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

Webmaster, Angus McDonald

Last updated 21.5.03

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Short and Long Walks around Abercynon

Abercynon Short Walk

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A short walk of 5.8 miles, 9.3 Kms, to the North & East of Abercynon. The first half is flat, running along the Trevithick tramroad, the setting for the world's first railway journey. The second half climbs steadily to a prominent rocky outcrop with great views before descending back to Abercynon. Shops, pubs, payphones in Abercynon - nothing en route. Good point to take a break - the rocky outcrop.

The walk starts at the Navigation House pub. You may be able to park near here at weekends or down Martins Terrace opposite the pub. If coming by train alight at Abercynon South station and head to the Merthyr end of the platform to take a path which goes past a corrugated iron building with Harris Fireplaces marked on it. Turn right at the end of the building to cross a river and turn left along the road to meet a main road by the Navigation House.

OS Explorer map 166. For a map to get to the start click here


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Trevithick’s Tramroad Locomotive by Terence Cuneo from Glamorgan Historian vol.3

  To the left of the Navigation House, as you face it, is the Fire Station and to the left of the Station is a tall wooden waymark for the Taff Trail (ST 08460/94947). A small commemorative stone plaque to Richard Trevithick is in front of the Fire Station. Head down the narrow lane by the Fire Station and Taff Trail waymark. You pass under a large grey road bridge with the river on your left. A pedestrian bridge across the river is passed and then another grey metal road bridge overhead. After passing through some houses the road becomes a narrow track which shortly afterwards crosses the river. Cross Goitre Coed road and keep ahead following the Taff Trail waymark. The road re-crosses the river (ST 09027/96523, 1.81 miles, 36 mins,).

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Remains of a bridge

Pass under a stone railway bridge, then by a metal gate and the massive remains of two bridges on your right. From this point note the slabs of stone in the track on which the rails of the Penydarren tramroad were laid with their characteristic indentations. Pass a pond and house on left and the track brings you to a metal barrier with road beyond. Turn left down the road following the Taff Trail sign and cross the river by a narrow arched bridge, Pont-y-Gwaith, meaning the works bridge, (ST 08027/97589, 3.23 miles, 1 hr 5 mins,). Pont-y-Gwaith was constructed in 1811 to replace a wooden bridge associated with the nearby 16th century ironworks.  

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Pont-y-Gwaith bridge

Head up the road and then ascend the concrete steps to go through a tunnel under the main road to meet a country lane. Take the lane ahead which ascends the hillside heading towards some pylons with good views opening up and pass a farm on the right. As the road starts to descend take the rough track on the right which continues uphill towards the prominent rocky outcrop which you reach in  4.22 miles, 1 hr 30 mins, (ST 07846/96433).

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The boundary stone

Take the narrow path which ascends on the left of the outcrop then pass through the gap in the rock and head left along a faint track which runs along the top of the ridge. The grassy path passes between bracken, heading towards pylons. Where the path forks keep right towards the pylons. You pass under electricity cables and then cross a rickety wooden stile. Pass a rectangular inscribed boundary stone. The path starts to descend, roughly following the line of the electricity cables. Cross a wooden stile and head towards buildings with a wire fence and then stone wall on your left. Cross a stone and wooden stile at the bottom left-hand corner of the field (ST 08653/95562, 5.08 miles, 1 hr 50 mins,) with the main road beyond and walk past the houses to the left. At the end of the houses turn right along a road which crosses over the main road and then curves to the right. 30 yards after the bridge take the rough track to the right of the road passing a concrete garage with grey door on your left. The cinder track passes the remains of a canal lock, now incorporated into a garden on the right. Pass a children’s playground on the right, cross a road to finally meet the main road by a bus stop. Turn left along the road, under a railway bridge to come to the Fire Station and Navigation House. (5.8 miles, 2 hrs 10 mins)  

For map of route, see below

Abercynon Long Walk

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A walk of just under 13 miles, 20.7 Kms, with some ascent and descent but with most of the second half along a ridgeway. No facilities en route but the start is at Abercynon Leisure Centre. Apart from some short stretches of country lane the route is along footpaths, bridleways, through forest and alongside streams and with good views. This area once had many collieries although there is little sign of them now. Good stopping points include the 'gap in the trees', 3rd paragraph; the corner of the plantation, 5th paragraph; the 6 boulder viewpoint and the rocky outcrop. This walk route was created by Ian Moody.

