ON A delightful sunny morning but with a cool breeze 12 walkers including leader Su G for Penarth and District Ramblers travelled up to Foresters Oak Picnic Site at Wentwood Forest or Coed Gwent, which overlooks Wentwood reservoir that opened in 1904 as a trout fishing centre, and is currently empty for surveying and maintenance work beginning soon.
During the middle ages the woods were owned by the lordship of Chepstow and the forest had its own laws with courts held twice yearly at Foresters Oaks when people were tried for sheep stealing or poaching and were often hanged from the oak trees.
Setting off along a rough pathway and through a gate before climbing Gray Hill, after recent rainfall the path was slippery and muddy but from the summit lovely views up the misty Severn Estuary to both Severn Bridges, across to Somerset and down towards Newport, the Caldicot Levels and over the beautiful countryside below the hill.
Waterlogged muddy tracks led north eastwards across the summit of Gray Hill to reach two standing stones, the second marking the entrance to a stone circle, which during the summer months is lost in the vegetation.
Descending gradually to a stone wall covered in pretty green moss, the stile contained a delightful memorial stone to Rosemary Unwin, before a large field filled with sheep led them down to a farm gate.
From this point the emphasis was on dealing with mud and there was plenty of it in store as a rough thick gooey track, then a field where the trees were covered in green lichen indicating clean air, brought them to a road beside the pretty Castrogi Brook.
With spring well and truly in the air, the banks along the lane leading to Cribau Mill contained snowdrops, daffodils, celandine and primroses.
Heading steeply up a sunken lane covered with a carpet of autumnal leaves to emerge onto a road where they paused to watch black and white spring lambs that were frolicking in a field, was followed by a tramp along a quiet lane.
Climbing over a stile alerted a herd of bullocks that came charging through the field before running out of steam and they just stood gazing as the group undeterred exited back onto a road.
By now darker clouds were beginning to cover the blue sky and passing Marls Farm, then some lovely runner ducks in a garden with a large pond, a rough muddy path led them on past lots of old abandoned cars to a road.
A descent through a delightful green valley eventually brought them through Bully Hole Bottom where a heavy shower of rain engulfed them.
Crossing a footbridge and a field and climbing uphill by road past a rather handsome but fed-up looking Hereford Bull in an adjoining field, the rain stopped and the sun re-appeared just in time for lunch by a farm gate south of Pentref-bach with a chance to dry out.
Continuing uphill by road past two more spring lambs in a field and yet more snowdrops carpeting the verge, the road led them on past an old red telephone kiosk, due for removal and through a gate onto a narrow path.
Two eager spaniels from a nearby house barked out a warning as the group headed downhill through a field joining a road past The Glen and onto a bridle path.
Another climb led them deep into the eastern side of Wentwood Forest following muddy tracks up to The Five Paths during a second but shorter shower of rain.
Passing two lots of horse riders and trudging along waterlogged paths, before a gradual descent led them back to their start was followed by well-earned refreshment at the Groes Wen Inn to round off a great day.
On March 18, meet 9am at Cogan for a 10-mile moderate walk at Tonyrefail; contact Rachel on 01446 410545.
Wear suitable clothing, preferably boots and carry waterproofs, food and drinks. Some degree of fitness is required and if you are in any doubt, then please contact the walk leader for advice.
To follow the group please log onto penarthramblers.wordpress.com or Facebook. Programmes and membership advice can be obtained from Pam on 029 2025 5102.