Grass In Bute Park

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One of the great legacies from the age of coal that gave Cardiff its wealth before the First World War is also one of the great gifts made to the people of Cardiff. Originally flanked by Cardiff Castle to the south, the River Taff to the west, the Glamorganshire Canal to the east and Western Avenue to the north, Bute Park was begun in 1873 by the 3rd Marquess of Bute, and handed over to the people of Cardiff in 1947 by the 5th Marquess.

It is a fabulous place to roam, especially for the many thousands of office workers in Cardiff’s busy city centre who need somewhere to escape to on a lunch time. As well as open playing fields and the arboretum, there are quieter, shaded areas under the trees and by the river banks where you can go and hide with a book for a bit of peace and quiet.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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My wife and I recently went back to Margam Country Park in late spring as the perfect place to go with the cameras for a local day out. In the end, my knee only lasted a couple of hours sadly, but I still managed to come away with a few interesting photos to share.

The Photos

Capel Mair ar y Bryn

This is the chapel of St Mary on the hill, which was built as part of Margam Abbey. The abbey itself was founded in 1147, and was in use until King Henry VIII dissolved it in 1536.

Bench At Margam Park

If anyone nicks this bench for their back yard, at least their visitors will know where it originally came from!

Entrance To Margam Abbey

Only the nave of Margam Abbey survives today, and it is still in use as the local parish church.

Chapter House Ruins

The ruins of Margam Abbey include this impressive 12-side chapter house. Chapter houses were used as meeting rooms, where the abbot and all his monks would gather to discuss matters concerning the monastery and its inhabitants.

Ruins Outside The Orangery

Margam Country Park boasts an Orangery completed in 1793 (making it one of the oldest buildings in South Wales that is still in use today). Just to the east of the Orangery lies these ruins with its vaulted ceiling.

Beware Of Falling Masonry

Although they look stable enough, and on a sunny (or a wet!) day offer the temptation of shelter, for safety reasons they are in fact fenced off with suitable warning signs.

Green Leaves

My wife loves to visit Margam just to say hello to the trees, and when the sun shines the canopy lights up in the most beautiful of ways.

Tree Roots

I can’t explain why, but my eyes were drawn to the roots of this tree standing just to the south of the Orangery. Maybe it was the textures, or the contrasts of colour, or the contrasts of light and shadow. Whatever the reasons, I think it makes for an interesting photo, and will probably feature in my Daily Desktop Wallpaper series at some point!

Previous Visit To Margam

My last visit to Margam Country Park was in October 2008, as my very first WelshFlickrCymru meet-up. We spent the whole day there, and I hope you enjoy the photos I took last time too.

Through The Arches

The Tree By The Abbey

Peering At The Cloisters

The Tree By The Abbey

The Fun House

The Path By The Gum Tree

Sculptures Grazing - Landscape

Sculptures Grazing - Portrait

The Gum Tree

The Seat Under The Gum Tree

The Flowers Of The Gum Tree

The Bee and the Gum Tree

The Gum Tree

The Orangery, Margam House

The Cry

The Chapel On The Hill

Margam House From The Chapel

Port Talbot Panorama

Margam House Through The Window

Monopod Head

Margam House

Deer Foraging For Food

Two Deer Foraging For Food

Deer Feeding

Deer Silhouette

Looking East Through The Trees

Looking West Through The Trees

The Unusual Pit On The Hill

Robin Looking Down

Margam House

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Earlier in 2010, I decided to spend a Sunday exploring the railway stations of the Coryton Line. This is the surviving section of the Bute’s Cardiff Railway, the last of the great railways built to bring coal down to the Cardiff docks. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Bute’s original intention was to run this railway along the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (which the Marquis had earlier bought), but that ultimately he wasn’t allowed to close the canal, and so had to come up with an alternative route for his railway.

Today, the Coryton Line is a single-track commuter run that swings east to west across the north of Cardiff. There are no services on a Sunday, making it the perfect day to explore these stations.

The Photos

Whitchurch Railway Station

Viewed from the bridge that carries the A470 over the Coryton Line, Whitchurch Railway Station looks a sleepy little station well buried amongst greenery.

Whitchurch Railway Station

Looking west along the tracks, you can clearly see the bridge that carries the A470 over the track, and the odd little kink in the track as it approaches Coryton Railway Station just out of shot.

