Saturday, 3 March 2012

Radyr to Taffs Well 7 miles 4 Pubs

Distance: 7 miles
Pubs: 4
Longest distance between pubs: 4 miles
Footwear: Walking boots (unless it's been very dry)
Public transport: train (15 mins from Cardiff).
Sundayable: Yes.

This is one of the stepper walks I'll cover on this blog, but it takes in three wonderful pubs (and one reasonable one). There's also some great views over Cardiff and the opportunity to visit an aquarium and a reptile house. This is also a Sundayable walk meaning that it can be done using public transport on a Sunday. As always I've created a map of the walk that you can download.

Take the train to Radyr station (presumably from Cardiff) remembering to buy a return ticket to Taffs Well. Trains are every 10 minuets on Saturdays and every 40 minuets on Sundays.
After leaving the train at Radyr Station walk up the steps of the footbridge and turn left towards the platform 1 (the platform closest to the river). After descending the steps down to platform 1 continue towards the small building at the end of the platform. From here you will gain access to a flight of stairs going down from the station. Turn left at the bottom of the stairs and use the footbridge to cross over the river. After crossing the Taff the path from the bridge turns left and you want to keep walking in this direction along the Taff Trail. Walk up stream keeping the river to your left. Stay on the Taff Trail for around half a mile passing the weir. When the path ends at a T-junction turn left and continue under the M4. Around 100 meters after the passing under the M4 turn left on to the footbridge over the Taff towards Gelynis Farm. Walk through the farm and use the level cross to pass over the railway. Gelynis Farm do seasonal pick our own and may be worth a stop depending on the time of year you're doing the walk. After 50 meters turn right down the small path. The turning is marked by a wooden bollard with a yellow arrow marked "more Capital Walks 7" (photo). When you reach the playing fields head for far corner, walking towards Castle Coch which you should be able to see in the distance. As you approach the far end of the fields you'll notice a skate park, you want to head to the left of this. Turn left down the road at the edge of the playing fields and you'll reach a small retail park. Here there is an aquarium (walk toward the sign with a clown fish on it), a pet shop with an impressive reptile house and a farm shop. Leave the retail park and turn left on the main road (Tynant road). You will be able to see the Tynant Inn on the other side of the road. This is the first stop (photo).
The Tynant Inn is what I would describe as a "classic Brains' gastro pub". If you're looking for a pint that isn't a variety of Brains then tough. If you're looking for home cooked food then tough. If you're looking for a pub with some personality and individualism then tough. This is a pub in the same way the McDonald's is a restaurant. Of course there is something reassuringly familiar about McDonald's and the same can be said for a Brains pub. It doesn't matter where you are, if you're in a Brains pub you know what you're going to get: a Big Mac. The Tynant scores 48%*** on the 2012 pub scoring system.
After leaving the pub turn right and head for the far end of the car park. Here you'll find a small but well signposted footpath between the pub car park and some allotment gardens. Head down this footpath that shortly comes to a T-junctions. Turn left and follow the footpath for around a quarter of a mile. When the path splits take the path over the pointless footbridge although both paths merge back together shortly. The path continues genitally uphill and passes a brick hut (photo) eventually turning sharply to the right. At this point there are two stiles very close together. You want to take the stile on the left (photo). Take a moment to make sure you get this right. The correct stile also has a footpath next to it going down a steep hill with steps cut into it. Go over the stile and follow the footpath downhill. If you have an OS map with you then ignore it, from here on the footpaths on the ground bare no resemblance to those on the map. At the bottom of the hill there's a signpost with yellow arrow (photo). Here you need to cross the narrow stream. This may be easier said than done if there has recently been a lot of rain. Once over the stream turn right and use the footpath going up the hill. At the top of the hill go through gap in the hedge into the next field (photo). Turn left and head toward the leftmost edge of the row of evergreen trees (photo). These trees mark the boundary of a house, once you reach them walk along the edge of the property so that the hedge is on your right. At the far end of the hedge there's a watering tough. Turn right and follow the hedge to a stile. Cross over this onto the road that leads to the house. Turn left and walk down the road away from the house. Keep on this road for around a quarter of a mile crossing over the two cattle grids and ignoring the footpath leading off to the right. When the road ends turn left and walk downhill. Almost immediately you'll come to The King's Arms (photo). This is the second pub stop on the walk.
The King's Arms was a Brains pub until February 2012 when it was taken over by Otley. This of course means that there is now some decent beers, with O1 permanently on offer and a second Otley on rotation. The pub has flagstones floors, oak beams and a wood fire. The large beer garden could do with some attention and is disappointingly shaded by some large trees on the opposite side of the road, but has potential. I visited the pub in February 2012 when the bar was being renovated and the whole place did have a 'work in progress' feel to it. For this reason it scores a rather low 79%***. Otley pubs do have a reputation for good food so here is probably the best place to eat.
Leave The King's Arms and turn right walking up Heol Y Pentry. Follow the road as it turns to the left and keep going up the hill (I'm afraid continue up the hill will be repeated several times for this section of the walk). Shortly after the Spar the road turns sharply to the left. Turn right following the sign to "Efail Isaf". Follow the road as it turns to the left and then continue up the hill ignoring the various turns offs. The road thins after you leave the village. Ignore the tuning to the left down Tyn Y Coed Road. For some reason the road here has an alarming number of man holes all fighting for the same position. After 1,000 yards the road splits into a Y-shape. Take the turning to the right. You'll know your on the correct road when you pass the entrance to Pinecroft Cattery. Continue up the hill crossing over or going around the cattle-grid. Shortly the road turns to right and contours along the edge of Garth hill. At this point there is a road turning off to the left that is going up Garth hill that is signposted with a footpath sign that is beside a right red road sign. I would recommend ignoring this turning and staying on the road. If however you want to walk to the top of the Garth, this is the turning you need to take. Continue along the road that is relatively flat for another mile. The road turns to the left and starts to descend into Gwaelog Y Garth. Eventually the road does an insanely sharp hairpin bend and and descends very steeply to join the main road in Gwaelod Y Garth. At this junction is the Gwaelog Y Garth Inn. This is the third stop.
The Gwaelog Y Garth Inn is regular in the good pub guide. It has a nice open fire and a good range of beers. It scores 82%***.
After leaving the pub turn right down Main Road. After 100 yards turn left down the path marked by the "public footpath" sign. Follow the path as it slaloms down the steep hill. At the bottom go through the small subway and use the footbridge to cross over the river Taff. Follow the footpath until you reach Cardiff Road in Taffs Well. Turn left and follow the road for 200 yards. Shortly after passing over the railway you will reach Fagins Ale and Chop House, this is the forth and final stop on the walk.
Fagins has and excellent range of beers and ciders. And while it is somewhat lacking in the country pub charm of the other pubs on this walk it always has a welcoming atmosphere. As you might guess by its name it also does rather good steak. If you are planning on eating here it's best to phone ahead as the restaurant is often used for functions on Saturday evening.
After leaving Fagins turn right and follow Cardiff Road back over the railway and into Taffs Well. After round 600 yards you'll spot the co-op some distance ahead of you. Turn left down the small alley immediately before the zebra crossing. Continue in the same direction as the alley becomes a road and then back to an alley again. Carefully use the level crossing to cross the railway and turn right down the wide road. When the road turns to left walk up the grassy bank into Taff Well train station car park. You are on the correct side of the track to get trains back to Cardiff.

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