Walkies in Cardiff
Can you believe summer is nearly over?! We haven’t had a bad one have we? There’s been more sun than average AND we had over a week of HOT weather!
We hope you’ve all had fun exploring the lushness of the wonderful green spaces in Barry- we were chuffed to find some new spots to walk our lovely gang of doggos on our travels!
And so on to Cardiff — We are super fond of the capital, it’s where Tom and I met, and lived for 5 years. We started dog sitting in our little flat opposite Victoria Park in Canton, and got to know some lovely walks.
As a tribute to the city we love, we thought we’d give you all a run down of our favourite walking spots in Cardiff, as well as the dog friendly places you can visit along the way- There are so many! We’re excited to get back to our old hang outs.
We discovered this place shortly before we left Cardiff — its on the tip of North Cardiff hidden in suburban Lisvane. Finding this place was completely by accident — we went to a house party in Lisvane, left the car there on the Saturday night, and had to make the pilgrimage from Canton to get it the next day via about 8 buses and a few miles walking. When we realised it was a woodland park we took the next opportunity we could to go for a wander around it — we didn’t know what to expect but it’s pretty special!
What hits you about this place as you enter it is it’s so quiet — which is weird considering a train tunnel runs alongside it and a duel carriage way above it. The trees seem to shield you from the hustle and bustle of the outside world and as you go deeper in to the park you walk through thick woodland, come across pretty lakes and trails to pretty greenery and fields. It’s a great place to wander with a curious pupper — to refresh our memories we took Stella on an adventure there last week, she loved the place! Plenty to sniff, lots of squirrels to chase and plenty of furry friends to meet along the way. This place may be a bit out of the way if you aren’t local to the area, but it’s worth the visit if you’re looking for a new walk or a place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Coetiroedd Nant Fawr Woodlands
These Woodlands seem to go on forever! They surround Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs and have several entrances — we entered this time from a side street just off of the top of Cyncoed Road, but one of the main entrances is on Rhyd -y- Penau Road. This park might be one of North Cardiff’s best kept secrets. Tom had never been here before, but as I used to work in Cyncoed and meet my pal Jen to walk her pupper Bear pretty regular, I knew the place pretty well. As this park surrounds the reservoirs its a popular running route, but in my humble opinion — its heaven for doggos. Woodland trails? Check. Streams? Check. Long grass to gallop though? Check. Open fields? Check. I could go on and on — basically — your doggo will LOVE IT. If you’ve never been to this trail before it can be quite easy to get lost, as there are lots of different walkways to chose from that look very similar, but there are maps sign posted regularly which is handy. As long as you keep a look out and remember the way you came you shouldn’t have a problem!
Roath Pleasure Park and Lake
I always forget how bloody lush this place is! I know most dog walkers will have been to Roath Park for a change of pace, but it wouldn’t be a proper list of Cardiff hot spots without mentioning it. The Pleasure Gardens are beautiful — perfectly mowed lawns and flower beds galore sat alongside woodland for your pooch to explore. There are plenty of walkways, entrances and routes you can take to make the walk different each time — there’s even a greenhouse selling all the plants and flowers you can see in the gardens, so you can take something home with you!
A short walk up from the pleasure gardens is the glorious lake — it’s really beautiful to stroll around on a sunny day, although we suggest keeping dogs on the lead for this part- there are geese and swans galore (and they are HUGE)! We tend to do a full loop of the gardens and the lake when we visit, but you could take the short walk from the lake through the wild gardens, past Cardiff High school and pop in to the Coetiroedd Nant Fawr Woodlands via the Rhyd-y-Penau Road entrance. Alternatively, when you leave the pleasure gardens, you could take a stroll down Ninian Road to Roath Recreation Park. The playing field is great for a picnic while the doggos have a sprint.
My gosh — We love Bute Park! it’s such a lovely city park, with so many wonderful views and angles of Cardiff, it’s a really lovely place to wander round, especially with a four legged friend in tow! Bute Park is one of Stella’s usual walking spots when she’s not staying with us, so we decided to take a venture out with her and Archie this week for a bit of an explore. It had been a while!
As Bute Park is slap bang in the city centre, it’s pretty easy to get to from any direction. This time we parked up on Cathedral Road and entered via the bridge from Sophia Gardens, but there are plenty of other entrances we’ve tried before! You could go for a dog friendly brunch at the Early Bird and walk in via the entrance next to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, or if you fancy a walk through town past Cardiff Castle, why not go through the main entrance and stop off outside Pettigrew Tea Rooms for a tea and cake break? You can also enter and exit Bute Park from the Taff Trail, which leads to some other lovely dog friendly parks around Cardiff (which we’ll touch on later).
