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Long Distance Walks in South Wales

The following details are taken partly from a leaflet 'Long Distance Walks in South Wales' which used to be available in local tourist offices. This was printed in 1992, and is now somewhat out of date, due to the council reorganisation.
The number of routes in the area provides a variety of walks to suit all requirements. Probably the most popular is the Taff Trail, which is a surfaced track, with some roads, suitable for cyclists as well as walkers. On the other hand, the Cambrian Way follows unwaymarked rights of way mainly over the mountain tops. The Ogwr Ridgeway, Ffordd y Bryniau as well as the Rhymney Valley and Sirhowy Valley walks keep mainly to the open hilltops, while the Usk Valley Walk mainly includes stretches through low lying farmland. The Coed Morgannwg Way is a hilly route mainly through forests, while the Heritage Coast provides spectacular cliff top views.

Details of most of these routes are available on the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) website.


The Taff Trail

60 miles: Cardiff - Merthyr - Brecon
http://www.tafftrail.org.uk/
The Taff Trail footpaths are in two parts, to the north and south of Merthyr Tydfil. To the south of Merthyr the Trail links the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway at Llanfabon to the Coed Morgannwg Way at Gethin Wodland park.
This link section of the Trail is 9 miles (13km) and follows the eastern flank of the historic Taff Valley affording views over Merthyr Tydfil, once the "Iron Capital of the World". Further south the Trail extends to Cardiff, passing through the beautiful woodlands of Fforest Fawr and the remarkable fairytale folly of Castell coch.
North of Merthyr the Taff Trail consists of a 36 mile (58km) circular walk between Merthyr Tydfil and Brecon. This section travels through the heart of the Brecon Beacons national park giving dramatic views of the beacons themselves. Other attractions include the Forestry Commission's Visitor Centre at Garwnant, the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and the impressive Pontsarn viaduct.

 

The Coed Morgannwg Way

36 miles: Margam park - Aberdare - Merthyr
The Coed Morgannwg Way is a dramatic walk of 36 miles (58km) almost all of which traverses the hills of the Forestry Commission's Morgannwg Forest and Afan Argoed Forest park.
It follows ancient trackways of Celtic origin and passes by a number of Bronze and Iron Age settlements. Along the route are several good view points with views of the Brecon Beacons and Bristol Channel. The highest of these is near Craig-y-Llyn, which is 1968 feet (600m) above sea level.
The whole route can be walked in about 16 hours, starting from either Gethin Woodland Park in the north (where it is linked with the Taff Trail) or Margam Country Park in the south where it is linked to the Ogwr Ridgeway Walk. Shorter sections can also be walked from Afan Argoed or Dare Valley Country parks or from one of the Forestry Commission car parks along the route.

 

The Ogwr Ridgeway Walk

13 miles: Margam Park - Mynydd y Gaer
PDF leaflet of route
The Ogwr Ridgeway Walk is an attractive 13 mile (21km) walk linking to the Coed Morgannwg Way in the west, and continuing as the Ffordd-y-Bryniau (Taff Ely Ridgeway) walk in the east.
It can be walked in a day or in shorter lengths from Bryngarw Country park or one of the two car parks provided along the route.
Superb panoramas of the Valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan can be obtained throughout the walk and on clear days views of the Devon and Somerset hills can be enjoyed.
Fine wooded landscapes can be seen near Coytrahen and Blackmill. There is a wide variety of historical and archaeological interest along the route including the bronze Age burial mounds on Mynydd-y-Gaer, and the old railway viaduct at Blackmill dating back to 1876.

 

Ffordd-y-Bryniau

21 miles: Mynydd y Gaer - Caerphilly Mountain
This 21 mile (34km) Ridgeway Walk crosses what used to be the Borough of Taff Ely from Mynydd-y-Gaer to Caerphilly common in the east.
Most of the walk is on open hilltops, but it drops through the forestry to cross the Ely Valley and rise again to the cobbled streets of the mediaeval hill town of Llantrisant. Continuing eastwards it passes Caerau iron age hill fort and the valley of the Nant Myddlyn before climbing to 1000 ft (307m) at Garth Hill. The Taff river is then crossed on a footbridge and the path climbs again to finish at Caerphilly Common.

