Monday, 16 August 2010

Penarth to Sully - 4 miles

Distance: 8 miles (there and back)
Pubs: 1
Longest distance between pubs: 4 miles
Footwear: Walking boots (unless it's been very dry)
Public transport: train and bus (50mins from Cardiff).
Sundayable: yes

This is another there and back walk to a nice pub that's a possible for Sundays. The going is very easy apart from a a half mile section along St Mary's Well Beach where there is a scrabble down the cliffs and the beach is only accessible at low tide. The pub at the end of it the Captain's Wife is a vintage pub and so popular for Sunday lunches and any family occasions such as mothers day.

Either get the train or bus (49 Cardiff bus) to Penarth.
Assuming you are starting in the town centre go down Stanwell Road at the big roundabout. Turn left after 200 yards onto Plymouth road. After 50 yards turn left down a small footpath signposted as "Esplanade via Alexandra Park" (photo). Walk down the steps over the bridge, carry on through the park and turn right on to Bridgeman road. From here you should be able to see the pier. Walk down the hill to the promenade and turn right. I could just about say keep going for 2 miles until you reach Lavernock point since the path is so obvious, but here's more detail. Walk down the promenade and up the hill (photo). Towards the top turn off to the left on the footpath through the park. This is a tarmacked path and very well maintained. Assuming you are walking on a weekend there will be plenty of people using it. After 500 yards the path enters a wooded area simply follow this for another one and a half miles until you come to Lavernock point.
The path will bring you out on Fort road. Walk down the road past the church. Keep going for 400 yards past the caravan site. There is a pub in the site called The Marconi Inn. This is exactly what you would expect for a pub in a caravan park. Unless you want fizzy larger I would avoid it. Immediately after the entrance to the park turn left down the foot path mark with a blue sign. After 200 yards go through the gate and go straight on. After 400 yards you'll come to the remains of some gun emplacements from the second world war. Carry on down the coast paths. After 500 yards you'll come across another gun emplacement. This is where the walk becomes a climb. Aim for the far right hand side of the field, but instead of going through the kissing gate go to the left and 'climb' down the cliffs (photo) on to St Mary's Well Beach. You should not attempt this section of the walk at high tide.
Okay first off, be very careful climbing down on to the beach. Don't be tempted to carry on the footpath past the caravan site. You can do this but eventually you'll come to a point where coast erosion has removed the path and you'll be forced to turn back. I've search in vain for any information on the Internet about the repair of the path, but it has been like this for years so I expect it will stay this way. There is an alternative path behind the caravan site but I've gone with this route since this is a coast walk.
Walk along the beach to the far end where there is a way (I don't really want to call it a path) up from the beach to the point (photo). Here there is a derelict house. Continue on the path and you'll soon come out St Mary's Well Bay road. Opposite a white house (remember this for the return journey). Turn left and walk down the road for 1 mile (photo). At the end of the road squeeze though the gate that connects the road with the car park for the Captain's Wife pub. This is a popular pub for Sunday lunches. It's serves tribute and a couple of guest beers. For the return journey retrace your steeps.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Mightly Caerphilly Hills Pub Crawl - 8 Miles

Distance: 8 miles
Pubs: 5
Longest distance between pubs: 3 miles
Footwear: Walking boots (unless it's been dry)
Public transport: train and bus (10 mins from Cardiff).
Sundayable: just about 

This is it. After the literally years of walking and drinking. I can honestly say that this is the best pub walk around Cardiff. It is 8 miles with 5 pubs. Starting at Lisvane station and ending in Taffs Well. The walk is only a sort distance from Cardiff and the density of pubs means it is possible to get your friends to come along.


