Parks and Gardens, Cardiff
The Bute Park is a large park at the river Taff and directly next to the castle. It’s named after the Bute family, whose gardener Andrew Pettigrew created the layout of the park. Originally, this place was the pleasure ground of the castle. Today, it’s freely open to the public and a nice place to relax.
In the park, you find among others an Arboretum with interesting trees, the remains of a 12th century Blackfriars friary which is being restored at the moment, the Gorsedd stones which is a “modern” stone circle from 1978, and some tree sculptures.
The wall between the Bute Park and the Castle Street is another sight, the “Animal Wall”, which was designed by William Burges. Originally, there was a wall in the front of the castle with animal statues, but they were later moved west and some more animals were added. It is well restored and the animals look pretty realistic, like they were just going to jump from the wall.
The park is open from 7:30am.
These formal gardens were named after Alexandra of Denmark, the Queen consort of Edward VII and situated in the heart of Cathay's Park (the Civic Centre). The gardens' most notable feature is the Welsh National Memorial, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, and unveiled in 1928. The memorial commemorates the servicemen who died in both World War I and World War II. Please click onto the link for further information about the war memorial.
Bute Park is the biggest municipal park in Cardiff with over 1176 hectares of parks and recreation grounds. It was originally the private garden to Cardiff Castle and Andrew Pettigrew, the Header Gardener, managed for the third Marquees of Bute from the late 19th Century till the early 20th Century.
The fifth Marquees of Bute gave a considerable amount of grounds to the people of Cardiff in 1947 and the park developed extensively with the planting of trees to form the successful Bute Park Arboretum and the grounds with Cardiff Castle as the backdrop is a listed historic designed landscape.
The park offers a variety of events throughout the year including the RHS Spring Show (It was on when I visited the park and some of the park were cordoned off because of it). The park highlights includes a variety of attractions such as Blackfriars Friary and Mill Leat which runs below the Cardiff Castle's walls. For more details please check out the information on the park's website.
Cardiff has a number of parks. In spring/summer 2012, I had a stroll in Sophia Gardens. There were people walking their dogs, strolling with babies in push chairs, or sitting on the grass or benches just enjoying the peaceful surroundings. In the distance was a play area, and near the entrance a cafe.
I enjoyed seeing thetrees in bloom, especially the horse chestnut trees. The grass was dotted with daisies and buttercups.
Gorsedd Gardens are located opposite of the National Museum. It is a lovely small spot with a few benches, perfect to have a break and relax a little. It also makes a good shortcut if you walk from the city centre to the Civic Centre, to visit the National Museum or see the splendid white buildings and the War Memorial.
The gardens were opened in 1905, when Cardiff was declared a city. They are dominated by a stone circle - not from very old times, though. The stones were used during an Eisteddfod (a traditional poetry and music festival in Wales that is held every year). The Eisteddfod was held in 1899 on the site where the National Museum now stands, and were moved to the gardens when that building was constructed. This is also how the gardens got their name: The Gorsedd is an order of bards connected to the Eisteddfod.
The gardens are also home to the sculpture Girl by Robert Thomas. There are several sculptures and statues by him on Queen Street, but I did not really like them, whereas I really loved this one.
You can see the stones in picture 3 and the sculpture in picture 2.
Bute Park is the huge park that stretches out along the River Taff, from Cardiff Castle all the way to Llandaff. As is obvious, it was named after the Bute family. It is a very nice and green park, with lots of space to do walking or jogging, have a leisurely stroll, sit down and read a book or also do some sightseeing.
In the southern part of the park, there are the Gorsedd Stones, a stone circle from 1899 erected for the Eisteddfod, a national festival where poets and musicians gather.
A little further to the north, you can find the foundations of an old priory. Blackfriars Priory was built in the 13th century and destroyed by the troops of Owain Glyndwr. It was rebuilt later, but then again destroyed during the reformation, so only some stone formations are left.
Even in the beginning of March, Bute Park was a very nice place, and I walked through the park all the way to Llandaff.
The Alexandra Gardens are surrounded by beautiful buildings, as they are located in the middle of the Civic Centre. I went here on a very sunny morning and it was really nice.
This is a very quiet part of Cardiff, and only a very short walk from the National Museum, so it makes for a perfect place for a relaxing break.
The park is dominated by the National War Memorial, a big memorial unveiled in 1928.
I liked the neoclassical style of this memorial, it looks like an old Greek building, and I just think that the white colour is very pure and pretty, especially in sunshine.
In the middle of the memorial there are three statues, a soldier, an airman and a sailor, and above them there is another statue, Victory depicted by the Archangel Michael.
The memorial was first dedicated to the victims of World War One, but like many other memorials was then slightly changed to also be a memorial to the victims of World War Two.
There are several inscriptions given on different parts of the memorial, some are in Latin and some in English, and some of course also in Welsh.
