Post image for The Cambrian Way Day 3: Risca to Pontypool Park Folly

The Cambrian Way Day 3: Risca to Pontypool Park Folly

April 3, 2016 · 15 comments

Date  walked: 28th August 2015

Distance: about 9 miles

Map used:OS Explorer 151- Newport and Pontypool

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Just Neil and I for this leg of the walk. We met at a little car park at the top of Folly Lane, near, surprise, surprise, the folly and deposited one of our cars there, driving back to the car park of The Darren Pub (the landlord being a very nice chap who told us he didn’t mind us being there).  It was one of those days when it might rain and it might not. It rained shortly after we set off.

Climbing gently, we crossed the railway line…

Railway line at Risca, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Nothing like taking your life in your hands at the start of a walk

… and had just a couple of hundred yards by the  Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal …..

Monmouthshire and Brecon canal near Risca photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I love canalside walking – hope there is more to come

….before heading into the lower slopes of the Medart wood, whereupon we were blessed with a short, sharp shower. There were several forest tracks to choose from. The one heading for Twmbarlwm was the one we wanted, and, from the emphatic signs by the track, clearly an Important Destination.

Path approaching Twmbarlwm, photographed from the Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

I’m sure these signs and symbols mean something to somebody

A bit of huffing and puffing up the wooded valley brought us to Pegwn-y-bwlch, where there were a lot of signs and a fence stopping people from getting to where Neil and I were standing.

Pegwn-y-bwlch below Twmbarlwm, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I am sure every one of those signs was absolutely necessary

Also here was a mounted sculpture of a raven flying out of a book, which meant nothing to me and did little for me.

Raven sculpture at Pegwn-y-bwlch, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Any suggestions as to what this was about? I’m sure the cover would help but I can’t read it.

The map shows a path leading from here called Raven Walk. No doubt someone will enlighten us in due course. The path up to the fort at Twmbarlwm was quite steep and very satisfying as we constantly improved our views over the surrounding countryside.

View from the Cambrian Way near Twmbarlwm, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

A little glimpse of the Bristol Channel

The site of the fort was very much as you might expect- a big circular ditch and a great views both inland…

View from Twmbarlwm, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Here, back towards Risca

….and to the Bristol Channel.

View from Twmbarlwm, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Even nicer

This was a great opportunity for Neil to do some pointing.

Twmbarlwm, phtographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

He’s a darned good pointer

We dutifully mounted the steps to the top of the mound, had a bit of a sit and dismounted, greeting a man with what we took to be his son who had come up from the opposite direction.

There followed a mostly uneventful couple of gentle miles along a wide grassy track crossing Mynydd Henllys.

Mynys Henllys, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Sometimes it’s nice not to have much going on

According to the map  we passed obliviously by several old mines and quarries and close to a wood….

Wood near Mynys Henllys, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

A wood

…. and then the track continued, giving Neil little to point at.

Mynys Henllys, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil – pointless

We did get some fine views over Cwmbran...

Cwmbran photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Better from up here than down there

…and we encountered (in a low key kind of way) a pretty cow.

cattle on Mynys Henllys photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Maybe it wasn’t a cow, maybe it was a steer

As the moor opened up around Mynydd Maen the track became more stony and on either side were swathes of heather.

Heather on Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Interesting that the heather is in lines

This was all very jolly- and jolly wet in places, but only necessitating a bit of a deviation as opposed to a wade.

Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

You can see these pylons from the M4 as you drive to Cardiff

A string of electricity pylons ahead would have made a good marker if we had any doubt where we were, but we didn’t.

Pylons on Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We crossed under them….

Pylons on Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

How much to put the line underground?

…and though it was not strictly necessary, went over for a shufty of the nearby communication masts.

Communication masts on Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Can’t put these underground, though

Our curiosity not entirely satisfied – we’d have liked a sign telling us what they were for- we headed due East. We were curious, too, about what certainly looked like a boundary stone stone we passed with only the letters L.U.P carved into its chunky body.

Marker stone on Mynydd Maen Mynydd Maen photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Enlighten me

Near there we paused at our second trig point of the Way, marking Mynydd Twyn-glas.

Charles Hawes at Pen Twyn Glas trig point photographed on The Cambrian Way by Neil, Smurthwaite

Wikipedia says that you are not to confuse this with Pen Twyn Glas in the Black Mountains, but why you might do so I am not sure.

Walking gently downhill hill (well you always do from a trig point), there was another mast overlooking Upper Cwmbran.

Communication mast above upper Cwmbran, photographed from The Cambrian way by Charles Hawes

 The path took us down to a minor road to Penyrheol. There used to be a pub there called The Lamb Inn , but sadly it has gone the way of so many hundreds of others in recent years and appears to be being converted back into a house.

The Lamb In at Penyrheol photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Or maybe they are just refurbishing it?

At the ex-pub we turned right off the road, passing a sign to the mysterious Braggfest.

Sign for braggfest photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Our route followed a hollow way to the west of Griffithstown

Sunken lane near Griffithstown photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

I’m guessing a drovers road for the sheep off the moor

… which, still at around 600 feet above sea level, gave us some views over Cwm Fields, which used to be fields but is now a housing estate.

