British Isles Slow Travel

A walk in my home county: Glamorgan Heritage Coast

Rocky coves, clifftop walks, bedrock beaches and the last manned lighthouses in Wales – this is where heritage meets maritime.

Stretching from Aberthaw to Porthcawl, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast offers walkers 14 miles of unspoilt coastline via waymarked trails that wind through small villages, rural farmland and sprawling beaches.

One of the easier trails is the Nash Point loop walk, a 4½-mile, mostly gentle hike across windswept clifftops. The route takes in a number of historical sites, including the Nash Point Lighthouse, Atlantic College and Marcross Church.

Nash Point Lighthouse © Portia Jones

Nash Point is located right in the heart of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. It offers a dramatic, fossil-rich bedrock beach, Grade II-listed lighthouse and plenty of picnic spots for a blustery feast by the sea.

The loop walk begins and ends from the small Nash Point car park and covers varying terrain, including boggy fields, narrow and overgrown coastal paths and a college campus (so proper hiking boots are needed). The walk is best attempted out of season as the car park fills up very quickly during the summer months.

The Glamorgan Heritage Coast at sunset © Portia Jones

The route

Start: Nash Point Car Park SS916683; pay £3 to park in the small car park and then follow ‘Vale Trails’ waymarkers towards Marcross village.

1 From the car park, follow the road towards Marcross and you will pass the 12th-century Marcross Church on your left. Make sure to turn right just before Swn-y-Môr bungalow to follow the trail. If you’re unsure, ask locals to point you in the right direction.

2 Follow the track until you come to a hedge-lined field with coastal views. This is where the trail can become very boggy. Continue onwards, with the coast on your right, keeping an eye out for those handy waymarkers.

Along the coastal path © Portia Jones

3 When you reach a road, turn right, passing ‘The Elms’, and go through the gateway. From here, continue onwards to another field and head diagonally across it until you reach a stile.

4 Cross over the stile and follow the path left around a building. This part of the hike can be a tad confusing as you will need to locate the gap between a garage and park farmhouse to continue on the trail. We do love to challenge and disorientate walkers here in Wales!

5 Keep an eye out for a wooden gate, guarded rather laxly by an affectionate tabby cat, who insists on a big fuss before you pass through. Head through the gate and into the shady, wooded area.

6 From here, the route will take you up a slight incline and then on to a road where you’ll see Grade-I listed St Donat’s Church on the right. The road takes you into the Atlantic College Campus, a kind of medieval Hogwarts that has been educating the elite since 1962. Head towards the George V playing field to begin the coastal section of the route.

7 With the woods to your right, walk towards the coast through a wooden gate to reach the popular Wales Coast Path, which follows the Welsh coastline for 870 miles – the only dedicated footpath in the world to cover the entire length of a country’s coastline. Here, the Nash Point trail merges into the coast path.

The Bristol Channel © Portia Jones

8 Follow the route along a narrow and overgrown path that opens out into compact, clifftop bays with glorious ocean views. You’ll also pass along a rocky beach, where you can tentatively dip your feet in the frigid waters of the Bristol Channel.

9 As you continue along the coast path, you’ll eventually catch sight of the historic Nash Point lighthouses, where you began the walk. Head back to Nash Point for a well-deserved brew in the café or a splash in the swell, if the weather permits.

Portia Jones is a travel writer and and host of the Travel Goals Podcast.