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Best Cardiff Parks - Bute Park, Roath Park, Victoria Park and Thompson's Park

Updated on March 12, 2016

Coopers Field

Coopers Field in autumn by
Coopers Field in autumn by

The best parks in Cardiff

Cardiff City in South Wales has many attractions that visitors and residents can enjoy and among it's charms are the parks that reach right into the centre of the capital. Although people will have personal favourites the parklands I am going to be writing about here are definitely some of the best Cardiff parks.

Bute Park is next to Cardiff Castle and follows the River Taff as it goes northwards. Cardiff Castle itself has a large green lawn inside its walls where dazzling peacocks strut and make their weird cries. Some people refer to Bute Park as the Castle Grounds.

With its imposing grey stone walls that flank the main Cowbridge Road into the heart of the city it is impossible to miss Bute Park, and this is where one of the entrances is situated.

Bute Park

Just a short distance within Bute Park is a stone circle known as the Gorsedd Stones. It is not an ancient site but is nevertheless a very attractive feature and in summer there are always plenty of people enjoying the sunshine on the lawns around it.

My friend the druid King Arthur Pendragon once held a public knighting ceremony there at which well-known local journalist Dan O´Neill was knighted as a Brother Knight of the Loyal Arthurian Warband druid order.

Coopers Field, which is a large green space just a bit further into the park has often been the site of big public events such as rock concerts and festivals. This field is flanked by the water of the canal feeder that leaves Blackweir much further up in the park.

Many people enjoy walking along the banks of the River Taff or following the path along the feeder. The riverbank is of particular interest to nature-lovers who may be lucky enough to spot kingfishers, the occasional otter or salmon and sea-trout which can be seen leaping at Blackweir. Herons and cormorants can also be spotted fishing in this river.

Plenty of other wildlife live in the park including squirrels and woodpeckers and in spring there are wonderful displays of wild flowers and cultivated bulbs such as daffodils and crocuses.

There are sports fields further up in Bute Park where the Blackweir fields offer pitches where rugby, football and cricket matches get played.

Cardiff Marine Modelers - Roath Park Lake

Cardiff Park photos

Scott Memorial in Roath Park by Rob Burke
Scott Memorial in Roath Park by Rob Burke
Roath Park in winter
Roath Park in winter

Roath Park

Roath Park, or "Parc y Rhath", as it should be called in Welsh, is one of Cardiff's most popular and largest parks and offers a wide variety of facilities. Because of its high quality Roath Park, which dates back to the Victorian era, been awarded the prestigious Green Flag award.

Roath Park has many ornamental trees and gardens including rose beds and will delight gardeners. There is also a large greenhouse containing many exotic plants and an ornamental pond which contains large terrapins.

The park was built on 130 acres (0.53 km2) of former bog and includes a 30-acre (120,000 m2) lake (1.3 Miles around) that was created by the damming of the Nant Fawr stream. The lake has proved popular with anglers and rowers, as well as people who simply enjoy strolling around it.

There are four islands in the top end of the lake and a conservation area in this section of the park and many ducks and water birds can be seen there. There are plenty of swans and geese too and the waterfowl nest on the islands, which are covered in bushes and provide a safe haven for the birds.

At the other end of the lake halfway across built in the lake itself stands an impressive lighthouse tower. This was constructed in 1915 as a memorial to Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition and it is known as the Scott Memorial, although many people simply call it "the Lighthouse."

Roath Park occupies a long stretch of land from Cyncoed in the north down to Roath proper towards the south-eastern part. The land was donated by the Marquis of Bute back in 1887.

Today the park has large grassy lawns and a play area. There are games pitches for rugby and football, as well as tennis courts and a bowling green in Roath Park.

Roath Park can be divided into the following parts: the Wild Gardens (at the far end), Roath Park Lake, the Botanical Gardens, the Rose Gardens, the Pleasure Gardens, Roath Park Recreation Ground, Roath Brook Gardens, Roath Mill Gardens and Waterloo Gardens. Cardiff County Council Parks Department are in charge of managing it all.

Victoria Park

Victoria Park by Tony Hodge
Victoria Park by Tony Hodge

Victoria Park and Thompson's Park

Victoria Park is a very popular park situated on the Cowbridge Road towards the end of the Canton shopping area where it makes a great place to relax.

I remember it from my childhood when my mother used to take me there to play on the swings, slide and roundabout. It has all changed now, of course, but there is still a play are for the children. There is also a large paddling pool area.

This pool area was the home to Billy the Seal many years ago. Billy was a real seal that had been caught off the coast of Ireland in 1912 by a trawler that had been out fishing. The animal ended up living in Victoria Park pool where she was a big attraction until her death in 1939 when it was discovered that what had been supposed to be a he was really a she.

Billy's skeleton is preserved and on display in the National Museum of Wales and a statue stands in Victoria Park to her memory.

Victoria Park has been awarded a Green Flag of excellence. It is known to be one of the best-managed parks in Cardiff.

Victoria Park has also made its way onto TV screens because it has been used as the set for filming Dr Who.

Thompson's Park isn't that far away from Victoria Park. It is in the Canton area too and is one of Cardiff's oldest parklands. It is another one I remember from my childhood when there were three ponds in it and one of these was the home to newts and tadpoles. That pond has long gone but there is another larger one which as swans on it.

Thompson's Park also has a fountain, a bowling green and a pavilion. Quite a bit of the park is on a hilly piece of ground and the pathway upwards makes a pleasant contrast between the lower levels and the higher part.

Thompson's Park has many flower borders and grassy areas, as well as plenty of well established trees and ornamental shrubs.

It has also been home to a massive carving in wood representing the "Green Man."

© 2010 Steve Andrews


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    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I am glad you enjoyed my hub!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for taking me back to my childhood. My Grandma lived in Roath Park and we spent many happy hours playing in the beautiful park. My mother won a beautiful bathing wrap for winning a swimming race round the lake. Happy memories!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      You are welcome! Thank you for posting!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Very nice. The pics make this a real nice hub. I know I will never get to see it in person. Thank you Bard for taking me there!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your comments!

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

      Breath taking scenery. I hope some day to visit and see for myself. Voted up, marked useful, awesome and beautiful.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for posting, Lynda and John!

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 7 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      What a lovely way to visit a park. Perhaps I can visit Whales someday? It must be a very lovely place. Thank you.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      So many beautiful parks. What a lovely place. Thanks for sharing all this with us. Lynda