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

Last updated  30.11.05

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Walks around Blaenrhondda

Blaenrhondda is at the top of the Rhondda Fawr. If you are interested in short walks around Blaenrhondda, Fernhill or Gilfach Goch, descriptive leaflets have been produced by Rhondda Cynon Taff council under the 'I love walking' programme and can be obtained by ringing the council. The two walks below take you around the valley. You can extend either of the walks by linking  into the Extension to the Aberdare walk as this takes you through Hendre Mynydd car park where these walks start. Although quiet now, in 1944 the hills would have seen G.I.s in training who were put up in the local homes - click here for more on this.

Waterfalls Walk

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,
And the evening got darker and colder,
Till (merely from nervousness, not from goodwill)
They marched along shoulder to shoulder

From the Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

A short but tricky walk of 2 miles in dramatic countryside. There are several waterfalls along with relics of the area's industrial past. In places the going is very uneven with hidden rocks underfoot but the scenery compensates for this. Walking poles may be a help. The route is based on a leaflet produced by the now defunct Mid Glamorgan County Council. No facilities. Park at Hendre Mynydd car park.

For a map to get to the start click here. OS map covering the walk is Explorer 166 - Rhondda and Merthyr Tydfil. Start at SN 92263/02078

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View down the valley amidst the ruins of Hen Dre'r Mynydd

From the car park, cross the road to a metal kissing gate, go through and head left along a grassy track with waymark posts on your right. This track was once the main route between the parish of Ystradyfodwg and the Rhigos. To your right you will see a waterfall passed later in the walk. After 100 yards you pass through circles of stones either side of the path - the hut circles of Hen Dre'r Mynydd - with Blaenrhondda beginning to appear in the valley bottom ahead. Cross one stream bed with post alongside and then a second stream around 7 minutes from the car park. Immediately after this stream turn right to descend the hillside. The descent can be difficult, particularly in late Summer where the path is obscured by high bracken but keep to the left of the stream alongside a tumble-down wall with the original steps occasionally becoming visible. After about 200 yards look out for a large stone boulder on your left - head towards but to the right of this to pick up a faint path which zig-zags down the hill and with stone steps appearing, to meet a tarmac lane. Head right towards some concrete buildings - the Water Authority tunnel. Head just to the left of the buildings - take care as there is a steep drop to your left - and cross a small metal bridge just behind the buildings. Now follow a faint path slightly left - level at first then ascending more steeply up some steps. At the top head left along a path - a dismantled tramway - towards the waterfall with an old boiler just in from of it. The rocks have many examples of fossil wood including Calamites. (20 mins, 0.75 miles).

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Waterfall by boiler, view up and view down

Retrace your steps past the prominent ash tree on your right and past the steps you came up earlier. Just when you are level (SN 92423/01556) with the concrete buildings on the right, head left up some steps and at the top follow a path which heads up the valley later descending towards a prominent metal bridge and passing disused sheep folds. Don't cross the bridge but pass it on the right, continuing up the valley. Cross a small stream which passes through large iron pipes and head left to visit the waterfall of Nant Melyn - the rainfall here is around 90 inches a year. Cross a concrete bridge, then head right passing to the left of a small pond up to the waterfall. In late Summer you will find the Monkeyflower growing on rocks in the stream and on the right-hand bank is an exposed coal seam. Grey wagtails and Dippers are not uncommon. (37 minutes, 1.42 miles).

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Left, Nant Melyn waterfall beyond the pool. Right, wild country with glacial boulders

Retrace your steps past the pool. If you want to visit the other waterfall visible on your left - this stream is the Nant Carnfoesen - it is accessible but there is no path - just keep to the right of the stream. Recross the iron pipes stream and 5 yards beyond it turn left to pick up a path continuing up the valley, passing iron railings on left. Stone steps appear periodically but beware of holes underfoot. The valley narrows and the path curves right to reach a waymark post. Turn right here, the path zig-zagging up stone steps to reach another large post. Now turn left uphill heading for a narrower wooden post, just beyond this going through a metal kissing gate by a stone marker. Keep ahead between the two electricity pylons aiming for the kissing gate from the start of the walk and return to the car park. (55 mins, 2.03 miles).