Cwm Fields photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

The path emerged on the edge of Pontypool of the  busy road junction of Pontymoel.

Pontymoel photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

There won’t be much of this in days to come

Ahead, a garage provided us with ice-creams (I’ll always go for a Magnum since you ask). This urban bit was over very quickly and within minutes we were at the very elaborate and pretty gates of Pontypool Park, giving Neil an excellent pointing opportunity.

Gates at Pontypool Park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil very usefully giving you a sense of scale for the gates.

The park is big (150 acres) and  very pleasant, with some fine trees and a gratifying absence of children and dogs.

Tree in Pontypool Park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil likes dogs- it takes all sorts

We took a path up the side of the valley, following signs for the Shell House – somewhere I have wanted to see for many years. For reasons not understood by us we had to go through a 100 foot long tunnel formed by corrugated iron.

Tunnel in Pontypool Park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Damm clever bit of work to get this illuminated for you

Intrigued, at the far end I climbed up a bank to find a dry ski slope which doesn’t exactly get highly rated on Tripadvisor.

Dry ski slope in Pontypool Park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It opens in the winter

We were increasingly impressed by the park as we climbed, admiring the specimen trees and fine grasses.

 Pontypool park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

The Shell House was a minor detour off our path but when we got there the area around it was being strimmed, a Strimmers Mate standing guard to prevent the public from being cut down. I did not expect the house to be open, knowing that it does so only on high-days-and-holiday, but The Strimmer and Mate were volunteers and they were preparing the place for such a day and very kindly agreed to let us in.

Shell House at Pontypool Park photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Its been totally restored, of course.

According to Wikipedia it is reckoned to be the best grotto in Wales; I’ve no reason to argue with that. Feeling very pleased with our treat, I offer you some cows in celebration (there being no sheep available).

View to Llandegfedd reservoir photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

That’s the Llandegfedd reservoir in the background where my friend John has (with others) been making a very good circular walk.

We were on a ridge for this last stretch, below us the rather severe Mamhilad Estate.

Mamhilad Park Estate, photographed from the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Note the last minute sheep, brought in at vast expense

I used to be a regular visitor there, ferreting around in the Planning Department for reasons to oppose some proposed barn conversion or agricultural dwelling. From somewhere in there works the South East Wales Emergency Duty Team of Social Services. There is no end to my knowledge.

Ahead was the folly – an excellent climax to a very nice day’s walk….

Pontypool Park folly, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

C18th. Demolished in 1940 by orders of MOD.

… and the obvious spot for me to see if I could remember how to set the camera up on a timer.

Pontypool Park folly, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

When Neil says “smile” it seems like I grimace

The car was just a hundred yards from here – a great spot to start the next walk from.

 

 

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

John April 3, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Thanks for the usual collection of great photos, especially the one of the raven (I believe his name is Bran which is also Welsh for crow or raven) emerging from the Mabinogion. Can’t remember the details of the story, though, sorry. Damned crafty of you to make Neil stand in a ditch for that final photograph, making you seem taller than you are! For the avoidance of doubt on the part of other readers, I’m not that John!

Reply

Charles April 3, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Thanks John. Excellent research on the Crow, thanks. You are not which John? Is there another John?

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John April 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm

I’m not walking around a reservoir. If I was, it wouldn’t be a circular walk cos it isn’t. 🙂

Which, I suppose, implies that I’m not your friend! 🙁

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Charles April 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Indeed you are not. But you are certainly my friend, John.

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Paul Steer April 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Surprisingly and beautifully pastoral.

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Charles April 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm

The Park? Yes, I was surprised.

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Neil April 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Hi, great pics of a lovely ramble. I took Jo (daughter ) back up to the hill fort, and we enjoyed Bran.

(Neat build up to the pointless gag, by the way 🙂 !!!)

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John April 3, 2016 at 7:41 pm

You asked to be enlightened so I’ll bore you with another comment. Geograph has references to a number of boundary stones in the area which, it seems, mark the limits of mineral rights. There is a photo of a stone marked “LUP” at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/652162 though it seems to be a different shape and in a more enclosed area. There’s a link to “more nearby” lower down that page with images of stones bearing additional carving beside the main letters.

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Charles April 4, 2016 at 10:16 am

Not boring at all. In fact very much appreciated. Thanks for that link. And with Penny’s comments we have fleshed out the stone very well. I could see a book in the offing of Boundary Stones in Wales. Or is there one already? I remember coming across some when Bob and I walked Plynlimon.

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Julia April 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm

dramatic landscapes + text packed with useful information as usual – good one Charles.

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Charles April 4, 2016 at 10:17 am

Thanks Julia. It’s fun doing the post-walk links as I learn so much more about what I walked through.

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Penny Bowers April 4, 2016 at 9:06 am

It seems that the boundary stone at Mynydd Maen with L.U.P. on it is Llanfrechfa Upper Parish, so am assuming its a Parish Boundary marker.

http://www.industrialgwent.co.uk/boundary/index.htm

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Charles April 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

Many thanks Penny. Hope you stay following the walk.

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Nick July 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm

The lovely Raven sculpture has an interesting well told tale here: https://flamingcolours.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/raven-inspiration-bran-the-raven-in-welsh-folklore/

Reply

Charles July 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Nick!

Reply

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