GERAINT from Penarth and District Ramblers took the group to Llanharan for a walk taking in a nature reserve, open hillsides, Cariad Rocks and gorgeous woodland and forestry tracks with stunning autumnal colours on show.

Being joined by a group of twenty walkers plus Bruno the dog they set off from Llanharan Railway Station following man-made paths to enter Brynna Woods and Llanharan Marsh. This nature reserve follows the path of the Ewenni Fach River and its wildlife includes the protected dormouse and horseshoe and barbastelle bats that make their home in the mine entrances and old shafts within the woodland, as coal mining in this area goes back to the 1870’s.

Heading through the outskirts of Brynna a rough track that was the Rhondda South Colliery line brought them through the valley where in the 1800’s two terraces of houses once stood. Made of corrugated iron sheets and named the Glamorgan and Railway Terraces they were built to house the sinkers and were known as ‘The Huts’ but now no trace of them remains. Topcoats were quickly removed and entering a field, a climb led them through a gate and along a waterlogged track to pause for morning refreshments where the South Rhondda Mine would have stood, which is hard to imagine in this peaceful green valley surrounded by beautiful undulating hillsides that now contain wind turbines.

Refreshed and moving on through Llanbad Fach where the original stables are still used and are now frequented by chickens kept in line by their feisty cockerel, they passed the ruins of the original winding house and powerhouse before following a rough muddy and waterlogged winding path uphill for the fairly steep climb out onto the open hillside with the tall wind turbines of the Taff-Ely windfarm whooshing above them.

Sloshing their way through a waterlogged gate they moved on to the remains of St Peter’s super Montem Church or Llan Bedr ar Fynydd in Welsh meaning the Church of St Peter on the Mountain. It is perched in an isolated position on the hillside high above Cwm Llanbad, but in actual fact not far from the old ridgeway road that originally ran from Llantrisant to Neath. The church of St Peter was apparently a favourite of the Bards of Glamorgan and also during 1736-1740 a total of fourteen marriages took place there. In 1990 archaeologists uncovered an ancient axe, a knife and a small cross which was etched with the words PRO ANIMA ARTORIUS, meaning For the Soul of Arthur which came after a King Arthur memorial stone was discovered at the Church leading to some wild speculation that King Arthur was buried there.

The path between boundary fences on the Glamorgan Ridgeway Walk led them on to a farm gate which came crashing to the ground, narrowly missing the dog because it had come off its hinges and after repairing it, the group moved on along a tree-lined path to pass below the locally known Cariad Rocks. Inscribed with the words ‘Dduw Cariad Yw’ meaning God is Love there are stories about who created the words. One is about a zealous preacher from Tonyrefail, the other a local Christian farmer whose daughter was suffering from consumption and who took her up to the rocks so she would benefit from the fresh air whilst he set about carving the rocks, and she was cured allegedly by a mix of hope, love fresh air and prayer.

After climbing above the rocks from where there were grand but misty views to the Bristol Channel, a narrow path running with water led them into the stunningly beautiful Coed Garthmaelwg or Llantrisant Forest for lunch surrounded by fallen leaves off the tall beech trees. Then following forestry paths a gradual and long haul out of the valley led them along part of the ‘Bunny Walk’ past the stinking pool to eventually enter fields containing sheep and huge molehills, overlooking the sunlit Llanharry and Pencoed away in the valley below.

Queueing up to cross a series of awkward stiles they eventually descended to Church Terrace for the short walk back to their start point after what had been a splendid November walk in overcast but not cold weather.

You can follow the group at or on Facebook.