Many cities have their natural cycling spot. The loci of attention, a ‘go-to’ place for families, leisurely rides or the ultimate destination on an epic. Cardiff’s is the bay. Positioned at the head of the Taff Trail (or tail, depending on your viewpoint), the Bay is Cardiff’s former industrial heart, the reason for its existence and now a popular visitor destination.
Coal drove this place. Black gold flowed down the river Taff and poured into the Bristol Channel, powering the British empire and fuelling economies. The world’s first million pound cheque was signed here, it was the embarkation point for Scott’s ill-fated attempt to claim the South Pole ( above, fashioned from mosaic and gazing out to sea) and rather less salubriously, a den of maritime crime. Ports encourage certain professions and Tiger bay (as it’s often referred to) was infamous for it.
Today the Bay is home to the BBC, houses the Senedd (the seat of Welsh government) and lays on street festivals at Roald Dahl Plass. On Saturday, armed with a Hipster automatic (an iPod app) and accompanied by Evelyn and Jemma we spent a very social couple of hours, bumping into friends (such as young Matthew Cleves, dancing to Jamaican reggae hammered out on steel drums), quaffing coffee and having fun. With wide open spaces, eateries, galleries, the Millennium center and a Victorian carousel, it’s a family friendly cycling destination accessible via the traffic free Taff trail. Alternatively, start here and head off to Brecon. The gradual rise from sea level through the Brecon Beacons will give your legs a run for your money. The trail runs through the glacial legacy that forced the geography of today’s valleys.
If you’re visiting Cardiff, a trip to the bay via the Taff trail is an ideal way to unwind. Cycle hire is available from Pedal Power. Regular bus and train services connect with the city centre.