I am going to take you for a very quick walk today. I did it the other week when dashing around to investigate the coastal path (and get some steps on my phone) before catching my train home. I was determined to get out to the Barrage and, of course, to take a few photos!
We start out beside the Millennium Centre and the National Assembly for Wales. Ignoring the temptation of a boat trip, we keep these buildings on our left, water on our right, and head past the Norwegian Church that I have written about recently.
It is a straightforward half-hour walk from here, past the Dr Who Experience, and with Penarth ahead (there are a few pedestrian signs to help if needed). This path seems extremely popular with locals – there are plenty of families out here to run and relax, plus people with energetic dogs and several groups of mums with young babies.
And we are there! We can cross the bridge and head into Penarth (providing this connection was popular with locals and cut 2 miles off the car journey between Cardiff and Penarth) but if I do I’ll miss my train.
Interestingly, the origins of this barrage go back to the 1990s and a desire to regenerate the derelict Cardiff docklands area. The tidal nature of the bay left an expanse of mudflats for most of the day and was not a view likely to draw in either the locals or visitors. The Secretary of State for Wales pushed for the barrage to aid regeneration of the area, with the aim of bringing in shops and homes, and a waterside opera house. After many battles, permission was obtained and the barrage was completed in November 1999. However, full access around the bay and across to Penarth was not finished until 2008.
The opera house did not make its appearance either. An international design competition was held and was won by Zaha Hadid, the architect responsible for many stunning buildings, including the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Sadly, financing issues and a lack of both local and European support for the development, meant that the project never took place. It’s spot was eventually replaced by the Millennium Centre which opened in 2004. It’s a striking building in its own right, but I have to say I’m a big fan of Zaha Hadid’s work and it would have become a massive tourist attraction.
Enough history and contemplation for now, though; time to head back. No difficulty with this obvious route, and if time permits there’s a farmer’s market with a great variety of food stalls in the central bay area.
I’ll leave you to munch while I dash to the station.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 24 July 2017
Posted as part of Monday Walk