Walking is a popular activity in the Vale, both with residents and visitors alike. Whether you are part of a group, a solitary walker, or walking the dog, you will find a selection of recorded stories here intended to enrich your walk, to connect you with ancient landscapes and intriguing characters who may have walked along the same path a long time ago.
There are many walks in Barry to follow. The Wales Coast Path runs through Barry and Vale Trail 4 is a park and seaside walk from Limpert Bay to Barry Island with an optional Porthkerry circular walk. For a shorter walk, Valeways offer a walk that takes in part of the coast at the Knap and Porthkerry Country Park here. It’s a great way to meet people too, as Valeways organises a range of regular guided walks.
Using your smartphone and headphones, listen to the stories below as you walk around Barry.
Our first storyteller is Cath Little, based in Cardiff, she is the author of Glamorgan Folk Tales for Children. Her five stories can be listened to on any walk but we offer some suggestions.
Once there were witches living along the Glamorgan coastline. There were weather witches who could magic up fair winds or foul; shape shifting witches who could transform themselves into animals or birds; and the Cyhyraeth, the sorrowful witch, whose haunting cries could be heard on dark and stormy nights.
Bill O’Breaksea and Modryb Sina – listen while walking along the coast on Vale Trail 4
Cyhyraeth at The Leys – listen while walking along the coast on Vale Trail 4
Grey Goose at Trwyn y Rhws – listen while walking along the coast on Vale Trail 4
The Fox People of Porthkerry Woods – listen while walking in the woods at Porthkerry Country Park.
The Witch Hare of Cadoxton – listen while walking around old Cadoxton, particularly up on Cassie Hill.
The Swan-Girls of Barry Island is an old tale found in The Folk-Lore and Folk-Stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan, dating far back to when Barry Island was not connected to the mainland, when the land around was farmland, with the small village of Cadoxton at one end, and the even smaller village of Barry at the other.
The story takes place at Friars Point, in Rhoose and Cadoxton, so feel free to listen while walking in any of these places or on Vale Trail 4.
Claire Boot is a writer and performer based in Penarth, and she tells the story of St Baruc. Follow in the footsteps of saints and pilgrims to discover the story of the man who gave his name to Barry. Over 1500 years ago, St Baruc came to Barry Island. Find out why he was here and how a book cost him his life. See the site of his final resting place and unearth the secrets of the landscape to explore why his grave drew thousands of people over hundreds of years to the island. With stunning views of the Bristol Channel, the story walk lasts 22 minutes and covers just over half a mile. The route is step-free but steep in places.
This story follows a particular route. Start on the coastal path just above the ‘Witches Hat’ canopy above the Eastern Promenade and follow the guidance in the recording.
The Whole World has been specially written for Barry, and is about the moments when life changes forever – when you are living through history, but you don’t know it yet, and when the whole world seems to be in the palm of your hand. It’s a love story between two people, and also a love story between them and Barry.
This story follows a particular route. Start at Redbrink Cres, overlooking Jackson’s Bay, and follow the path down around Nell’s Point, along the Promenade all the way to Friars Point.
Tamar’s story was inspired by three items from the Barry War Museum: a photograph of the American soldiers coming to King Square at the end of WW1, a WW2 cookery book, and a bottle of Camp (coffee & chicory essence).
Having heard all these stories on your walks, do you feel more connected to the place, to the landscape around you and the people who once stepped on the same ground? Would you like to write your own thoughts about what you see, hear, touch and smell on your walks? The next recordings will lead you on your own creative journey.
Megan Mattravers is a drama practitioner, writer and director based in Cowbridge. Megan does not tell stories, but offers prompts for you to use the landscape and environment around you to inspire your ‘free-writing’. You will need a notebook and pen or at least your phone to make notes on these walks.
Coast: approx. 25 minutes. Starting at the Cold Knap pebble beach, this walk explores the Roman remains and ends at Romilly Park.
Town: approx. 30 minutes. Starting at Central Park, this walk explores Holton Road and concludes in Gladstone Gardens.
Docks: approx. 20 minutes. Starting at The Waterfront, on Y Rhodfa, this walk explores the Docks, including the Pumphouse, and concludes at Goodsheds.
Acknowledgements: with thanks to Glenn Booker and Alun Robertson from the Barry War Museum, and to Tom Clemett and Paul Ogden for their support.
If you have enjoyed these stories, or have written your own – please let us know and share on our social media channels! #barrymakingwaves
Barry has a busy programme of annual events ranging from open-air cinema, triathlons, Gwyl Fach y Fro and artist-led events.