Bute Park is a very beautiful and very large park, right in the heart of Cardiff. It was once the grounds of Cardiff Castle, but it was presented to Cardiff Castle in 1947 and became a public space, managed by the council. The park consists of 130 acres of mature parkland, an arboretum, flower gardens and a sculpture trail. The River Taff runs through the park, as does a canal, which was previously a mill stream which fed a mill by Cardiff Castle.
I only got to explore a tiny section of Bute Park, but what I did see looked rather magical. There were little reminders of the history of the place, such as this mysterious looking well (which sadly was filled with not so mysterious litter).
Although our visit was brief, I think we picked a perfect moment to experience the park. It was the last hour before sunset, and the light was wonderfully golden.
The mass of magnolia trees were in bloom, and the light made them look like they were glowing.
Looking through the blossom laden trees and seeing the outline of the castle made for a fairy tale atmosphere.
There was also a stone circle in the park, which was erected in 1978 to celebrate the Welsh National Eisteddfod being held in Cardiff. It helped emphasise the slightly mystical feel of the park.
The park is edged by the Animal Wall, which was designed by William Burges but not built until after his death. It has a total of fifteen animals, some dating to 1890 and sculpted by Thomas Nicholls and some to the 1931, sculpted by Alexander Carrick. The Animal Wall had a surge in popularity during the 1930s, thanks to a comic strip about the animals from the wall in a Welsh newspaper. The poor anteater lost it's nose in the 1990s, and it wasn't replaced until 2010! It looks very fine now though.
The cuddling meerkats were very sweet. I think they were one of the most sensitively carved pieces.
The leopard was magnificent and menacing.
The seal was very difficult for me to see or photograph as I am so short! But I managed to get a good view from the side angle, and it looked beautiful juxtaposed against the trees. The earlier animals were originally painted, so this seal would have been painted to look more lifelike when it was first made.
The bear had very haunting glass eyes (as all the older carvings did) which gave it an air of panic. It was still very imposing though.
I think my favourites were probably the big cats at the end of the wall nearest the Castle. The majestic lioness...
Even though I only had a quick visit to Bute Park and the Animal Wall, it was a lovely experience. I hope one day I can go back and explore the park more, it certainly seemed like a good place to while away a few hours strolling and enjoying the tranquil space.