A GROUP of ten walkers joined Sheila from Penarth and District Ramblers in the glorious Vale of Glamorgan for a circular walk beginning from the 16th century Bush Inn at St Hilary. Folklore has it that the pub is haunted by a ghost in the shape of a highwayman called Ianto Ffranc, who was found hiding in a cave near the inn and was hanged for his crimes.

Just as they were about to start their walk three buzzards appeared soaring overhead in the sky and after pausing to watch them they set off in overcast weather which shortly turned into beautiful sunshine.

A narrow quiet laneway led them towards Llantrithyd but they deviated midway to visit Coed Hills Art Space created with the ethos of sustainable living. The whole of this site runs on alternative energy and the residents and volunteers live in converted railway carriages, yurts, log cabins, tepees and straw bale buildings whilst practicing traditional woodland skills and crafts. They were lucky to catch the eye of a very knowledgeable carpenter on site who was delighted to show them around his outdoor studio and workshop.

Having made their farewell and back on the lane they entered a recently manured field to make their way on past Llantrithyd House, formerly Ty-Fry. Several more fields with fantastic long ranging views and quite a few electric fences brought them to the back garden of a large house complete with noisy hens and following the road they reached the village of Llantrithyd, making straight for the village church for morning break.

The Church of St Illtyd is Grade II listed and dates to the 12th century and it wasn’t until 2016 that it was connected to mains water and electricity, courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Numerous interesting memorials adorn its walls and a slab near the altar is inscribed Blanche Aubrey 1588, whilst the 14th century rood screen has been restored and repainted. However it is the wall monument and massive tomb in memory of the Mansel and Bassett families that takes centre stage. The figures lying on top of the tomb are Antony Mansel, who is in full armour and his wife Elizabeth Bassett, whilst kneeling beside are her parents John and Elizabeth Bassett. Their seven children are ‘weepers’ kneeling at the bottom of the tomb.

But a more interesting monument is to be found in the graveyard, commemorating Robert Thomas of Cowbridge and his wife Jane who was the youngest daughter and 36th child of Benjamin Howell of Neath, if that can be believed!

Beside the church are the atmospheric remains of Llantrithyd Place with its extensive gardens that were built by John Thomas Bassett in the early 16th century and later during that century it passed by marriage to the Mansel family and its deer park still exists and is home to Red, Fallow and Sika deer. Moving on by sunken lane and road to arrive at Llanvithyn Farm they learned it was possibly the site of an early monastery

Tackling some stiles that were badly in need of repair or replacement they made their way towards Llancarfan crossing rain-starved fields where the only greenery was in the trees and even the brooks had run dry. However at Llancarfan they found the Nant Carfan still contained water as they entered the churchyard of St Cadoc’s for lunch in the shade of some trees.

The monastery founded by St Cadoc became a flourishing centre of learning and after visiting the inside of the church to view the magnificent wall paintings they headed towards Pancross, then Treguff crossing fields to enter Coed Arthur. Following the path in the cool forest they emerged into fields containing various electric wires and rather dodgy stiles to eventually join the road for the long walk back into St Hilary.

You can follow the group at www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com or on Facebook.