Ridgeway footpath above Brynna, 18th August

Lead: Phil

This weekend’s walk was to the Ridgeway footpath and hillsides above Brynna and Llanharan. The weather forecast for the day however was not good, with a fair chance of rain and high wind on higher ground, so the six wanderers attending the walk were all hoping that the forecasters had got it all wrong.

The first part of the walk leading from Brynna is a fairly steep climb along a tarmac track, then turning left and following the side of the valley and hillside toward the farmhouses of Llanbad Fach and Llanbad Fawr, an area that has a number of mine buildings that were still in good condition considering their age. It was at this part of the walk we were greeted by geese, chickens and a theatrical horse that seemed intent on amusing us all.

The weather was holding up well as we started the steep climb toward the Ridgeway footpath and the wind turbines that can be seen from Wick. There were no thoughts of stopping for a breather ‘unfortunately’, so we soon we got to the top of the mountain, though by now the wonderful views toward the Bristol Channel that I witnessed a few weeks ago had all but disappeared, we could just make out the valley in the distance that leads from Bridgend to St. Brides Major.

We were now on the Ridgeway footpath and it was time to stop for lunch and the team photo at St Peter’s Church (Capel Llanbad). The church was first built in the late 12th century, rebuilt in the late 17th century and was still in regular use in the 18th century. However, the opening of the coal mines in and around Brynna led to the building of a new church and the transfer of the chalice, bells and register in 1812. The Church has since fallen into disrepair.

The weather was now deteriorating, with Graham struggling to set up the camera with the wind and rain, but this did not stop us having our lunch protected by the remains of the 4-foot-thick walls of St Peter’s, though by now visibility was down to just over 100 metres, and the rain was getting worse.

18 aug

We continued along the Ridgeway and reaching a crossroads, I explained that this was a good chance to take a shortcut that would lead us directly back to Brynna, but this fell on deaf ears of this hardy lot and we continued on.

The next part of the walk took us down through a lovely valley and across a stream, the Ewenni Fach, by now it was a case of ‘heads down and hang on to your hats time’ as we reached the rocks that has the words ‘Dduw Cariad Yw’ – ‘God is love’ carved into them. In the 1920’s a Collier from Thomastown (near Tonyrefail) carried his daughter to this spot daily to sit with him while he carved. She was suffering from Tuberculosis and as he carved she enjoyed the views and breathed in the fresh air. This carried on until he had finished his carving and his daughter was cured.

It was now time to retrace our walk back along the same footpath until we reached the crossroads and started our decent back to Brynna. I was hoping that my navigation skills were up to scratch as this was not the time to get lost. Thankfully all ok, as a landmark farmhouse that I recognised from my recce came into view, and just to complete the day Marie amused us all with magic, yes magic, blowing bubbles from her coat, hands free!!

A very nice walk that took 3 hours with a few stops, and one we should do another day when the weather is better and we can enjoy the great views.