A GROUP of eight keen walkers joined William from Penarth and District Ramblers at Gileston beach car park on a glorious sunny autumn morning at the start of a circular journey that would take them along the coast and inland to Old Beaupre Castle.
Heading westwards along part of the Wales Coast Path to reach Summerhouse Point they headed inland passing Boverton Mill Farm, followed closely by the impressive ruins of Boverton Place. This late 16th century house that is Grade II listed was built by Roger Seys, who was Attorney General for Wales in 1592 on the site of what was claimed to be a castle, but was most likely a manor house. In the latter part of the 17th century the family moved out and the house was left to decay into ruins.
Pounding pavements at Boverton and making their way very carefully across the B4265 they entered fields making towards the pretty village of Llanmaes heading straight to the churchyard of St Cadoc’s for their morning refreshment break.
Then on through the village before crossing freshly ploughed fields towards the ancient hamlet of Llanmihangel with its magnificent Grade I listed manor house, Plas Llanmihangel which stands on a hill. The house during the 16th century was refurbished by the Thomas family and just opposite in a dell is the charming Church of St Michael which has Norman foundations that was built to serve the owners of the manor house.
More fields and a pheasant rearing enclosure below Ruff Moor led them past the remains of a quarry at Ffynnon Math Lwdd to enter the lovely Coed y Pentre woods. They emerged onto a little lane below the village of Llandough, to walk steeply uphill and over an ancient stone stile into the fields behind the old Rectory and school house towards Parwg Well and the noisy geese on guard duty at the nearby smallholding.
A short road walk led them to a bridge over the river Thaw at Howe Mill and across the fields to the ruined Old Beaupre Castle which was medieval and then a Tudor manor house built around two courtyards. The medieval part dates to around 1300 and during the 16th century the rebuilding was begun by Sir Rice Mansel and continued by William Bassett before being completed by his son Richard. This included the most important feature, the outer gatehouse and the porch which are still well preserved and demonstrated the Bassett family’s wealth and stature. By now it was time for lunch sitting in lovely sunshine within the remains during which William read a poem entitled ‘The Two Lives’ by his favourite poet, the Newport born tramp W.H. Davies. Suitably refreshed and moving on they made their way back across the fields to the road.
Locating the footpath for the climb to the village of St Mary Church, they firstly viewed the church, before a short road walk passing Maesybryn Farm to make their way through the yard at Fishweir Farmhouse, a lovely old 16th century stone building with ducks, guinea fowl, moorhens and peacocks. Tramping on to another lovely Vale village Flemingston with its little church dedicated to St Michael and the remains of Flemingston Court, they moved on towards the river Thaw before crossing Llanbydderi Moor and entering Oxmoor Woods. The narrow woodland track led them past old oaks and a pagan sign hidden in the base of a tree, before they emerged to cross a couple of fields to the little hamlet of Castleton.
Taking advantage of the weather they deviated across the Rills Valley to walk along the edge of Castleton Wood to the ruins of another old Vale fortified manor house, East Orchard Castle, high above the river Thaw. Making time to pause for a brief afternoon break within the ruins still bathed in warm sunshine, they entered East Orchard Wood and then across fields to the lane from Rock Farm to Baronswell, passing the dilapidated remains of the Boys village, before returning through West Aberthaw back to Gileston Beach.