Cowbridge

Walking Long

The Group meets monthly, on a day arranged by the designated walk organiser, for a walk of about 6 to 9 miles. New members are always welcome. See below for dates of forthcoming walks and events.

A useful Hiking Map? No stepping stones for this group

THE 2017 LONG WALKS SCHEDULE IS AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

Sorry, but no dogs allowed on walks (due to previous experiences!).

Contact Steve Monaghan

DETAILS OF RECENT WALKS

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The fact the walk was on the Friday before a Bank Holiday probably contributed to a disappointing turn-out of just four for the April 2017 walk,but at least the weather was good - layers were being shed by all after the first 1½ miles. Jo Ilsley led the party from St Hilary and on to Llantrithyd. Soon afterwards there was a difficult crossing of a newly-ploughed field, where the party managed to stray off the line of the (non-existent) footpath.

Roger and Jo near St Hilary After the notorious ploughed field Val and cows Cattle near Llancarfan

The half-way point was the village of Llancarfan, where a coffee stop was taken in the "Fox and Hounds". Last year, restoration work was being undertaken on the mediaeval wall paintings in the nearby church - this year it was a wedding that prevented a viewing of the pictures.

Garden of guided tour in Llancarfan A view over Llancarfan

A somewhat unusual occurrence was that the group were given a guided tour of the garden of a £700,000 detached house in Llancarfan; as the building was for sale, perhaps the gardener really wanted to be an estate agent!
The return journey went through the delightful Coed Arthur, which was full of wild garlic and bluebells.

Bluebells in Coed Arthur The group in Coed Arthur

A late lunch was taken in "The Bush" at St Hilary after a walk of 8.8 miles.

It was another dry day for the March 2017 walk, which started from St Brides Major. The party of eleven climbed up onto Castle Down, eventually leaving the common to walk down to the River Alun. Leaders Claire Fawcett and Helga Spoors took the group over the 15 stepping stones (known as "Pant y Brown" or "Stepson Downs") at the ford.

On Castle Down River Alun Stepping Stones Highland cow Handsome poultry

Lanes and footpaths were followed as the route passed through Coed y Wallas and traversed a railway line, before reaching the river again. This time an old, stone clapper bridge was used to cross the Alun.

Group on the river Alun clapper bridge Info board at Coed y Bwl Nature Reserve Daffodils in Coed y-Bwl Nature Reserve Walking in Coed y Bwl Nature Reserve

Coed y Bwl Nature Reserve, full of daffodils (the woodland reserve is estimated to contain 250,000), was visited on the return leg of the 5 mile walk.

In February 2017, seven members met in Swanbridge, near Sully, on a morning that was dry, but with a cool breeze. Led by Keith Kennett, the group followed the coastal path eastwards. At Lavernock Nature Reserve, a volunteer working party was encountered taking a break near the WWII searchlight bunker; apparently, Glastonbury Tor can be seen from there on a clear day!

At Lavernock Point Nature Reserve Sully Island on an ebbing tide

The route passed Lavernock church, with its plaque commemorating the first wireless transmission across water by Marconi, and then the Marconi Tower, as the cliff top path was followed towards Penarth.

Marconi plaque on Lavernock church wall A view from near Lavernock Point

A welcome stop was made for coffee in a cafe before the cycleway on the dismantled railway line was followed towards Cosmeston and the medieval village (what a pity this path isn't extended as far as Sully). Roads were then taken as the 6.5 mile circular walk was completed in warm sunshine. Most of the party had lunch at the Captain's Wife Inn, with its view of Sully Island.

Unfortunately, the January 2017 Long Walk fell victim to the weather (the last time this happened was July 2015); it was a day of unremitting rain, which would not have made for a pleasant 9 mile walk.

It was extremely mild weather for the December 2016 walk (one person did the walk in shirt sleeves!) and, fortunately, the ground wasn't as muddy as it had been a month before when a recce had been undertaken. The group met at Cowbridge cattle market and, led by Linda Cox, headed towards St Quentins Castle (not visited) across the riverside pasture. The route then climbed from Llanblethian, as footpaths through fields skirted Llandough Castle, to reach the road near The Herberts.

