Hail to the King, Baby! – A Tour Around the Vale

This route was so named because we had a hail storm on the return leg when we tried it, but it seemed like a fun name and an homage to 90s popular culture. However, it’s a 73km tour of the Vale of Glamorgan, taking in a healthy supply of cafe’s, eateries, pubs and landmarks.

The Cardiff Bit

We’re starting on Llantrisant Road, mainly because the route is a complete circuit that comes back into Cardiff via Culverhouse Cross and St Fagans, the aim here it to head for Penarth Pier. You can choose whichever route suits you, but we took the Cathedral Road route until we reached Riverside before following the Taff Trail. However, you can go past Llandaff Cathedral and onto Llandaff Fields before rejoining the trail. Whatever floats your boat.

The Vale

When you reach Penarth sea front, climb back out again and head for Lavernock Road, where we will take a detour down into St Mary’s Well Bay for a view over the channel and, should you wish, a refreshment break. From here, head back to the main road and down through Sully. Take a left at the roundabout and towards Barry Docks. This is the grizzly, industrial leg of the trip and you’ll eventually reach Barry town where traffic can be a little heavy, but we won’t be in it for long before heading back towards the road to the airport.

When you reach the roundabout, take a left. If you had gone straight on you’ll eventually come across the Welsh Hawking Centre, but we’re not going there today. Take a left and head up the hill. The airport should start coming into view soon and there will be another roundabout where you’ll want to take another left. Eventually you’ll reach the airport’s perimeter fence where you can admire the fresh new shared path the Vale has installed. From here you are in easy reach of Porthkerry Park, but we’re not going there today either. Head through Roose and onto East Aberthaw, where the Blue Anchor can be found. They do a mean Thai Green Curry here, should you be hungry.

Continue along this road until you reach the somewhat busy B4265 and continue west. When you reach the petrol station, you can take a left here and visit Gileston, or you can carry on past St Athan and onto Llantwit Major.

Llantwit Major

Llantwit is a very pretty little town, with a beach and some quaint shops & pubs. However, there’s also a cycle cafe here called Cafe Velo. It’s worth stopping here to refuel if you haven’t eaten for a while. Take a seat, watch some GCN on the TV and contemplate the ride back.

The potential for improvisation

From here we’re going to be heading north-east back to our starting point, but there are so many country lanes through the Vale that it is easy to get happily lost in some tiny hamlets & villages along the way. Our route heads through Llanmaes and Llantrythid before joining the A48 and taking the quickest route back (mainly because of the weather), but you could head north at Cottrel Park, through Pendoylan and then east towards St Brides Super Ely and joining Crofft-y-Genau Road to return to the start.

The A48 isn’t particularly interesting to ride on, unless you fancy stopping at the Red Lion. Also, the descent into Culverhouse Cross isn’t for the faint of heart thanks to some badly placed potholes, but it was a means to an end that day. We’ll try it again another time and see what a diversion through Cottrel Park offers us.

Points of Interest:

  • Penarth Pier
  • Barry Island
  • Porthkerry Park
  • Cardiff Airport
  • The Blue Anchor
  • Cafe Velo

Grab the route from here.

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