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Pontypridd Circular longer walk

We assembled at Trefforest Railway Station near Pontypridd to sunshine and blue skies for the first in our programme of longer walks in 2022. The first hill, the toughest of the day, quickly beckoned as we struck off though the town,  passing an eye catching headstone in the local cemetery – marking the final resting place of Ruby Pearl Marshall, Queen of the Gypsies.  We then started our steep ascent though common, fields and roads, stopping periodically to see the panorama emerging below us. Neil, the leader, was pleased to see that a number of stiles on our route had been replaced by shiny new kissing gates in the last two weeks, making life a little easier.

We reached our goal - the trig point on the summit of Cefn Eglwsilan – and soaked up the fine views in all directions, including the shining roof of the  Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holme in the Bristol Channel to the South, and the flatlands of the Vale of Glamorgan to the west.  Right below us were old mining communities dotted along the Rhondda, Taff and Rhymney valleys, evidence of  the area's rich industrial history, and further afield we could see Pen y Fan and other peaks in the Brecon Beacons. We also spotted frogspawn in a little pond close to the trig point, a bleak spot that will be challenging for the emerging tadpoles.

Once we had regained our energy, we descended through fields and quiet lanes, for a lunch stop in Pontypridd’s Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and read about the area’s history. Passing a bridge supported by a large pillar placed in the middle of the road, our next climb was though woodland that has grown on the site of previous workings, and soon we could see a different perspective of the valley below, and across to Cefn Eglwsilan, which we had just climbed.  Soon we emerged onto more open landscapes and descended into the Rhondda Valley.  We enjoyed watching a local rugby match and were also impressed by a hollowed out tree that was still actively growing. We joined a cycle track that followed the route of a long abandoned trailway line, reaching Barry Sidings, a popular cafe and cycle hire venue, where welcome coffees and ice creams were consumed.

The suggested shorter option, available from this point, was declined by all and we started our third ascent, the easiest of the three, rising steadily on wide forest tracks, then on a mixture of paths, open common and fields. We finally returned to urbanised Trefforest, passing the street where Tom Jones was born, before a final coffee stop near the station.

According to Strava (other apps etc. are available!), the total distance was 12 miles, with an elevation gain of 2,275 ft.

It was a more challenging walk than most of us had done for some time, but we were all tired, happy and pleased that we had completed it.

It is intended to offer a longer walk of over ten miles on the second Saturday of each month in either South or West Wales over the coming months.  It is hoped that at least half of them will be accessible by train, as this walk was.

Our next longer walk will be on 9th April near Bridgend – details here: https://www.goc.org.uk/event/vale-of-glamorgan-longer-walk/

Provisional dates for future walks are 14th May and 11th June – locations to be advised.  Offers to lead longer walks welcome!

Neil

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