ON AN overcast but not cold morning a group of eleven walkers met up with Joy from Penarth and District Ramblers at the start of a six mile Shortish Strides walk, and setting off along Heol Las they crossed the first of the many stone stiles this area is renowned for.

Entering fields beside the Nash Brook they paused within what would have been the confines of a medieval monastic grange that was founded in 1130 by the Norman lord Richard de Granville and which grew the food to sustain Neath Abbey. The grange was very successful until it was plundered during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after which its buildings fell into disrepair. Still in situ are the remains of the dovecote where doves and pigeons provided not only meat during the cold winters, but eggs, feathers for mattresses, fertilizer for the land, for tanning hides and the saltpetre in the droppings helped to produce gunpowder.

A series of different stone stiles led them on through fields and some very docile young cattle, before two gates brought them out onto the road where one of the group had to retire because of a previous sore foot that was causing a problem. Having said their goodbyes the rest moved on by road before re-entering lush green meadows near Mill Farm where some of the group gathered field mushrooms they found en route.

The stony woodland path at Blaen y cwm was strewn with various shades of fallen leaves and the group heard how during WW1 despite the Royal Navy defending the Bristol Channel, the fear of invasion meant that the house was commandeered as a base for twenty men whose job was to guard the coast because, not only was it close to the beach but more importantly it had a telephone.

At Cwm Nash the path was running with water and as the sun put in an appearance a short steep climb led them up onto the clifftop to join part of the Wales Coast Path whilst enjoying the views towards Trwyn y Witch and Porthcawl. The tide was just breaking over the Nash Sandbank in the channel, the cause of many a wrecked ship, as they tramped eastwards along the clifftop where it was breezy whilst gazing towards Nash Point lighthouse.

A kissing gate brought them into the remains of an Iron Age fort with its banks and ditches and descending into Cwm Marcross, they turned inland crossing a series of stepping stones over the Marcross Brook to climb gently through woodland. Heading across a wooden footbridge they made a stop in the next field out of the wind, utilising a bank in warm sunshine that felt more like summer for their refreshment stop. Then on through fields to emerge beside the 19th century Horseshoe Inn, where some pavement bashing led them back into fields for the journey to Llan Road and past Llan Farm.

Another series of old stone stiles led them through empty meadows with views towards Wick before they emerged onto the road at West Monkton, following the lane with its pretty autumnal trees shedding their leaves in the breeze. Arriving at Water Street in the pretty hamlet of Broughton, they returned into fields opposite the 19th century built Malthouse, which after its brewing career was over, became a miner’s holiday home in 1904 and has now been converted into apartments.

Making their way in single file across the last ploughed and seeded field led them safely back to the Plough and Harrow Inn where they made for the sunlit garden in order to enjoy a celebratory drink as this was the leaders 500th walk for the group. Thanks go to the lovely bunch of people who took part and for their totally unexpected gift and cards and a special mention to Anna, our resident artist who sketched a wonderful card which will be treasured.

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