Aberdare Walks
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Walking in Glamorgan, South Wales. Guided walks, routes & local information

Webmaster, Angus McDonald

Last updated  7.9.05

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Aberdare Short and Long Walks

The Dare Valley Country Park makes a good starting point for walks which give you a feel of being up in the hills with excellent views. Click on Ancient Aberdare and Aberdare Town for more of its history and for more on the origins of the country park or the local fauna and flora, follow the hyperlinks. The short walk of just under 4 miles, 6.5 kms, involves a steady climb but the views reward the effort. The longer walk, 9 miles, 14.5 kms, visits Lluest Wen reservoir with moorland and forest walking. You can add an extension that brings it up to 14 miles and reaches the highest point in Glamorgan. We join the Coed Morgannwg way for a while along with National cycle route 47. The going is easy to moderate but the weather can change quickly on the hills so, be prepared. The Visitor Centre at the Country Park has all facilities. Good places to stop for a break include the top of the valley and Lluest Wen reservoir. For the Extension, the car park at Hendre Mynydd has good views.

Start at Dare Valley Country Park car park by the Visitor Centre, Explorer 166, grid ref: 984026

For a map to get close to the start click here and follow the brown signs.

Short Walk

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Left, Dare Valley Country Park Visitor Centre and car park. Right, in the park by the lake.

From the car park turn right down the road passing the Visiting Centre on your right. When you get to the ‘Narrow Bridge’ sign by the road, turn left off the road and take the left-hand of the two paths that runs alongside a babbling brook. Cross a wooden bridge with a pond to your right. At the end of the pond cross another wooden bridge, keep straight ahead and then turn left along the path that continues alongside the stream. You will see a large wheel to your right. When you reach a wooden bridge, stay on the path, although if you fancy a diversion, cross the bridge, keep along the path and this will eventually bring you to a grove of alders at the end of the valley. However, staying on the path with the stream on your left you head towards a row of houses ahead. Cross a bridge and stream to the left and then immediately right continuing towards the houses, passing a reservoir on the right. You emerge onto a road – turn right and then at the junction left passing the houses on your right. (20 mins)

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From the hill opposite, looking down on our route through the park - Brecon Beacons in the distance

Take the footpath at the end of the houses, past a metal kissing gate followed by a stile and heading uphill following the remains of a trackway, aiming to the right of an old telegraph pole and aiming for a wooden gate and a metal gate at the top corner of the field. Pass through or over the left-hand wooden gate - note a brown Open Access sign - and keep uphill through bracken. Cross a wooden stile by a wooden gate. Towards the top of the hill where there is a junction of paths take the waymarked path to the left, skirting the top of the valley. (40 mins)

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From the top of the valley, looking West towards the pine plantations, the route for the Long Walk

You pass a path converging from the right marked by a stone post with a footprint set on a white background. This is the Coed Morgannwg Way which if you headed to the right towards the pine plantations would eventually get you to Margam Park some 30 miles away. We follow the Way (and the footprint waymarks) but to the left continuing to skirt the top of the valley. After a stony stretch take the fork to the left and start to descend along a path which contours the hill. (50 mins)

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Looking back down the park, Aberdare in the distance.

Cross a wooden stile by a ‘Circular Walk’ sign and with converging stone walls on either side. The path becomes stone – stay on the wide main path which rejoins the country park road by a stream. Turn right along the road back to the Visitor Centre and Car Park. (1 hr 20 mins)

  For map see below  

Long Walk

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Left, waterfall at the top of the valley. Right, the route across the moors.

Follow the route of the short walk to the end of the second paragraph "…the top of the valley". The path drops down to cross a stream and then ascends past another waymark post to the crest of the hill. Take the track to the right heading just to the right of a post by some power cable pylons. Just past the post aim slightly left looking out for another white-topped post in the distance which lines up with a gap in the plantation beyond. Once past this post you will see another one ahead with the path descending towards the trees and drop down to the road just beyond it. Turn right along this road heading gently uphill and passing an old stone hump-back bridge. The road curves up to meet a road junction. Our path continues to the right uphill but if you want to take a break by the reservoir head along the right-hand edge along a strip of land which tapers out into the water. Return to the road which skirts the reservoir on your left. After ascending, the road winds downhill to enter the forest by a metal gate. (1 hr 20 mins).

