The Unkindness of Ravens

It’s very provoking that the part of the route I should know best is proving one of the most difficult. The paths from Risca up Mynydd Machen should be easy. Steve and I walked them all in our teens, and Caerphilly CBC have been doing great work on stiles and gates. So why are they in such poor shape?

The Rhymney Valley Ridgeway down from Mynydd Machen to Machen itself is clear and obviously fairly well used. What I want (ideally) is a route from the saddle south-east of Mynydd Machen down towards Danygraig. Here’s the waymark on the southern slope of Mynydd Machen –

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continue on the same line and you get on a footpath going north. it’s clearly an old hollow trail.

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The footpath divides – left is the Raven Walk and right goes more steeply downhill.

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I thought this one was the one to go for but it gets very overgrown and leads to the roughly metalled road along the north slope – no obvious way down towards Danygraig from there.

Back to the Raven Walk. This too is heavily overgrown – shorts not a good idea.

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I started to wonder whether it was ever walked, but about five minutes after we emerged on the road and stopped for lunch a group of the local Ramblers came down it. They walk it regularly and had cleared it three weeks earlier. It’s been good growing weather – sunshine and rain – and the bracken is head high with plenty of brambles underneath.

The Raven Walk goes across the road and downhill. I wanted something a little further to the east. We walked back to the nice new gate on the road – there’s a VERY overgrown path from here back across the fields

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part of the problem may be that it’s technically a bridleway but the stiles and gates would block it for horses.

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Eventually it becomes completely impassable.

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This is a pity as it’s exactly the line I want.

Back to the Raven Walk again. That was my ‘if all else fails’ option – and to my great grief, it seems to be in very poor shape. To judge from the Caerphilly CBC web site at

http://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/cwmcarnforest/walking/raven-walk and http://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/cwmcarnforest/sites/your.caerphilly.gov.uk.cwmcarnforest/files/pdf/map_raven.pdf

it has been re-routed up the road from the Blackvein bridge (seems odd when there is a good bridleway paralleling the road) and through the forest. The section above the forest is heavily overgrown with a lot of fallen trees and the gate from the field below the road is rickety. Also an almost complete absence of waymarks.

There is an alternative which I found by accident. Walking the Raven route I came to a stile in the forest fence at about OS ref 226 908, thought that was the way and went over it. The path winds down through the woods and eventually gets to to the road above the Danygraig footbridge.

Here’s how it would work from there (the earlier part is at https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/twmbarlwm-machen-or-not/ ) . Over the footbridge, left on the metalled path, under the dual carriageway, rurn right at the T junction but keep on up the hill. When the road bears left, take the footpath straight on

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following the fingerpost for Glenside. This is a well-walked path across fields.

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When you get to the forest road, bear left up hill.

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Look out for a finger post pointing left into the trees

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– I didn’t walk this but came along a footpath a bit further up. The path climbs up through the trees to a stile

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– here you are back on the Raven Walk. Turn left and walk along the forest edge. Some very overgrown sections,

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the dodgy gate,

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up the field to the right, through the gate at the top, across the road,

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straight on through the bracken to the waymark for the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway.

This means, though, two promoted routes up the side of Mynydd Machen – might it be better to stick to one, on the basis that it’s more likely to be used and kept clear? And my friend Maggie Sian has another possible route – next dry day we get we’ll have to get together.

 

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One thought on “The Unkindness of Ravens

  1. Pingback: As the raven flies … | heritagetortoise

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