Chartist Cave & Abercarn


Chartist Cave

We started at Trefil on a cold but sunny morning, much better than the weather forecast. Walking north we followed the Brinmore tramroad which opened in 1815.

We soon arrived at a quarry and the footpath led us through it. It has been used as a set for Torchwood and Dr Who.

Emerging from the quarry we followed a good track and crossed it to look at ‘the Duke’s table’. This is a ring of stones with a raised mound of grass in the centre surrounded by a second circular mound. It is said that this was where the Duke of Beaufort had lavish lunches with water gathered from a nearby spring, on days spent hunting on the moors. The inner ring is the table and the outer the seating.

Continuing north, on the main path, we found a sign marking The Aneurin Bevan Heritage Trail – ‘Bevan was always welcomed on his visits to the quarrying village of Trefil, the northern tip of his constituency. He loved its lonely moor lands walking with his friends. The ashes of both Bevan (1960) and Jennie Lee (1988) were scattered on these upland slopes. “What the nation mourned was the tragedy which mixed with the brilliance and the genius, and what it did in expiation was to acknowledge his unique place in our history.” Michael Foot’

Here we turned east and shortly after northeast, enjoying glorious views in the unexpected sunshine. Large sink holes appeared regularly across this landscape.

Now we turned south east to make our way towards the Chartist Cave, which can be difficult to find. (See the cover article about the history of the Chartists). After a short walk across the moor we could see a large cairn on top of a hill. Then a heavy mist descended hiding it from view, so we walked on a bearing to it. From here the cave is to the east, we crossed peaty ground covered in heather. With the misty weather we calculated that after about 10 minutes we should have been near the cave and soon realised we were stood on top of it and found the opening.

After a brief exploration of the Chartist cave, we had lunch. The mist did not lift so we cut the walk short, following a small track southwest, back to Trefil. As we approached the village a kite swooped nearby.

The walk was relatively dry underfoot, despite the peat, with tracks left by many feet human and animal making the going easy. We covered 6.8miles and 600ft climb. Map OL13





We parked at the edge of the forest above Abercarn and walked downhill towards housing before starting to climb and taking a footpath in a north-easterly direction, we crossed open land keeping the forest to our right. Nearby we spotted a tree with the base of its trunk shaped like a teapot..

After a short distance we entered the forest travelling west briefly and then northeast again. The forest follows a steeply sided valley and a lot of trees had been cleared. The pattern the felled trees formed made us feel as if we were moving as we looked at them, even though we stopped. An abundance of next year’s foxgloves lined the footpath.

A short stretch of dark woodland was decorated with the remains of police tape – imaginations ran riot. Soon we emerged onto a minor road where we met a fellow local walker and his dogs. He was friendly and enthusiastic giving us tips about good places to walk in the area.

We continued along the road before turning east onto Mynydd Maen Common. As we did so, a car passed us, a door opened as it slowed and a small dog jumped out, whereupon the car drove off with the dog running after it. The car pulled into a lay-by about 400yds further on – a new way to walk the dog!

Crossing the common, the woodland still on our right, we noticed that thick ice covered water here. Misty, the dog, was surprised when she stepped into/ onto water and her legs splayed.

At the eastern edge of the forest we turned back south and enjoyed lunch with lovely views down the wooded valley. Then we had to walk down to the bottom of the valley – approximately a 500’ drop! This proved a bit of a challenge as it was largely covered in heather and bracken and extremely steep

Reaching the bottom, we followed a stream. A section of this had concrete sides and a dam, probably a sheep dip. We now followed good forest tracks above the stream. Glancing across the steeply sided valley, we could see our cars parked on the other side. We continued until we could drop into the valley and climb the other side back to the vehicles. The walk was 7.4miles and climb 1200ft.