Leave from Queen Street Station. Buy a return ticket to Taffs Well. Technically you should buy two single tickets (from Queens Street to Lisvane and from Taffs Well to Queens Street) however once I've explained to the conductor that "I'm getting the train to Lisvane walking over the Caerphilly Hills to Taffs Well and getting the train back" they have never had any problems with the tickets.
Get the train to Lisvane and Thornhill. Leave the station and turn left down Cherry Orchard Road. Continue for 50 yards going straight over at the roundabout. Take the right turn after another 50 yards. This is the Old Cottage Inn. It is not well signed from the road. You can of course skip this pub out if you don't want a pub in the first 10 minuets of your walk.
After leaving The Old Cottage leave the pub and turn left down Cherry Orchard Road. At this point you can take the alternative route discussed at the end of this post. The alternative route is probably a nicer walk but misses out the Ty Mawr pub.
Continue down Cherry Orchard road for half a mile, eventually turn left down the Graig Road. Don't worry about the "T-Junction" sign (photo). Walk up the road over the M4 and keep going for half a mile until you get to reach the Ty Mawr Arms (photo). This is the second pub stop. The Ty Mawr is a Brains pub that caters mainly for families eating out. It has a large beer garden with views over Cardiff and the Severn Estuary. This being a Brains pub I'd recommend drinking something from a bottle.
After leaving the pub go back out onto the Graig Road and turn left. Continue up the road for half a mile. Shortly after the road does a dog-leg take the left turn down a small lane (photo) marked with a yellow arrow. After 400 yards you will come a collection of small houses on the corner of Llanishen Golf course. It is at his point that you will rejoin the walk if you have taken the ' alternative route '. Keep on the main path and go through the gate following the "rhymney valley ridge way walk" yellow arrow (photo). After 2oo yards the main path takes a turn to the right by a footpath post and a small log bench. Take the smaller path to the left. This follows the edge of the golf course and is beautiful during the Bluebell season. After 400 yards ignore the turning to the right and keep on the edge of the golf course (photo). During wet weather this bit can be especially muddy particularly the last 40 yards. When the path emerges on a small lane turn left down the hill. Follow the track around the corner and take the right turn. Follow the road (photo) for 200 yards and climb over the stile on the right into the field. If you reach a farm house you've gone too far. In the field head to the edge of the hedge to your left (photo). This is a bit of a climb but it's about as bad as the walk gets. Follow this path for 600 yards. The way is most obvious and has some great views of Cardiff. In the final field you'll be able to here the sound of traffic from the A469 (Cardiff to Caerphilly road). In this field head to the bottom left corner and walk just to the left side of the 'stony rubble' (photo) this should take you to a footpath that brings you out on the road at the bottom of what many people call Cearphilly Hill. Turn right and walk on the pavement up the hill. This bit of the walk is the hardest. You're walking up hill next to a busy road with cars screaming past you. There are alternative routes but experience has tough me it's best to get this out of the way on a nice paved path. Just remember at the top of the hill there's a pint waiting for you.
At the top of the hill stagger into The Traveller's Rest (photo), a Vintage Inn with a thatched roof and just the sort of place you could take your parents. Like most Vintage Inns it is largely food based but they are happy for you to just have a pint. Woe betide anyone who turns up a 1:00 on a Sunday and thinks it will take anything less than half and hour to get to the bar.
After leaving the Traveller's Rest turn right and go down the hill for 200 yards. Before the road start to go uphill turn off to the left at the metal gate marked with a blue "escape to" arrow (photo). Continue of this path for 200 yards past the house with the barking dog and go through a wooden gate with a blue arrow and enter Ridgeway Golf Course. Carry on the main path through the course for 100 yards and then carry straight on when the path turns to the right. Follow the path up the hill, it will enter and woodland and eventually you'll cross over a stile. Go straight on (although there is a large clump of brambles you'll have to walk around) and go over a second stile this one marked with a yellow arrow. Carry on up the footpath that can be very muddy. Continue on the footpath avoiding the turnings to the left. You'll know your on the right path when you come to the across the yellow arrow marker. Eventually you'll come out in the corner of field (photo). Head for the opposite corner. Depending on the season you may be able to the direct route through the bracken in the centre of the field else go around. At the far corner go through the gate, marked with a yellow arrow. In the next field head straight forward on the poorly defined path. Head for the bridge by the small farm building in the far right corner of the field. Cross over the bridge (photo), through the gate (marked with yellow arrows) and turn left. At the end of the field go through the gate (yellow arrow) straight over the small road and follow the yellow arrow over a small bridge and stile. In the next field head for the stile and then the white building in the far left corner (this is the pub). Cross over the small bridge into the pub car park. Bang the mud of your boots and go in.
The Black Cock (photo) is a nice pub, dog friendly and if you're lucky there might be a bouncy castle in the beer garden. The only problem is that the beers are not normally up to much. For some reason they never seem to be light ales not even in the middle of summer. For this reason I always prefer this place in the winter when you can get a nice winter warmer and sit by the log fire.
After leaving The Black Cock turn left and walk down the road for half a mile. Turn right when the road forks and then right again into fforest Fawr. Continues on the main road through the forest climbing under or round the road barrier. After 600 yards turn off to the right and take the path between the arc of tree trunks labeled "lost or found" (photo). Follow the path and enjoy the wooden sculptures. Shortly after the dragon sculpture the path turns sharply to the left. As this happens make note of the field in front of you the marks the edge of the forest. Follow the path along the edge of this fields and when you reach the corner of the field take the path to the right down the hill, this is marked with a yellow arrow on a green background (photo). Follow this path for 400 yards down the hill taking the right turn when it joins a larger path. At the bottom of the hill turn right when you join the larger path. This is the Taff Trail.
Continue along the Taff Trail for 500 yards. Shortly after the trail crosses over a bridge (you might not notice that it does this and it is the second bridge the path crosses over) take a right turn that is marked with a circular yellow "Ridgeway Walk" footpath sign. Follow the path down and through the stile. Turn right and go under the bridge (photo). Follow the path taking a left when it forks. Go through the stile and straight over the road, through a second stile and down the steps. At the bottom of the path again cross over the road and carry on. At the bottom of the path turn right and walk past the football ground. Turn left on to the road and walk over the bridge over the A470. Follow the road as it turns to the right and carry on for 200 yards. Look out for he hi-tech street light (you'll know it when you see it). Turn left and on the right hand side of the road you'll see Faggin's Ale and Chop House (photo).
Faggin's is one of the best pubs in south Wales. It always has an excellent range of beers and the as you would expect from the name they do good steaks.
After leaving Faggin's turn left and keep going for three quarters of a mile through Taffs Well turn right after the Zebra crossing to Taffs Well Station and from there get the train back to Cardiff. Trains are every 15 minuets during the week worse in the evenings and on Sunday.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Pontyclun to The Boar's Head - half a mile