Whitchurch Railway Station

The station itself is small and functional. Unlike some of its neighbours, it has no CCTV cameras at the time of writing.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Keep Clear At All Times

A pub rear entrance just off Westgate Street.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Under Construction: Cardiff Food Festival

I enjoyed greatly the juxtaposition of the distant construction crane and the much nearer Torchwood Towers during a visit to the Cardiff Food Festival.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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One of the great pleasures of visiting Cardiff is taking a stroll through Alexandra Gardens, part of Cathays Park.

Standing at the heart of Cardiff’s historic civic centre, Alexandra Gardens is overlooked by law courts, university buildings, police station, national museum, local and welsh government offices, and the falcons that nest in the clock tower. It is a legacy of the wealth extracted from the valleys to the north and brought down to the docks by canal and competing railways.

It’s also one of the cheapest and most convenient places to park your car in Cardiff, if you happen to be a local who knows such things. And that’s why I found myself wandering through the park back in March 2010, trying out my new Nikon 35mm lens for the first time on my way to meet some fellow bloggers and the Guardian Cardiff correspondent at a pub in the centre of the city.

The Photos

The Cenotaph

Late March is a great time to photograph Cathays Park, as the low sun has just enough colour in it to bring the portland stone to life.

Words On The Cenotaph

I’m afraid I can’t translate the inscription that runs around the top of the cenotaph. If you can, please leave a translation in the comments.

Graffiti On A Tree

The park is very popular with students from the University of Wales, Cardiff, which occupies many of the buildings that surround the park both to the east and the west.

Statues Inside The Cenotaph

This is the Welsh National War Memorial, unveiled in 1928, as a remembrance to soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the Great War of 1914-1918. The statue on top represents Victory.

Gardens And City Hall

Looking south (with the Cenotaph behind me) across Alexandra Gardens towards the back of City Hall. Just out of picture, to the right, is the famous clock tower, currently home to nesting peregrine falcons.

Cardiff Centenary Walk Beside The Cenotaph

In 2005, a 41-point walk around the centre of Cardiff was created to celebrate 100 years of Cardiff officially being a city. Point 25 can be found beside the Welsh National War Memorial.

References

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Silliness At Sardis Road

Silliness At Sardis Road

There are several stations along the old Taff Vale Railway that provide park and ride facilities – most notably at Trefforest and Taffs Well. Sadly, despite being one of the major towns along the route (arguably the most major other than Merthyr at one end and Cardiff at the other!), Pontypridd does not provide such a scheme.

What we have instead is the car park at Sardis Road. It’s a pay and display car park, but the all-day parking charges are pretty reasonable. And, on Sundays and Bank Holidays, car parking is free. There’s just a couple of problems with that.

First of all, the car park is only open from 7am to 7pm. If you’re a commuter who needs to be heading into Cardiff before 7am, you can’t park here. And if you’re a commuter who can’t be sure of making it back to rescue the car on time, you can park here, but you’ll have to come back the following day to rescue your car.

Secondly, as the sign says, the gates are locked at 7pm Monday to Saturday. So how exactly are you supposed to park for free on a Sunday if the gates are still locked …? Just to be certain that it wasn’t a mistake on the one sign, I popped down to the other sign and checked that too. They are consistent. The locked gates on a Sunday also means that the recycling bins hosted in the car park aren’t easily accessible if you’re too old or otherwise infirm to carry the waste from the road.

I’m sure that Rhondda Cynon Taff council must have good reasons for these restrictions, but they are very commuter unfriendly. Commuters needing to drive to the railway station are probably much better off driving to Trefforest or Taffs Well, especially if you’re likely to have to work late unexpectedly or if you need to commute on a Sunday.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Earlier in 2010, I decided to spend a Sunday exploring the railway stations of the Coryton Line. This is the surviving section of the Bute’s Cardiff Railway, the last of the great railways built to bring coal down to the Cardiff docks. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Bute’s original intention was to run this railway along the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (which the Marquis had earlier bought), but that ultimately he wasn’t allowed to close the canal, and so had to come up with an alternative route for his railway.

Today, the Coryton Line is a single-track commuter run that swings east to west across the north of Cardiff. There are no services on a Sunday, making it the perfect day to explore these stations.

