Walking down the Cwm Du

Penrhys to Llangynwyd

Distance: 25.5 km

Grade: Severe: a long day's walking with one very steep climb. (You can break the journey at Ton Pentre and Pont Rhyd-y-cyff: that would be 17 km.)

Transport: Local bus services to Penrhys; longer distance buses serve the valleys on either side. Train services to Llwynypia and Ton Pentre. Train and bus services from Maesteg to Bridgend and on to Cardiff cross the route below Llangynwyd (nearest rail station is Garth).

See http://www.traveline.cymru for details.

From the statue, take the road to the left of the estate. At the top of the houses, at grid reference ST 00027 95074, turn left. Walk up the roughly surfaced track and bear left along the forest edge. Follow this rough track (not on the map but clear on the ground) bearing slightly west of north with the fence and the wind farm to your left. This is an exhilarating walk along the ridge between the two Rhondda rivers with larks singing and buzzards wheeling overhead.

At about SS 99221 96229 you cross the road to the wind farm. At SS 98589 96828 go through a gate in the fence to your left. Cross the road through the wind farm and take the track downhill from SS 98538 96696, just before the seventh of the eight turbines. Follow it through reeds and bracken.

When you reach the gate at SS 98390 96289, don’t take the track ahead of you but turn left and walk across the fields down Cwm Bodringallt. At SS 98508 95830 you meet a stony track which continues down the valley.

The current online OS map marks the bridleway on down the track and past the farm but it has been re-routed to avoid the farmyard. At SS 98457 95543, just before the track bears left,  follow the waymark through the gate to your right. Do not follow  the track to your right (this eventually leads to the tumbled ground of the land slip). Instead, turn left and follow the fence to your left. When the fence goes left, continue on the same line along the edge of the steep slope. Don’t be distracted by paths to the right but keep on the same line, going steeply downhill, through a gate and out to the lane behind the playground at SS 98285 95304.

Turn right on the lane. Cross the road at SS 98045 95328 and continue along the lane behind the houses and out onto the open hillside. The lane passes below an old quarry and becomes a very steep track down into a small patch of woodland and round gardens and eventually emerges at the south end of Pleasant View (SS 97339 95436). Turn right along the street and left down steps. Cross Ystrad Road, the railway line and the river and walk along Church Road. Take the third right (Maindy Road). After the police station, turn right along The Parade.

At SS 96779 95379 the road is waymarked as a bridleway up into the trees. This becomes a steep track past the radio mast. At SS 96073 95462 go through a gate. Do not take the stile ahead and to the right but follow the fence to your left . Bear left with the fence and go up the track which slants up to the left of the next rise. At the top, join the track from the forest and continue up the ridge.

When the steep spur of Tarren-felen rises in front of you, ignore the hollow trails to the left and the path off to the right, and go straight on up the slope. The eroded track is probably the result of motorcycle scrambling.

At the top of the spur, bear right on the track down the slope to join the A4061 at Bwlch y Clawdd, SS 94023 94503 (here you walk through the early medieval cross-ridge bank which gives its name to the pass. Bwlch y Clawdd = pass of the bank. These dividing banks were probably not defensive but marked the territory of one clan from another.).

Turn right, cross the main road and at SS 94023 94503 take the track up the bank to your left. The track runs west along the edge of the cliffs above the Ogwr valley. The right of way goes straight ahead along a line of waymarking posts.

At SS 91923 94997 turn left on the track to the left towards the radio mast. At the gate before the radio mast turn right and follow another track past a Bronze Age burial mound and down to Bwlchgarw.

At SS 89563 94769 cross the track over the pass from Blaengarw to Abergwynfi. Keep  straight on, up a steep slope and along the northern edge of the forest.

At SS 88931 93890, just over 1 km from Bwlchgarw, the forest to your left meets another plantation coming up from the right. Two tracks go through the gap – take the left track but keep going straight ahead, through a gate and straight on, walking parallel with the forest edge to your right. Walk under the power lines.

At SS 88452 93438 go through a gate ahead of you. Bear a little to the left away from the fence to your right and continue on the same direction towards the far corner of the cleared field.

At SS 87947 93233 cross the gate and stile leading back into the forest. Take the second forest road to your left and follow it downhill. At SS 879 36 93181 the track divides. Take the right-hand fork. The tracks merge again at SS 87936 92959

At SS 88233 92234 take the track which goes sharply downhill to your right and follow it down to the right through the stumps of trees which were being cleared in 2014. According to the map the bridleway cuts across the track but there’s nothing on the ground  – follow the track down as it bends sharply to the left.

At SS 87977 92088 look for a waymarked footpath to the right (it should be a bridleway but it has several stiles). This takes you down an old green lane to a stile at SS 87730 91973 and a stony track.

Here there are problems: you should be able to turn left and walk above a small coal tip then follow a footpath across the field and down to Cwmducanol farm. Unfortunately the lane into the farmyard is overgrown and totally impassable. Apparently the farm says there’s no point in clearing it because no-one uses it. This in turn may be because they have some rather noisy and energetic dogs running free in the farmyard. Apparently the dogs are very friendly and have never harmed anyone ... The main business of the farm is now a pet crematorium.

There is another way to the track through the farmyard. After the stile, turn right instead of left. The stony track bears left and becomes a metalled road.

At SS 87210 91498 the drive to the farm goes through a gate to the left. It isn’t waymarked from the road but there is a pedestrian gate alongside the main gates. Once you get on the drive it’s well waymarked and a pretty walk, past a pond and up to the farmyard.

From SS 87758 91338 follow the waymarks which take you south of the farm buildings and on down the valley. Follow the path which becomes a stony track along the Nant Cwm Du and eventually a metalled road down to Pont Rhyd-y-cyff.

There is an alternative to the farmyard: continue along the road and take the byway to the left at SS 87230 91492, passing to the right of Ffos farm. This track crosses a bridge and meets the other one just above Cwm-du isaf.

At the bottom of the hill, SS 87273 89104, turn right and cross the railway bridge. Turn right opposite the Railway Tavern and follow a waymarked path between the railway line and the houses. At SS 86892 89157 the path briefly rejoins the road. Turn right. After a couple of houses look out for a waymarked footpath to the right between the houses. Follow the path round to the right of the playing fields and up to the main road at a roundabout. Take the Maesteg road. In 0.15 km, after the first house of Cwmfelin, at SS 86375 89440, a footpath goes up to your left. Through the gate, bear left across the first field to a stile in the far left corner at SS 86285 89225. Walk along the hedge to your left and go through a kissing gate at SS 86180 89019 and down steps. Turn right on the metalled road and walk up to Llangynwyd.




Penrhys to Llangynwyd

Places to visit along this route


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