near Cardiff, Wales (United Kingdom)
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Starting at Cardiff Castle, urban walking is avoided by following a ribbon of green beside the River Taff. The path then climbs through woodland by Castle Coch up to the ridge that runs behind Cardiff. Following this ridge east through trees and fields the path arrives at the village of Machen. After the village the Cambrian Way climbs steeply to the summit of Mynydd Machen, marked by a group of aerials, before dropping down the other side to Crosskeys. Crossing a railway and a disused canal the next climb is up to the hillfort on top of Twmbarlwm. A long ridge walk takes you to Pontypool, where there are shops, cafes and accommodation.
Another ridge walk then follows to the summit of Blorenge after which the path drops into Abergavenny, the next opportunity for food and accommodation. A classic climb takes you up the Sugar Loaf, and down into the valley beyond, before another climb up to a ridge, which is followed northwards until the path drops down into Capel-y-ffin, a tiny village with a small, white church. Climbing out of the village the Cambrian Way leads to a summit called Lord Hereford's knob across rough moorland, with large views over the Wye valley beyond. The route than loops back towards the south, and after another long ridge walk on open hillside among heather, whinberries and cotton sedge reaches the small town of Crickhowell with food shops, cafes, accommodation and an outdoor shop.
Beyond Crickhowell the path crosses a plateau with a historic cave, and a disused quarry. After some kilometres over rough ground, the most popular area of the Brecon Beacons is reached, where the Cambrian Way crosses the multiple peaks of Fan y Big, the Cribyn, Pen y Fan, and Corn Du. Below Corn Ddu there is a visit to the monument of Tommy Jones, who died after becoming lost on the moors. This section ends at the Storey Arms, where there is a car park, bus stop, a trailer selling bacon baps but sadly no public house, although there is a Youth Hostel down the road.
More information is at the website of the Cambrian trust http://www.cambrianway.org.uk/, which has the GPX tracks on which this one is based, see also my blog https://johnponcambrian.blogspot.com/2020/05/cardiff-to-machen-on-cambrian-way-day-1.html. The next part on Wikiloc is at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/cambrian-way-part-2-storey-arms-to-ponterwyd-57364422. Happy Hiking!
3 Bears Cave
3 Bears Cave is actually an old iron ore mine. Mining in the area began in the 1560's helping fuel local industry.
Abergavenny shops and cafes
Abergavenny is a fine town with a castle, meadow, train station, little shops and cafes on a pedestrianised street, as well as accommodation.
Bridge over River Usk
Abergavenny bridge crosses the River Usk in a series of stone arches. Originally dating from the 15th century it was substantially modified in the 19th century.
Cardiff Castle and start of Cambrian Way
Starting point for the Cambrian Way is at the entrance to Cardiff Castle in the centre of Cardiff. While the castle has Roman and Norman origins the current structure is a Victorian fantasy built for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. The elaborate indoor decor of animals and plants makes it worth a visit.
Castell Coch or in English Red Castle, was originally a Norman fortification, with stone fortifications built in the 13th century, however, the present structure is a medieval fantasy built for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the 19th century. Its atmospheric setting has made it the set for several films and television programmes.
The Chartist cave was where weapons were stored and meetings held by the Chartists in 1839. They believed that working men should be able to vote for Members of Parliament, that democracy should not be restricted to the property owning class. To pursue this aim there was an armed clash with the authorities at Newport in November 1839, in which the Chartists were defeated and tried for treason, but eventually their aims were achieved.
The Cribyn, with its summit at 795 metres, is one of the four summits crossed by the Cambrian Way in this section. A steep climb is required to reach it but the views to the north over the steep north face are worth the effort.
Crickhowell shops and cafes
Crickhowell is a small town with shops for food, cafes, a good outdoor shop, and accommodation. Like most of the villages and towns in this section of the Cambrian Way, it lies in a valley.
A small shop or two in this ribbon development in the valley of the Ebbw River
Esso Petrol station and shop
A petrol station with a useful shop for picking up sandwiches and the like.
Fan y Big
Fan y Big is one of four summits in this section with a height of 717 metres, like the other mountains in this group it has a very steep drop to the north.
A tower originally built in the 18th century, it was demolished in the Second World War in case it acted as a navigational aid for the enemy, and rebuilt in 1994.
An abandoned canal that once brought coal to Cardiff docks, now a haven of wild life and wildflowers.
Llandaff cathedral was originally built in the 12th century but many changes have been made since then. In the Second World War it was damaged by enemy action and instead of restoring the cathedral as it was, an arch with a modern statue of Christ by Epstein now dominates the nave.
Lord Hereford's Knob
Lord Hereford's knob or Twmpa, is a summit, 690 metres high, on the northern escarpment of the Black Mountains. While not a large summit it has spectacular views across the Wye valley and along the ridge.
Machen mountain or Mynydd Machen is a 362 metre peak on the ridge between the Rhymney and Ebbw valleys, at the edge of the South Wales Coalfield. There a some aerials, a bench and some great views.
Melingriffith Water Pump
This is a beam pump that once lifted water from a stream into the Glamorgan canal, it is powered by a waterwheel driven by the flow of the stream.
Pen Cerrig Calch
A 707 metre summit above the town of Crickhowell
Pen y Fan
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales at 886 metres, and the most popular mountain walk.
Pontypool shops and cafe
Pontypool is a town with shops, cafes and accommodation
The quarry called Cwar yr Hendre is a little off the Cambrian Way which follows the line of the old Brinore Tramway at this point
An 18th century building apparently decorated inside with shells and bones. Difficult to know as you cannot get in.
Shop in Machen
There are two shops selling food, the Coop also has a coffee machine.