By Joy Strangward

ON A glorious bright sunny morning a group of seven keen walkers joined William from Penarth and District Ramblers for the train ride up to Treforest Railway Station and upon their arrival they got ready to take part in the classic Pontypridd Circular Walk for their 12.5 mile trek.

It was a case of hats, sun cream, stamina and plenty of liquid as they set off on the waymarked trail through Treforest which is where the rivers Taff and Rhondda converge. Known as the gateway to the Rhondda Valley this small hamlet grew with the iron and coal industry of the industrial revolution. It is also the birthplace of the Welsh National Anthem written in 1856 by Evan James and his son James and the birthplace of Sir Tom Jones.

Having crossed the River Taff they walked along its banks as far as the Glyntaff weir where the stunning flash of blue of the elusive Kingfisher was spotted. Then on through Glyntaff Cemetery to begin the long steep climb onto the open moorland of Cefn Eglwysilan for their well-earned morning break.

Enjoying their breather at the highest point of the route, a trig point standing at 382- metres they were able to enjoy the surrounding views, across the Bristol Channel to the English coastline in the south and up to the Central Brecon Beacons to the north.

Regaining their energy and after climbing all that way it was time for the steep descent down to the Penheol Ely Road from where there were grand views of the town of Pontypridd nestling in the valley below.

With the sun now at its highest point in the clear sky the route down a shaded tree-lined road was much welcomed and arriving at Coedpenmaen or Pontypridd Common, they took advantage of an early lunch stop under a tree which afforded them some shade.

Alongside them they viewed the War Memorial erected in memory of those men, many of whom were recruited from this area, who lost their lives during the Great War 1914-1918. The tall granite obelisk was unveiled by Viscount Allenby in 1923 and is dedicated to the 5th Battalion of the Welch Regiment.

Continuing their downhill journey they re-crossed the River Taff by means of a lovely old stone bridge before preparing for their next steep climb which would lead them through the beautiful ancient oaks and beech trees of Craig yr Hesg Nature Reserve and Lan Wood.

Enjoying more splendid views of Pontypridd as they crossed the open hillside a descent led them through Pantygraig Wen to reach Hopkinstown in order to cross the footbridge over the River Rhondda.

Then on past the local cricket pitch where a game was in full swing and past the odd sight of a pair of lost spectacles hanging from the Himalayan Balsam, before steep steps led them up onto a railway embankment.

Entering the Barry Sidings Country Park which was developed in the late 1980’s, this reclaimed land once housed the railway sidings from where the coal from the Rhondda Valleys was transported down to Barry Docks.

Taking advantage of being able to purchase and enjoy cooling and much welcomed drinks and ice creams they continued their journey with another steady climb through the shade of the woods below Mynydd Gelliwion. Heading towards Maesycoed and more lovely oak and beech woods, another climb brought them to Graig with its lovely views over the Taff Valley, before a steep descent led them back to Treforest for the journey home by train

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