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.
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 September 2017 walk started at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil, on a reasonable day weatherwise, overcast with sunny intervals. The party of five, led by Steve and Val Monaghan, crossed over the Pont y Cafnau (Bridge of Troughs), the oldest surviving cast iron bridge in the world, before detouring to view the substantial remains of the Cyfarthfa blast furnaces.
The route then followed the Taff Trail, crossing the Cefn Coed Viaduct, before continuing along the track of the redundant Brecon and Merthyr Railway to pass the old Pontsarn station platform. The Pontsarn Viaduct was then traversed shortly before leaving the disused line to descend into the valley, eventually reaching the small village of Vaynor.
St Gwynno's churchyard was visited to see the grave of Robert Thompson Crawshay, with its 10 ton slab of Radyr sandstone and "God Forgive Me" inscription. The ruins of the older church at Vaynor and the Vaynor motte were then viewed by the group. The pleasant (and busy!) Aberglais Inn was reached shortly afterwards and lunch was taken here.
On the return leg of the walk, the group passed the Blue Pool (just below the inn) and then followed a delightful riverside path along the Taf Fechan Nature Reserve to Cyfarthfa Park, completing a walk of about 7.1 miles.
Fortunately, unlike most of the school holiday period up to then, the weather was appropriate for summer for the August 2017 walk, led by Colin and Judith Nunn. The party of eleven started from the Ivor Arms in Pontyclun and headed towards Llanharry, passing through the village.
A quiet lane was taken towards Ystradowen, where there was a coffee stop, not far from the ancient motte and St Owains Church. The quiet road towards "Bordervale Plants" and Hensol Forest was then taken for a while, before turning off to take the circuitous, narrow footpaths that skirted "Llwyn ddu", a previous home of Tom Jones (one of the the group managed to put his foot in an animal snare along this path!).
The route then went past the extensive grounds of the impressive Cartreglas Farm, now owned, it appears, by footballer Gareth Bale. The return leg to the starting point went by Keepers Lodge Farm and through the grounds of Talygarn Manor, to complete a walk of 7.5 miles. Most of the walkers then took lunch in the pleasant surroundings of the Ivor Arms.
The forecast for heavy rain may have deterred some from joining the July 2017 Long Walk, but there was a period of about two hours during the event when showers were absent. A group of five, led by Steve and Val Monaghan, met at the hidden-away Hailey Park car park and went southwards, following the route of the long-gone Glamorganshire Canal. The park was traversed near the defunct bowling green and a northerly direction along the Taff then taken. The river was crossed by an old railway bridge and the entrance tunnel (under the railway line) to the old Radyr Quarry entered; this gave access to a high level route into Radyr, passing the Burnt Mound.
There was a café stop for coffee and croissants, before the river was re-crossed on the nearby pedestrian bridge. The Taff was followed northwards as far as the M4, where a track was taken, past the substantial remains of a railway bridge, to access the Forest Farm Nature Reserve near Asda’s.
The pleasant stroll alongside the water-filled stretch of the Glamorganshire Canal (lots of water lilies) was interrupted by the return of heavy rain; the consensus was to cut short the walk and return to Hailey Park by the quickest route (which went past the Melingriffith Water Wheel).
The length of the truncated walk was just 5 miles – but the rain had set in for the rest of the day, so a good decision.
The starting point for the June 2017 walk was close to Nash Manor (near Cowbridge), on a day that was bright and warm, if somewhat windy. June and Rhys Morgan took the party of nine on a route that skirted the grounds of the manor and headed across fields in the direction of Llanblethian, with good views of that village as it was approached.
The group passed directly by the church and then went down to the Llantwit road, which was followed as far as the Cross Inn, before the isolated church of St Brynach at Llanfrynach was passed. A circuitous route led to Llysworney, where a lunch stop was made at the Carne Arms. Quiet lanes were used to return to the starting point, completing a walk of nearly 6.2 miles, most of which was new territory to the majority of the party. Welcome refreshments (including homemade Welsh cakes) were provided by June and Rhys in their garden to those that were able to stay on.
May 2017, another long walk, and another fine day. The party of six met in Llandaff for a 7.5 mile walk, led by Penny Jarvis and Marian East.
A coffee stop was taken at the Pettigrew Tea Rooms (named after the brothers who were the first two heads of Cardiff Parks), located in the West Lodge. The return part of the walk was on the eastern side of Bute Park, initially following the remains of the old canal (which once linked up to Merthyr Tydfil) to Blackweir.
Staying on the east bank of the river, the group eventually reached Hailey Park, where the Taff was re-crossed using an old railway bridge. The entrance tunnel (under the railway line) to the old Radyr Quarry was passed - this was the source of the attractive red sandstone used in some Cardiff buildings and also the Gorsedd Circle in front of the National Museum. A quiet road and paths were used to regain the starting point.
Lunch was taken at the "Maltsters" in Llandaff (fortunately after the large party of teenagers, celebrating the (pre-exams) end of school, had left!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A three furlong stroll across fields brought the walkers to the imposing ruins of Beaupre Castle, overlooking the River Thaw.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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").
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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 2016, 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.
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!
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
|Dates for your Diary|
|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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