The Parc Slip wild life nature reserve is one of our favourite walks near Bridgend. Extending over 300 acres, the reserve provides a home for thousands of wildlife species. On your visit you can explore a variety of different habitat from birds to newts and if you’re lucky you could even spot an Adder.
There are numerous walks to explore along with designated cycle and bridle tracks. There are also sculptures and plaques spotted throughout giving you historical information and facts and tips on what to look out for in certain areas. Dotted around the park are hide-outs where you can watch the wildlife, so take your binoculars if you have them. And of course, best of all it is free to visit and has free parking too.
We did the heritage and history trail, which was around 3 kilometres. We took our time and so it took us a good couple of hours. But we really did amble on the walk, so we could take in the information shown on the plaques and could look out for wildlife and different types of wild flowers. The walk itself is mainly doable with a buggy, but a baby carrier would be your best bet.
For a printable downloadable version of the walk with step by step instructions:Click here for your free Parc Slip Walk pack
The Heritage & History Trail at Parc Slip, Bridgend
Starting at the visitor centre, you walk through the main car park. The first thing you will see is a coal dram filled with flowers. This is here to mark that the Parc Slip used to be an open cast coal mine. The date 1892 is the year that tragedy hit, when an explosion in the mines killed 112 men and boys.
We started our walk by going via the car park and through the wide metal gate onto a main path (don’t take the gate into the badger section, you can say hello to him later).
Carry along the path looking out for the first sculpture in your left. This sculpture marks the dates of significant changes in the site, from the opening of the coal mines in 1864 to becoming a wild life reserve in the 1990’s. You carry on this path and bear left to follow cycle path 4. On the path you will see a plaque on buzzards. Surely enough, by looking up we did spot one circling above us.
At the end of this path, you will come to the memorial monument which commemorates the lives lost in the explosion, with 112 stones to represent every life lost.
Walking along Adder Alley
The next section of the walk takes you along ‘Adder Alley’. If you keep an eye out, you may be able to spot one next to the path, or even sunbathing on the path itself. They are distinctive snakes with a diamond pattern running along them. We spotted one just next to the path and the kids were transfixed and watched it for ages. Making sure to keep their distance as it is the UK’s only poisonous snake.
When you come to the blue national cycle way marker, turn right up a narrower section which takes you up a slight incline up next to small stream.
At the top of this section you turn right. This will bring you to the hide-outs where you can spot birds and highland cattle.
Carving of the Miners
Back on the path, and carrying on you will take a left to come to the carving of the miners on your left. The carving depicts a father walking his son to work for the first time in the mine. Children as young as 6 year olds were employed to open and close doors at the mine to control ventilation and to allow the drams to pass through.
At the miners you carry on down to the next wetland hideout. We spent a while here before taking the oath next to the stream back towards the visitor centre.
Spotting Newts and meeting Brian the Badger
In front of the visitor centre are some ponds to explore. We managed to spot some Great Crested Newts which are a European protected species. You need to be careful here and not move anything that disturbs them.
At the end of the walk the kids loved sitting on the back of Brian the Badger. Badgers are the biggest land predators in the UK and are related to Stoats, Weasels and Otters.
Our Verdict of Parc Slip
We all loved exploring Parc Slip. There are different routes to try with over 10km of footpaths and over 4km of cycle paths. The visitor centre is very helpful and they have colouring in for kids in the cafe. Their walks on lanyards are also worth borrowing as these will give you more information, although this meant that the walk took a lot longer than it would have otherwise, which was fine for us.
Good to know before you go:
For a printable downloadable version of the walk with step by step instructions – click HERE.
Buggy friendly – Most of the walks are suitable for buggies, but there are narrower sections and some bumpy parts on the walk shared here which would make it more suitable for a baby carrier
Dog friendly – Yes, dogs on leads are welcome.
Facilities – There are toilets at the visitor centre. There is also a cafe there for lighter bites. You can also borrow some maps to take on your walk which will give you additional pointers to look out for and have some quiz type questions for the kids. The visitor centre is open Tuesdays – Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There are benches but not many picnic tables, so a picnic blanket is a good idea, but maybe not on Adder alley 😉
How to get there – You will find the reserve at Fountain Road, Aberkenfig, Bridgend, CF32 0EH. The sat nav doesn’t take you straight there based on the postcode, but directs you just round the corner. Worth knowing is that the entrance is directly opposite the Bridgend Miniature Railway.
For other walks near Bridgend, you may also enjoy..
If you found this post useful, why not pin for later.