A very pleasant walk in the hills between Cardiff and Caerphilly through old Beech woods and some historic sites of industry.

Date walked: 27th March 2015

Distance: around 9 miles

Map used: OS Explorer 151: Cardiff & Bridgend

************

My friend Neil and I have been going for walks together since we were in our late 20s – and we are both now 60 (though I wasn’t at the time!)  Neil moved to Southerndown  a couple of years ago and we are beginning to explore territory that we might not, at first glance, think of as ripe for a good walk.  We are both drawn more to the coast and to the hills. The coast is fabulous near where he lives; today’s walk between Cardiff and Caerphilly is a hills one that I found via the Cardiff ramblers website.

We met at the Caerphilly Mountain Snack Bar, situated just off the A469 at a very modest 850 feet above sea level (the Welsh have a tendency to exaggerate the status of their hills).

The Caerphilly Mountain Snack Bar, photographed by Charles Hawes

This place does the biggest burgers I have ever seen at really low prices. More of them anon.

This was the first outing for my new Lowe Alpine Air Zone Z 20 day pack. I had been quite happy with my Deuter Speedlite 20 apart from the fact that it sits on the back and in warm weather this makes for  a sweaty back; the Lowe Alpine has a frame and mesh that holds the pack off the pack so should be more comfortable in this respect.

Lowe Alpine Airzone Z20 day sack, photographed by Charles Hawes

And no, this isn’t a freebie

I had printed off the directions for the walk, which started on the far side of the car park.

Caerphilly Common, near the Mountain Snack Bar, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil like having his picture taken so I humoured him to start with

As the directions promised, there were, indeed, good views over Caerphilly.

View over Caerphilly from Caerphilly Common, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not a bad day

In less than half a mile we entered a beech wood called The Warren.

The Warren wood above Caerphilly, photographed on the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway by Charles Hawes

Love them mossy trunks

We had a little difficulty working out which track was which, but our intuitive navigating brought us to a brick built arch….

Brick bridge in The Warren, Caerphilly, photographed by Charles Hawes

The trouble is that he insists on smiling when I take his picture

… which had a brick path coming down to it that was referred to in our directions.  See, not lost yet!

Brick Path in The Warren wood, Caerphilly, photographed by Charles Hawes

We took the scenic route to get there.

It is difficult to imagine but from the mid C19th to the early C20th this area was mined for coal and brickworks were also sited here.

Sign explaining coal and brick workings in The Warren wood, Caerphilly, photographed by Charles Hawes

That’s what this sign says, anyway

We crossed a stream and then were directed to walk up an old asphalt-surfaced road that led to a track climbing the side of the valley to the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk.

Track in The Warren wood Caerphilly leading to the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Just a gentle climb; nothing too strenuous

We were still in Beechwood; a ground cover of wild garlic was just beginning to break into leaf ……

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-13

…..but the trees themselves were bare, save for the occasional decoration.

Tree graffiti on beech trunk in The Warren, Caerphilly, photographed by Charles Hawes

A message in code?

Our walk opened out as we skirted a worked out quarry that had then become a tip and was now seemingly returned to agricultural use.

Disued quarry off the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

I say that because there was a feeding cage for cattle in one corner

This rather good track passed though grazing land….

The Rhymney Valley Ridgeway walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

….where a small herd of cattle with some calves were discussed, admired, and given a wide berth.

Cattle near Cefn Onn farm. Rhymney Valley Rideway Walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Maximum focal length and cropped so you get a nice animal pic

The cattle belonged to Coed Cefn Farm, where the occupants were shoeing horses and gave us a nod.

Cefn Onn Farm, photographed from the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk by Charles Hawes

More Beechwood followed the farm, now named after the farm and temporarily occupied by some sheep.

Sheep in Coed Cefn Onn , photographed on the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk by Charles Hawes

Our directions referred to a large pylon which we reckon had been moved as we felt that we had walked the requisite distance to pass by it, but we were wrong.  There it was in all its glory.

Pylon on the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Ok “glory” may be a bit strong

We were feeling like we should be turning left around here but our directions turned us to the right.  It took us some time to adjust to these counter-intuitive  directions- until we realised that we were on the northerly part of the walk and not the southerly. You probably don’t need to know this but it caused us some consternation.

Our path came off the ridge and continued down Craig y Llan passed an old lime kiln.

Lime kiln at Craig y llan, photogpahed by Charles Hawes

We were now in the “Craig” part of the walk.

At the bottom of the hill by a stream was a stile which we were directed to go over.

Stile on the Rhymney Valley and North Cardiff Craigs walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Well constructed but pointless

This was unnecessary, as the path immediately after the stile was the one we needed and led unimpeded to the footbridge over the stream that we needed to cross.

Stream crossing on the North Cardiff Craigs Walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neil’s wife will complain if I don’t work in a good number of pics of him into the post

We followed the stream for a few hundred yards and then climbed up again at the edge of  Coed Coesau Whips. Over to the left a line of trees  would have made a good reference point for directions….

Beech near Coed Coesau whips, photographed by Charles Hawes

Still beech, I think

… but we were told to look out for another pylon and head into the wood near there.

View to Cardiff through pylon on the North Cardiff Craigs walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

This was also easy to spot

Leaving the wood, we had a good but slightly misty view now south over Cardiff, the path taking the line of some stunted but rather splendid old trees.

Stunted old beech on the North Cardiff Craigs walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hanging onto life despite a rotten centre

We paused at the trig point (866 feet) by Craig Llsfaen, for me to take a picture….

View over Cradiff from Trig Point of Craig Llysfaen photgraphed by Charles Hawes

That’s the Llanishen Reservoir

… and to have our pictures taken.

Seat near the trig point at Craig Llysfaen photographed by Charles Hawes

His ankle was hurting a bit from his vigorous step classes amongst the lyvra clad of Bridgend.

trig point at Craig llsfaen, photograhed by Neil Smurthwaite

I thought about hopping onto it but didn’t want to shame Neil with my superior athleticism

Our track joined little lane that droppped down the side of the hill, the path then contuning through more beechwood….

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-41

…..to skirt the north edge of Llanishen Golf Course.

Llanishen Golf Course, Cardiff, photographed by Charles Hawes

Even in such relatively “tame” countryside, golf courses do seem very artificial environments

After the golf course we needed to climb again up a rocky and quite wet sunken path to Craig Llanishen.

Sunken path above Llanishen Golf Couse on the North Cardiff Craigs Walk, photographed by Charles Hawes

This is going to be more like a stream in wet weather.

At this point we re-joined the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk. We passed through a little Cwm …

 

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-45

…..before the path brought us to a crossing of the A469, a warning sign across the gate directing us to Slow Down.

Rhymney valley ridgeway walk at Blaen Nofydd, photographed by Charles Hawes

We decided that we were travelling at a safe speed

The golfers of Cardiff are served by another course – the Ridgeway Golf Course – (there’s a third just a mile or so further on).

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-49Our path crossed this and sort of petered out, but with a bit of searching we found what we were fairly confident was a stile leaving it. The path climbed slightly from here passing behind a rather nasty bungalow ….

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-51

with an even naster large Camelia in its garden, looking manky as ever. Neil thought it lovely.

Rhymney valley ridge with neil-50

Me, I thought it deserving of a chainsaw

Just past the nastiness the track re-emerged onto the A469 and our appointment with the Mountain Burgers of the snack bar. Except that neither of us could face one ruining our diets. So we had a smaller one with chips instead.  Walking is good for the heart but not very good at keeping weight off.

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)