Craig Llysfaen’s amazing views

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When you see the low hills above Cardiff, the one north of Rhiwbina is The Wenallt, and the one to the east, north of Lisvane, is Craig Llysfaen, standing 265 metres above sea level. It’s from this lofty position that these photos were taken on 10 August 2017.

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The old, gnarly trees atop Craig Llysfaen that you can see from the city below marks what we’ve always called The Ridgeway, an undulating tree-lined bridle path offering amazing views in nearly all directions. Looking east, you can even see the Severn Bridges, while northward, beyond the sloping fields of grazing sheep, the carved, sharp silhouette of the Brecon Beacons is visible when conditions permit.

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Llanishen Reservoir, which is currently being drained ahead of structural assessments

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It’s not often that you can see Roath Park Lake and IKEA (far right) in the same view
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Steep Holm and Flat Holm in the distance, with Cardiff docks, the recycling plant, and Trinity Mirror’s printing plant all visible in the foreground

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This hilltop track can be reached by an easy 15-minute upward walk along a curving forestry gravel track leading from Llywn Celyn Whips car park (grid reference ST20149 85413) on the Rudry Road (near the T-Junction with Cefn Porth Road that leads down to Cardiff Gate). Follow the track as it curves up and around the hill until you reach a T-junction, turn right here, and continue through a gate to reach ‘The Ridgeway’.

On the other end of the path is the steep and twisting Graig Road of Ty Mawr pub access fame, just before Pant Glas Farm. There’s no parking up by here, mind. You can walk to here from Cefn Onn car park too.

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Probably because we discovered it as young adults when we were first able to drive, The Ridgeway, as we soon started calling it, holds many memories of days gone by. We used to enjoy finding different routes to and from ridge down boggy trails (and still do if this evening was anything to go by). The woodland has changed quite a lot over the years, mainly due to extensive ethnic cleansing of fir trees.

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Calling this path The Ridgeway is probably unhelpful given that the 45km-long Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk runs parallel to the Craig Llysfaen ridge a little way off on the Caerphilly side of the hill. This route is lower down (obviously) and there are no views to speak of along that stretch. Dunno why they didn’t divert the RVRW to this path here considering the amazing views on offer.

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The 120-metre turbine in Trowbridge, put up by G24 Innovations, a solar power company that secured $50m investment in 2008 before going into administration in 2012 owing millions, including £361,616 to HMRC. It now belongs to Pinewood Studios Wales
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The Wenallt with its distinctive mast – thought it was a rocket as a small boy
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Cardiff underground: it would have been two people’s mission to wait out the fallout here

From the city you can just about see a little hut and radio mast on the ridge. (There’s a trig point tucked behind it, by the way, but you obviously can’t see that from down below.) This rusty fenced-in little installation beset with masts is a Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post, active from 1966 till 1991.

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A hangover from the Cold War, this post (code name: Llanishen) was one of 1,563 underground rooms constructed across the country to house people who would report nuclear attacks and monitor fallout. There’s more information on these strange little chambers on the Royal Observer Corps Association website, here.

Speaking of 20th century wars, Coed Coesau, which joins up with Llwyn Celyn, is home to a secret WW2 bunker, which can be found on the Maenllywd Inn side of the hill. An adventure for another day.

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A ROC Underground Monitoring Post (Image: Historic Scotland)
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Fence Face, as he was in June 2014. He’s still there, kind of. He now has four eyes and curly hair

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