 

The Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk

27 miles: Caerphilly circular
Caerphilly walks
The Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk follows a 27 mile (43km) waymarked route around the Caerphilly Basin linking the three main ridges of Mynydd-y-Grug, Thornhill and Eglwysilan.
The whole route can be tackled in one, or in shorter sections, starting from a number of convenient venues at Machen, Hengoed and Caerphilly.
A pleasant mixture of scenery will be encountered throughout the walk, as the route takes you up on to the open hill top commons which rise to 984 feet (300m) at Mynydd Machen through a mixture of lowland farmland.
There are splendid panoramic views of the region to be experienced, on clear days you can see as far as the Brecon Beacons in the north to the Bristol Channel and Somerset in the south.

 

The Glamorgan Heritage Coast

14 miles: Southerndown - Aberthaw
The Glamorgan heritage Coast is an area rather than a path, but it is possible to walk the 14 miles of coastline as a linear walk.
The area was one of the first two coastlines in Britain to be jointly designated as 'Heritage Coast' by the Countryside Commission and local authorities in 1972. The aims of the 'Heritage Coast' designation and of the Project's work are to conserve this beautiful and unspoilt section of coastline, so that present and future generations may enjoy its natural beauty.
The area extends over 14 miles of coastline overlooking the Bristol Channel and includes farmland immediately inland. Its western limit is Porthcawl. The eastern limit is Aberthaw Power Station. This coastline is remote and wild with rugged and dangerous cliffs. Tide torn beaches of rock and sand give way in the west to more than two square miles of high sand dunes. Within this relatively short coastline there are ruined Norman castles and the outlines of Celtic hill settlements.
When the weather is bad, the coast must be given proper respect as many of its aspects are dangerous. At high tide most of its beaches are tide traps and can be fatal, whilst the edges of the shattered cliffs are constantly falling, making them equally dangerous to people above or below them. When viewing the peace and grandeur of this exceptional area, remember that it is the constant movement and extremes that shape it.

 
Tredegar House

Sirhowy Valley Walk

26 miles: Newport - Tredegar
Caerphilly walks
The Sirhowy Valley Walk runs from Newport in the south to Tredegar in the north. The northern end is at the memorial to Aneurin Bevin, architect of the National Health Service, born in Tredegar. The town of Tredegar developed from the iron industry in the late eighteenth century, with Samuel Homfray a prominent iron master. The southern end is at the 17th century mansion of Tredegar House, the home of the Morgan family, including Sir Charles Morgan, father in law of Samuel Homfray.
In between are 26 challenging miles, ranging from the built up fringes of Newport to the mountain ridges of Mynydd Machen and Mynydd Manmoel. There are many reminders of the area's indstrial past. The route includes the line of Hall's tramroad (built by Benjamin Hall, who gave his name to 'Big Ben' at Westminster, and the hallmark) as well as the Sirhowy and Penllwyn tramroads. It passes through the Sirhowy Valley Country Park, and the Fourteen Lock Canal Centre on the old Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
 
raven

Raven Walk

12 miles: circular from Cwmcarn
Caerphilly walks and Caerphilly.gov.uk with PDF route map leaflet.
The Raven walk follows footpaths, bridleways and cycleways with only short sections on road or lanes. The paths are mainly dry in summer but can get boggy in winter and after wet weather. This circular route has some challenging climbs but with some truly tremendous views of the Sirhowy and Ebbw valleys as the reward. The walk starts at the Cwmcarn Visitor Centre and heads to Mynydd Islwyn, Ynys Hywel and Glenside before returning to Cwmcarn. The route includes views of the Sirhowy and Ebbw rivers, the Severn Estuary in the south and the Brecon Beacons in the north. You will also visit Nant-y-draenog reservoir on the way. The path is waymarked with the distinctive black and white Raven walk logo.
 
Roman amphitheatre Caerleon

Usk Valley Walk

25 miles: Caerleon (Newport) - Abergavenny
The Usk Valley Walk closely follows the river Usk, from the Roman town of Caerleon to Brecon, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. A relatively flat walk, leading through fields and woods, down country lanes, past farms, hamlets and villages. The original walk, from the Ship Inn, Caerleon to Usk Bridge, Abergavenny is just over 25 miles. An extension, mainly following the Brecon canal completes the route from Abergavenny to Brecon.
In addition to the unspoilt river scenery and views of the mountains, sites to visit along the way include: the Roman amphitheatre and remains at Caerleon, the derelict Llancayo windmill, Clytha house and castle, Coed-y-Bwynydd Iron Age hill fort, Abergavenny Castle, Llanelly church, the towns of Llangattock and Crickhowell and the aqueduct and lock near Brecon. There are museums at Abergavenny, Brecon, Caerleon, Newport and Usk and railway stations at Newport and Abergavenny.

