Last weekend was full of birthday parties for my children – but we made sure to find a couple of hours to get out into the fresh air in between all the cake eating chaos.
Penarth Pier is such a lovely South Wales spot for a winter walk. I love the rugged seaside at this time of year, when the waves are crashing and the blustery wind does its best to wake you up. The wooden boardwalk also means it’s a good option if you want to get outside but can’t face any more puddles, wet grass, mud, sand and so on.
First opened to the public in February 1895, Penarth Pier is one of the last remaining Victorian piers in Wales. Following a £4.2m refurbishment project, the pier as we know it today reopened in December 2013 and is home to the pavilion, which contains an exhibition space, cinema and café. Entrance is free, which is always great for family days out. With the boardwalks and building restored to their former glory, Penarth Pier even holds the accolade of being the 2014 Pier of the Year, as voted for by members of the National Piers Society.
It was nicely busy when we got there mid-morning – enough to give it atmosphere but not enough to make it seem crowded. In the past, we’ve taken scooters and/or bikes along with us, but didn’t today, preferring just to walk. We parked on the hill just up from the pier. There are parking spaces right on the sea front, but they were all taken.
The skies were lovely and blue, meaning the views were clear across the Bristol Channel. But it was cold and windy – which gave my two eldest children the perfect opportunity to put to the test the new coats kindly sent to them for review by Trespass.
Trespass is one of the UK’s biggest retailers of outdoor clothing, with more than 150 stores (including one in Cardiff’s St David’s shopping centre) and an online shop.
Little Miss E, my six-year-old eldest child, loves the Poppy ski jacket in her favourite colour pink, while Little Man O, her four-year-old brother, was thrilled to see his favourite colour orange making an appearance on the zips, buttons and checked lining of his black Ewan ski jacket.
Both coats are waterproof and windproof with a layer of padding inside the shell, designed to trap heat inside, and a snow break under the hem, to further keep out the cold. The hoods are detachable, and also have a popper in the middle at the back, meaning you can shorten the hood so it doesn’t come over your child’s eyes.
Miss E and Little Man’s favourite thing about the jackets though, is the secret pockets hidden away inside the coat’s lining. They think these are the best things ever and have been hiding all manner of special toys and treasures inside them so that no one can find them.
Little Man is wearing age 5-6 and Miss E 7-8. The 7-8 is slightly too big on her, but I know the 5-6 size would be too snug. I always try to get my wear out of children’s coats, so it’s good to know this will last her a while. In the meantime though, the Velcro tabs around the sleeves and the drawcord hem mean we can adjust it to fit.
I love that Penarth Pier captures all walks of life. We spied elderly couples sat on the benches along the boardwalk sipping warming hot drinks from flasks, families enjoying fish and chips from the shops at the pier’s entrance, and young couples looking like they were in the first throes of love holding hands as they looked out to see.
We’ve been to other piers that have arcade machines and more for entertainment, but I love that Penarth Pier doesn’t have any of these trappings, ensuring you just enjoy the beautiful seaside scenery for what it is.
We did have a little peek inside the traditional sweet shop though, with the train running overhead particularly capturing my children’s attention.
Miss E and Little Man were also entranced by the fact they could see the sea through the gaps in the boards. They had fun looking for sharks and whales… thankfully neither seemed to be present in the waters! Their younger brother, Toddler Boy I, loved running up and down on the pier, enjoying the sound of his shoes on the wood.
When we got there, it was high tide, but the sea soon slowly began to retreat, revealing the pebble beach underneath. If we’d had more time, we would have liked to have explored the beach, but like I mentioned, we had a pressing date at a four-year-old’s birthday party.
Just an excuse to plan another visit, perhaps for when the weather is warmer and we can say for longer.
You can see more photos from our trip to Penarth Pier, featuring my children’s Trespass coats, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram page.
For more ideas of family-friendly days out in and around Cardiff, visit the Cardiff section of Cardiff Mummy Says.