Rhys grew up in Bro Morgannwg and recently returned after living away. Now, he's out to explore parts of his hometown he's rarely ventured.
Walking Vale Trail 2: Part A
Since returning to live back in my home county, Vale of Glamorgan, I have been on a quest to rekindle my love for the area by walking all 10 Vale Trails. I began my journey by walking Vale Trail No.3, a historic circular 5km (3 mile) walk around Llantwit Major and the surrounding area.
This time I decided to head further west and walk section A of Vale Trail No.2, another circular trail full of history, quiet countryside and a stunning coastline in and around St. Donat's. Starting at Nash Point Car Park, this 7.2km (4.5 mile) walk will take you on a journey through rural fields and ancient woodlands.
Getting Lost and Rural Farmland...
Leaving the sea and Nash Point Car Park behind, the trail begins with a short walk towards Marcross, back up the road you are likely to have just driven down. Shortly up the road after passing Marcross Church, I began trekking with a local man walking his dog and engrossed in conversation. I hadn't realised that I had already missed my first turn and was now walking on part B of the trail! After 15 minutes of heading in the wrong direction, I bode farewell to the pair of sheep dogs and the friendly man and headed back down the road towards a small lane on my left (should be on your right if you don't miss the turn!) and continued back on track.
Climbing over a stone stile you will emerge into an open farmland full of wheat that at this point had grown to about 5 feet high, and should be able to see the lighthouse and sea in the distance on your right. I found the views breathtaking and luckily they stay with you for some time as you continue through the farmland.
2,000 Years of History...
You will continue to follow the signposts to climb quite a few stiles, strolling past many farmhouses for just under 2km (1.2 miles), avoiding the cows and sheep along the way. Eventually you will reach an ancient woodland with a few surprises.
On the whole, the only noises you will hear throughout the 7.4km of the walk are your footsteps and the wind blowing. The silence of rural Wales is incredibly calming, and heading into the woodland you're hit with an immediate change. Birdsong echoes loudly through the trees and you will suddenly feel like you have entered a new world. As you continue deeper into the forest towards St. Donats, you will feel the history of this woodland grip you.
In the shadow of St. Donat's medieval castle, which is hidden above through the trees, lies a Grade I listed 12th-century church. Christians have worshipped here for over 1,000 years and the church has several structures which are also grade listed. During the Iron Age, 2,000 years ago, King and tribal leader of the ancient Britons Caractacus, or St. Caradoc, is believed to have built a fort in St. Donats to defend his people from the Roman Invasion.
Shipwrecks and a Lighthouse...
Continuing out of the woodland heading past the castle entrance on your right, you step out onto a busy road that you head down for 5 minutes before turning right into a layby and an entrance of some playing fields. Here you are reunited with the sea and the Wales Coast Path and are now on the last leg of your journey!
Walking along cliff tops with the seagulls gliding past, you now follow the Wales Coast Path signs all the way back to Nash Point Car Park. Heading through woodland paths, open fields and rugged tracks for 1.5km, you will come face to face with the towering figure of 200-year-old Nash Point Lighthouse which marks the end of the journey! Despite the lighthouse shining across the Bristol Channel from 1832, shipwrecks were still common in these parts during heavy storms, most notably the 'Ben y Gloe' shipwreck during a storm in October 1886.
Apps and Maps...
I was gripped throughout this trail by the silence of the journey and the stunning views at every turn. If you are considering walking any of the Vale Trails, I would recommend you use the detailed Vale Trails maps located at tourist information points or that can be downloaded online.
Furthermore, a fantastic companion I would recommend is the Vale Tales Storytelling App that brings to life some of the fascinating stories, myths and legends behind the 10 trails!
© 2020 Rhys Russell
Rhys Russell (author) from Vale of Glamorgan on August 02, 2020:
Thank you all for the lovely comments! Hopefully one day you can come to visit this beautiful part of the country.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2020:
This looks like a lovely place to explore. Thank you for sharing the details of your walk.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2020:
Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos of your walk along this trail in your country. It is the only way that I will probably ever experience it, especially now since travel is so limited.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 01, 2020:
It looks like you picked a good day for it. Great photos and an interesting account.