ON A lovely sunny spring morning a group of six walkers including leader Geraint from Penarth and District Ramblers gathered at the Forestry Commission Wales Woodland at Coed Parc-y-Van just on the south-eastern edge of Caerphilly.
From the car park it is possible to sit and watch finches, tits, nuthatches and other wild birds flitting to and fro around the bird feeders before taking advantage of a walk along the many tracks within the woodland.
Booting up and setting off along woodland tracks the group headed uphill climbing onto Rudry Common which is in private ownership after both Caerphilly Council and Caerphilly Woodlands Trust failed to buy the land back in 2007 when it was put up for sale.
As a buzzard lazily soared overhead in the blue sky and a horse rider and dog walker paused for a chat on the hilltop, some lesser used and non-waymarked pathways led them to Rudry.
A first reference to a church in the village was back in 1295 on land owned by Gilbert de Clare Lord of Glamorgan and in the early 1300’s the church was dedicated to St James the Apostle who was a favourite Norman saint.
After being restored in 1885 and 1961, until the 20th century the church remained a chapel-of-ease, served by curates who either resided locally or walked or rode to Rudry to officiate at the Sunday services and it only became a Parish Church in 1914.
So the churchyard of this Grade II listed church with its three bells relating to 1659, 1664 and 1708 and nicknamed ‘The Three Blind Mice’ made the perfect stop for morning refreshments.
Ascending a rocky pathway where bright white wood anemones were carpeting the woodland floor at Craig y Llan led them to join part of the 28-mile long distance Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk above Coed Coesau-whips.
Pretty woodland paths with twisted branches of trees lining the way led them to Cefn-onn Farm where sweet new-born lambs were bleating for their mothers.
Crossing land above the Caerphilly railway tunnel their picnic lunch stop was enjoyed on the short-cropped rabbit and sheep nibbled grass above the steep-sided long abandoned quarry with views over Caerphilly sprawling across the valley to the north and Parc Cefn Onn and the Bristol Channel to the south.
Eventually leaving the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk and following a delightful spring flower-lined pathway to carefully cross part of the Ridgeway Golf Course, arriving at the extremely busy A469 road meant it took ages to cross as the traffic was fast moving and heavy.
Then arriving and crossing the packed car park of the Caerphilly Mountain Snack Bar, a path to the rear led them into woodland at The Warren and making a detour to Wern Ddu woodland, a chance to view an ancient exposed coal seam.
The Rhondda number 2 coal seam is around 300 million years old and is named after various outcrops of the same type of coal situated around the Rhondda Valley.
It is composed of three layers and lies underneath Pennant Sandstone which through time was used for building and paving in the south Wales valleys.
After marvelling at this ancient piece of history, a short walk downhill led them back to their start point after a delightful day in the warm sunshine.
On April 22, meet 9am at Cogan Leisure Centre for a 10-mile moderate walk from Pontneddfechan taking in waterfall country and a cave; contact Clive on 029 2065 4156.
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, log on to penarthramblers.wordpress.com or Facebook.
Programmes and membership advice can be obtained from Pam on 029 2025 5102.