From Cardiff on the A 470 follow route ‘Abercynon avoiding low bridge’, i.e. not the first turning to Abercynon but taking the A 4059 from the A 470 roundabout. Turn left signposted Abercynon, pass a playing field and take second left before the road goes over a bridge. Head down the lane until you get to a car park by the brick-built Leisure Centre.  

OS Explorer map 166. For a map to get to the start click here which is at ST 08060/95438.

With your back to the Leisure Centre, cross the footbridge over the railway line and follow the path to the left. Where the path levels turn right to meet a road after 20 yards. Turn left along the road, crossing when it is safe to do so. After 50 yards, turn right up a short bit of tarmac road which soon becomes a narrower track curving right and heading steadily uphill. When you come to a cemetery the right of way goes to the right, past a metal gate and alongside the cemetery wall although, if it is open, you can walk through the cemetery and leave by another gate in the right-hand wall. At the end of the cemetery, keep ahead along the path with the trees on your left. After 200 yards and by a wooden stile, take the path to the left which winds uphill through the trees (ST 07366/95804). The path reaches a stile on the edge of a field. (0.97 miles, 20 mins).

Cross the stile and head uphill but slightly right to follow the course of a stream. When you crest the hill look to the right to a stony area and wooden stile in the fence beyond. Cross the stile, aiming for a plantation ahead to reach a wooden stile set in a bit of stone wall. Cross this and then another wooden stile by a metal gate which brings you onto a lane. Head right along the lane as it skirts around the plantation and then forks right. You are now heading towards another plantation with two large electricity pylons. Pass a road junction off to the left and then the first pylon. 50 yards beyond this take the path off to the left heading into the trees. (1.9 miles, 40 mins, ST 06015/96100).

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Views through the gap in the trees

Keep the trees on your right and wire fence on left. A gap in the trees ahead offers fine views as the footpath curves initially to the left and then descends, keeping alongside the wire fence. You come to a wide dark cinder track – turn left along this to pass some farm buildings. The track curves right, descending steadily. Pass a more open area with track off to the right, but continue downhill. After 100 yards, look out for a stile on your left but don’t take it. Instead turn right along the path now heading gently uphill. (2.66 miles, 56 mins).

Where the path forks take the right fork, the path partly a stream, and continuing to ascend. On meeting a broad stony track, head left along it, downhill. Cross a river, now heading to the right, uphill. When the track curves sharp left, keep straight ahead along a path through trees, parallel with the stream on your right. On reaching a road, turn right, then left through the large metal barriers, ignoring an earlier footpath sign on the left. Keep ahead with the stream on your right. The path crosses the stream – now start counting electricity poles. Between the second and third poles, look to the right for a gap in the fence and a path heading to the right, uphill. Go through a metal gate, passing a house on the left and noting the Thunderbox on the right, some 20 yards beyond the gate. Walk along the road as it curves right and then zig-zags passing a metal gate, a stone wall now on your right. When the road curves sharp right again, take the upper grassy path to the left following the bridleway sign, alongside a stone wall. (4.56 miles, 1 hr 35 mins, ST 04303/97541).

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The Thunderbox

Pass through a gap in the walls ahead in the corner of the field and keep walking in the same direction along an indistinct path towards the only electricity pylon with supporting cables to the ground. Cross a track and as you crest the hill you can see ahead across the valley to the ridge that we shall be returning on later. As you approach the pylon you will see a track not far to the right. Get on to this track and head left along it, the track dropping down towards a plantation. Where the track meets the corner of the plantation, keep straight ahead, ignoring the stile to the right, and descending along a path with wire fence and stone wall remains on your right. Pass a metal gate and keep descending as the path crosses the path of the stone wall and heads into the trees. Keep ahead as the path crosses a wide metal track, passing a waymark post and emerge on a road by a housing estate. Cross the road and go down some steps, then take the path to the left between wooden fences. Pass a wooden and metal crossing, then the path drops down into some trees, crosses a stream, and then joins a stony track. After 200 yards turn right as the track heads down a concrete lane. Pass through a gap alongside a metal gate and meet a main road. (6.42 miles, 2 hrs 15 mins, ST 03103/99718).

