Bute Park & Arboretum is an extensive area of mature parkland easily accessible from the city centre. Flanked by the River Taff, Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna Fields and Cardiff Castle, Bute Park is the “green heart” of Cardiff full of historic and wildlife interest. At 56 hectares (equivalent to 75 football pitches), it is one of the largest urban parks in Wales and comprises a broad mix of historic landscape, urban woodland, sports pitches, arboretum, horticultural features and river corridor.
Few cities have such a spacious green area in the heart of their city. An internationally-significant grade-1 listed historic landscape, Bute Park is on Cadw’s Register of Landscapes.
The laying out of parts of what is now Bute Park as a private pleasure garden for the Bute Family by Andrew Pettigrew between 1873 and 1903 is the only known example of a designed layout by this highly respected, 19th century gardener and horticulturist. In 1947, the fifth Marquess of Bute presented the park to the people of Cardiff, and it is now managed on behalf of the people by the Council.
The park contains a wealth of historic interest dating back to Roman and medieval times. Cardiff Castle, the famous Animal Wall, the Gorsedd Stones and the Blackfriars site are just a sample of the park’s rich history. The Blackfriars site dates from the 12th century and is deemed to be the second most important friary site in Wales.
An interesting mix of rare and ornamental trees have been planted since 1947 to compliment some excellent specimens that formed part of the original park design. The park itself boasts over 2000 trees, including some “Champion Trees” known to be the biggest examples of their species anywhere in the UK. As well as trees, the park is home to plenty of wildlife and visitors may see all three species of woodpecker, jays, tree creepers, otters, leaping salmon, waders, herons, damselflies and a whole host of fungi varieties on a trip through the park.
For somewhere to relax and enjoy the outdoors, the Summerhouse is a great choice. Located opposite the Millennium Footbridge across from Sophia Gardens, the Café serves a range of homemade light meals and snacks, using local and fair trade produce. High quality coffee and speciality teas are also available. Situated at the top of the impressive herbaceous border with stunning floral displays and tree specimens in its vicinity it is easy to see why this is such a popular part of the park. The Summerhouse is dog-friendly and offers free WiFi to its customers. Disabled toilets are available. The Summerhouse is open from 8:00am 363 days a year and closes before dusk.
Alternatively, there is the Secret Garden Café situated 10 mins north of the Summerhouse. This is another outdoor eatery offering high quality food and drinks, located behind a garden wall with beautiful climbing roses and shrub border. The café is adjacent to the Bute Park Education Centre. Toilets (including disabled and baby change) and bike stands are provided and there are a number of picnic benches in this area of the park. The Secret Garden Café is open from 8:00 am 363 days a year and closes before dusk.
The Bute Park Education Centre is open to the public on weekend days (see signs on site for exact times) and is a venue where families can learn about the park’s rich heritage and wildlife. Various craft activities are offered and trails and maps will help you explore the best the park has to offer. Free WiFi and toilets (inc disabled and baby change) are available at the site. The Education Centre is available to hire, please telephone 02920 872730 or visit the website www.cardiff.gov.uk/butepark for further information.
April 2012 sees the opening of Pettigrew Tea Rooms - a vintage style tea room located at the south of the park in the handsome West Lodge Building on Castle Street. Inside you can relax and indulge in the pleasure of taking tea in elegant surroundings, or if you prefer, sit outside on the terrace area. A small gift shop is also featured in the building. Bike stands and public toilets (including disabled and baby change) are available.
Many large cultural events are organised in the park, taking advantage of the park’s excellent setting and accessibility. These include the annual Cardiff RHS show, Cardiff Mardi Gras and the firework display Sparks in the Park. A series of smaller family and community events and activities are also laid on by the Parks & Sport Department, details of which can be found on the Bute Park website www.cardiff.gov.uk/butepark
More facilities are due to open within the park as part of the ongoing Bute Park Restoration Project and information will be updated accordingly.
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