When you enter over the bridge from Sophia Gardens and turn left away from the City Centre, you get to find one of the best things about Bute Park — The Secret Garden. This is the place is a doggy pit stop as much as a people pit stop. There are homemade dog biscuits, free for furry friends and the best homemade brunch/lunch/snacks for hoomans. On quiet days we’ll sit under the cafe canopy and spoil ourselves with brunch. On the busier days we might pop in for a tea to go- or treat ourselves to some soft serve or a pastry — (Jam and peanut butter pain au chocolat?!) This place gets VERY busy on the weekends but if you can sneak in on the quieter weekdays for brunch or lunch, you won’t be disappointed! Next to The Secret Garden and similar to Roath Pleasure Park is the Bute Park Nurseries that always have plenty of outdoor and indoor plants for sale — Dogs get to pop in too! (as long as they’re on the lead).
After a pit stop and feeling fully refreshed why not take an extended walk round this park and on to the Taff Trail? Round the corner from the Secret Garden is Bute Park’s main playing field — expect lots of dogs, games, joggers and cyclists on busy days, to avoid the hustle and bustle try going on a week day, early in the morning, or make the most of the last of the longer evenings by going later in the day. Follow the path all the way round the playing field and you will join the Taff Trail, and be a short walk away from the Weir and Pontcanna fields. If your dog loves a swim the Weir is a great place to visit, once you’re both safely over the the bridge on the Pontcanna Field side, the water is shallow enough for dogs to have a paddle (although Stella always prefers submerging herself entirely!)
Pontcanna Fields is similar to the playing fields at Bute Park — but much bigger, with space for plenty of people to roam without interruption. If you can’t avoid visiting this area on busier days Pontcanna Fields is the place to go. Saturday and Sunday mornings see the field littered with sports teams, but there is still plenty of space for you and your pup to have a run around without being caught in the middle! The field is a favorite for picnics on sunny days and as its large and flat, so it’s great for dogs to have a good run. Similarly, if you weren’t content with just wandering Pontcanna Fields (Stella never is!), you aren’t far away from Llandaff fields to extend a big ol’ run with your doggo.
Victoria & Thompson’s Park
I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning two spaces that we both hold fond memories of, as they were our old “go-to” walking spots.
Victoria Park and Thompson’s Park are situated on the west side of Cardiff, with Vicky Park being in Canton. Thompson’s is just an extra 5 minute walk down from VP, though it intersects Canton, Llandaff, Pontcanna (I’m sure locals will argue over its definitive location!).
Both are Victorian-era parks,with Vicky retaining some of its traditional features, like the bandstand and more modern ones, like tennis courts and a splash park for the little ones to frolic in during the summer months. Thompson’s has it’s own pond, which is home to a handful of ducks who more than keen to take any seeds you have to hand!
These two parks both have big spaces for dogs to have a run also. Victoria Park has lots of tree lined paths, with a few squirrels scurrying around for your dogs to give chase, whereas Thompson has a large open top field which is fantastic to lob a ball around and play fetch with your four legged friend.
They are both in great locations too. Thompson is just around the corner from Chapter Arts Centre, a lovely little dog-friendly venue that’s a cafe-bar art house. It’s even got its own cinema! It’s ideal if you fancy grabbing a bite or a beer and bringing your dog along.
As for Victoria Park, it has a kiosk in its centre that offers ice cream and you also have Bloc near the main entrance to the park. It’s a petite coffee house with outdoor seating that was converted from the park’s old toilet block. Hence the name. Clever clogs! If you venture just over the road onto Cowbridge Road East, you are spoiled for choice! You have Fintans offering up award-winning fish & chips (seriously, they are the bomb!) or if you need some baked provisions, you have to check out Pettigrew Bakeries! Whether you need a loaf, a sandwich or some sweet treats, you really can’t go wrong. I whole-heartedly recommend the brownies. They are the best I’ve ever tried!
We’ve been back to these two parks recently and it had us reminiscing about when we started dog sitting. Our flat was situated overlooking Victoria Park, so we’d always be there, walking dogs that we still walk to this day. It’s always nice to recall where it all began.
So! That’s a wrap on Cardiff — Now September, it’s time to hit the Vale! As always if you have any suggestions for our final edition, Please get in touch, we always love hearing from you!