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
Driving on Uphill Beach
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.
The sailing club walls, with the colourful Burnham-on-Sea mural detracting from the security atop!
The warm morning light gave Burnham-on-Sea’s beach a deep bronze glow, contrasting with the bright white Low Lighthouse…
…and behind that, the High Lighthouse was towering above Burnham-on-Sea’s coastal houses.
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…
…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.
We tiptoed down Berrow Beach.
Groyne posts lined (fairly) neatly down the beach. There’s always one annoying one out of place 😉
A solitary fisherman was patiently fishing in rather rough and chocolaty brown looking sea. Brean Down and its Fort in the background.
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.
Looking back inland along the ancient field system to Weston-super-Mare to the north and Berrow to the south.
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.
Look how murky and churned-up that Bristol Channel water is!
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.
Pastel coloured beach huts lining Royal Sands as we drove into Weston-super-Mare.
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.
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).
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.
As we continued along the coast we stopped briefly at Sand Bay, with views north to the National Trust’s Sand Point.
The rather elegant Clevedon Pier, originally opened in 1869 as a landing for ferries crossing the Severn Estuary to South Wales.
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.
Around the corner from Battery Point, we arrived at the surprisingly large and busy Portishead Quay Marina.
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.
A couple of handsome horses were pulling a cart up the estate driveway.
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….
… and back into Wales (sorry a little blurry as we drove by).
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.
The afternoon sun briefly came out again, illuminating the wetland meadows.
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
The centre’s sweeping staircase, one day we’ll have to come back for a performance.
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… 🙂
Welcome to our first blog post. Day one of our seven week British Coastal Road Trip.
Today we started in Cardiff and drove 120 miles along the beautiful Welsh coastline to Llanelli.
Here are some picture highlights of our first day on the road!
Photo of the day
Map ready in Cardiff for our Coastal Road Trip!
Beach chairs in front of the impressive Wales Millennium Centre, bit optimistic considering it was about to rain…
Penarth pier and pebble beach, a quiet little town across the Cardiff Bay.
The cute little St Lawrence church, where we found two friendly resting locals, who pointed us in the direction of the coastal path to Lavernock Point.
Marconi sent the world’s first ever radio messages across water at Lavernock Point in 1897. Sadly the building was abandoned and overgrown, but we found this plaque on the church wall.
The view across to Flat Holm, and our first Lighthouse on this trip! It’s in the Severn Estuary, 3-4 miles away from Lavernock Point, so a bit of grainy pic.
A great surprise as The Red Arrows roared over our car as we drove into Barry Island.
Nash Point Lighthouse, our 2nd lighthouse – yay! And its antique foghorns (looked scarily loud).
Surfers at Rest Bay, near Porthcawl, one of the best surfing beaches in Wales, but looked especially cold today!
After briefly checking out the German Beer Festival in Swansea, we headed south around Swansea Bay to view Mumbles Pier and Lighthouse (love that name… Mumbles).
…and back at the Mumbles Head Car Park, a big apple selling ice cream… curious.
After exploring some of the beaches along the Gower Peninsula we ended up at the stunning Rhossili Bay. A National Trust site, but it was early evening by the time we arrived, so all the visitors had left for the day, so we had the place to ourselves!
And final pic of the day down a short path from Rhossili to view Worms Head.