ELEVEN walkers joined leader Liz for a trip up to the Black Mountains to conquer Mynydd Llysiau which translated means Herb Mountain. Fortunately for them although it was a bank holiday weekend the weather lived up to the forecast and even though the clouds began to thicken in the surrounding area, it was breezy but the sun shone and the group experienced only a few spots of rain all day.

They began from close to Neuadd Fawr Farm in Cwm Banw and entered a field where a steep climb led to a stony track and upon reaching a junction of gates they followed a stone wall to a stile leading into Park Wood. Exiting from the wood onto a bridleway they tramped the lower slopes of Tal Trwynau to the west and fields leading down to the Grwyne Fechan River to the east and after about half a mile they joined Macnamara’s Road.

It is said that John Macnamara a notorious gambler won Llangoed Castle and estate (now a hotel) at Llyswen in the stunning Wye Valley in a gambling game and this large country house was the home of the Williams family, whose coat of arms gave the name to the village of Three Cocks.

Macnamara and his wife moved in and settled to country life and he built a large Georgian house with extensive cellars called the Hermitage in a remote part of the lower Grwyne Fechan Valley where he installed his mistress. Because of its location it was not accessible by coach so Macnamara had a coach road built through the hillside for about four miles leading from Pen Trumau so he could visit his mistress in comfort. This road proved to be his downfall because after a drunken night at the Hermitage he was racing up towards Pen Trumau in order to win a bet and was thrown from his carriage at high speed and killed.

They stopped for morning coffee and gazed at the surrounding views across the beautiful Grwyne Fechan valley up to Pen y Gadair Fawr which translated is - the head of the great chair. Then continuing gently uphill towards Pen Trumau at the head of the valley, upon reaching the ridge they turned south and made the short but steep ascent over Mynydd Llysiau situated at 663 metres which is marked by a small cairn.

At this point the panoramic views stretched out before them towards the heather clad slopes of Waun Fach, to Mynydd Troed, Mynydd Llangorse and Pen Tir and with the central Brecon Beacons clearly visible. The grassy ridge led to Pen Twyn Glas where there are two memorial stones on the border of their estate, now heavily weathered relating to John Macnamara and M Macnamara, his wife.

Having found a sheltered spot out of the wind they stopped for an enjoyable lunch before they continued downhill through the wondrous display of purple heather covering the open hillside and reaching a series of quarry spoil heaps, Pen Allt-mawr and Pen Cerrig-calch loomed into view. At a large stone cairn they veered off the path descending to the edge of a coniferous wood before continuing steeply downhill and through a field to their start point and as the 15th century Red Lion Inn in Llanbedr beckoned to them, a welcome drink was enjoyed prior to the homeward journey.

On September 6, meet 9am at Cogan Leisure Centre for the 9-mile moderate Rhymney River Circular walk taking in Machen and Michaelston Y Fedw; contact Geraint on 029 2051 5278.

On September 7, meet 9am at Cogan for a 10-mile mod/hard walk at Llangorse taking in Mynydd Troed; contact Robin on 029 2051 4051.

Wear suitable clothing, preferably boots and carry waterproofs, food and drinks. Some degree of fitness is required and if you are in any doubt, then please contact the walk leader for advice. To follow the group please log onto www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com Programmes and membership advice can be obtained from Pam on 029 2025 5102.