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The Monkeyflower, Mimulus Guttatus

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Map of short walk

Blaenrhondda Circuit

A 6 mile circuit starting at the head of the valley, dropping steadily down to Blaenrhondda, then returning on the other side of the valley overlapping partly with the Waterfalls Walk above. Moderate going but quite a bit of up and down in the second half of the walk. Start point and map same as Waterfall Walk.

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View from the Penpych waterfall

From the car park, cross the road to a metal kissing gate, go through and head left along a grassy track with waymark posts on your right. This track was once the main route between the parish of Ystradyfodwg and the Rhigos. To your right you will see a waterfall passed later in the walk. After 100 yards you pass through circles of stones either side of the path - the hut circles of Hen Dre'r Mynydd - with Blaenrhondda beginning to appear in the valley bottom ahead. You can see the track contouring the hillside ahead, and gradually converging on the road to the left. After about 22 mins., 1.13 miles, the path nearly meets the road but then curves away more steeply downhill to the right. Take the right-hand fork when the path splits aiming for some large boulders alongside a track ahead. Join this wide track and head right downhill. The track curves right and after 100 yards where the track curves left take the first left along a tarmac track past a waymark with a red arrow and the number 2. The track ascends then starts to descend, crossing a stream through a culvert. Just past a second stream by a tall electricity pylon (SS 92993/99834) turn right along a broad grassy track between bracken towards a grove of oak trees. Just before the path meets a stream coming from the right, turn left along a path which starts to descend. Take the right fork when the path splits, to cross a small streamlet, then curving right down towards the houses. Pass through a gap in the fence, then left along a track. Pass a metal barrier and then Pen Pych school on your right. At the end of the school curve right onto a tarmac track over a bridge to meet a road. (48 mins, 2.45 miles).

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Waterfall by Pen-pych

Turn right past a bus shelter, then left after 20 yards up Clyn Gwyn road. At the top follow the road as it curves right. After 200 yards, pass a row of garages on the left and immediately turn left over grass towards a stile. Cross this and head left along a narrow path, the houses on your left, and waymarked 5, 5A. The path leaves the houses and starts to climb into woodland to meet a wide track. Turn right and follow this track uphill. Pass a picnic table and bench with good views and then another picnic table with waterfall to the right. Take the steps on your right by the marker post and follow the track uphill with the stream on your left. Near the waterfall the path curves to the right but you can clamber over the rocks to get closer to the waterfall and enjoy the fine views back down the valley. (1 hr 13 mins, 3.62 miles).

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View back up the valley

The path continues to wind uphill, becoming grassy with a conifer plantation on your left. Pass a waymark post on the right - this marks a path known locally as the Hunters Path which zig-zags back down to the track you have just come up. Through the hill to the right of you, Mynydd Blaengwynfi, is a disused railway tunnel. Keep ahead ascending steadily; then the path levels meeting a wire fence on the right. Take the right fork when the grassy track splits, passing another waymark post on the right and ignore a second track off to the left. Just after the path passes through a tumbledown stone wall (SS 91983/99908, 1 hr 32 mins, 4.41 miles), take the right fork which heads downhill into woodland. After some way, at a junction of tracks with large stone marker on your left (SN 92102/00583, 1 hr 43 mins, 4.97 miles) take the track to your left, slightly uphill. 

  The track winds through the trees and eventually starts to descend - ignore any side paths - to reach a grey metal footbridge with old disused sheepfolds to the right of the far side of the stream. (SN 92131/01578, 2 hrs, 5.8 miles). Cross the bridge and head left up the valley with stream on your left. The path approaches a stream with large metal pipes in it. If you wish to visit the two waterfalls on your left, one visible and one invisible from this point, cross this stream and then pass to the left of the pool to visit the first waterfall, back round the pool and across a rocky area to visit the second, before retracing your steps across the metal pipes to the main path. Otherwise keep to the right of the stream with metal pipes, heading towards metal railings. The path is at times indistinct but often stone slabs appear underfoot - just beware of occasional holes. The valley narrows and the path curves right to reach a waymark post. Turn right here, the path zig-zagging up stone steps to reach another large post. Now turn left uphill heading for a narrower wooden post, just beyond this going through a metal kissing gate by a stone marker. Keep ahead between the two electricity pylons aiming for the kissing gate from the start of the walk and return to the car park. (2 hrs 16 mins, 6.31 miles).

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Route map of Blaenrhondda Circuit