Although we didn’t visit many parks in Cardiff we enjoyed Bute Park a lot.
It’s located in the city centre right next to Cardiff castle (the Animal Wall connects the entrance of the park and the castle).
It was once part of the Castle Grounds but donated to the city in 1947 by the Butes (along with the Cardiff Castle and Sophia Gardens).
There weren’t many people inside but we saw a lot of birds and some squirrels :) The park still has the layout of the Bute’s era but there are a lot of trees that were added after 1947.
We walked a bit along its paths, we saw the famous Gorsedd Stones (they are sandstone blocks that brought here from Penarth in 19th century) that make a typical form of a druidic circle (pic 4).
At the end we walked a bit next to the river Taff (pic 5), there you can find a water bus stop in case you want to visit the Cardiff Bay or Penarth.
On our way to National Museum of Wales we saw this small beautiful Friary gardens.
The statue that overlooks the gardens and the walls of Cardiff Castle shows John Patrick Crichton Stuart (1847-1900).
He was the 3rd marquess of Bute, a rich, very rich man of that era. His father(John II) was the founder of Cardiff but John III who had great interest in medievalism and architecture and left some great structures behind. He had a lot of money to spend and he cooperated with the architect William Burges(1827-1881) to renovate/restore Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch (a bit outside of Cardiff but really beautiful small castle, check my Off the Beaten path tip)
At the other side of Kingsway Road we saw a much more interesting statue (pic 3) but I didnt find any information about it.
We crossed the street again and we walked into Gorsedd Gardens (pic 4) that date from 1905 just before the opening of City Hall (see next tip). The gardens face the City Hall, the National Museum and the Cardiff Crown Court(pic 5).
Located immediately adjacent to Cardiff Castle, Bute Park comprises 56 hectare and is a great location in the heart of the city, offering opportunities for a stroll or picnic to both residents and visitors alike.
It is surrounded by the River Taff, Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna Fields and Cardiff Castle.
Near the West Lodge Gate, you will find a stone circle in Bute Park.
One thing that always impresses me about visiting anywhere in the UK is that their public parks are impeccably maintained.
Roath Park is no exception. I saw this park for the first time on a glorious sunny day in August 2003. It was full of happy, smiling people eating ice cream and was everything that a park is meant to be.
I strolled all around it, drinking in the beauty. It is hard to believe that this sort of natural greenery exists right in the middle of a very busy City centre.
The park is surrounded at every side by beautiful period houses.
There are landscaped gardens and flower beds, a wonderful boating lake with boats available for hire, a seperate kids enclosed boating area (again with boats for hire), and many secluded walkways to be explored.
Returning in April 2011 I see there has been the addition of a bistro type restaurant/cafe. The menu looked great and prices were very reasonable with some meals available for less than £5. There's also a very pretty ice cream stall set up in one of the old buildings in the park. The ice cream is clotted cream based and soooo yummy.
From what I could see, several bus routes accessed this park.
Me? I was happy to stroll, then sit curled up on the grass by the lake with a good book watching the ducks.
Bute Park is probably the biggest park in Cardiff. The park stretches for 2 miles northwest from the centre from beside the castle. It was landscaped in 1870 and donated to the city by the Butes in 1947.
The Gorsedd Gardens was established in 1905. This was due to the opening of the City Hall. In Gorsedd Gardens you will find sandstone blocks of a druidic circle. The stones are nineteenth century minerals from the cliffs of Penarth. They were used for real in 1899 when the Eisteddfod visited Cardiff and held its performances in a massive wooden shed erected where City Hall now stands. The stones were moved when the City Hall foundations went in and it was agreed that they should become the centrepiece for a new public garden.
The southern edge of Bute Park, running west from Cardiff Castle along Castle St, is a low wall topped with stone figures of lions, seals, bears and other creatures. The Bute Park Animal Wall was designed by castle architect William Burges but only completed in 1892 after his death; it was extended and more animals added in the 1920s. A newspaper cartoon strip in the '30s brought the animals to life and many Cardiff kids grew up thinking the animals came alive at night.
For more about the wall see Sean's page at:
Due to its location in the Centre of Cardiff Bute Park contains a lot of historic interest which dates back to Roman and medieval times.
Among these are of course Cardiff Castle, The Animal Wall, the Blackfriars Monastery site and the Gorsedd Stones are just a sample of what this great park has to offer. The whole look of the park owes much to the work carried out by the Bute Estate in the late Victorian era when it was a part of the Castle grounds. It was in 1947 that the then Marquis of Bute presented the park to Cardiff Council
The park is a veritable haven for wildlife with its variety of habitats It is possible to see a great variety of wildlife including Woodpecker’s, Kingfisher’s, Egret’s and Bat’s and of course those cheeky Squirrel’s. The river Taff runs along the edge of the park and provides a great habitat for wildlife. In Autumn, Sea Trout and Salmon can be seen jumping up the weir below the bridge at Blackweir.