Wenallt and Castell Coch, 21st April

Lead: Robbie

Eight of us set off from the village hall at 10.00 and drove to the radio aerials on top of the Wenallt north of Cardiff. Walk began at 11.00 and descended through the beech woods down to a little stream. Blue bells just coming out, also wild garlic but anemones in full flower. Crossed stream and up a steep slope taking us to the car park just below the Black Cock Inn. Here we came across the first of many wood sculptures, with the group photo taking place astride a Welsh Dragon. Recently commissioned sculptures now came into view starting with animals that used to stroll these woods many years ago and moving through to animals of today. All these new sculptures had been carved by Simon O’Rourke of Wrexham and commissioned by Natural Resources Wales. Each one had been carved from the same Redwood tree.

21 april

We now descended to the Taff Trail just above Troed y Rhiw and on down to Castell Coch where we had our picnic lunch. Castell Coch was built on the site of a Norman castle first built soon after 1081. The site was acquired by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute in 1781. The architect, William Burgess, reconstructed it as a country residence in the late 1800’s. A nearby information plaque described the old iron ore workings just above Castell Coch which had been in existence in the 15th Century. In fact, the whole of Fforest Fawr is riddled with small depressions, the left overs of mine workings.

Soon after an ice cream stop at Forest Lodge, the path took us up a steep hill to where we joined Rhiwbina Hill, then down the other side to cross the same little bridge we had crossed earlier. Thereafter, a fairly flat bridle path took us to within sight of the M4 and then up a steep path all the way back to the cars. This last incline was a bit of a killer at the end of the walk. We arrived back at the cars just before 4.00pm having walked 8 miles. The weather had been kind and the woods were full of flowers and birdsong.

We shall endeavour to reduce the number of hills next time!