WALK 7: Trevithick Tramway

Maps: Landranger 170 Pathfinder 1129 Start Point GR 085950

A walk of some 8 kilometres (5 miles), not strenuous, for the most part in a delightful little cwm which was once an important thoroughfare in industrial South Wales. This walk starts at the Navigation Inn at Abercynon - a building which was at one time the administrative centre for the Glamorganshire canal, remains of which can still be seen on this walk.

Getting there from Cardiff:

by train: from Cardiff Central on the Valley Line, Merthyr train to Abercynon North or the Aberdare train to Abercynon South. It is a short walk from either to the Navigation House.

by bus: Shamrock Buses service to Aberdare from the Central Station. Ring 01443 404477 for times. Get off at Imperial stores.

by car: from Cardiff out through Whitchurch on the A 470, then, in about 15 kilometres off left onto the road signposted Abercynon West. The Navigation House is on the right just along this road.

From the inn proceed past the fire station, where there is a commemorative plaque for Richard Trevithick, and turn right up a lane signposted Tramroadside which follows part of the route of the old tramway from Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil and along which Trevithick drove his famous steam train.

Follow the tramroad past some council yards and alongside the river Taff. Pass under 2 enormous modern road bridges, then pass several houses and cross the Taff on a footbridge. The track then skirts a caravan site on the right and after passing behind some houses, crosses a road. Follow the Taff Trail across the road and above some houses to the right. Shortly after the last of these take some steps down to the river bank on the right to walk along one of the prettiest sections of the Taff Gorge. Continue upstream, passing 2 further flights of steps and rejoin the tramway by climbing the third, which is just before 2 large pipes which cross the river. Cross the river by the stone bridge and follow the gorge with the river below and on the left, passing under a railway viaduct. Shortly after passing the remains of 2 other large viaducts and going through a gate the track surface changes and it is possible to distinguish the stone sleepers of the tramway.

Continue for some distance, with more open ground on the left, until as Pont y Gwaith farm is passed on the left, the path divides. Bear left here following the Taff Trail signs to reach a road. Turn left past the farm and across the recently restored Pont y Gwaith (bridge). Follow the track up and under the A470. This brings you through a gate to a point from which the remains of the old Glamorganshire canal can be seen stretching in both directions. Follow the tarmac road up the hillside until, about 80 metres past a cattle grid, a rough track bears right where the fence ends. Follow this up to the top of the ridge and walk along it to the left.

On reaching the rocks, take a path on their right and climb it to reach the top, after crossing the gap known as the Giant's Bite. Follow the clear path along the ridge over a stile and continue along it, keeping left where path forks. Continue straight ahead and descend steeply to a stile into a field. Bear right across the field, turn right at the fence and follow it until a field gate and stile arc reached. Climb the stile and take the path straight ahead downhill. Walk in the direction of the Sports Centre car park until some drainage ditches are encountered. Negotiate these and continue downhill to a stile opposite the school. Cross busy road with care and descend a flight of steps. Turn left and follow road and pavement with school to right. Bear left into Fife Street. At its junction with Argyle Street turn left, then immediately right on to a rough track to Dock Cottages. This is where the Aberdare canal joined the Glamorganshire canal. A lock of the latter can be seen on the left.

Turn right and follow the line of the canal downhill past the children's playground and across a road. Carry on until the next road. Turn left under the railway and over the Taff to return to the Navigation Inn.

Robin Hamilton

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