Crossing a stile near Llandough Down to the river near Llandough

A three furlong stroll across fields brought the walkers to the imposing ruins of Beaupre Castle, overlooking the River Thaw.

Walking towards Beaupre Castle outside Beaupre Castle gatehouse The Italianate porch at Beaupre Castle

This structure merits a visit on its own account. It’s not a castle, but an Elizabethan manor house built in the late 16th century, probably incorporating an existing building. The three-storey gatehouse and the Italianate porch are two striking features; the inner facing of the latter shows the earliest known use of brick in Glamorgan.

Sign at Beaupre Castle Bassett family Coat of Arms on gatehouse

As the six-strong party retraced its steps back to the road, a falconer training a Harris Hawk was encountered: the bird resolutely refused to leave the tree it was perched in and fly while it had spectators!

The Harris Hawk in the tree friendly pheasant Uphill all the way to St Hilary

It was then uphill to St Hilary, where lunch was taken at the "Bush Inn". A route through trees and across fields emerged in east Cowbridge near the "Edmondes Arms" and then it was straight down the main road to reach the starting point, completing a 6.7 mile walk.

Christmas Tree Festival in Holy Cross Church, Cowbridge

As usual, Cowbridge U3A decorated a Christmas tree, but this year 15 or 16 decorations had been made by some of the Activity Groups, including the Long Walks Group.

Cowbridge U3A Christmas tree Long Walks Group tree decoration

There was a record attendance of recent years for the November 2016 walk, as 15 members gathered at the Kenfig Pool Visitor Centre on a reasonable day weatherwise. Penny Jarvis and Marian East took the group on an inland route towards Sker House, skirting the golf course and passing Waun y Mer farmhouse.

Marian and Colin The group near Sker House Walking away from Sker House
Sker House before one wing collapsed Sker House under restoration A view of Sker House now

A path, on the edge of the dunes and parallel with the beach of Kenfig Sands, was then followed as far as the Avon Cynffig, which was crossed by a new footbridge.

Coffee stop on the edge of the beach Waders on Kenfig Sands Crossing the Afon Cynffig

The route then passed the derelict sidings of the closed Margam Traction Maintenance Depot, before heading up to the church and Angel Inn (which probably has its origins as a 13th Century leper hospital) at Maudlam (a corruption of "Magdalene").
The Angel Inn in the early 20th Century
Some of the party had lunch at the historic Prince of Wales Inn en-route back to the starting point and the completion of a 7.8 mile walk.
Kenfig information

At the well-attended AGM and lunch in November 2016, it was agreed that Steve Monaghan would continue as Group Leader.
The membership fee remains unchanged at £1.00 per person.
One walk attracted 13 attendees and four each had 9 participants. No walks were lost to the weather (12 walks; 90 miles total). One member did 7 out of 12 walks, with four members each participating in 6. The longest trek was 9.5 miles, followed by one of 8.5 miles. Congratulations (and prizes) went to Marian East, Keith Morgan, Roger Bradshaw, Jo Ilsley and Claire Fawcett.

The October 2016 walk started from the Tynant Inn, Morganstown on a day when, according to the weather forecast, there wouldn't be any rain. The group of six, led by Steve and Val Monaghan, passed the overgrown mound of the Morganstown motte, then crossed the railway line to walk in front of the 16th Century Gelynis Farm, before traversing the pedestrian bridge over the Taff. It was while on the high level, wooded route through part of the Forest Farm Nature Reserve that the heavy rain started! Part of the old Glamorganshire Canal was walked next, then a path towards the river taken. En-route, the party visited a bird hide, to find that they'd probably just frightened off the kingfisher! The Taff was crossed again and a pleasant coffee break taken in a café in Radyr. Refreshed and happy to find the rain had stopped, the party skirted the cricket club's pitch to cross the broad meadow beyond. The river was bridged for a third time and the Melingriffith Water Wheel reached.

The Tynant Inn in the 1920s At the Melingriffith Water Wheel Then and now canal lock near Lockwood Dr

Part of the route was retraced so that the cutting of the disused railway line (once running from Coryton station to Tongwynlais and beyond) could provide a return path to link up with the outward trail. A fourth and final crossing of the Taff took the six back to the starting point, where lunch was taken in the hostelry. The total distance was 6.3 miles.

