ASTRONOMICALLY autumn begins on September 22, but meteorologically which takes its cue from our four seasons, autumn begins on September 1 on the day that a group of seven walkers joined Louise from Penarth and District Ramblers for a circular walk from Pontcanna.

This walk had been postponed from the previous week because of heavy rain and 40mph winds during Storm Francis.

Setting off in glorious sunshine and with clear visibility in perfect walking weather, early morning shade came from the leafy avenue of lime trees in Pontcanna Fields planted by Andrew Pettigrew who was head gardener to the Bute family of Cardiff Castle.

Originally part of the private Bute family estate, but where the public were allowed access for recreation, after Sophia Gardens and Cardiff Castle were donated to the city in 1947 by the 5th Marquis of Bute, the parks committee bought Pontcanna fields in 1948.

Passing Cardiff Riding School which provides facilities for disabled children to go riding and crossing the busy Western Avenue via a footbridge, upon reaching Llandaff Rugby Club the path led them on past the Cathedral School playing fields to the majestic Llandaff Cathedral.

Dating to 1107 when Bishop Urban instigated the construction of a larger church upon the site of an original sixth century Christian site established by Saint Dyfrig, then St Teilo and lastly St Euddogwy, these three Celtic saints remain patron saints of the present cathedral and are represented by three mitres in the Cathedral badge.

Deviating uphill to the site of St Teilo’s Well which original supplied Llandaff with water, St Teilo was the second Bishop of Llandaff and this holy well is now Grade II listed.

The group then heard the chilling story of Well Cottage where the verger of Llandaff cruelly murdered his pregnant wife in October 1977, by throwing and electric fire into the bath with her.

Making their way to the substantial remains of the Bishop’s Palace, constructed in the 13th century and which is the only surviving residence of the medieval clergy, which was most likely destroyed when it was burnt by Owain Glyndwr in the 15th century; it was time for morning break.

A bench situated in the garden is dedicated to a famous deceased Welsh actress Lynn Hunter who appeared on film, TV and radio and probably recently is best known for roles in Pobol y Cwm, Holby City and The Tuckers.

The current building work at the front of the Bishop’s Palace is destined to become a modern social centre for the local over 50’s community.

Then on past the village green with its preaching cross, 13th century bell tower and the Sir William Goscombe John WW1 Memorial, depicting a woman with her two sons, one from the Cathedral School and the other a local boy from the parish – two very different members of society who bravely and proudly fought for their country and died on the same battlefields.

Moving on past the Llandaff Rowing Club which was founded in 1946, a path beside the River Taff led them to Hailey Park.

This 20 acre site was gifted to the council by Mr and Mrs Claude Percival Hailey for public use; and the city’s unemployed worked on constructing the park to include tennis courts, a bowling green and a children’s playground.

Road walking at Ty Mawr Road led to the twice restored Melingriffith Water Pump, dating to the 1790’s when it pumped water from the Melingriffith Tin Plate Works feeder into the Glamorgan Canal.

Heading through the delightful picturesque Glamorganshire Canal Reserve, along a disused section of the canal which was originally constructed in 1794 to carry iron from Merthyr Tydfil through a series of 50 locks to Cardiff Docks, it is home to a wide variety of water birds including kingfishers and herons.

Enjoying lunch by a lock gate where dropped crumbs on the canal wall attracted great tits, blue tits, robins and goldfinches, plus a few squirrels, the walk continued up steep steps and along an eroding path criss-crossed with tree roots for the return to Hailey Park.

Crossing the River Taff via the Valley Heritage Way bridge brought them to Radyr Court Road and back alongside the River Taff past the weir to return to their start after a delightful way to open the month of September.

You can follow the group’s exploits before, during and after lockdown on Facebook.