Capital Walk – Wenvoe to Llantrisant Road

A short walk this week, constrained by builders (on my part) and family commitments (on Alec’s). Still we managed to clock off another 9.7 miles of the walk around the boundaries of Cardiff, moving at a pace (on average) of 2.6 mph.

As is our way, Alec and I met at the Central Bus Station to catch the bus out to Wenvoe to pick-up where we’d left off a couple of weeks previously. Weather was great – forecasted to be the best of the week, as it indeed turned out to be – and we were looking forward to an interesting walk across land neither of us had trod previously.

We were following the walk description on Cardiff Ramblers website, which it has to be said was going to be difficult for this stretch because, even before we’d walked a single step, I’d identified a couple of pieces of the walk that I’d found hard to translate on to the OS Explorer Map.

We started in Wenvoe Village, just by the Church walking up Wallstone Road to its end. A footpath on the left then takes you up beside a disused quarry and then by way of good broad tracks until you get to the Wenvoe Transmitter mast. This dominates the Cardiff skyline – you can see it from everywhere – but I’d never been so close to it before.

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Just past the mast the metalled road becomes an undulating and swampy green track – it was not to be the only test of both of our new boots today.

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Crossing the A48 we walked across the field to a stone stile, and then (as directed by the waymarked post) along the crest of the ridge through the Natural Burial Meadow and towards a stile at the westernmost part of the field, dropping down the slope a little as we walked.

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Crossing this stile, we walked across the next field heading north and ignoring two other exits to our left, for another stile at the bottom of the field, to enter a copse which it soon became apparent is used for providing refuge for game birds. The path then leads clearly through the woods, gradually losing elevation until you enter another field. It was here that we lost the described track completely. Somehow managing to walk across the fields to Drope Farm, rather than cut the corner and go straight to St Georges-super-Ely.

Reaching St Georges (the Greendown Inn is now closed), we initially missed the stile on the right of the road opposite the Inn, we headed for the bridge across the Ely and under the Cardiff-Swansea mainline.

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Here, we turned left after we’d crossed the river, but a turn right might have better to have avoided a marshy field and a really swampy disused railway track. The disused railway track took us back to meet the mainline where we dipped under the M4 link-road from Culverhouse Cross and then climbed back up to start our walk across another really muddy field towards St Fagans. We reflected after about 10 mins that it might have been better to have walked up a slight rise to a gate on our left to exit the field on to the Museum entrance road, rather than struggle through the mud.

Still a visit to The Plymouth Arms for lunch was the incentive to press on, and this was achieved without too much pain. Taking my boots off and drinking a couple of pints of Tribute and eating a Chicken and Leak pie certainly revived me!

Leaving St Fagans to the north we took a footpath on the left to rejoin the Walk skirting the boundary walls and then the fences of the National History Museum as we did so. A walk along a splendid avenue of beech trees (yes Alec they WERE beech trees, and no Alec I can’t find another word to better describe them than “avenue”) took us out on to splendid parkland.

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A walk across a field past a solitary oak (and Alec, can you see the white sheep?) took us on to St Brides Road where we were impressed by the hedge trimming along the side of the road, not realising we were about to meet the person responsible for the work when we left the road and started the walk across more muddy fields towards the Stockland Farms.

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The end of the walk was near. We followed the metalled tracks up to the Llantrisant Road and waited for the 122 bus to pick us up and take us back to Cardiff. Great walk. Great company. Lovely weather. Muddy boots and trousers (mine at least, Alec had tucked his inside his socks). Next time it’s gaiters before I start!

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A slideshow of the whole Capital Walk can be seen on Google+ Photos (Picasaweb) here. and the OS map of our walk is shown below.

The Beacons Way: Day 1

So, after a gap of three years, I’m re-visiting The Beacons Way. A long-distance path of 95 miles of eight stages that I did the last three stages with Cardiff Ramblers. I hope to do the remaining stages at the weekends with a new walking partner – my son (DeeJay).

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By using two cars, leaving one at the finish and the other taking both of us to the start, we hope to be able to do the remaining stages of the walk I haven’t done in five stages. Whether we can do it in five stages, or have to break it into maybe six (on the basis of yesterday’s experience – that’s a distinct possibility) we’ll just have to see.
The walk starts from a car park at the bottom of The Skirrid (Holy Mountain) on the B4521. There was only one spot free by the time we arrived shortly after 10:30. We walked and climbed steadily through the National Trust woodlands.

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Emerging from the woodland we gained our first views of the superb views towards the Wye valley, Forest of Dean and England to one side and The Black Mountains and Abergavenny to the other.

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The Skirrid is an interesting hill notable for two things, firstly on it’s western flank is a superb example of rotational slip caused in periglacial conditions due to freeze-thaw in the strata.

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And then, on the summit – just beyond the trig point in this picture, there are the remains of St Mary’s Chapel that once sat on the top of the hill and gave it the name “Holy Mountain”.

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So, now you don’t do as we did, you do what the guide says … you retrace your steps back the way uou came until you come to a track going down the eastern side of the hill. Believe me, it’s worth it as you will avoid the tricky and slippery descent down the northern bluff.

Having successfully got to the bottom of the hill, you follow the well waymarked track across the fields, looking across towards The Blorenge overlooking Abergavenny.
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At the bottom of the hill, having walked right up a lane past three houses from a farm you then walk through more fields until you get to the splendid manor house of Pen-y-Clawdd Court

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Having crossed the main road you just can’t pass the The Skirrid Inn without popping in to “the oldest inn in Wales” and sampling the beer. I did.

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After leaving the pub, we made our way down towards the river stopping only to enquire what was happening with some horse riders on the road – they were taking the horse-riding equivalent of their driving test. Very impressive. Left us thinking it would be a good idea if cyclists did the same!

Reaching the railway line by way of a style on the left just after crossing the river we crossed (carefully) and had an excellent picnic lunch. Suitably refreshed we climbed through the fields towards a farm which kept hawks and was the site of a mountain bike circuit. It was here that we made our second error. As you emerge from the thicket and the lane that leads up the hill from the farm – don’t go straight up the hill following an obvious track from the gate. Instead keep left and climb more slowly, skirting the bluff until you find a gate that leads into a lane. The lane provides you with great views up the valley towards Cwmyoy and the moorland we were heading for.

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That lane you will follow for quite a long way as it climbs (sometimes quite steeply) on to the common land of Hatterrall Hill. You can also look back at The Skirrid, a view that stays wih you for a surprisingly long time on this walk.

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We reached the moorland and walked steadily upwards as the clouds began to gather, and the wind picked up. For that reason I’ve no pictures of this part of the walk but have “borrowed” three from a previous walk on Hatterrall Hill.

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The wind got quite extreme at times and I was blown about a bit. Feeling quite weary by the time I got down to the Priory at Llanthony. One last piece of advice – as you walk along the col looking for the track down, don’t take the first “obvious” path. Even with my GPS, I managed to navigate us down a more awkward track than we needed to take, before we regained the proper path and made the rest of the descent.

If you want to see a few more pictures here’s a link to Google+ where the images are hosted which includes the ones above as well.

Here’s yesterdays track – a walk of 10.9 miles with 2930 feet of ascent.