Penarth and District Ramblers

ON A grey and overcast morning with a cool breeze and on an old track just north of Trefil village, nine walkers joined William and set off across rough, open moorland containing cattle, sheep and ponies with growing foals.

Managing to pick up a phone signal from people having difficulty locating the start, after a short wait the original 10 soon became the lucky 13!

Following the contours of the valley and continuing northwards, soon the misty outline of the Black Mountains was silhouetted against the horizon, whilst, across the valley, was the large hump of Tor y Foel. Reaching a tall wooden ladder stile set in an old dry stone wall, they then paused for a morning break out of the wind. Zig-zagging down the hillside on a wet, muddy steep path to the valley bottom, a bridge led them across the delightful Afon Crawnon to Cae-madog where they saw a Gloucester Old Spot sow and her piglets, whilst dad - the boar - scampered down to the gate to have his back scratched.

A steep climb up the opposite side of the Dyffryn Crawnon Valley followed and eventually, reaching the top, they passed through a gate at the entrance to Bwlch-y-waun Farm in front of which part of the long distance Beacons Way passes around the lower slopes of Tor y Foel. Crossing the road at the base of Tor y Foel, there were spectacular views across the Talybont Reservoir to Talybont Forest, Carn Pica, Waun Rydd and Allt Lwyd and up the Glyn Collwn Valley, which were enjoyed as the group utilised a handy flat rock table surrounded by large boulders for their well-deserved lunch break. The temperature soon began to drop and, after enjoying the recital of a poem written by Newport-born tramp W H Davies, a particular favourite of William’s, with a chill in the air, the group set off along the ridgeway at some speed to warm up.

Reaching Pen Rhiw-calch or top of the limestone hill, an inscription on a piece of rock indicates the direction of the Brinore Tramroad, originally known as Bryn Oer (Cold Hill), a place which lies to the south of Trefil, where the Rhymney Colliery was situated, with the name later being anglicised by the English speaking industrialists. The tramroad was completed in 1815 following an idea by Benjamin Hall who got together with George Overton and Jonathon Dixon and, as a result, the eight-mile Brinore Tramroad served as a horse drawn narrow gauge railway, which could also be used by the public who had to pay tolls for the journey down to Talybont-on-Usk and the Brecon Monmouth Canal. The undulating path through tall trees and along the rocky hillside was hewn out by hand and, passing a rock carved with names dated 1896, the group rounded the valley head above the steep sided Cwm Pyrgad where the Nant Pyrgad drops steeply into the Crawnon Valley to join the road. Passing a forestry plantation below the Trefil quarries, which supplied the limestone, a heavy vehicle trundled along a track above them as a reminder that some of the quarries are still being worked today.

On December 21 meet 9am at Cogan Leisure Centre for a seven-mile hard walk taking in Craig yr Allt and Caerphilly Mountain; contact Geraint on 029 2051 5278.

On December 23 meet 10am at Penarth Clifftop car park for a three-and-a-half-mile easy walk taking in Cosmeston; contact Geraint on 029 2051 5278.

On December 27 meet 10am at Cold Knap car terrace for a six-mile moderate walk to Happy Valley and Porthkerry; contact Joy on 01446 737131.

On December 28 meet 10.30am at Dinas Powys village square for a four-mile moderate walk taking in the St Andrew's area; contact Val H on 020 2051 3274.

On December 30 meet 10am at Cosmeston for a five-mile mod walk taking in Lavernock Beach, Nature Reserve and a visit to Cosmeston Medieval Village; contact Joy on 01446 737131.

The above walks form part of the Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks which run through to January 5 and a full list can be viewed on the group website at www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com Please wear suitable warm clothing, stout footwear and carry a snack and a drink for the short rambles; for further information, please contact the group leader.

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