As the raven flies …

If we settle for the Raven Way from the Ebbw valley over Mynydd Machen, where does that leave us …

From the Blackvein bridge, walk up the road to the right, ignoring the first waymarked footpath to the left – it’s impassable.


You can take the bridleway to the left across the first bend – the beginning is over grown but it soon clears.


Ignore paths off this, rejoin the road and continue up. After the road bends to the right, take the footpath to the left.


This is a good path up through the woods – was it once a tramway? The stones have regular holes and look as though they might have been sleepers.


Cross the forest road and continue up. Where the track divides, bear up to the right towards the forest edge, over a stile and turn left along the forest edge.


Here it gets difficult – the path is very overgrown, boggy and in places blocked by fallen trees. From here it is the route from my earlier blog posting (


Keep along the line of the forest edge as best you can. Cross a rickety gate and bear up to the right through the next field to a gate. Cross the roughly metalled trackway and make your way up through the bracken (in spite of all the Ramblers’ efforts 2 days ago, virtually impassable).


From the top of the pass there’s a clear path down to the forest


and along the forest edge (lovely views)


down to Machen.

But to be honest I can’t recommend it as it stands: very hard going for a promoted route. If it can be cleared and kept clear it’s probably the best option (we certainly couldn’t commit to keeping a second route clear). The alternative would probably involve continuing up the road and bridle paths from Glenside, turning left at the top along that roughly metalled track and following it up to the remains of an old car parking area south-east of Mynydd Machen (I can remember driving up to that one but you’d need a 4×4 now) and walking up the scrambler tracks to reach the path to the forest.

O for the wings of a raven …




6 thoughts on “As the raven flies …

  1. Thank you for your pioneering work on the route I intend to walk next summer. Paths all over the country are getting seriously overgrown with the cuts in local government budgets and the collapse of grazing on open land. Seems I may need a strimmer! Those stones are identical to ones I saw on the Bryn Oer tram-road between Trefil and Talybont on Usk in the late 60s. That was a horse-drawn tram-road laid down in the early 1800s.

    • Many thanks, Jeff. There are also similar stones on the route from Penderyn towards the Neath valley which was apparently a very early tram road (I have a feeling it may have been a very early steam-powered tram but C19 industrial archaeology is way past my bed-time!)
      I’m in touch with Caerphilly CBC’s footpaths team and the local Ramblers – we may be able to get volunteers to do some bramble-bashing. The section above the forest is going to be more tricky. 20 years ago I’d have been out there with chain saw and wheelbarrow – Free Fuel! – but there’s also the problem that it’s very boggy and uneven underfoot. You will need good boots.
      The good thing is that the Raven Walk is a promoted path so there is a good chance we can get some maintenance done.


  2. Hi Madeleine
    I’ve spent a lot of time browsing your Cistercian Way website over the years, but I hadn’t come across this blog until a couple of days ago. Perhaps you should put a link on the website so that more people know about it?

    I’m glad to see that the Cistercian Way’s been resurrected. I’ve always thought it’s a great idea for a walk, particularly if you include St David’s and Bardsey, and have often wondered whether anything was ever going to happen with it.

    Anyway, your blog inspired me to go for a run up Mynydd Machen yesterday (something I used to do a lot, but haven’t found time to this summer). Having run up the Sirhowy Valley Walk from Rhiwderyn, I tried to follow the path from the ridge down to the track coming up from Castle Farm. Very overgrown! The problem, I think, is the tree still blocking the track above Castle Farm. This has always been a popular route on to the mountain, so the path across the common usually gets a fair amount of use. Once the tree has been removed, things might improve. Assuming they do, this is my suggestion for a route between Twmbarlwm and Mynydd Machen:

    Follow the lane off Twmbarlwm to the south-east. Turn right along the track to Cribarth and Penrhiw. Follow the line of the old lane straight down the hill, across the canal, and into Pontymister. Keep straight across the main road into Danygraig and follow the green lane diagonally up the slope to Ochrwyth. Turn right and up past Castle Farm to the common. Keep ahead along the path to the ridge. Any thoughts? There are more direct paths on to the mountain from Pontymister, but I doubt these will be easy to follow.

    Good luck! Harri

    • I think that would be roughly what I did in my first try at the route ( ) but I completely failed to get through the fallen tree. 20 years ago I’d have been there with a chain saw and a wheelbarrow – Free Fuel! – I’m surprised no-one else has had a go. I’m not actually sure about the legal status of that bit of road – it might be easier to clear than the Raven Walk, the way things are.
      Ah, yes, the web site – it needs so much work that I’m putting it off until we know where we are going. Also I need to find a new home for it as the Newport server and our History programme’s days are numbered, so I may as well get it all done in one go.


  3. Pingback: Back to Bedwas again | Cistercian Way

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