I’m a bit biased as this place is practically in our back garden, but it really is such a stunningly beautiful place to visit, with or without the kids. Although it gets really busy during the Summer months and school holidays, it is equally spectacular in Winter and some days we have the entire place to ourselves!
I spent a lot of time here surfing and swimming before I had the babies; when pregnant I would stroll the sands imagining what it would be like coming here once they’d arrived; as newborns I’d walk with them for hours, the sound of the waves sending them off to sleep; and now, as toddlers they just love to splash in the waves, play in the rockpools and build sand castles.
The great thing about Dunraven (aka Southerndown) is that whether the tide is in or out, you can be sure of a lovely walk – on the sandy beach when it’s out; or through the walled gardens if it’s in. The gardens are great in extreme wind or heat too, as they offer shade and shelter.
For the brave, the stunning cliff top walk up a very steep grassy hill from the car park, down to Witches point and then East along the coast, brings you back round to the gardens; a great circular walk that will really stretch your legs and lungs, especially if you’re carrying a baby or two!
On to the practicalities: the access down on to the beach is very pram unfriendly; not a problem for most people but for a while I couldn’t get down on to the beach at all with two babes in arms. So instead I made full use of the garden which is fully accessible for prams – there is always an alternative flat route to the many steps in the gardens. We sometimes take the girls on their trikes which is great fun for them!
Toilets are usually open during the busy periods and so too is the shop where you can buy ice creams, hot and cold drinks and snacks. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the Summer. There is a dog ban in place on the beach between March and October, though they are still allowed in the gardens.
The Heritage Coast visitor centre is a great place to find out about the natural history and heritage of the area, and they often run special events, including for children, throughout the school holidays.
Although stunningly beautiful, the area’s cliffs are extremely dangerous both from above and below. This part of the coast also has the second highest tidal range in the world so particular attention should be paid to checking not only tide times, but heights, to get an idea of how quickly the tide will rise.
In Southerndown village, the Three Golden Cups is a lovely country pub with a beer garden and lovely food and drinks, and a seasonal campsite. There is a small village shop in St Bride’s Major which is well stocked and has good opening hours 7 days a week. Local Slade Farm Organics farm shop stocks delicious organic produce, perfect for a beach BBQ!
For a scenic family day out near Cardiff, you could not ask for more!