This walk starts from East Aberthaw then heads along the coast path to Col Huw Beach before heading inland to finish at Llantwit Major.
After parking in the car park opposite the Blue Anchor Inn, we retraced our steps down through the Aberthaw Nature Reserve to rejoin the Wales Coast Path at Leys Beach, to resume at the point we had reached on Walk 6.
The coast path runs along the southern edge of the reserve, following the sea defence wall towards Limpert Bay at West Aberthaw. There was once a thriving port here for a few centuries with some interesting tales of local smugglers, however there’s no trace of the old harbour left today.
In recent decades the area has been dominated by the Aberthaw Power Stations. The original power station known as Aberthaw A was built in the 1960’s and demolished in the late 1990’s. The remaining Aberthaw B plant was decommissioned in 2020 so now stands silent awaiting a similar fate. The site was sold in March 2022 with major plans for low carbon energy facilities.
The path around the long perimeter of the power station is bland and a bit grim as high security fencing on the landward side and a high concrete sea wall obscures any view of the coastline. Perhaps the future redevelopment plans should include a more scenic walkway above the sea defences with views of the coast!
The sea wall ends at a small car park at West Aberthaw and the coast path continues as a grass track along the back of a pebbled storm bank at Penry Bay. A feature here are a series of large concrete blocks, known as ‘Dragons teeth’, which were installed as anti-landing defences during World War 2.
The path continues along grass tracks and field edges until a gap in a thick hedgerow brings you onto a rocky and pebbled bank at Summerhouse Bay.
After crossing the pebbled bay the path meanders up through woodland followed by a welcome change of scenery for a pleasant walk along the edge of some wide, lush green crop fields.
The path opens up towards Stout Point with spectacular views of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast with dramatic rock strata cliffs and patterned bedrock below. The cliffs here are notorious for erosion and rock falls, and occasionally you see fence lines suspended in mid air across gaps where the cliff face has collapsed.
Llantwit Major (Col-Huw) Beach
The path zig-zags down a series of steps to the car park at Llantwit Major beach. It’s a popular place, there’s a beach cafe with picnic bench tables outside and conveniences nearby, so it’s ideal for a rest stop.
If the weather’s favourable then it’s really worthwhile taking a beach stroll here, across the bank of pebbles and boulders to view the richly coloured limestone cliff face and walk along the lines of bedrock down to the shore.
From the beach we took a detour along Cwm Col-Huw valley to the historic town of Llantwit Major. The place is full of character with narrow winding streets, old stone buildings and quaint cottages around the ancient centre of St Illtud’s Church. The site is thought to be the first major centre of learning in Celtic Christianity and both St.David and St. Patrick are said to have studied here.
There’s some real historical interest within the church, as a set of impressive carved stone Celtic crosses dating from the 9th and 10th centuries, are on display.
We finished this walk with a wander around the old historic centre of Llantwit Major. The town has good transport links, with a bus and train station. The no. 304 bus will take you back along rural roads to East Aberthaw with a stop outside the Blue Anchor Inn, for a convenient return to the start point.
An enjoyable easy going walk with many contrasts along the way of coastal scenery, industry, countryside and a beach stroll before finishing at a town steeped in Celtic history.
Start ~ Blue Anchor Inn, East Aberthaw / Finish ~ Llantwit Major town centre
Walk distance ~ 8.4 miles / 13.52 Kilometres