The Photos

Coryton Railway Station

This is the northern end of the Coryton Line, the surviving segment of the Cardiff Railway’s torturous (and ultimately unsuccessful) route up into the valleys in competition for carrying Rhondda and Merthyr coal.

Today, just beyond the fence, there’s a short (about 20 mins or so) but beautiful walk along the old trackbed up to Longwood Drive.

Coryton Railway Station

The bridge in the background carries the A4054 (the original Merthyr Road, before the A470 was built in the late 1960’s) over the old route of the Cardiff Railway.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Former Post Office On Westgate

If you know anything about the history of this building, please do leave a comment below.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Drive through the suburb of Llanishen, and you can’t fail to notice the “Save Our Reservoirs” placards planted in garden after garden as you go down the streets.

The reservoirs in question are Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs, two adjacent reservoirs to be found just to the north-east of picturesque Llanishen itself. Why are they at risk? Through a convoluted chain of events that started when the UK’s water utility companies were nationalised, they are now owned by Western Power Distribution, an American company that is reported to have spent the last nine years trying to get permission to build several hundred homes on the site.

At the time of writing, it is difficult to understand Western Power Distribution’s side of the story, as I’ve been unable to find any evidence of them attempting to connect with, or work with, the local community. Their official UK website makes no mention of Llanishen Reservoir at all, and they have provided no comments for any of the press stories that I’ve read. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Wikipedia page for Llanishen Reservoir repeatedly questions WPD’s motives for recent drainage activity at the site.

Finally, it’s worth noting that local BBC news coverage of this story has been sporadic throughout (there is a growing problem of poor regional news coverage from the BBC in Wales, as reported to the media regulator Ofcom), and that Wales Online’s Your Cardiff and Guardian Cardiff remain the best places to keep up to date with this story as it continues with no conclusion in sight.

The Photos

Double Fencing At Llanishen Reservoir

I found it utterly impossible to photography the current water level at Llanishen Reservoir, as it is very thoroughly fenced off.

Former Viewing Point Over The Reservoirs

There are plenty of open footpaths that run around the fenced off reservoirs. One of the footpaths leads to this viewing point, with this charming mural set into the ground. Unfortunately, because of the way the trees in front have been allowed to grow, you can’t see anything of interest from here any more.

CCTV Warning At Llanishen Reservoir

Lisvane Reservoir isn’t completely fenced off, but the same can’t be said for Llanishen Reservoir. It is Llanishen Reservoir that Western Power Distribution is draining as part of their 9-year battle to replace it with housing.

No Access Permitted To Llanishen Reservoir

Western Power Distribution, the current and controversial American owners of Llanishen Reservoir, have been very thorough in securing access to the reservoir.

Steps Down Into Lisvane Reservoir

The reason I came to photograph the two adjacent reservoirs was a report on the Reservoir Action Group website about how Western Power Distribution, the American owner of these two sites, had drained Llanishen Reservoir.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anywhere to view the water level of Llanishen Reservoir, as it is heavily fenced off, but I was able to shoot the fallen level of Lisvane Reservoir. According to the Reservoir Action Group, the water level here has fallen because water is being taken out of the reservoir for use in industry down in Cardiff Bay.

Car Park Opening Times

There is a car park at Lisvane Reservoir, which the signs say is open from 8am to 4pm “until further notice”.

Lisvane Reservoir Entrance Notice

… and this is the notice at the entrance to the car park, confirming the dangers of open water such as Lisvane Reservoir.

A Sign Ignored

Not the prettiest of pictures – I’ll hope you will excuse me for that – but I couldn’t help but notice that this sign appeared to have become a magnet for the very thing it asks people not to do.

A failure in individual responsibility?

Dirty Life Buoy At Lisvane Reservoir

To finish this set of photos, here’s a shot of one of the eye-catching life buoys that can be found around Lisvane Reservoir.

The future for Llanishen Reservoir is looking more and more uncertain, now that the Environment Agency has given Western Power Distribution permission to drain it completely.

If anyone from Western Power Distribution or the Reservoir Action Group sees this set of photos, and wishes to invite me and my camera for a guided tour as this battle continues, please do get in touch, as I would be very happy to cover this story as it continues its new chapter.

References

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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