Post image for Cambrian Way Day 2: Castell Coch to Risca

Cambrian Way Day 2: Castell Coch to Risca

March 20, 2016 · 9 comments

Date walked: 10th July 2015

Distance: about 8 miles

Map used: OS Explorer 151 (Cardiff and Bridgend) and 152 (Newport and Pontypool)

(you might have to scroll out a bit to see the whole route)

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Today Neil and I were joined by Dave, who you have met before on several occasions. We met up in the car park of The Darran pub, Risca and then drove back to our starting point at Castell Coch in my car as I was the only one that uses the C21st technology of a Satnav.  In case you missed the last post, Castell Coch is a fab place and if you don’t enjoy a visit, consider yourself a philistine. They also have a free car park.

Castell Coch, photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

It just looks like a fun place, doesn’t it?

Neil had carefully marked our days route on his map so we set off with complete confidence of not getting lost.  Nevertheless, his reputation as route-manager was sorely damaged by our last walks’ deviation, so some careful cross referencing was done with the board at the edge of the car park.

Neil pointing out to himself where to go

We headed into the woods (or Fforest Fawr for the Welsh speakers), and in no time at all had a Big Surprise in the form of not only some teddy bears…

Bear sculptures at the Three Bears Cave, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

This isn’t rubbish – all sorts of work was going on

… but also their caves.

The Three Bears Cave, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I think I would have been happy to ditch the bears and just have some account of the mine workings

The Three Bears Caves were not shown on our map, and in this link are described as iron mine workings “completely invisible from the main path”. Methinks the local council have spotted a new tourist attraction.

Dave and Neil were soon forging ahead on a very foot-friendly gravel path while I watched their backs for any hungry bears (leave it out, Charles).

Fforest Fawr, photographed on the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I must talk to Dave about Lymes disease.

At the far end of the wood were some more dodgy sculptures, including the ubiquitous Welsh Dragon.

Sculptures in Fforest Fawr, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Why do the Welsh do naff so much?

A sharp right hand turn though Fforest Ganol, crossing a minor road, had us back on a track running north-east, passing a ruined farmhouse….

Cambrian Way in Fforest Ganol, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. and then through a shady beech wood….

Fforest Ganol, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

… to meet the A469. I paused to admire the rather nice planting of ferns and shrubs in front of a red-ochre painted cottage before we dashed across the busy road.

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Neil and I had been here earlier in the year when we had walked the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway.  It was turning out to be a warm day and once out in the open we had a good and slightly misty view to Caerphilly Castle.

Caerphilly Castle, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Dead centre of the pic if you look hard

Time for a little break and a sit.

Dave reaches for his bottle: such drama

The heat was proving too much for the sheep, who were jostling for position under an abandoned trailer at Cefn-onn farm.

Shhep under shade photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Yes, we, like sheep – when we can find them

I was glad of the shade of the beechwood that followed.

Cambrian Way near Cefn-onn Farm, photographed by Charles Hawes

Heads up, lads!

Passing under  the cables of a tall pylon….

Electricity Pylon on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

… we left the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk to descend to the road at Maenllywyd Inn, where, astonishingly, we agreed not to stop for a drink. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Maenllwyd Inn, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It looked like a nice place, too

Our route headed north-east down a little lane where some local horsey-loving landowner had installed some iron gates of breathtaking ostentation. I reckoned that some equally bad taste house was in the pipeline.

The Cambrian Way near Machen, photographed by Charles Hawes

They left Dave speechless, which is no mean feat.

Half a mile later the path entered a wood called Coed-Cefn-pwll-du. Amenity woods like these often have a bewildering network of tracks and with no path signs, the woods proved to be the most difficult part of the day to navigate. There was much humming and haaring and speculation and talk of retracing our steps but eventually we found a way out of it near Machen.

I forget how we crossed over the Rhymney River….

Rhymney River, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

From this pic it looks like we were thinking of wading it

…and found ourselves on the A468. A corner shop provided us with ice-creams (yea!) and we had a little sit and a contemplate of the map.

