Our route over Mynydd Machen using the Raven Walk and the Machen Forge Trail didn’t really work – too many dodgy sections, plus it left out Bedwas Church. So we are back to thinking about a route from the Blackvein Road and over Twyn yr Oerfel to Bedwas but without so much road walking.
From Twmbarlwm, walk down the Darren road and along the canal to the bridge over the Ebbw at ST 22581 91434 (this is as on https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/as-the-raven-flies/ ). Cross the river, bear right with the road. The footpath to the left from ST 22369 91196 has been cleared but don’t take it. The modern road swings right and left but the old road is still there as a bridleway – bear left at ST 22309 91151, cross the road at ST 22286 91034 and continue on the bridleway. At ST 22206 90899 walk a few metres down the drive to a large house
then bear left on a waymarked bridleway
up into the trees.
At ST 22071 90922 turn right on a stony forest road. There were lots of streams for Nell
though we did wonder about this strange piece of industrial archaeology.
Follow the road round the contour for about 1.8 km. At ST 20495 90928 turn sharp left and walk uphill.
Don’t cross the stile at ST 20619 90899
but bear right with the track and continue up hill. At ST 20457 90637 turn right on the metalled road. At ST 20232 90469 the road goes downhill to the right: take the track which bears to the left and follow it for just over 1.5 km.
and you can just see fields of solar panels on the far ridge.
At ST 18726 90687 the main track goes left then right. At ST 18569 90661 cross a cattle grid and continue across open mountain land.
There are two Bronze Age burial mounds above to your left – Twyn yr Oerfel East and Twyn yr Oerfel West. You can take any of the tracks up to the left to explore them. Twyn yr Oerfel West
has an unusual enclosed forecourt – for what the archaeologists call ‘possible ritual activity’.
The main track bears round to the left at ST 18135 90728 and crosses towards the coal tip.
Here we think we may have gone wrong – we should have gone further to the east and looked for the track heading downhill from ST 18079 90683 and past Ty Canol Farm. Instead, we took a very steep and stony track that skirted to the left of the coal tips above the old Bedwas Colliery. It worked, but it wasn’t what we planned. On the other hand … below Ty Canol it’s road walking, which is one thing we were trying to avoid and one reason why we diverted away from the mountain road past Pen-y-waun (this we think is the old Heol Bedwas – there was a farm called Pen-heol-bedwas near the top).
To follow what we did today, from ST 17946 90654 you can go over the tip (shorter, steeper) or take the gentler path round to the left. When the paths rejoin at ST 17767 90353, go through the gate ahead of you
and down a steep stony path. (Be careful – the stone can be very slippery in wet weather.) Ignore paths to the right leading over the coal tips and keep going downhill.
The path is fainter but still there.
From about ST 17913 89543 the track is surfaced. The site of the old Bedwas Navigation Colliery is to your left (more on this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedwas_Navigation_Colliery ).Turn left on the surfaced road which then bears round to the right and under a line of pylons. At ST 17827 89410 the track we were originally aiming for joins us to the left. We bore to the right
and continued on that line
just below the line of pylons. At ST 17637 89430 the track divides.
Take the left fork. This becomes a metalled road through housing. Continue on the same line until you see the church below you to your left, through the trees.
Past the church, turn left on Church Street: this gets you to the main churchyard gate. You can then continue down hill to the centre of Bedwas, cross the dual carriageway at the traffic lights, go over the old bridge ahead of you and pick up the route described in https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/back-to-bedwas/ .
So do we go with what we did today (it was a brilliant day’s walk) or try to find the lane past Ty-canol – or maybe look for the footpath that cuts across between the two? The road goes ever on …