RECENTLY a group of five walkers joined Sheila from Penarth and District Ramblers at the pretty Vale village of St Mary Church at the start of an eight mile walk. The 13th century church is Grade II listed and was heavily restored in 1862 and Edward Williams better known by his bardic name of Iolo Morgannwg married Margaret Roberts there in 1781.

Making their way past the Old Rectory into fields with lovely views across the Vale, a pretty wood bathed in autumnal colours led them onward to cross a variety of stiles in order the reach the road. Following it to reach Howe Mill Farm, another stile led them into fields beside the River Thaw with glorious views towards the remains of Old Beaupre. Translating as ‘beautiful meadow’ in its heyday the house set on higher ground would have been surrounded by formal gardens. Part of the building dates to the 1300’s when it was first built by the Bassett family, but it was altered in the 1600’s and enlarged firstly by Sir Rice Mansel who married Eleanor Bassett and then by William Bassett and his son Richard. The Bassett family motto ‘Rather death than dishonour’ is carved on the inner porch and later became the motto of the Welsh Regiment.

Heading along the busy country lane and crossing through a woodworker’s garden with its gaggle of geese on guard, a climb through fields led them through Coed y Pentre for the climb up to Llandough, where they made for the Church of St Dochdwy’s. Built on the site of an earlier church, the roof and porch beams relate to the 14th century and enjoying a pause in the churchyard for morning refreshments, they learned that between the 12th and 15th centuries the Walsche family were lords of the manor and were presumed to have built the nearby castle which was next in line to be visited and which has a very long fascinating history.

Moving on through fields containing ewes and almost grown lambs with views towards Llanblethian in the distance, they arrived at a very handsome metal kissing gate alongside a restored wall and passing through descended to the road opposite the very fast flowing Factory Brook topped up by all the recent rainfall.

Arriving at Llanblethian and passing Great House, a bridge over the River Thaw led them to Castle Hill for the steep climb to the imposing gatehouse of the ruined St Quentin’s Castle where they stopped for lunch. The gatehouse still very much in evidence was built around 1312 by Gilbert de Clare who was sadly killed at Bannockburn in 1314, and having been attacked many times over the years by both the English and Welsh, it later became a prison and is now cared for by CADW.

Retracing their steps downhill they followed the River Thaw through boggy fields to the main road utilising three newly installed kissing gates with the leader apparently being the first to use them! Arriving at the driveway leading to New Beaupre House and farm that was built by Daniel Jones and which housed Richard Bassett when he moved from Old Beaupr, they counted five fairly new-born lambs in the fields leading up to the house.

Passing through woodland on their way to St Hilary, with another two brand new kissing gates in evidence and thanks go to the Vale of Glamorgan for the improvements to these public footpaths, they exited onto the road to reach the 16th century thatched Bush Inn, before moving on to the 12th century church dedicated to the 4th century St Hilarius of Poitiers.

On past a WW2 pillbox to follow a country lane with views to the north Somerset coastline, before a stony sunken lane which was covered in hedge trimmings led to the road and re-crossing the River Thaw they arrived at Fishweir. Admiring this beautiful house, outbuildings and duck pond, they moved on past a peacock and some guinea fowl before crossing fields dotted with docile sheep and some handsome horses before joining the lane leading back to St Mary Church.

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