Lead: Linda and John
Thermal coats and woollen hats were the order of the day as the hardy band of Wanderers headed north. Thankfully, when we arrived at Bryngarw the glorious winter sunshine and the sheltered nature of the estate took the edge off the cold.
The Bryngarw estate, comprising the House (now a popular wedding venue), formal gardens and adjoining land came into the possession of the coal-owning Treharne family in 1775. It remained in private hands until, much neglected, it passed into public ownership in 1959. Since then it has undergone a major programme of restoration.
Our group of eight started off in the Oriental garden which contains exotic plants and trees from around the world as well as a Japanese-style tea house and ornamental bridge (where the mandatory group photo was taken on the return journey!). We then followed the line of the clear, gushing River Garw. It is hard to believe that it was once known as the “black river” due to pollution from collieries further up the valley. Soon we picked up the boardwalk passing through wetlands before climbing into Coed Kensington, a deciduous woodland which will be carpeted with bluebells in a couple of months. Graham then took us on a bit of a detour which proved to be an excellent decision because of the wonderful views it gave us over the Garw Valley. On returning to the main route, we passed the ornamental lake, the House itself (which of course we had a peep inside!) before finishing off again in the Oriental garden.
Following our walk, it was time for some hot liquid refreshment in the Tea Room – although the staff there struggled to cope with the rush!
It was an enjoyable start to what threatens to be a very wintry week. The Garw Valley was new territory for several members of our group and could be a location for some longer walks in the future.