On the north side of the road, our route was to climb up the valley side, passing St John’s church.

 

St John's church, Machen, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I thought the spire quite fun

There followed a steady climb through the mixed deciduous wood of Coed y Fedw…..

Coed y Fedw, near Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Not that I saw any birches

…which led into a more coniferous plantation….

Woodland near Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Nice bit of a wall

…. and which briefly gave us a view to a nearby Hanson quarry (I think) and to the Bristol Channel.

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A brief delve through another small wood….

Wood near Mynydd Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I suspect that this may have been pollarded at some point

… brought us out into the open, with a fine view of the Ebbw Valley and the town of Pontymister.

View to the Bristol Channel from the Cambrian Way at Mynydd Machen

And even another glimpse of the Bristol Channel

This moderately steep climb was led by Dave who raced up it like a sheep. Neil was huffing and puffing at the rear. At the top of Mynydd Machen (1,188 feet),  the communications tower was an easy to see, if not the prettiest of landmarks.

Masts on Mynydd Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Well, they have got to go somewhere

By the time Neil and I arrived Dave had had time for a lie-down and was admiring the view.

Trig point on Mynydd, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Dave like a recline when he gets the chance

Our first trig point of the walk!

Trig point at Mynydd Machen, photographed by Charles Hawes

Dave was pointing under instruction. Do you think “Patch” would be a dog?

We speculated about the ridge of bumpy ground behind us. Spoil heaps from quarrying? None of us came up with rabbit warrens – they are referred to as Pillow Mounds. Weird.

Our path took us by the mast….

Masts on Mynydd Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

…. to the edge of the hill overlooking the Ebbw River valley again.

View to Risca from Mynydd Machen, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Risca and Cross Keys below

Over to the left on Myndd y Lan, was large array of solar panels.

Photovoltaic panels on Mynydd y Lan, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It’s not right!

I could live with these in lowland areas by already blighted landscapes, adjacent to motorways, for instance, but to site them so prominent on the tops of otherwise very pleasant landscape seems an outrage. On reading the 2014 planning application there seemed a pathetic level of objection and sadly CPRW was silent on the matter.

We had a bit of a debate at this point at how best to get down to the Risca, opting in the end for a single track road that wiggled down the hill.  We passed the end of the drive of the nicest property I had seen all day.IMG_5604

Assisted by gravity we were soon going under the A467…

Underpass of the A467 photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

….followed immediately afterwards by a bridge over the river Ebbw…

Eddw River, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

…. to find ourselves by a deserted park and playing fields.

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It was the school holidays and there was not a child to be seen. This was a nice open space. When I was a kid we’d have been playing cricket or football, or just hanging around. Something is seriously wrong.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil March 20, 2016 at 8:24 am

That was a lovely warm stroll of a day with some interesting views (apart from that final climb), and in lovely company.
And perfectly orientated, even if I have to say so myself (which it’s already clear, I will have to) !!!
🙂

Reply

Charles March 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Indeed, an excellent stroll. I will always give you space to correct my misorientation.

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Paul Steer March 20, 2016 at 8:30 am

What a beautiful day that was – judging by the photographs – evidence that we did have some lovely weather. All I can remember is rain.

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John March 20, 2016 at 11:09 am

Ah Paul! They say the sun shines on the righteous. Perhaps Charles just needs to walk more with Neil and Dave.

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Charles March 20, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Alternatively, Paul needs to walk more with me!

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Marice March 20, 2016 at 10:39 am

Loved the name ‘pillow mounds’, goes with fluffy bunnies xxxx

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Charles March 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Haha. I corrected your mistake. You may think fluffy bunnies – they were thinking larder.

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Julia March 20, 2016 at 1:52 pm

surprise, more like a shock – what dreadful stuff purporting to be sculpture but after that rant enjoyed the walk with you.

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Charles March 20, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Yes, horrid. But glad you enjoyed the rest of the walk. I’ll try and give warning next time we have some horrors.

Reply

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