Okay this is not really a walk at all. It is however instructions of how to get to The Boar's Head in Brysadler from Pontyclun train station. The Boar's head is one of the best pubs in south Wales and no one knows about it. It has up to 8 guest beers on at any one time, open fires and a nice cosy atmosphere. It is also close enough to a train station that it is possible to have an evening out here in the week. I can recommend their curry and a pint night on Wednesdays.


Take the Maesteg train from Cardiff Central (normally platform 3). At the time of writing these leave at 16:18, 17:21 and 18:12. You'll need to buy a return ticket to Pontyclun. Get off at Pontyclun which is the first stop. Leave the train station (don't go over the foot bridge) and turn right. Follow the road over the bridge (which makes a very satisfying clucking noise when cars drive over it). Carry on down the road as it goes into an industrial estate. At the end of the road there is a narrow footpath on the right between two high metal fences (photo). At the other end of the alley turn right down the wide road. Go straight on at the roundabout and then turn left to see the front of the pub (photo).
For the return trip retrace your steeps. Trains leave Pontyclun Station at around five to the hour.

Roath to Lisvane - 3.5 miles

Distance: 3.5 miles
Pubs: 1
Longest distance between pubs: 3.5 miles
Footwear: Walking boots (unless it's been very dry)
Public transport: none
Sundayable: yes. 

Okay this is not really a country walk and if you live in Canton then it's not much good to you. It is however, a nice Sunday walk though Roath Park and Llanishen Reservoir. At the end of it there is The Black Griffin. A pub unique in that (according to the signs outside it) it is know by three names (The Griffin, The Black Griffin and Y Griffwn Du). This is a Green King pub and the Sunday roasts here are okay. It's a good option if you want to escape the noisy city pubs to watch some sport. A quick warning: you might think that because this walk is within the city limits you will only need trainers. During dry weather this is the case. However, the paths around Llanishen reservoir can be very muddy after rain and you will need walking boots or even Wellies.

Start outside Pen Y Lan library and walk up the footpath by the side of the playing fields. Cross over Alder road and continue through the park. At the large round about go under the A48 using either of the bridges. Continue through the park past the rose gardens and the lake. Continue on through the wooded conservation area.
At the roundabout at the end of the park you need to cross straight over. Go down Llandennis road (the one with the school signs). Take a right turn down the footpath immediately after Cardiff High School (photo). After 200 yards turn left and cross the small footbridge (photo). Turn right and follow the footpath for 300 yards until it ends at Rhyd-y-Penau road. Cross the road and go through the kissing gate. Turn right after 100 yards crossing over a small foot path and turn left. Follow this path as it snakes around the edge of the wood. After 500 yards there is a notice board. If you're not familiar with the politics of the proposed development of Llanishen reservoir then check out the Save Our Reservoirs web site. Squeeze through the kissing gates, pass over the lane and continue on the footpath. Cross the field and follow the path over a very small bridge. If there has been a lot of rain then this can be flooded. There is an alternative footpath through the woods that is sign posted. Follow the well maintained path avoiding the turnings to the right. After 500 yards the path goes down an incline and crosses over a small stream. There is a stile here and the ground the other side can be very muddy if there has been rain. From here on the ground can be very wet. Make your way up the hill and follow the footpath to the right that takes you along the edge of the field (photo). There is a footpath sign here with a yellow triangle, but it could be hidden by plants. Follow this for 100 yards until you come to a stile (photo). Go over this and follow the path as it turns to the left. Cross over the stream and continue on the path for 200 yards. When the footpath cross over a larger lane continue straight on over the stile (photo). Follow this path for another 200 yards and you should come out on Maerdy lane. A short walk to the end of the lane should bring you to a roundabout. Carefully cross the road and go up the hill to the pub (that you should be able to see from the end of the lane, photo). If you have got lost in the footpath around Llanishen reservoir and come out on Lisvane road then you need to turn right and walk along the road.
The Griffin (photo) is a good pub to say that it's within the city. The Sunday roasts are too bad and it can be a nice place to watch sports.
For the return journey you can either simply walk back the way you came or turn right at the roundabout and walk down Lisvane road for about a mile to Llanishen train station. Trains to Queens Street are every fifteen minuets Monday to Saturday but every two hours on Sundays.