The September 2016 walk, on an overcast day, but at least dry and warm, was around the ancient town of Llantrisant, with its Norman castle, old established parish church, Guildhall (soon to undergo restoration), Model House workhouse (where inmates were expected to lead a "model life"), now transformed into craft work shops, a statue of the well-known Dr William Price and narrow, cobbled streets. John Andrew took the six-strong party on a 6.2 miles circuit, which included the extensive common land that surrounds the town.

Statue of Dr William Price The group at the Bili Wynt

The Bili Wynt, an old windmill now partially restored, provided an ideal viewpoint for the group. Refreshments were taken after the walk at the Polkadot Teapot café - well known for its homemade cakes.

John in the pillory in Llantrisant John in the pillory in Llantrisant no.2

There is no truth in the rumour that the party were so dissatisfied with the walk that they put the leader in the pillory near the castle as punishment!

Sadly, one of our members, Jim Bostock, died in August 2016 after a very short illness.
Jim Bostock: In Memoriam

The weather forecast was for heavy rain, so the walkers who gathered at Llantwit Major beach car park in August 2016 anticipated that the leader, Keith Kennett, would call off the event. There was, however, a break in the rain, so the group of 7 bravely set off westwards on the coastal path, beginning (of course!) with a climb. At the first inlet, "Dimlands" according to the guide, the party turned inland to follow a route between high hedges. That's when the deluge started!

Descent into Dimlands inlet Refreshments at The Net

It was a bedraggled set of walkers who stopped at "The Net" café, after fewer than 2 miles, for refreshments. By departure time, the company now numbered 9 and the rain had stopped. The route went past Boverton Place and down to Summerhouse Point, where the coastal path was re-joined, to walk westwards again. Shortly after the barred and bolted SeaWatch tower was passed, the sun made an appearance and waterproofs were quickly removed, as shirt sleeves became the order of the day.

Return leg along the coastal path Coastal path, Nash Point in distance In shirt sleeves - what rain?

A couple of "Painted Ladies" were spotted here (butterflies - not the other sort!). A descent took the party back to the starting point, to conclude a 6.9 mile walk. The nearby beach café provided filling sandwiches for those in need of sustenance.

The July 2016 walk was on the hottest day of the year to date, so it was just as well that there was a cooling breeze for much of the time. Led by Jo Ilsley (who had only refreshed her memory of the route a mere two days earlier), the six-strong party started from St Hilary, going on to Llantrithyd (visiting the church here would have meant too much of a detour in such heat).

Near Llantrithyd Near Llanvithyn Farm, Llancarfan

The half-way point was the village of Llancarfan, where a coffee stop was taken by some in the "Fox and Hounds", now under new management, and by others in the nearby churchyard. Unfortunately, restoration work was still being undertaken on the mediaeval wall paintings in the church here - a quick peek inside revealed two levels of scaffolding, obscuring the pictures.

Marian and Jo Nearly there!

The return journey took the party past Aberogwrn Farm, which is the base of local racehorse trainer, Evan Williams.
A feature of the circuit was the number of fields containing cattle that were crossed - all negotiated perfectly safely.

Making friends! Cattle on St Hilary - Llancarfan walk Making more friends!

8.7 miles was far enough for a walk, considering the soaring temperature!

Symonds Yat East was the starting point for the June 2016 Long Walk, led by Steve and Val Monaghan, but, as in September 2015, there was a twist to the usual custom, as coffee was taken before the walk. Just as the group of five were setting off, one walker's vehicle was found to have a flat tyre, so departure was delayed until the spare had been fitted.

The offending tyre! Ferry across the Wye The group crossing the Wye

Half an hour later, the party crossed the Wye on the hand-pulled rope ferry, operated by the nearby public house, to Symonds Yat West. The route followed the river downstream, passing the site of the New Weir ironworks, and then climbed gradually through woodland, via an old limekiln, to reach the Little Doward Iron Age hill fort.

At Little Doward limekiln Studying the limekiln info panel White Park cattle in the hill fort Picnic in the Little Doward hill fort

Lunch was taken here in the company of a group of White Park cattle, who were peacefully chewing the cud. The prehistoric Cave of King Arthur was visited on the return leg of the walk, before the river was recrossed using the Biblins pedestrian suspension bridge (a deer was spotted near here).