 
Cambrian Way - the book

The Cambrian Way

265 miles: Cardiff - Conwy
A tough high level coast to coast walk through wildest Wales, described as 'The Mountain Conoisseur's Walk'.
Following the first proposals for the Cambrian Way in 1968, the Countryside Commision showed great interest but bowed to opposition in 1982 and abandoned the project. However, this unofficial route follows existing rights of way and other public spaces, and is recommended as a fine three week walk through scenically superb and largely unfrequented mountain country.
The full 265 mile route from Cardiff to Conwy is really only suitable for experienced walkers, having double the ascent of the Pennine Way. However, the stretch through South East Wales is little harder than any of the other routes listed here. The first part follows the Taff Trail out of Cardiff, and then the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway to Machen.
The guide book, 'The Cambrian Way - The Mountain Conoisseur's Walk' by Tony Drake, is available at 4.50, ISBN 0 9509580 2 6. Or see the Cambrian Way Walkers Association web site.

 
Capital Walks - the book

Capital Walk

38 miles: Sully - St Brides Wentlooge
The Capital Walk evolved from Cardiff Ramblers' second book of walking routes More Capital Walks. It is a "coast to coast" walk starting at Sully, west of Cardiff, and running around the city to St Brides Wentlooge, on the coast to the east. From its start, with views across the Bristol Channel it passes through Cosmeston Country Park, with a reconstructed mediaeval village and continues through the town of Dinas Powys, the only built up area on the route. Then, after the 'Salmon Leaps' lakes, it passes under the Wenvoe TV mast before crossing rolling countryside to St Fagans, with its superb folk museum. The route steepens after Pentyrch to ascend the 1000 foot Garth Mountain, before dropping to cross the river Taff. It then follows the ridge, with extensive views as well as secluded valleys and beech woods, as far as the old mansion house of Ruperra 'castle'. After crossing the river Rhymney the land becomes flatter until reaching the marshy Wenlooge levels, where the muddy foreshore is in marked contrast to the coast at the start of the walk.

 
Coast at Rhoose

Seascape Trail

A proposed route continuing the Glamorgan Heritage Coast eastwards. Agreed by the old South Glamorgan council, the new county councils will hopefully bring it into existence. It includes some lovely coastal scenery, such as Porthkerry, as well as, inevitably more built up areas through Barry, Penarth and Cardiff. The new marina at Penarth, and the Cardiff Bay Barrage are modern developments that will help to make the route possible.
In the years since this page was created, the route has now come into existence as part of the Wales Coastal Path.

 
Beaupre castle

Valeways Millennium Heritage Trail

60 miles: circular - Barry, St Brides Major and Cowbridge
"A leisurely walk through 6000 years of beauty, culture and history in the picturesque Vale of Glamorgan"
Recently created by the Valeways organisation this route aims to include all the best spots in the Vale of Glamorgan. The trail is split into 16 easy to follow routes, each of which can be walked within a few hours. The surroundings are diverse, often spectacular and steeped in history. The route takes in too many scenic villages to count, with quaint cottages, grand mansions and castles, old churches, a dovecote etc. Bridges varying from an ancient clapper bridge to a Victorian viaduct, the collection of dark age celtic crosses at Llantwit Major, a lighthouse, two stone age burial chambers, a ruined windmill - the list goes on. Best of all is the rolling farmland and coastal scenery.


Also, a little further afield:
Wye Valley Walk 86 miles: Chepstow - Hereford - Rhayader
Pembrokeshire Coast Path 167 miles (268 km) www.pcnpa.org.uk
Cotswold Way 100 miles (160 km): Chipping Camden - Bath www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold/
Offa's Dyke Path 168 miles (270 km): Chepstow - Prestatyn www.offasdyke.demon.co.uk
More details on long distance routes can be found on the Ramblers Association long distance walkers information
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