You can probably tell by looking at the photos that this visit happened a good few weeks ago. The sun has been a rare sight since the few beautiful days we had over the Easter weekend.
But don’t let the lack of summer sunshine put you off visiting Marcross Beach and Nash Point in the Vale of Glamorgan. With the rugged cliff scenery that characterises the Vale of Glamorgan’s 14 miles of Heritage Coast, it’s beautiful whatever the weather. In fact it’s wonderfully dramatic on a cold and blustery day.
It’s a few weeks since we visited, but as another one to add to our 52 free family-friendly places in South Wales challenge for this year, it’s a place I was keen to write about.
It took us around 45 minutes to get there from North Cardiff, using the postcode CF61 1ZH. We arrived early afternoon when we knew the tide would be out, for maximum opportunity to explore. There’s a car park right above the beach, which cost us a few pounds to park, as well as seasonal toilet facilities and a small café.
But we didn’t hang around long, with our three children, aged 9, 7 and 5, keen to explore.
They lead the way to the lighthouse – you can’t miss it from the car park, with its white exterior contrasting with the green of the cliff tops and the blue of the sky and the sea.
The iconic Nash Point Lighthouse has such an interesting history. The Grade II listed building opened in 1832 and was the last manned lighthouse in the UK, being de-manned in August 1998, which was only a month or so before the UK’s last manned lighthouse (North Foreland in Kent) switched to automatic operation.
It was built not long after a ship called The Frolic was wrecked on the Nash Sands in March 1831. The ship was returning to Bristol from Haverfordwest and was sailing around Nash Point when she struck a sandbank. There were no survivors. It’s not known how many were on board but it’s thought between 55 and 78 died*.
Some say the lighthouse was a direct result of the tragic accident and the public outcry that resulted, but the land had already been bought and the towers and rest of the station designed prior to the wreck.
Unfortunately the lighthouse wasn’t open when we visited, but time it right and you can venture inside. (Provided you are at least 1.1m tall, are capable of ascending and descending unaided, and are wearing appropriate footwear. See the website for further details on opening times, as these vary). Since 2005, it’s also been the only working lighthouse within the British Isles where you can get married or have a civil partnership.
We continued our walk past the lighthouse and along the green cliff tops of Nash Point, which gives stunning views of the cliffs and beach below, for around half an hour or so walk before turning back on ourselves to get to the beach.
To get to the beach, you need to walk down quite a steep verge, meaning it’s not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
It’s such an interesting place for children, with rocks to climb over, rock pools to search, fossils to hunt for, plus you can even use Augmented Reality to see the Frolic sail again (download the Frolic 3 app or scan the QR code on the signpost at the top of the beach. More info here).
We spent around two hours on the beach in total, climbing over the rocks, hunting in rock pools and throwing pebbles in the water. My daughter’s hightlight was finding a ‘real’ starfish (it was dead) while my husband put his degree in geography to the test by explaining about the formation of the distinctive cliffs.
Although we weren’t the only people on the beach, considering it was a sunny Easter bank holiday, it wasn’t too busy, making it feel tranquil, calm and relaxed.
If you have more time and children happy to walk, then there’s an old church to explore in Marcross a well as plenty of guided walk routes available on the internet, including this 4-mile one from Vale Trails, where you can listen to stories about the area’s past through the Vale Tales app.
And if you want to make a weekend of it, you can stay in the Keepers’ Cottages, or the nearby Heritage Coast Campsite.
Have you visited Nash Point, Nash Point Lighthouse or Marcross Beach? Do let me know your top tips in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy or see more from our adventures on the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram feed.
You might also like this post on nearby Dunraven Bay or this one on exploring Ogmore-by-Sea with Vale Tales storytelling app (a paid collaboration with Visit the Vale from a few years ago.)