White Park bullocks prehistoric Cave of King Arthur At the cave entrance Crossing the suspension bridge

The old railway line was then followed back to Symonds Yat East to complete the 7.0 mile circular walk. As it had been a hot, sultry day, some of the party partook of tea and cake at a local hotel before returning home.

There was indifferent weather (gloves worn by some) for the May 2016 walk, which started from Dyffryn Gardens (now under National Trust stewardship). The route took the group of eight, led by Rhys Morgan (June had gone to Cambridge for the day), firstly to the impressive Tinkinswood burial chamber and then on to the one at St Lythans, with its fine cromlech, over 6000 years old. It was distinctly warmer by now and coats were removed by most of the party.

The group at Tinkinswood burial site At the Tinkinswood burial Chamber The group at St Lythans burial chamber
Part of Wenvoe Wood Returning to Dyffryn Gardens

Wenvoe Golf Course was skirted by the group as they made their way to the "Horse and Jockey" pub in Twyn-yr-Odyn for lunch. There is a memorial to quarrymen here, but this was by-passed through ignorance of its existence! A return to the starting point from the pub, through pleasant countryside, completed a 7.1 mile walk.

The April 2016 walk took place on a day when the weather forecast promised a lot of rain, but it proved to be better than feared, with only light precipitation at times. The group of four, with leader Jim Bostock, set off from the Navigation Hotel in Abercynon and followed the historic Trevithick Trail, the route between the Penydarren Ironworks and the Glamorganshire Canal, where, in 1804, Richard Trevithick's experimental locomotive hauled the first train to carry a load (of 10 tons of iron and 70 passengers).

Tramway track stone in use as a gatepost View up Taff valley from tramway The tramway crosses the Taff valley

At the notable Pontygwaith bridge, the decision was made to continue, despite the showers, to Merthyr Vale (this town proved to be the most litter-strewn part of South Wales some of us had ever seen; fly-tipping seemed to be norm).

Mature tree The Pontygwaith bridge
A canal bridge - but no canal in sight! The "Giants Bite"

The return leg of the walk followed the course of the Glamorganshire Canal, although little remains of the waterway now. The total length of the walk was 9.5 miles.

Penny Jarvis and Marian East had proposed to follow the St Hilary NE Circular route as their Long Walk in March 2015, but, because of all the rain in the previous weeks, they decided to check beforehand that there was no flooding, what the mud was like, etc. Bad move! Conditions were such that Marian broke a thumb in a fall and was not, therefore, able to lead the walk on the day. Important information had been obtained however. The fields around Tim Vaughan’s Pant Wilkin Stables were now so muddy that an alternative route was needed – fortunately, permission to walk through the stable yard was sought and granted.
The whole party of 9
On the day, the group of 9 walkers met, in fine weather, at the “Bush Inn” in St Hilary, with Penny the sole leader now. The walkers thought themselves lucky to find that the field they had to cross, which had a large “Beware of the Bull” sign, was in fact empty of both cows and bull!

Rest stop at Pysgodlyn Mawr Lake At Welsh St Donats Church

A short drinks stop was taken at Pysgodlyn Mawr Lake in Hensol Forest before the group continued on their way, spotting a nuthatch in the trees as they emerged from the forest, before following the road to Welsh St Donats. The Pant Wilkin stable yard was traversed as planned and they rejoined the intended route up the hilly valley side and on through Hollybush Farm. Next came the crossing of the A48 and then the party headed over St. Hilary Down to arrive back at the starting point. The walk was 8.5 miles and took about 4 hours.

Previous walks 2016

Previous walks 2015

Previous walks 2014

Previous walks 2013 and earlier

Dates for your Diary
Fri Jun 16th Walk to be led by Rhys and June Morgan
Fri Jul 21st Walk to be led by Steve and Val Monaghan
Thu Aug 10th Walk to be led by Judith and Colin Nunn
Wed Sep 6th Walk to be led by Steve and Val Monaghan
Fri Oct 13th Walk to be led by Roger Bradshaw
Fri Nov 10th Walk to be led by Linda Cox
Thu Dec 14th Walk to be led by John Andrew

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