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Barry and District Ramblers explore hidden history on morning walk

ON a beautiful sunny summer morning a group of ten walkers met up with William from Penarth and District Ramblers at the Buttrills playing fields off North Walk in Barry to enjoy a fourteen mile tramp in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan.

Setting off across the playing fields in soft summer rainfall no doubt being enjoyed by farmers and gardeners alike and exiting onto Colcot Road, they tramped down Little Brynhill Lane and through a series of wet green meadows in the Brynhill valley for the short climb up to New Wallace Farm.

A short descent led them across the Goldsland Brook and continuing through fields and skirting the western edge of Goldsland Wood, the Long Cairn at St Lythans came into view. This Neolithic burial chamber is also known as Gwal-y-Filiast (or the greyhound bitches kennel) as it was once used as a shelter for animals. The large capstone balances on three upright stones and it was originally covered by a mound of earth or stones. Local legend has it that on Midsummer’s Eve the stones go down to the river to bathe.

On through Maes-y-felin farmyard and tramping along the northern edge of Goldsland Wood they passed through woodland and ferns onto part of the Wenvoe Castle golf course managing to dodge a stray ball which landed in the rough close to the group. Then after helping the player to locate his golf ball they quickly moved on before being used as further target practise.

Arriving at Burdonshill Farm the quiet rutted farm track led them on towards Wenvoe Wood and across a meadow to reach the 12th century St Lythans Church, which is dedicated to St Bleddian where they paused within the churchyard for mid-morning break accompanied by the sweet sound of birdsong.

By now the rain had eased and crossing the St Lythans Road a long driveway led them past Lodge House Farm and into Coed Nant Bran, where the remnants of wild garlic on the woodland floor filled their nostrils with its pungent aroma. Crossing farming land to reach the A48 and then by pavement to St Nicholas village and on past the lovely 14th century church dedicated to St Nicholas and down a farm track to Homri. From this track they could enjoy views stretching to Garth Hill, Craig yr Allt, the Cardiff Ridgeway and the very distinctive turrets of the fairy tale Castell Coch or the Red Castle, built in the Gothic style in the 1870’s for the 3rd Marquis of Bute.

Descending slightly into the early 20th century Wyndham Park whose original name was Glyn Cory Garden Village, named after the Cory family of Dyffryn House who were coal and shipping magnates, it was originally planned to provide housing for company workers, which would include a golf course, allotments and small holdings, but unfortunately the original scheme failed.

Tramping down through the main wide avenue into Peterston-super-Ely and crossing the river they arrived at Lanlay Meadows which is owned by the National Trust and cared for by volunteers and is classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because the rare Monk’s Hood plant, which is highly toxic grows there. Time has stood still in these meadows, untouched by pesticides or mechanical implements and only cropped by a herd of cattle; they are full of wild flowers and bird song, ancient oaks and lovely alder trees. The River Ely meanders its way on the eastern side and its banks made the perfect place to stop for their lunch break.

Returning along the boardwalk and making their way up Chapel Lane a sunken lane led them up to St Nicholas and back across the A48 and over a stone stile and fields to Tinkinswood Burial Chamber with its huge capstone. Then on past Dyffryn House and Gardens and by road to Hen Felin, with its menagerie of pig, sheep and alpacas to pass the fishing lakes at Dyffryn Springs and through Old Wallace Farmyard with its famous old Lamborghini tractor. Their return was made across the fields beside the river Waycock over the footbridge and up the track through Brynhill golf course to Highlight Farm and the outskirts of Barry, past Barry Hospital and across the Colcot Road back to the carpark.

You can follow the group’s exploits before, during and after lockdown on Facebook.

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