St Brides Major and Castle-upon-Alun, 9th February

Lead: Phil

The beginning of 2019 has been a great year so far for the Wanderers with very good turn outs at all walks in both January and February in spite of the poor weather, and today was no exception with 12 of us meeting at the village hall, including Ron Nudd who has joined the group.

We headed off to St Brides Major and parked at the Farmers Arms, then heading off along the main road, and taking a right turn into Penylan Road, passing a number of very nice houses and a chapel all tucked into the hillside. As we continued it was not long before we came to the common above St Brides and with a steady climb we were at the top and stopped to enjoy the views towards the hillsides above Bridgend.

We continued downwards towards the river Afon Alun, taking care on the very slippery slope leading to the road. This is a particularly beautiful location, with stepping stones crossing the river, and at this point the sun made a welcome appearance.

We continued along the road, with the river to the right of us, and we stopped for a while to admire the wonderful bridge that carries the railway line leading to Bridgend, both in terms of its design, but also the skill of engineers, and craftsmen that built the structure. Surprisingly, I do not think this bridge is listed.

We soon arrived at the stepping stones further down the river that are classed as a Listed Monument *, and decided to stop for warm drinks, and the photo taken by Graham, though we abandoned any thoughts of taking the photo whilst stood on the stones, for fear of one of us falling into the river.

9 feb

After safely crossing, we continued up along Heol Y Stepsau and towards Wick Road, passing Wallas Fach Farm house with its very nice gardens and pond full of mating frogs. Continuing along Wick Road we turned left passing Wallas Farm and over the style, and on through a few fields and towards a very nice wooded valley leading to the railway. After safely crossing, we eventually arrived at the clapper bridge that is classed as a Listed Building ** that crosses the river.

At this point the skies were turning darker and with the wind picking up we knew the first of the day’s downpours was about to arrive, and we were soon clad with all manner of hats, coats and waterproofs. Thankfully, the storm did not last long and we arrived at Coed Y Bwl nature reserve and stopped for lunch.

With the walk continuing up the hill from the nature reserve the skies blackened again and sure enough another soaking, but we kept going and headed for the main road in St Brides and back to the cars and the return journey to Wick.

* Listed: Crossing the Afon Alun, 16 stones are visible. Those at each end of the line are overgrown. They are set on the north side of a ford.

** Listed: An unusual and well-preserved example of a C18 bridge using an ancient form of construction. Low, rubble stone clapper bridge, with slightly ramped deck circa 1m wide. Five small openings are visible for the passage of water, each with flat heads.