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.

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