Shw’mae, Sistersiaid?

This should have been the post for Diwrnod Shw’mae, the day when we all try to speak Welsh, or at least to start every conversation by saying ‘How are things?’ in Welsh.  We thought we had the Cistercian Way from Llantarnam to Neath sorted, so we got the text professionally translated. But we keep coming up with little tweaks and updates – the last bit of the route to Llangynwyd, the logging trails on the Raven Walk, now a better way from Ynysybwl to Llanwynno. Is my Intermediate level Welsh up to it? Can I persuade our wonderful tutor to accept bits of translated web site as Homework?

So … the route from Ynysybwl. For many years it was really a pilgrimage and we went through the middle of the village. As it became more of a heritage footpath we took to going up the Llys Nant, the boundary of the short-lived abbey of Pendar’s lands in the area. Across the road to Buarth Capel, down to the Nant Ffrwd (which powered the monastic mill) and up to Mynachdy. From there we started off walking the stony track that leads to the forest road to Llanwynno. This was clearly the old road – the line of the right of way goes straight across the modern road to Pontypridd and becomes the track down to Pontygwaith and the line of the medieval bridge across the Rhondda Fach.

If you are going to the church and pub at Llanwynno, it might make more sense to take the footpath from ST 04341 94850 past the two wind turbines. We walked that some years ago and decided the stony track was better, but that was before the motorbike scrambling circuit got so very popular. It’s busy in the week, and at weekends it’s thronged with people. This time Andy and I went through the gate at ST 04341 94850 and along the footpath. Walk along the stony track towards the turbines, through the gate at ST 04213 95166, bear left across the next field to a stile in the far left corner and walk along the fence to another stile at the top left of the field.


(The stiles are single-step and difficult with dogs. ) Turn left and walk above the scrambler circuit. The track bears right into the forest. Look out for a fainter path to the left at ST 03441 95598 (if you miss it, continue to the junction of the forest roads and turn left there.)

Cross the forest road at ST 03317 95602 and walk straight ahead up the bank and over another stile. Turn left and walk round the left edge of a little hillock and down to the road below the pub. If you can’t face the climb, stay on the forest road at ST 03441 95598 and turn left on the metalled road up to Llanwynno. Either way is probably better than the track through the scrambler circuit – unless you have dogs with you. We did manage to haul Nell over the stiles but it wasn’t easy and she did complain.

Having a bit of spare time we went to look for St Gwynno’s Well. This had a lot of restoration work a few years ago – here we are inspecting it in 2009.


The path is signed from the road but very overgrown. It gets a bit clearer under the trees but the only way to find the actual well was to let Nell off the lead and follow her unerring instinct for water. It’s a pity – you can get funding for capital projects but not for maintenance, and once the path is overgrown people won’t use it.

The church at Llanwynno has finding for massive repairs including a new roof. This meant we couldn’t go in, but it will make the building secure for the foreseeable future. It may eventually have to go out of parish use – it would make a wonderful bunkhouse or camping barn for walkers, and could still be used for services.

Andy’s blog for the day is at with a photo of the pilgrims at the well.


4 thoughts on “Shw’mae, Sistersiaid?

  1. Coming across this project very late in the proceedings I have probably missed a great deal, but I can’t help wondering why maps are not used to give directions in the posts online? Is it because of copyright that I gather is the reason Local Authorities do not publish their definitive maps online!

    • Yes, it’s a copyright problem. Once we are properly constituted as a charity it gets a bit easier and I can probably try to put routes from the 1:50,000 map but not unfortunately the 1:25,000 which is much better for walking. The maps will give an idea of the route but what I’m often doing on the blog is looking at detail that won’t show up on the map. We’ve also considered marking routes on aerial photos but most people seem to prefer maps. We are also struggling with maps on the web site because OS don’t recognise .wales or .cymru URLs but we are trying to deal with that as well.

      • It is understandable that OS should want to protect their commercial interests and they do after all provide the maps for public use in both the paper and the electronic format, but just not for reproduction. However, the data for the PROW is I understand obtained by OS from the Local Highway Authority. As you will know already the Authority has a duty to keep the Definitive Map and Statement under constant review and a copy should be available for inspection at a place that is convenient to the public, so what better place could that be than online! Copyright seems to me to be a rather lame excuse used by the Authority for not doing so, when the data concerned originated with them anyway. It seems more as though there is a lack of will for some reason and this is a great pity because without the aid of the definitive map and statement the public may be directed away from the correct alignment, where they are not entitled to be, although for your part, I’m sure you are very careful with your directions.

  2. I can’t honestly comment on local authority policy and as you know they are not allowed to use social media at work so they won’t be able to read this. As I understand it from VisitWales, in order to use their OS licence we have to be working in conjunction with them, which we are with VisitWales but not with all the local authorities. The rights of way we’ve been discussing are on the online OS map which is available free via Bing Maps, but I can’t embed those maps into my own web site for copyright reasons. I don’t know what the copyright issues would be for making definitive maps available online but there’s sure to be something. Copyright law is hideously complex and lags behind developments in IT and social media to the extent that retweeting someone’s tweet or publishing a URL without permission is actually technically breach of copyright (I had to get a legal opinion on this for a heritage society I work with). So I think we will have to wait until we get our charity status sorted, when things will become a bit easier.

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