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Left, the Gorsedd today. Right, barefoot girls from Mountain Ash Higher Grade School dance in the Gorsedd circle during the 1946 National Eisteddfod. The stones were erected for the 1905 National Eisteddfod.

Turn right to head along this road, crossing when safe. After 150 yards and just before the bus stop on the left, take the footpath off to the left, just past a little house called The Lodge. The path crosses a railway line, then go through a metal gate and pass a pond on the left. Follow the path as it crosses the park heading towards a metal bridge. On approaching the main road take the tarmac path to the right and cross the main road by the footbridge opposite Mountain Ash Comprehensive School. Head up the lane opposite with the school on your right. The road passes houses on the left, then starts to descend. You pass a house on your right which was the Lodge that led to Dyffryn House and then pass a play area. On meeting a main road our route will be taking us up the footpath on the other side of this road but a short walk to the right brings you to the War memorial and beyond this the Gorsedd. The footpath heads uphill through the trees via a rusty kissing gate. The path meets a lane by a waymark sign – head right up this lane. The lane brings you into a farmhouse – head up a track ahead passing first a green gate and then a rusty metal gate. 20 yards beyond this by a wall and a metal gate, head right, uphill, across a field, passing a ruined building on your left. Just past the building take the stony track ahead, heading towards a metal gate with a small copse of conifers on your right and then a house. The path now heads slightly to the right towards the corner of the trees on your right. The path levels with a stone wall now on your right. When the path forks take the path to the right continuing alongside the wall and passing a plantation of birch on your right. When the track approaches a stream and meets another path crossing, keep straight ahead through the bracken and then head left along another path slightly uphill before dropping down to the stream. Cross the stream and take the path which ascends on the far side to the right. (8.6 miles, 3 hrs).

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The Birch grove

Cross a wire fence with stone wall on your right. Keep ahead with the conifer plantation on your left. Pass another wire fence. Just beyond this and by a tree which is blocking the path ahead you come to another wire fence. Don’t cross this but head left, steeply uphill on a grassy area, wire fence on your right. After 50 yards of ascent look out for a path on your right by what might once have been a stile. Take the very dark path which ascends through the trees, passing some massive boulders on the way, to emerge on a track by a waymark post. Head left up the track to reach six boulders on the left – a good stopping point with fine views. (9.13 miles,  3 hrs 20 mins, ST 05625/99816).

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6 boulder viewpoint

The track curves right as you head through the plantation. Later, the clearance of trees on the right offers up views of our route from earlier. When the main track curves sharp left keep ahead down the stony track into the plantation. Keep ahead when a track meets from the right and ignore another off to the left. The view again opens up to the right – ignore another track which ascends to the left. The track passes a metal gate with a hinge that would have taken the world’s strongest man to bend into place. After 20 yards head left uphill along a track coming from the right. The track eventually curves left, heading uphill to meet a stone wall by a stile. Cross the stile and just beyond this take the track to the right which heads along the top of the ridge. Keep on the ridge to cross a wooden stile by a metal gate, continuing ahead towards the rocky outcrop. On reaching the outcrop take the narrow path which ascends on the left of the rocks and then pass through the gap in the rocks. Turn left to get back on top of the ridge – a good vantage point. (11.9 miles, 4 hrs 10 mins, ST 07861/96428)

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On top of the outcrop looking back to the route we have taken

Continue along the top of the ridge on a grassy path. Where the path forks take the right fork, heading towards an electricity pylon. Cross a stile, keeping along the ridge with the electricity cables on your left. Pass a marker stone. The path then descends steeply to a wooden stile. Cross this and turn right with wire fence and newly planted trees on your right. After a while you will see the Leisure Centre below. When the wire fence curves to the right, keep ahead, downhill, to meet a broad grassy track by a wooden fence. Follow the track to the right, downhill, with the road on your left, to reach a stone stile. Cross the stile then and then the road – taking particular care as the cars may be moving fast. Go down some steps, cross a narrow road and then some more steps. Head left for 40 yards then turn right down a tarmac path with large stone wall on left. Descend some more steps and just before the Leisure Centre car park turn left and then right across a bridge over a river to enter the car park. (12.9 miles, 4 hrs 35 mins).

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Route map for both walks