Llanharan, the Ridgeway and wind turbines

My walking partner, Alec, has returned from his holiday in Scotland and so we have started the planning for the next stage of our Wales Coastal Path walk. I would like to get to the Pembrokeshire border this year, but first … some training needs to be done! This walk is one I’ve done with variants twice before, and so it was to be this time too. Not starting in Llantrisant Forest this time, but in Llanharan – a very pretty village on the A473 between Llantrisant and Bridgend. The starting point chosen might not entirely be unconnected to the location of The Turberville which is where we parked the car. I leave you to work that one out.

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This variant of the walk is well described here; this is the walk I’d recommend now because in addition to the start and finish location, it also misses out the long forest section on the return. Another write-up of the walk on the Penarth Ramblers website is here.

So we started up the hill beside the other pub in Llanharan – The High Corner – and missed the turning right on to Church Terrace having cheerily asked a local whether we were on the right path and getting an affirmative answer! The walk takes you up across the contours gradually climbing towards Llantrisant Forest through fields of sheep and cattle. Nearly all of whom seemed interested in us …

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… and all who seemed to want to congregate at the stiles/gates at the exits to the fields. At this last stile we left the fields and entered Llantrisant Forest, turning left soon after and passing some wonderful shows of wild flowers including orchids.

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The forest path continued past The Beacons Round Barrows of the Bronze Age, 2,000-1,000BC, their commanding position suggests they may have been the burial mounds of important people. Exiting the forest we headed towards the Ridgeway  – “This is the probably the quietest that this ridgeway has been for many hundred years, being used as a drovers road and a route for pilgrims travelling from Gloucester to Margam. In the early twentieth century it would have seen large numbers of miners walking to and from the various local collieries. The wording of the inscription on the rocks alongside the path, in English ‘God is Love’, is said to have been carved by a grateful father who took his young daughter to this spot for the purer air when she was suffering from an illness to her lungs and recovered. Nonconformist preachers also used this location to harangue the passing colliers. The ridgeway walk at this point is known as the Ffordd y Bryniau, becoming the Ogwr Ridgeway Walk a little to the West.” [Ref. Walking in Glamorgan]

We came across some youngsters training for their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, one group of four were significantly off course and heading in the wrong direction – they should have tagged along with us, they would have met up with the other part of their group!

This part of the walk as we approached the Mynydd Portref wind farm could have given the walk a different name – the foxglove walk – as we passed some wonderful stands, looked out over the Vale of Glamorgan, and watched and listened to a pair of  stonechat.

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The wind farm was ahead of us by now and so was the need to stop for lunch, which we did in the ruins of St Peters super Montem. A lonely and strange location for a church which has not been without it’s controversies – seemingly thought (by some) to be the location of King Arthur’s grave. I’m pleased to say there is no trace of the 6ft fence and steel gate now! [See also here and here.] An interesting diversion – here’s the church now …

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… with it’s not so ancient guardians nowadays! And so onwards – Alec thought I ought to take this picture of a gate (the entrance from The Ridgeway to the field in which the church is) …

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… and now a few pictures of the walk as we passed under the turbines (is that the origin of the Turberville pub’s name, I wonder?) …

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… we then made a mistake in our navigation and walked too far along The Ridgeway, rather than walking down the valley that goes left to right in the picture below towards Ty’n-y-Cwm …

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… which meant a descent across perhaps the most unfriendly Rights of Way I’ve come across near Ty-Charles and Ty’n-y-Cwm farms  -the “right” path would have taken us nearer to Maendy Farm, look at this stile as an example of how to make a stile challenging to manage. [The next one had a string of barbed wire above a gate that you had to dip under.] …

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Approaching the correct route at Ty’n-y-Cwm (with Maendy Farm above) …

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… we joined the tracks that led down to the old Llanbad Colliery …

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… and then back up the hill towards the new house on Mynydd Coedbychan (where I’d had trouble finding the RoW last time I’d done this walk) and down a sunken lane which led back to Llanharan.

A good day, a good walk and as ever … a good pint to finish!

Link to Google Photos album

The walk, just over 10 miles, including the early mistake we (I) made, and the later mistake we both made – to go high, rather than come low from the end of the wind turbine farm – was completed in just under 4 hours, but we did stop for nearly 1hours 45mins for photographs, lunchbreak and attacks on horse flies. The route is shown below.

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