Barry Island (Wales Coast Path) walk

Quiet Jackson's Bay, Whitmore Bay (sand, promenade, Gavin and Stacey), Nell's and Friars points, and the old harbour

Length 2.7 miles (4.4km) with 150 ft (50m) of ascent. Allow 1hr 30mins plus stops
Toughness 3 / 10 (easy except for Jackson Bay)
Walk Notes

The section of the Wales Coast Path (WCP) is a loop of Barry Island (Whitmore Bay of Gavin & Stacey fame). It is a mixture the docks and a lighthouse, a quiet beach, a headland, Whitmore Bay beach, another headland, and the picturesque fomer Barry harbour.

This is the first section of dramatic coast and sandy beaches if starting in Chepstow (or the last, if coming from the north). There is a direct train service from Cardiff.

The walk starts at Barry Island station, and heads to quiet Jackson Bay, with views of Barry Docks, the harbour arm and its lighthouse. Then its out to Nell's Point with a Coastwatch station. This headland used to have a Butlins holiday camp.

Next is Whitmore Bay (pay parking), a large sandy beach (at low tide) used by Gavin and Stacey TV series). It has a nice promenade with cafes. Inland is a (now dying) amusement park.

At the far side of the bay, the next headland is Friars Point.

This leads to Barry Harbour. There used to be sand in front of the breakwater, but now the tidal(!) bay has silted up and while picturesque at high tide, looks uninviting at low tide. Fromhere, you follow the railway line back from the causeway to the island and the station.

Don't be tempted (yet!) to start further back at Barry Docks station, the low rise new builds around the former dock basin haven't settled in yet, and are a little souless (no cafes or bars). Once cafes have opened, and the scrubland has been built on, and trees have grown, it should be prettier.

Walk Options

Cold Knap point and Porthkerry Park viaduct.

If driving, do visit the Cold Knap point and Porthkerry park. Free parking on the residential roads behind the station.

If walking, continue along the Wales Coast Path a little to Cold Knap point, a 270° viewpoint, to see the Porthkerry viaduct. Its an extra 1.4km (each way) to Cold Knap point, and an extra 2km (each way) from there to Porthkerry).

Barry to Rhoose or Llantwit Major Option

See our Barry to Llantwit Major via Rhoose walk. Carry on along the WCP to Rhoose or Llantwit Major, with a direct train back to Barry. Llantwit Major is a bit far for all except experienced walkers.


Direct Cardiff - Barry Docks - Barry Island (3 per hour, 2 on Sunday)

Drivers can park for free on Barry Island away from Whitmore Beach (the main car park on the causway is a crazy £5 summer, £2.50 winter, but its free north of the station or near Jackson's Bay), at Porthkerry Park (except Sunday when its £2.50 in 2017), or Cold Knap beach car park.


A pub and several cafes... a coffee (or fish and chips from one of the takeaways) on the promenade


Barry has a great maritime history, especially the Docks. The docks have an interesting history. In Victorian times, the coal barrons were tired of paying the monopoly fees at Cardiff Docks, so set up there own docks in Barry. In less than a decade, the causeway to Barry Island was built, and the town went from a small fishing village to the biggest coal port in the world.

For the size of the docks, there are few heritage or wharehouse building left. Its saving grace is Barry Town hall - the impressive statuesque former Barry Docks Offices building. However, many residential areas of Barry have impressive houses from the Docks era.

There was a great BBC 'Welsh Towns" episode on Barry, at present, its not available online.

Barry Island had a Butlins Holiday Camp history - up to 50 trains a day brought daytrippers in ther 20thC before package holidays.

There are too many "used to"'s, its time for Barry to start anew!

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start CF62 5TH Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Apr-24 Andrew

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.

Walk Directions

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone. OpenStreetMap (not OS) mapping is used in the PDF for licence reasons.

Barry Island Circular Walk

The Wales Coast Path does a loop around the north side of Barry Island with occasional inland views. There's no need...

  1. Turn left outside Barry Island station, along Station Approach, then Breaksea Drive. Then right on Friars Road which becomes Redbrink Crescent.
  2. You can see Jackson's Bay, the harbour arm, and the Barry Dock Lighhouse at the end. There is the remains of a railway line out to it, that ran in a now bricked up tunnel to Barry Island station
  3. You have a choice. For the high path, take the first footpath on the right out to the headland, which joins the Wales Coast Path. Or, to visit the beach, takes the second path, and veer left (where the WCP veers right), down towards Barry Yacht Club by the start of the harbour arm. Cross the beach (back to the 'island' side), and take the path out to the headland.
  4. Both paths meet up at Nell's Point at the end of the headland with a Coastwatch station. This headland used to have a Butlins holiday camp, a major holiday destination during the 20thC.
  5. Follow the path round to Whitmore Bay (pay parking), an enormous sandy beach at low tide (used by Gavin and Stacey TV series). It has a rather nice promenade with cafes. Inland are pubs, takeaways, and a (now dying) amusement park. 50 trains a day used to come here during the summer in the 20thC before cheap package holidays started.
  6. Continue around the beach, and out to the next headland, Friars Point.
  7. Continue around the headland past Barry Harbour. Now more of a lagoon. There used to be sand in front of the harbour arm. The tidal bay has silted up and looks uninviting.
  8. Walk around the 'harbour' (now a small bay) towards the causeway.
  9. Turn right back to Barry Island station (you can cut through the large Barry Island beach car park)
  10. To continue on the WCP towards Rhoose: turn left, cross the causeway back to the mainland to The Ship Hotel (pub), and pick up our Barry to Llantwit Major via Rhoose walk.

Barry to Barry Island Option

If walking the WCP from Barry to Rhoose or Llantwit Major, and want to start from Barry station so you can get a direct train (or bus) back.

You could also start from Barry Docks station, and walk around the old dock (to reach the path over to the island at the traffic light junction below), however, the new build low rise housing around the old dock hasn't settled in yet - the areas a bit soulless.

  1. Leaving Barry station, turn right, passing a Wetherspoons and some takeaways, then turn right under the railway bridge
  2. Turn left on Hood Road. At the end of the road, by a heritag building (with restaurant, coffee shop, car park), turn right.
  3. Go straight on at the junction with traffic lights, and continue on Powell Duffryn Way, which becomes a path (NB not shown on OS maps yet).
  4. Cross over to Barry Island (with a new Asda to your right, on the site of the famous steam engine scrapyard), and continue uphill to reach Barry Island. Looking back, you can see Barry Town Hall (in the old Docks Offices building), and a new pedestrain bridge over the railway line, linking Barry high street with the new build housing on the former docks site.
  5. Turn left on Clive Road (now on the WCP), then right on Archer Street, the left on Plymouth, then right on Friars. Continue on the main walk
© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.