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

Webmaster, Angus McDonald

Last updated  3.04.05

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Margam Walks

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Looking down to the sea beyond the steelworks.

Three walks at Margam, Walk 1 is 4 and and Walk 2 is 3 miles, close to the M4, but with great views, much history and some interesting geology. Walk 3 is 12 miles. The two short walks can be combined into a figure of eight of 7 miles, 11 kilometres. You are almost guaranteed to see deer on these walks with many in the deer park but many more in the surrounding forests. Walk 1 is relatively easy going, mostly on trackway, whereas walk 2 involves narrower paths and a head for heights. Refreshments are available at the Abbot's Kitchen at the start but there are no other facilities en route. Good places to have a break are Hen Eglwys and the Pulpit on walk 1 and anywhere along the ridge which involves the first half of walk 2. Margam Abbey church is worth wandering round as is the Margam Stones museum although there is a charge for the museum. For more on Walk 3 see below.

Explorer map 165, start at grid ref: 801863. Walks 1 and 3 do briefly go into Explorer 166.

For a map to get to the start, click here. Take junction 38 off the M4 and follow the signs to Margam Abbey church, not Margam Park. You can park by the Abbey Church or on rough ground further back down the road. There is also limited parking by the pond.

Walk 1

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Left, parking area by Margam Abbey Church. Right, the pond.

With your back to the abbey, head back down the road for 200 yards where you turn right just past the sign for Margam Abbey church, along a road and almost doubling back on yourself, heading very slightly uphill. Pass a pond on your right, this is the original fishpond used by the monks of Margam Abbey, and at the junction stay on the road which heads more steeply uphill. Just after the road curves to the left take a footpath to the left with a waymark displaying Margam Country Parks Circular Walk and a purple arrow. Keep along this track through rhododendrons to reach the ruin of Hen Eglwys. From here there are extensive views with Margam Abbey and Castle (which replaced the old house) close by and the Bristol Channel beyond. (15 mins)

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Hen Eglwys, looking down onto the plain. Right, view from Hen Eglwys down to Margam Castle

Retrace your steps to the road; turn right and after 10 yards, left over a wooden ladder stile by a footpath sign. Go to the left following the path towards the wall and then dropping down to the right, passing a wooden handrail, cross a stream, ascend to a more open area, pass an electricity pole on your right. Keep ahead with the wall to your left and stream to your right. The path descends through the trees to cross a wooden boardwalk, then a bridge across the stream. Keep ahead but slightly to the right to come to a stream with a wooden bridge which you cross. You reach a trackway, turn left along this, heading uphill to come to a junction of paths. (31 mins)

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The wooden bridge.

You can take an easier route than in the last paragraph by heading back down the road to the pond and then turning left to skirt the pond, cross a bridge and take the path, at first curving left, which passes the wooden bridge referred to above.

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The view inland from the hillfort.

At the junction of paths, you can turn sharp right to head uphill which brings you out onto an open area which was a hillfort with good views over Margam Castle, but our route takes the turning sharp left following a waymarked sign with footprint and Coed Morgannwg way and another sign showing Afan Argoed. The track winds round to the right and then heads along a valley, Cwm Philip which is a glacial valley, towards a conifer plantation. On the edge of the forest the track goes through a gap between stone walls with a stone stile on the left-hand side of the gap. (45 mins)

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Looking back from the Coed Morgannwg waymark to the path we have come along

After 50 yards take the track to the right, heading more steeply uphill and waymarked Coed Morgannwg way. After 50 yards look out for some steps on the right with a waymark post which you follow into the trees. Follow a succession of posts to reach a stone wall, turn left uphill with the wall on the right to reach a point with good views opening up briefly on the right and with Hen Eglwys in the distance. The track then curves sharp left. Follow the waymark posts steeply uphill to meet another path, then turn right through the trees eventually meeting another track where you turn right along level ground. (1 hr)

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The sunken trackway with the deer park beyond

You pass an enclosure on the left with a sign saying Scheduled Ancient Monument. At the edge of the trees you come to a metal gate which you cross, then keep ahead along a grassy trackway. To your right is Margam deer park; this has the largest herd of deer in South Wales and consists mainly of Fallow Deer. Pass another metal gate and then just before you reach a stone wall turn right, downhill, along a sunken trackway towards the deer park with wire fence on left. This brings you to a wooden gate to the right of which is a tall metal ladder stile which you cross into the park. Keep straight ahead along the trackway. After a while you come to a modern standing stone on your left, inscribed ‘Bro’, which is known as the Pulpit – a good spot to pause and take in the views. Here you are on a sandstone escarpment and to the left of the plantations below you is the monks mine. The track descends through the rhododendrons eventually coming to the junction of paths we were on earlier. (1 hr 25 mins).

