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Southern Wales is a great place for family days out and they don’t need to cost the earth. We've got a stunning coastline, numerous country parks with play areas and activities, great countryside for a walk, cycle and a picnic - and to top it of, some great spots for a picnic.

Along the coast

Yes, we have great beaches, and the Wales Coast Path starts outside Chepstow Castle in the east.

You can call into Black Rock Picnic Sitewalk a stretch of the Coast Path, see the Prince of Wales Bridge from a unique angle and see how salmon has been caught for centuries. You can also call into the nearby Caldicot Castle and Country Park.

Travelling west, how about visiting the RSPB Newport Wetlands where you might see 16 species of dragonfly, rare bees and an abundance of butterfly and day flying moths as well as various birds and even grass snakes.

Moving on, there’s always something happening in Cardiff Bay - great events, boat trips and walk/cycle routes. The Victorian town of Penarth, with its pebble beach and wonderful pier, is just 15 minutes drive on the other side of Cardiff Bay. Keep travelling west and you’ll visit the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, with its stunning cliffs, hidden coves and fossils to be discovered.

Of course, we have traditional beaches – with Barry Island, the home of Gavin and Stacey (you can book onto a tour is the film sites) and Porthcawl – both with sandy beaches, fairs and ice creams. There’s also Rest Bay, a fabulous water sports location (indeed, the nearest surfing beach for surfers based in SE England).

Lakes and Country Parks

Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs are reopening this summer and will be a quiet oasis on the edge of Cardiff. There's lots to do including walks, a family story trail, bird watching and water sports.

Another lake with great water sports and walks is Llandegfedd Lake.

Parc Bryn Bach - 340 acres of stunning grass and woodland around a 36-acre lake - which is great to cycle around. Lots of activities, events and water sports.


Cwmcarn Forest – you can drive through the forest, stopping at view points for a picnic and a walk.   Or you can take a walk, maybe up to the top to Twmbarlwm, or get on your mountain bikes for a stunning ride.

Porthkerry Country Park (which leads to a pebbled beach) and Cosmeston Lakes Country Park (with its reconstructed medieval village) are 2 stunning country parks in the Vale of Glamorgan – and there are a host of walks and children’s trails to bring the sites to life

Dare Valley Country Park – acres of land to explore, stunning play area and Gravity, a family friendly mountain bike trail.

A walk with a great view

Southern Wales is a great place to explore by foot or on your bike - and there are routes for all ages and ability - check out the Sustrans website for ideas of short or longer routes. One of the best routes is the Taff Trail which runs from Brecon, over the Brecon Beacons to Merthyr Tydfil and then on through the Taff Valley to Cardiff - it's a route that you can do in stages. 

As you explore the area you will come across views that get you to stop and stare - so make sure yo have a picnic with you to sit down and enjoy. Here are some of the best views:

The Rhigos, above Zip World Tower. Stunning views across Llyn Fawr and intro the Brecon Beacons, and you can watch people enjoying their zipline adventure.

Blaenavon Unesco World Heritage Landscape tells the story of iron and coal - now much of the landscape has been returned to nature. Stop at The Keepers Pond - great views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, as well as people wild swimming and walking. If you are lucky you'll be above the clouds, sitting on an island and seeing the "Dragon's Breath". Walk Route

Nearby you can take a walk in the footsteps of Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS. He used to walk across the hills above Tredegar to get his thoughts together and to practice his speeches. 

A final suggestion, explore Pontypool Park, and you can sit where the Hanbury Family, the local industrialists, built follies as backdrops for their family picnics - the Shell Grotto (open on Bank Holidays) and the Folly Tower. Here is a walk route around the Park