I looked at this last year (http://www.heritagetortoise.co.uk/2014/06/wits-forge-and-fireblast/) and concluded that the only way out of Caerphilly was to follow the Sustrans cycle route 4 (the ‘Three Castles’ route). It’s mainly back streets but well signposted. The cycle route goes through the park to the left of the castle moat, crosses Crescent Road, through the car park, up a ramp and under the railway line. There’s a rather awkward wiggle through the housing estates and across a main road, then round the backs of more houses, through the park and more back streets to the road up Caerphilly Mountain. Cross the road and keep on the cycle path but where it turns left, go straight on
to rejoin the mountain road and walk up to the Penrhos roundabout. There is a VERY difficult road crossing to the left of the roundabout. Take the waymarked path straight ahead:
you are back on the line of the Ridgeway. The path rejoins the Groeswen road. (This is a very unsatisfactory bit of the route but there isn’t a viable alternative – and it does take you past the cafe at the garden centre.)
From here to Groeswen there should be a footpath across the fields past Gwaungledyr-uchaf Farm. I was warned that it was very wet underfoot but we went anyway. The farm is now a riding stables. The horses in the field took a serious interest in the dogs and we had to scramble over the fence in a bit of a hurry. The young woman who runs the stables was very helpful but warned me (again) that the next field was virtually impassable with mud. And it was – no way to get to the kissing gate out of the next field without going through mud to your knees. We made it but I can’t recommend it.
The alternative is the evocatively-named Gypsy Lane – a hollow way to the right of the road past the garden centre.
At the top of Gypsy Lane turn left and walk along a slightly bigger road to Groeswen. Opposite the pub car park a kissing gate takes you back on the Ridgeway over Mynydd Meio to Eglwysilan.
In 2012 and 2013 we took the footpath which slopes down the hill from Eglwysilan church to the top to Pontypridd – but this is getting so overgrown as to be virtually impassable. There’s a bit of misleading waymarking to contend with as well. Go past the church and churchyard, take the waymarked footpath to the right. Follow the churchyard wall then bear slightly to the right to cross the fence
(there has been a stile but the step has gone; it’s waymarked but only in the other direction). Keep on the same line and walk across a very marshy field and down the bank (very wet and uneven underfoot) to a footbridge across the stream. Turn left and follow the path which gradually climbs the bank. When you reach the top, follow the fence and cross a stile. Walk below the farmhouse and across another stile. Walk across the next field with the hedge on your right and over a stile just above the next farmhouse.
Walk above the farmhouse on a stony track through several gates.
The waymark on the last gate is misleading.
It suggests you bear to the right towards the top corner of the field. I think the map may be out of date: the farmhouse at Tir Cae Mawr is tumbled stone and the field boundary past it which the footpath followed is no longer there. Instead, bear slightly to the left and go a little down hill to the mid point of the far hedge, where there is an old iron kissing gate.
Through this, turn left and walk a little way down stream to ford the stream, then go straight on round the top of the next field. Through a gate you pick up a rough track which takes you through more gates to the metalled road by Hendre-Prosser. Go straight across the road and down the bank. There is no footbridge but the stream is fordable.
Go through the kissing gate and up the far bank. Keep just below the hedge to your right and walk across the top of the field to a stile.
Over the stile, take the track to the left of the waymarking post,
downhill through the gorse and bracken. This is VERY overgrown – you will need sticks.
There is a broken stile into the woodland
and a kissing gate a little further on, after which the path becomes clearer. Walk down to a gate to the right of houses (very muddy underfoot).
Take the track to the left which becomes a metalled road and bears right.Turn right on Rockingstone Terrace, which becomes Hospital Road. Opposite the entrance to the Cottage Hospital turn left into Pontypridd Common (now a public park) and follow the main metalled footpath which goes gradually downhill past the War Memorial then more steeply downhill to the bottom corner of the park where Common Road meets Merthyr Road.
Cross Merthyr Road, head towards the A470 and turn right on Coedpenmaen Close. After the school, take the footbridge across the A470. Walk straight on along Foundry Place, left into Ralph Street, right immediately into Dorothy Street, bear left with the street, turn right on The Parade and left to the bridge across the Taff. This is roughly where the medieval bridge was.
There are alternatives which bypass the overgrown section. There is a footpath which goes SW from Ffynnon Rhingyll, but I haven’t looked at it. It would involve a lot more road walking. It should also be possible to take the footpath just before the Rose and Crown in Eglwysilan and cut down to the cycleway. The other alternative is to stick to the road past Eglwysilan and turn left at Penheol Ely: this is as far as we can see the medieval route but it’s all road. We’ll try to get the local authority on board with some clearance but long-term maintenance will be more of a challenge.