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Left, deer in the deer park. Right, unidentified beasts in the deer park - reindeer, moose?

Turn right and then take the middle of the three paths ahead, heading downhill and following the waymarked sign saying ‘Walks’ with purple arrow – this was the track we came up earlier. Stay on this track which passes a wooden bridge to the right, eventually crossing the stream on a wider, solid bridge towards a substantial grey metal gate. On the right of this is a smaller double-gate which you go through. Head along the track to the pond and retrace your steps to the Abbey Church. (1 hr 40 mins)

Walk 2

With your back to the abbey, head back down the road for 200 yards where you turn right just past the sign for Margam Abbey church, along a road and almost doubling back on yourself, heading very slightly uphill. Pass a pond on your right and at the junction stay on the road to the left which heads more steeply uphill. You pass footpath signs to right and left, then a junction to the right to Cwm-Maelwg farm. When the stone wall on your left peters out, take the waymarked footpath to your left, heading steeply uphill with the trees on your left. (15 mins)

When the path comes to the end of the trees keep ahead with the stone wall on your right and dramatic views to the left including Kenfig pool in the distance, Sker rocks and the Gower. The path is safe but don’t wander from it as there is a steep drop to the left. The path passes some buildings which were a World War II Radar Station and goes under electricity cables.(30 mins)

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View from the top

After a while the path goes slightly right to head downhill through trees with a stream to the right. At the bottom, not far from a house, you come to a waymark post with an arrow pointing to the right but we turn left to head back towards the motorway. At first the track, probably an ancient one, is quite clear but when you get into the trees it becomes less obvious. This wood is Graig Fawr. Aim to maintain your height and look out for the odd log to the right of the path, a few wooden steps and the odd slab of stone placed across small streamlets. The path gradually descends to flatter ground to meet a track with a fence with concrete posts ahead; turn left along this track. When you pass a metal gate to your right look into the field to see the Gorsedd the stone circle. The track eventually comes to a junction where you turn right and then immediately left to head back along the road to the Abbey Church. (1 hr 5 mins).

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Bluebells in the ancient wood of Graig Fawr

Combined Walk

Complete Walk 1 but when you get back to the pond turn right back up the road you took earlier to follow the Walk 2 route.

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Map of Walks

Walk 3

Monks and Murders

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From the Iron Age fort with Capel Mair in the distance

This energetic walk of 12 miles involves a fair bit of ascent and descent from a low point of 40 metres above sea level to a high of 340 metres, an ascent of 300 metres or just under 1,100 feet. The route-finding is straightforward, mostly on footpaths and trackways through forests, alongside streams, past reservoirs and with fine viewpoints. Good stopping points are at the top of the Brombil valley, the second reservoir and the Bro stone. Monks trod these paths but if you are of a nervous disposition don't read about the murders. The first stretch of this walk follows the same route as Walk 2.

With your back to the abbey, head back down the road for 200 yards where you turn right just past the sign for Margam Abbey church, along a road and almost doubling back on yourself, heading very slightly uphill. Pass a pond on your right and at the junction stay on the road to the left which heads more steeply uphill. You pass footpath signs to right and left, then a junction to the right to Cwm-Maelwg farm. When the stone wall on your left peters out, take the waymarked footpath to your left, heading steeply uphill with the trees on your left. (15 mins)

When the path comes to the end of the trees keep ahead with the stone wall on your right and dramatic views to the left including Kenfig pool in the distance, Sker rocks and the Gower. The path is safe but don’t wander from it as there is a steep drop to the left. The path passes some buildings which were a World War II Radar Station and goes under electricity cables.(30 mins)

After a while the path goes slightly right to head downhill through trees with a stream to the right. At the bottom, not far from a house, you come to a waymark post with an arrow pointing to the right. Turn right, cross a little wooden bridge after a few yards, keep along the path to reach a tarmac lane. Turn right and 20 yards ahead you will see a footpath sign pointing to the right. Head along this track with stream to your left. This is the Brombil valley. Go through a metal kissing gate, cross a wooden bridge, the stream now on your right. As the path ascends, look to the left where you will see the remains of old buildings. Where the path divides with the stream crossing ahead, take the left-hand fork towards a wooden bridge. Cross this and just past a metal kissing gate, turn left to head uphill following the waymark. The path zig-zags uphill – when the conifers clear to your right, there is a splendid view down to a small and very blue reservoir (56 mins).  

