Amazing autumn trails

The Gothic inspired Castell Coch in all its autumnal glory. Source: RJMorgans (via Wikimedia Commons)

By Tirion Davies

Following the Cardiff University Half Marathon last weekend, there are many who have undoubtedly been inspired to get off the sofa and start their fitness journey. Whether you’re ready to dive straight in and start running immediately, or if you’d rather begin by taking long walks, Cardiff has plenty of trails on offer. Wrap up warm and take time out of your day to experience Cardiff in all its Autumnal glory this October.

Walk the whole way to Brecon or stop off at Castell Coch on the Taff Trail, or take a walk around Coopers Field and Roath Park, but know there are plenty of pubs along the way. You can do the hard work, but you can get your reward afterward, too.

Cooper’s Fields in Cardiff is part of Cardiff’s Bute Park. On your way to the Fields (where Bonfire Night events often take place, in case you’re hoping to go out this November 5th), walk through the Bute Park grounds to get the most of the Welsh capital’s park. Have a look at the famous Blackfriars Friary, a friary with quite the history. Occupied for 288 years before its dissolution in 1538 during the rule of Henry VIII, it had been the site of many historical events. In 1404, the site had been sacked and burned by Owain Glyndwr during his campaign, and the extent of the site was not revealed until its excavation by the Marquess of Bute in 1887.

The developments made by the 5th Marquess of Bute has helped to make Bute Park what it is today. Take it all in as you walk through Bute Park, its landscape offers insight into the wealth and ambition Cardiff was developing during the Victorian era, and it’s more than just a pretty park. Bute Park and Cooper’s Fields hold special significance in Cardiff. In 1947, the 5th Marquess of Bute gifted Cardiff Castle and its grounds to the people of Cardiff. Bute Park is now considered the ‘green heart’ of Cardiff and Cooper’s Field is home to numerous events across the year.

Bute Park is a hub for wildlife and brilliant for an afternoon walk around Cardiff. On your way through Bute Park and Coopers Fields pop in to the Secret Garden Café for something warming and a treat before you head home, with cakes and warm drinks available at the environmentally-friendly café.

The River Taff flows through the heart of Cardiff before joining the River Estuary. If you’re interested in a walk along the riverside, the Taff trail is perfect for you this Autumn. You could even walk all the way up to Brecon, but I’d recommend you follow the trail to Castell Coch if you’re looking for a long walk.

A peaceful walk along the river, combined with arriving at a Gothic Castle (Castell Coch was redesigned by the third Marquess of Bute in the Victorian era to create a medieval and Gothic masterpiece) is perfect for a pre-Halloween walk. By following the trail through Bute Park, it will pass the Melingriffith Water Pump, built in 1807.

The Lewis Arms, on the corner of Merthyr Road and Castle Road along the path near to Castell Coch, has a small beer garden and is perfect for a refreshing drink and some food after your journey to the castle. There’s also a chip shop along the way, for those who’d prefer a greasier option. A new tea room is also open across the road from the Lewis Arms, as a café alternative.

Although, if you’re not a fan of walking quite that far between Cardiff Centre and Tongwynlais but still want to see Castell Coch, there’s always the option to jump on the train. From Cardiff Centre, grab a train to Taffs Well and walk the short distance to the Gothic castle and its grounds.

As one of the best parks in Cardiff, Roath Park is perfect for anyone searching for a way to spend an hour or two. With its vast lake, the park has plenty to see, along with its Victorian-style garden and historic sights. A lighthouse was constructed on the lake, with a scale model of the ‘Terra Nova’ ship as a memorial to Captain Scott and his team who sailed to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910.

The park has a Victorian elegance, and it has long had a status as a Conservation Area which has prided itself on its gardens. There are flowerbeds along the promenade, and a rose garden is famed at the park. A Victorian glasshouse sits in the park, which is home to koi and tropical plants. Head over to the Terra Nova Café for some warm food and a warm welcome to the Roath area.

A short walk from Cathays campus, and more than worth the trip, Roath Park would be perfect for anyone hoping for an afternoon with nature.

Being at university means that an afternoon away from your laptop can be a necessity. A remarkably green city for a capital, there are plenty of options for walks around Cardiff when you need a day off – or if you want to start training for next year’s half marathon!

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