Llandegfedd lake is a large reservoir, constructed in the early 1960s by Cardiff Corporation to provide drinking water to the rapidly growing city. It is now owned by Welsh Water and the lake is a haven for birds, wildlife, walkers and water sport enthusiasts. It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its value to overwintering wildfowl. The longer walks around the lake are only open between March and September, though there are short walks of 1 mile or so available all year. Other activities include archery, clay shooting and a recently added mini golf course.
We started at the large carpark at the reservoir. We walked away from the lake, our route going south to Llandegfedd village before heading generally north, but to the east of our outward route, to return to the lake near Coed y Paen.
As we crossed the dam, several skeins of Canada geese came flying to the reservoir. We saw three groups of at least 30 geese each time, causing us to stop and admire them.
We headed into the woods above the pumping station and started climbing. The paths were in a poor state of repair but…at least it was dry so we could walk them. In wet weather it would have been difficult.
We walked through a brown carpet of autumn leaves, dotted in places with the bright green of fallen apples, and across wide open fields. On reaching a stream, crossing it proved impossible, so we took an alternative path along the stream. We found a herd of cows standing along the bank, as if trying to reach the water, even though the bank was too steep. Yet not far away there was easy access – what were they playing at? A sign warned us that a bridge was unusable, but we decided to take a chance on being able to cross the stream.
Soon we arrived at a very tidy Walnut Tree farm; a large area of grass in front of the house had statues of deer and a flock of pheasants, some taking to the air as we approached. Our path took us into a field where a large ram wore a bag of dye strapped to his front to mark any ewes he serviced. And there ahead of us was a brand new sturdy bridge which looked like it had only just been completed. Excellent!
Walking through a wood some white fungi, growing on the limb of a tree, glowed in the dim light.
We passed through Llandegfedd village and the Farmers Arms pub. A little further and we met cattle bunched together in a well-trodden field, next to which there was a huge tank of slurry with its ‘delicious’ smell and a couple of silage clamps. We walked through there quickly.
We entered a path which had road signs at the beginning – clearway, 30mph limit, beware cattle and another warning ‘Unsuitable for Access’. Well, it started as a green lane! And soon deteriorated into a gully, all the soil having been washed away so there was only rock at the bottom with steep sides which were 4ft high in places, with, of course, the autumnal growth of nettles and brambles. We emerged near a large cattleshed, the last person being about 15 minutes behind the leaders – that’s how difficult it was.
We found a spot to eat our lunch after this exciting episode; and decided to give the next hill a miss, taking a level route back to Llandegfedd reservoir and adding about a mile to the walk.
At The Forest, I was surprised to see eucalyptus trees growing. We spotted signs for Coed y Paen and Prescoed prison (a category C prison for vulnerable prisoners which has been a Borstal in the past). We also saw a healthy-looking herd of pedigree Holstein cows belonged to Cilwrgi farm, part of the prison. They also have a sawmill, woodlands and workshops and there was a sign for an SSSI on their land.
Entering a field, we found a lone ‘mad’ cow, running towards us like a bucking bronco, getting close and then staring hard with wild eyes. We waved our walking poles to get it to move away – it ran across the whole field before turning to come back but we had hurried on and exited the field. Why was it by itself and what was wrong with it? And no, it was not a bull!
A short walk along a wooded lane brought us back to Llandegfedd lake, and we were soon supping drinks at the Visitor Centre café.
We have done this walk in the past with no problems but some footpaths were not maintained. In the Vale of Glamorgan, we are fortunate that the Walk and Clear volunteers from Valeways work hard to keep footpaths open. Thank you to all the Valeways volunteers. Walk 7 miles, 1100ft. Map 152.