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Left, heading up the Brombil Valley. Right, the small reservoir.

100 yards further on the path curves to the left, continuing uphill until the views open up towards the steel works and sea beyond. The path then curves to the right, the track then levels and re-enters the trees, passing more old building remains. At a junction of paths keep ahead uphill following the waymark. When you emerge from the plantation turn right for 10 yards along a track and then take the stile on your left into a field following the waymark direction (1hr 15 mins)

Head down the field with wire fence to your right. The path becomes a sunken trackway. Pass a metal gate with the path descending steadily. Pass another metal gate and the path heads slightly left away from the trees to your right. You will see a churchyard in the bottom of the valley below with the track winding down towards some farm buildings. By the farm go through two metal gates to reach a main road. Turn left along the road and after 100 yards turn right into Goytre cemetery. Go through the green gates and head down towards a little building with blue doors. Turn right by this building and head along the tarmac path with the trees on your left. Just where this path curves to the right, turn left through the trees passing the remains of a metal kissing gate and head downhill taking the right-hand path to meet some very large rocks and then a clear track. Head right along this track which was the old railway line (1 hr 41 mins).

Pass through a metal barrier with large green barn to the right. Go through another metal gate with a stream to the right at first then later to the left. Pass a stone water-pumping station on the right, then a green metal barrier. 50 yards beyond this where the path is close to the road, look across the road on your right where you will see a footpath sign pointing up a broad track (2 hrs). 

Head along this track, with beechwood to your right. Where the main track curves uphill to the left, keep straight ahead, at first descending and then ascending, with the stream to your right. Ignore a track crossing the stream to the right and then reach a metal gate with kissing gate alongside. Now you can either go straight ahead steeply up the gravelly path to reach the reservoir and then head right along it for 30 yards or take the path to the right uphill through the trees which brings you out at the same point. This is a good spot for a break (2 hrs 20 mins).  

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Looking down on the reservoir from the zig-zag path

Now head anti-clockwise around the reservoir (which should be on your left). At the far end cross a stream via a rusty metal bridge and head right along the path. After 100 yards the path curves to the left and zig-zags uphill through the trees to meet a wide track where you turn left. The track soon starts to ascend with views down to the reservoir on your left. Eventually you meet a junction of paths where you take the second junction on the right, a broad trackway, heading uphill (2 hrs 45 mins).

You are now on a long distance path known as the Coed Morgannwg Way. After a while where the conifers have been cleared to the left, there are fine views and 50 yards further on and before a junction of paths you will see a memorial stone to Billy Vaughan alongside the track on your left. Keep ahead, maintaining your ascent and occasionally looking back as the views unfold behind you – ignore a track off to the left. At the summit you pass a small pond on the left and 100 yards beyond this take the waymarked footpath to the left for 10 yards and then right to pick up a clear, if somewhat dark, path through the forest. (3hrs 4 mins).  

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Bottom right of picture is Billy Vaughan's memorial stone.

On emerging from the forest keep straight ahead following the waymark sign with the trees on your right and wire fence on left. At the end of the trees work your way down to a broad track and head left along this. Ignore a track to the right and keep ahead to cross a cattle grid and then turn right in the general direction of Margam indicated by the signpost but following the main track with trees and wire fence on your right. (3 hrs 18 mins).

The track eventually meets a stone wall to the right, an ancient hill fort is located in the field to the right and views open up ahead to the sea. The track descends becoming a sunken lane. Where the track turns left to pass through a gate, keep straight ahead following the sunken green lane. You will soon see Margam deer park the other side of a substantial wall ahead and deer are usually visible. The track descends to meet a large wooden gate in the wall. Cross the wall using the metal ladder stile alongside and follow the clear track ahead through the park. (3 hrs 40 mins).  

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Along the sunken way

Pass a large (but modern) standing stone, another good spot for a break and taking in the view, before carrying on along the track as it descends into rhododendron plantations. At a junction of paths take the track to the right and after 10 yards the track to the left following the purple arrow which heads downhill, passing a stream on the right with wooden footbridge. Keep along the track until it crosses the stream by a wide bridge, go through substantial metal gates and head back along the road to your starting point. (4 hrs 17 mins).

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Journey's end (nearly!) with rhododendrons in full bloom

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Map of walk 3