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The Garth and Castell Coch

One of the longer and more strenuous walks, involving 400 metres of climbing, but a walk full of variety. It takes in the nature reserve at Forest Farm with its varied wildlife, the woods and fields around Pentyrch, Garth Hill, the highest point of the area giving splendid views in all directions, and the fairy tale castle of Castell Coch. Stout shoes or boots are definitely necessary and some stretches will be particularly waterlogged after wet weather.

Distance: 20 km (12.5 miles)
Difficulty: Grade B
Start Point: Radyr station car park [Grid Ref ST135804 ]
Maps: Landranger 171, Explorer 151

Getting there from Cardiff Central:
by bus: 33 or 133 from Central Bus Station to junction of Heol Isaf and Station Road, Radyr
by car: through Llandaff and out of Cardiff on the A4119 Llantrisant Road. Turn right onto B4262, Heol Isaf, signposted "Radyr". After I kilometre turn right into Station Road. Carry straight on to the bottom of the hill, and the car park is on the left.
by train: regular service from Cardiff Central to Radyr from Monday to Saturday.

From Radyr Station car park turn left and go under the railway bridge then across the footbridge over the Taff. Take the path leading away from the river, signposted "Forest Farm". Immediately after crossing the Melingriffith feeder turn right. After 100 metres you will reach a wooden set of gates, turn left and after a few metres you will see an identical set of gates on your right, these lead to the disused Glamorgan canal which is now a nature reserve. Turn left and follow the canal for about 500 metres. Where the canal ends at an embankment turn left and go over a stile. This path leads to a road, turn left onto the road, passing the GE Healthcare (formerly Amersham International) buildings on your left. Where the road bends there is a marked footpath on the right which will lead you back to the bank of the Taff. Turn right and in a short distance you go under the M4 and reach a footbridge over the Taff.

Cross back over the river to the Radyr/Morganstown side. Continue through a farm. across the railway line, take care, it is a busy line. On reaching the trees take the path to the right. Skirt around the playing fields to the diagonally opposite corner. Go left along the track and proceed through Pughs Garden Centre to the main road. Cross to the Ty Nant Inn and take the footpath to the right immediately after the pub car park which leads into Garth wood, a beechwood with allotments on the left.

Just in the wood the path meets another at right angles: turn left and follow this path with the edge of the wood on your left hand side. After a few hundred metres this main path bears right slightly uphill and then leads up to an old bridge across a disused railway. It then follows a drainage channel for a short distance before continuing gently uphill to reach the end of the wood. The total distance in the wood is about a kilometre.

You emerge from the wood with a stile immediately in front of you which leads to a field of scrub and bracken. Cross the stile and bear diagonally right to pick up a somewhat indistinct path running along the field. This leads over 3 stiles and passes a disused quarry on the right before reaching yet another stile, this one to the left of a tree lined sunken lane. Take this stile and follow two sides of the field boundary to reach a stile in the far corner. Continue through two more fields to reach the edge of Pentyrch village.

Cross a stile onto a tarmac road, after a few metres, there is a stile on the right with a marked path leading steeply down. Follow this to where it emerges on the Pentyrch Road. Cross the road (take care since traffic tends to speed along it) to a further stile slightly to your left. This leads into a field having a stile to the next field immediately to your right.

Once over the stile go diagonally right downhill to the bottom of the valley (this is likely to be extremely muddy in wet weather). Cross the stream and go diagonally left up the other side, making slightly to the right of the highest point, to where there is a stile which gives access to the corner of the next field. Cross this field making your way diagonally uphill to reach a stile to yet another field. Traversing this field brings you to a stile which leads to a road. A few metres uphill on the road there is a road junction.

Take the road to the right which leads gradually uphill, you are now on the Ridgeway which you will be following until you reach the Taff Trail. A track forks to the left marked "Access only" which leads onto the open land of the Garth. (If you do not wish to climb to the summit you can continue on the road, which continues round the side of the mountain before bending sharp right and descending to the Gwaelod y Garth Inn. Skip the next paragraph of instructions to rejoin walk).

Ascend bearing slightly to the right to reach the trig point which marks the summit to your left. Set off right along the ridge past a tumulus and then to the eastern edge of the Garth from where you will have fine views down the Taff valley to Cardiff and the sea. Turn left along a clear path and then turn right onto a path which leads down to Lan Farm. Make for the left hand corner of the wood when it appears. Go through the gate there and follow the footpath along the edge of the wood until it drops down to a track. Turn sharp right along the track and follow it until it executes a sharp turn left. Carry straight on here on a path and continue to the edge of the wood to meet the road. Turn left and walk down to the Gwaelod y Garth Inn.

At the Inn turn right and opposite a white house there is a footpath on the left descending steeply. This leads to a footbridge over the Taff and into Taffs Well. Keep straight on for a short distance until you meet a main road, turn right and immediately left into Sycamore Street to reach another footbridge which leads over the railway line. After a few metres turn left along the road (following the Ridgeway sign on a lamp post) and then onto a road which comes in sharply from the right. This allows you to cross the A470 dual carriageway.

Follow this road to where a track meets it on the right. Take this track which goes along the back of a football pitch, then turn left past a red-brick house and chain-link fence on your right and follow the path through a wood with a stream on your right, cross a road and continue until you reach a bridge. Go under the bridge and turn immediately left to gain access onto a path which leads up onto the bridge itself. This is the Taff Trail (beware of cyclists).

Turn left and follow the Taff Trail south with the Taff valley on your right. The path begins to climb gently and shortly after flattening out comes to a fork. Continue on the Taff trail by taking the path to the right which descends steeply to Castell Coch car park.

Follow the road down the main drive and at the entrance turn right down to Tongwynlais. Straight across the main road, down Market Street and then via the subway under the A470. After a white cottage there is a kissing gate which leads to a path along the banks of the Taff. Follow this path past the first footbridge, under the flyover and past the weir. Cross the Taff by the next footbridge which leads you back to Radyr Station car park.

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Current comments about the route:

Thank you for an excellent walk. Without wishing to be overly critical some of the way marking could be better. Not entirely clear at E and had to climb over a fence. As with others F caused us a problem. Some more marked yellow arrows would have been a great help - and saved us walking an extra mile! Also at H did not pick up the "clear path leading to Lan Farm and therefore missed Gwalod Y Garth Inn. Some more uncertainty at I. Finally, the ull up described at K is not short and the trail down to the Castell Coch car park could be clearly signposted - and was not at a fork. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable walk ad worth the trip from Carmarthen.27.10.12
John Lewis - 2012-10-28

I had trouble at F as well and J perhaps it should read left following the ridgeway footpath. Yes reasonably well waymaked but some waymarks are plain yellow arrows. Thanks for putting the effort in and making this walk available to us. Walked 15/04/12.
- 2012-04-15

Generally well waymarked except for F where the path diagonally uphill and left is not obvious. Our GPS made this 11 miles.
- 2010-02-01