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Cold Knap, Barry

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General details:

Cold Knap is one of the few low tide sailing venues in the Bristol Channel. The "beach" has a steeply shelving rocky bank which then flattens out to sand towards the bottom end of the tidal range. If the water is up against the stones you don't want to launch or land here because when the nose of the board touches the rocks, you will still be pretty much out of your depth at the back of the board. Sailing is for 2-3 hours either side of low tide, the closer to neap tides, the longer you can sail.

Cold Knap is a long bay with a sandy beach leading to rocks towards the Western end. There are also cliffs towards the western end (you are directly below the runway of Cardiff airport) so beware of sailing in too close to the cliffs otherwise you will lose the wind as it lifts up over the land.

During summer months you have to pay to park at the booth at the top of the road. [Update - March 2003: There has been no parking charge for last two seasons and the imfamous booth got blown away in the gales last October.] Parking is right alongside the top of the beach. There's a wide flat area of pebbles at the top of the beach which is fine for rigging.

Also during the summer months when a sea breeze kicks in, you can be hammering here on 5m sails when rest of coast is dead. Needs a SW direction early in the morning for this to happen.

beach looking e photo of beach at low tide looking w along beach
Looking E
There are a couple of boards there, somewhere!
Looking W
3 shots of Cold Knap beach at LW on a windless day
pan photo of Cold Knap beach
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Directions to the right place:

From the M4 take junction 33 and head south on the A4232. Follow the A423 then the A4050 towards Barry Island. As you approach Barry Island, Cold Knap is on the right, signposted as "The Knap". The launching spot is from a no through road with parking on the side of the road.

Click here for location map.

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How the winds work:

Wind Direction Comments
N N winds are sailable, but as they are offshore - and with the current - not really recommended for the faint-hearted. If you're in the area anyway and the tide's high, try sailing in the old harbour by Barry.
NE Unknown
E Cross-shore from L. Beach is sheltered from the wind, but can provide great blasting further out.
SE Good as long as the wind is strong. Cross-on from the left.
S Too onshore. Never really works.
SW The most ideal direction. Cross-on from the right and produces some good sea breezes in summer months.
W Cross shore - it works but usually means a fair hike out past the cliffs on the left to get into the wind.
NW Unknown
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Tidal conditions:

HW springs tend to occur around 08:00 - 09:00 (20:00 - 21:00). HW neaps around 14:30 (GMT).

LW springs tend to occur around 14:30. LW neaps around 08:30/20:30

Low tide sailing only. - One of the few such locations in the Bristol Channel.

From low tide to about half tide coming in - with SW wind - produces more running swell/waves although with wind now running with tide can be difficult to stay up wind.

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Sailing when wind & tide are in the same direction.

There are strong currents once you sail outside this bay - be cautious particularly in conditions where it could be hard to water start.

The current rushes round the headland, so pay particular attention if drifting in that direction.

When sailing on a incoming tide with the wind in the same direction, the strength of current can catch you out. Don't sail any further downwind than the headland to the East. If you pass this point, then 99% of the time you will not beat the current sailing back - the board planes but it dosn't go anywhere against the current. Lots of locals have this happen to them [It's happened to me too!! - MF]. The escape route is to sail downwind into the old harbour and walk your kit back over the headland. On your way round there, watch out for the old cast iron construction with a light on the top. With 6-8 knots of current running, DON'T try to grab on to it!

As the tide comes in the waves will dump heavily on the rocky slope, making launching and in particular, recovery very difficult - don't allow yourself to get trapped in this position.

Cold Knap Lifeguards (Rhondda Lifeguards are there most sundays).

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There is a toilet block and tidal information up at the top (eastern end) of the car park. There's an outside (cold) shower which is useful for washing off your kit.

A short walk towards Barry takes you to ice cream shops etc.

A burger van is usually in attendance in the summer months. The burger van serves good ice-cream and although I haven't tried its produce, looks tempting enough.

First Aid - Cold Knap Lifeguards are there most Sundays.

Update from Ross - Jul '06:
" cold knap was really good, there was a ice-cream van in the car park. the ice-cream is very good as well and the man in the vam is very kind.

The beach is very clean, when our school went there (Abersychan school) there was cleaners picking up all the rubbish, there was people sun bathing on the beach. The toilets are very clean they are located near the car park". Thanks, Ross.

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B&B's / campsites

I have never tried looking for campsites or bed and breakfast in this area.

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Pubs and eateries

All currently untested.Fish and Chips are available a short distance up the road. I have never had the pleasure of sampling any of their delights, so can't offer any particular recommendations.

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Content supplied by

Updated by anon. contributors - Mar 2003, Jul 2005, Ross - Jul '06. Many thanks.

Note: All comments and opinions mentioned in this section of the site are the personal opinions of the various contributors. Inevitably, one person's favourite may be another person's least favourite.

The information provided here is provided in good faith. We can take no responsibility for the consequences of any inaccuracies. Should you find any inaccuracies, then please take the trouble to tell us, using any of the update buttons above.

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This page last updated: 6th Nov, 2020.

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