The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (the story of villagers who built up a local hill with rocks so that cartographers would classify it as a mountain) is allegedly based on real events from the village of Taff’s Well and neighbouring Garth Hill. How much of the story is truth is debatable and conservationists are keen to point out the summit’s Bronze Age burial chamber has nothing to do with the mountain’s classification. Either way, this easy trip is an ideal way to escape and enjoy terrific views.
From Taff’s Well train station, walk towards the River Taff. Cross a bridge over the river, then turn immediately right on a path. When you reach a housing estate, turn left and walk to the main road. Walk right, then take the first right, signed Gwaelod y Garth.
Take the first path left, signed Georgetown, but follow the wooded path up steep steps on your right. The path continues uphill. Go straight on at the next few path junctions until you reach a T-junction with a main track – turn left and continue uphill until you come to a paddock on your right. Go through the gate and cut through the field to a lane. Turn left for 320m past a ruined farm building, ignoring the first path (right).
1. ONE AND A QUARTER MILES
Pick up a path on your right that climbs the side of Garth Hill. When it forks, go right to a viewpoint for phenomenal views over Taff’s Well. It’s a bracing but beautiful spot, especially on a crisp winter day.
Head sharply uphill to a minor summit, marked with a cairn. Bear left and aim for the Ridgeway Walk path that runs along the flat top of the hill, turn left when you reach it and follow this past the viewpoint information board and cairn until you reach the summit proper – a Bronze Age burial chamber. If you don’t recognise the views from the 1995 Hugh Grant film, the movie was actually filmed near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant further north in Powys, due
2. TWO AND A QUARTER MILES
Turn back on yourself and retrace the Ridgeway Walk, then after 160m pick up a path heading diagonally left. Carry straight on, ignoring another path right (marked with a post), then climb a stile and follow the fence downhill. Climb a second stile and follow a wide track. Go through two gates, past ruined farm buildings, and keep on the main track straight ahead.
Stay on the concrete track as it bears right then left, and goes over another stile. Turn right at a road, then after 20m right down a lane. When the lane curves left, take a track right through a gate. Stick to the main track, bearing right, and walk straight through Lan Farm.
Go through a gate beyond the farm buildings and follow a path. When the track curves sharply left, turn right into woodland. Cross a stile, then follow the path to the left of the fence. Turn left at the road to the Gwaelog y Garth Inn.
3. THREE AND THREE QUARTER MILES
Turn right at the pub, follow this road back past the sports pitch, turn left at the main road, then left and right via the bridge, back to the train station.
Woodland paths and farm tracks; can be muddy in places. Notices remind walkers to leave the landscape as they found it and not to disturb the Bronze Age burial cairns at the summit.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: Taffs Well is seven miles north-west of Cardiff on the A470.
By public transport:
Direct trains (13 minutes) and regular buses (22 minutes) from Cardiff.
Main Road, Gwaelod-y-Garth, Cardiff CF15 9HH
☎ 029 2081 0408
Castle Coch, Tongwynlais, north Cardiff.
www.cadw.wales.gov.uk Adults £3.60, concs £3.20, family £10.40.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 151.
Grid ref: ST 124 831