South Wales Coast ~ Walk 8. Llantwit Major beach to Monknash

This walk starts from the car park at Llantwit Major beach (Col-Huw) and follows five miles of the Wales Coast Path as far as Cwm Nash, then heading inland to finish at The Plough and Harrow Pub, Monknash. This walk offers scenic views of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and points of interest along the way.

From the car park a set of steps lead to the clifftop path and further along are fine views of the limestone strata cliffs, rugged and full of colour. The constant threat of erosion is clearly evident though, as some areas with unstable rocks have dramatically collapsed.

Along this section are three World War 2 home defence ‘Pill boxes’. The first one is constructed from local stone and it’s clear why this location was chosen, with a superb view across the Bristol Channel.

The path continues along the clifftop before steps lead down to Tresillian Bay, a secluded cove of pebbles and rocks. On the approach to the bay some caves can be seen along the cliffs which according to local legends were the haunt of pirates and smugglers during the Middle Ages.

After crossing the bank of pebbles and climbing steps out of the bay, the path levels out. This section towards St. Donat’s is sheltered by hedgerows and it can be very muddy in parts, particularly near King George’s Field. There are a number of ‘step stiles’ set in old walls made from local stone and which are quite high, along this part of the heritage coast.

Before descending again to St. Donat’s Bay, a look inland through the trees will glimpse the historic castle, which is now an exclusive college. It was once a home of notorious American media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. At St. Donat’s Bay, the path is surfaced as part of the sea defence and runs alongside the impressive fortified walls and gateway to the former castle, now Atlantic College.

Atlantic College has a particular claim to nautical fame. Thanks to a reader for sharing information about the role students played in the development of the Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat (RIB) here in the 1960s. Read about their incredible achievement here

The path climbs through wooded slopes back to the clifftop and continuing towards Nash Point there are fine views of the contrasts in the coastal landscape, particularly the patterned rock terraces along the coast below.

Ahead are the two Lighthouses at Nash Point. The coast here was treacherous with many shipwrecks through the centuries, the shallow waters and rocks sending many mariners to a watery grave.

The lighthouses were built in 1832 and their pristine whitewashed walls with the old keepers cottages and outbuildings, one topped by a huge foghorn, are still an impressive sight on the headland.

From Nash Point the path meanders downhill into the valley of Cwm Marcross before a climb uphill then levels out on a grass track between the clifftop and wide farm fields.

On the approach to Cwm Nash, as the path descends there’s a spur of headland above the bay and it’s worth going onto this area to enjoy a spectacular double view, both westwards ahead and eastwards, of the rugged cliffs and coastline below the path just walked.

Above Cwm Nash, view ahead and photo below, the view eastwards

After walking downhill into Cwm Nash, we detoured from the Wales Coast Path, taking a path inland which follows a babbling brook flowing to the coast through a pretty valley.

The upper end of the valley is very picturesque, with banks of mature woodland and the ivy draped ruins of an 18th century corn mill alongside the Nash brook.

The soft flowing brook cascades through the valley over a series of shallow terrace waterfalls.

A country lane leads to Monknash and the village pub, The Plough And Harrow. The pub dates from the 14th-century and has an ‘olde world’ ambience, full of character and traditional features. It’s a great place for a rest and refreshment stop on this walk.

The Plough and Harrow at Monknash

Route Recap

Start – Llantwit Major / Col Huw Beach. Free car parking here.

Finish – The Plough and Harrow pub at Monknash. Distance – 5.7 miles.

Walk – 1st stage from Llantwit Major beach to the Plough & Harrow Pub at Monknash

To complete a circular walk returning via country lanes through the village of Marcross is 4.8 miles, so a total walk distance of 10.5 miles.

Return walk – from the Plough and Harrow follow the road to Marcross Village, then rejoin the coast path at Nash Point to return to start point.

Time – Circular walk is 3 hours 45 minutes, out and return.

Walk grade – moderate level. Mostly along clifftop but with steps to descend and climb at bays and valleys. Some quite high stone ‘step stiles’ along this route. Paths can be very muddy through woodland and where sheltered by hedgerows. Uneven pebbles to cross at Tresillian Bay.

14 thoughts on “South Wales Coast ~ Walk 8. Llantwit Major beach to Monknash

  1. Nice to see the return of the Walks.
    Quite a lot to see on the Heritage Coast – Atlantic College, lighthouses, Pill Boxes and the lovely views. Really interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cato, appreciate the comment. Also very interesting information about the development of the RIB safety boat at the college, I’ll add that in the blog post. Thanks 👍


  2. Hi Rich, some beautiful scenery as usual and I hope to see some more walks along the coast soon. Watch out for that weatherman on your walks! Niles

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great pictures Rich; yet even without them the imagery is superb, so perfectly descriptive one can almost smell the sea breezes, hear the waves, the seagulls etc

    Liked by 1 person

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