Penarth - Lavernock Point

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This walk is readily accessible from Cardiff and offers a varied coastal route with fine views across the Bristol Channel to the islands of Flat Holm (with its lighthouse dating back to 1737) and Steep Holm. Brean Down and the hills along the Devon coast are visible in clear weather.

Lavernock Point occupies an important place in the history of radio telegraphy, as it is where the first wireless signals were transmitted and received over open sea. In May 1897, Guglielmo Marconi assisted by George Kemp, a Cardiff-based Post Office engineer, transmitted the first message in Morse code: "ARE YOU READY". This was followed by "CAN YOU HEAR ME" to which the reply was: "YES LOUD AND CLEAR". The Morse recording slip is on display in the National Museum of Wales. After these initial tests, the telegraph equipment was relocated from Flat Holm to Brean Down Fort (which is visited by Walk 3776) near Weston Super Mare, trebling the distance. Cardiff Rotary Club marked the 50th anniversary of these experiments by the unveiling of a bronze plaque in the courtyard of the medieval parish church of St. Lawrence, which can still be seen today.

Lavernock Point Battery was completed in 1870 as the most northerly part of a defence scheme for the Severn estuary. It was rearmed during the Second World War with gun emplacements and a two unit searchlight battery to protect a de-grouping zone for Atlantic shipping convoys. The remaining main section of the gun battery is listed as an Ancient Monument, although the site is now occupied by a caravan and holiday chalet park.

The mixture of Jurassic and Triassic rocks attracts fossil hunters to Lavernock. The Triassic Rhaetian bone bed to the North yields fish and reptile remains, although it is very thin and contains few fossils. The Jurassic rocks to the West are early blue lias and similar to those of Watchet, which is just across the Bristol Channel, albeit with different fossils. Shells such as giant gastropods, bivalves and brachiopods are the most common fossil and ammonite fragments can be seen around the beach, although you have to split rocks to get the best finds.

As you walk back towards the town, St Augustine's Church crowns Penarth Head — the Garth (or promontory) that gave Penarth its name. Together with Penarth pier and pavilion, it provides a distinctive local landmark. The pier opened in 1895 and is almost 200 metres in length. It was rebuilt following a fire in 1931 and formally re-opened after restoration in May 1998. Paddle steamers call there in the summer months for cruises in the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary.

Wales - South Wales - Vale of Glamorgan - Coast

Features

Church, Great Views, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Public Transport, Restaurant, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets

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