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Left, the hump-back bridge. Right, looking down on the reservoir.

Keep along this road for around 25 minutes as it winds through the forest. Gradually the views open up to the left. You pass a post with a white footprint on it and then shortly after, another post with a track off to the left, marked with a red ‘47’ which indicates the cycle route along with a stone pillar. The Coed Morgannwg way continues ahead (see extension below) but we take the track to the left heading back (stay on route 47) towards the reservoir which we now pass on the other side. (2 hrs 10 mins).

After passing the reservoir the track descends and then ascends to a junction of paths. Take the narrower route to the left, marked ‘47’, which drops down into the trees to reach the reservoir. Cross a green metal stile and then head to the right across the dam. Retrace your steps down the road to the right back to the stone bridge. (2 hrs 25 mins).

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Looking back across the moors towards the Aberdare valley.

As you reach the stone bridge cross the water pipe on your left and take the path which goes to the left of the road and ascends to a waymark post. This time keep ahead ignoring the path to the left to pass a ruined stone building on your right. From here you pick up the distinctive stone marker posts of the Coed Morgannwg way, (footprint on a white background), which take you back across the moor. After recrossing under the power cables you come to a stone post by a wooden post at which point you take the path to the right. You are now back on the route of the short walk from "…after a stony stretch". Return to the Visitor Centre following the short walk route. (3 hrs 25 mins).

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Map of walk

Extension

This extension to the Long Walk adds about 5 miles to the route taking you to the highest point in Glamorgan at a little under 2,000 feet. The route is not covered on the map.

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Craig y Llyn and below Llyn Fawr

Instead of turning left along Bike Route 47 continue along the track which at this point is the Coed Morgannwg Way. You pass small pools either side of the track which are good for Dragonflies in late Summer to reach a metal barrier by a road in about 12 minutes. (SN 92319/02748). You can take the stile on the far side of the road but the going is not easy on the tussocky grass. Better to head right up the road walking with care for a couple of minutes and then left via some large rocks, down a track, past a green metal barrier with fine views to the Brecon Beacons ahead. The track curves left towards the dramatic crags ahead - Craig y Llyn - with views down to Llyn Fawr. Pass a prominent concrete pillar and then a signpost following the direction 'Margam/Afan Argoed'  as it ascends. At the top turn right (to your left is the dyke of Ffos Toncenglau) to cross a stile by a metal gate and head along the track with conifers to your right. At the end of the trees keep straight ahead where a track crosses, a conifer plantation now on your left and passing a rusty metal barrier. Pass a waymark route on left showing a bike route but when you meet a waymark post on the right with large stone beyond turn left towards a transmitter with trig point just behind it - the highest point in Glamorgan on the map at 600 metres or 1960 feet. (2.49 miles, 40 minutes, SN 90690/03156).

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The highest point in Glamorgan

Continue along the track passing the trig point on your right to meet a wide trackway with the metal National Cycle Network marker on your left. Check out the views opposite before heading left along this track. (NOTE: this section of Forestry road is being used by heavy lorries which create a Saharan duststorm when they pass. To avoid them retrace your steps to the road you crossed earlier and head right to pick up the route). Pass a quarry on the right and meet another track coming from the right (with the odd lorry!) where you head left down to the road you crossed earlier. (3.89 miles, 1hr 10 mins). Head right along the road with care using the verge on the right. After a few minutes cross the road into a car park at Hendre Mynydd on the left. There are good views down the valley at the far end of the car park but our route takes the path 20 yards from the entrance through the trees and marked as a cycleway. At a T junction with another track (SN 93145/02410) head right and after 150 yards by a stone pillar right again down a broad stony track. You have now rejoined the Long Walk route (cycle route 47) to eventually pass the reservoir on your left. You have added about 5.2 miles to the long route and around 1hr 30 mins - a total of 14.2 miles.

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View from Hendre Mynydd car park looking down to Blaenrhondda