Margam Park:- We parked next to the lake just outside Margam Park and made our way along the main track towards the deer park. Marshals stood near a stream, there was a run across the park and the runners were expected to go through this stream not once but twice; good job we were only walking!
We followed a woodland edge emerging onto the Ogwr Ridgeway walk and entering more open countryside we saw people doing the run. One circuit involved carrying a tyre uphill and over a high A frame before returning downhill. Continuing upwards, more obstacles appeared including a water slide (that looked good fun until you slid off the end onto rough ground) and a high-sided box. Far below we could see the starting point.
As we climbed we turned back to see Port Talbot steel works in the distance, a herd of deer were outlined on the hill in the foreground. There were a number of places where food had been put out for the deer and invariably nearby were ‘deer toilets’ trudging through one of these was not a pleasant experience!
Turning right we entered the forest to the north of Moel Ton-Mawr and spotted frog spawn aplenty – in any available water. Below was a clearing in the woodland where scrambler bikes raced, we stood well clear when they passed us . We continued in the forest for some time turning west northwest to cross the Ogwr Ridgeway walk.
We were almost at the high point of our walk as we emerged to the edge of the wood, a keen wind blew and it started to rain heavily. Icy needles hammered into exposed skin and many of us put up umbrellas for a bit of shelter. As the rain stopped we made our way into the wood for lunch but there was no shelter from the wind; it was like winter again.
Now we were making our way, on good tracks, generally downhill and westwards to Craig Cwm Maelwg and southwest to Crugwyllt-fawr. There were good views of the steel works and we could clearly see flames as well as great plumes of steam, one of which seemed to be the face of a plump faced man. At one point a large amount of hay was piled with old farm machinery. Loose hay was caught in wire and blew in the strong wind making an unusually picturesque fence.
Our track led to a farm and a friendly woman chatted to us . We headed uphill to the ruin of a chapel, and then down to the cars passing spring daffodils and primroses. [The walk was 8.2 miles and 1350ft. Map 165/166]
Tylorstown Tip:- It was a glorious sunny day. The ancient parish of Llanwonno is thought to date from the 6th century when St Gwynno founded the church here. We set off making a quick visit to the grave of Guto Nyth Bran (Griffith Morgan), he was able to run 7 miles to Pontypridd and back before the kettle boiled. Every New Year’s eve his legend is celebrated in the Nos Galon race from Mountain Ash.
We headed southwest through woodland to emerge into open countryside with Tylorstown tip (an old mining spoil tip) standing proudly to our right. We headed to it and a few people opted to wait at its foot while most of us climbed to the summit. Here we were joined by scrambler bikes roaring up its steep sides. The views down the valleys were excellent. As we descended, one of the scramblers followed us down a steep gully and we scrambled up the side out of his way.
Now the group continued in a north-westerly direction through woodland to Carn y Pigwn where we turned east to arrive at the river feeding the Clydach reservoir. Followed the river southeast and gently downwards to the reservoir where we stopped for lunch. Continuing down the valley we could hear water below us and took a slight detour to descend to a waterfall (Pistyll goleu); very refreshing.
Climbing back to our path we took the track along the course of the river now travelling northwest until we found a footpath on our right leading directly to the road back to the cars (and the pub): some took a short cut along the road while the rest of us continued into St Gwynno forest turning southeast in the direction of Mynachdy.
There were wind turbines on the hill and we had some fun taking photos with the blades apparently emerging from people’s heads. We passed a farm with sheep and new born lambs as well as young bullocks, goats and a llama. We climbed past fields with expectant ewes and ewes with their lambs.
Now it was a short way back, passing above the official scrambler site, to the cars where our friends greeted us. [We had walked 8.25miles and 1400ft. Map 166]