Estate.  The Gibbs family had made their wealth in the guano trade (bird excrement fertiliser).  The Victorian Gothic mansion looked stunning in the afternoon sun.
Coastal Road Trip, Tyntesfield, Horse and Cart, Driveway, National Trust, North Somerset
A couple of handsome horses were pulling a cart up the estate driveway.


Severn Bridge

Coastal Road Trip, Severn Bridge, Looking up
As we drove back along A403 and the Severn Estuary, we struggled to see anything worth taking a picture of.  The area was mainly one long industrial estate.  So we continued on our way crossing over the Severn Bridge….
Coastal Road Trip, Welcome to Wales Sign, Croeso i Gymru
… and back into Wales (sorry a little blurry as we drove by).



Coastal Road Trip, Newport Wetlands, RSPB, East Usk Lighthouse
The north side of the estuary felt far more rural than the south.  After a few little dead-end detours, we finally made a stop near Uskmouth Power Station, for a short walk at the RSPB’s Newport Wetlands.   Although we didn’t see much bird-life today, we did see the East Usk Lighthouse peeping over the nature reserve.
Coastal Road Trip, Newport Wetlands, RSPB, Meadow
The afternoon sun briefly came out again, illuminating the wetland meadows.
Coastal Road Trip, Newport Transporter Bridge
As we crossed the River Usk, the unusual Newport Transporter Bridge came into view.  It was completed in 1906 based on a french design.  It solved the problem of crossing the fast Usk currents, enabled tall ships to pass under, and came in on budget.
Coastal Road Trip, Newport Transporter Bridge
The ‘ferry’ is cleverly suspended like a gondola from a high level boom, and can carry 6 cars and 120 people every 7.5 minutes.   OK that’s us geeked-out for the day 🙂


Tredegar House

Coastal Road Trip, Tredegar House, National Trust, Newport
Leaving Newport for Cardiff, we made our final National Trust country house stop at the Morgan family’s Tredegar House.  We have definitely squeezed every penny out of our National Trust membership on this coastal road trip 🙂  The volunteers were all in costume and the house was all decked out for Christmas inside, maybe a little too much.  It reminded us of our Christmas visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Florida a few years ago –  the decorations there were so OTT!



Coastal Road Trip, Cardiff, Wales Millennium Centre, Outside
Our final stop of the day and road-trip!  Back in Cardiff Bay, we had celebratory cappuccino and a wander around the Wales Millennium Centre (AKA Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru).  The impressive arts and entertainment venue that was completed in 2009.
Coastal Road Trip, Cardiff, Wales Millennium Centre, Inside, Stairwell
The centre’s sweeping staircase, one day we’ll have to come back for a performance.
Coastal Road Trip, Cardiff, Wales, Pierhead, Senedd, Julian, Jarno, Map, Completed Road-trip!
Yay!  We did it.  Back where we started 49-days ago!  That’s the entire British mainland coastal road trip completed.  What an amazing journey!  Go on, give it a go yourself… 🙂


Daily video