Machen – Ruperra Castle – Pen-y-lan – Rhiwderin – Machen

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Machen – Draethen – Ruperra Castle – Michaelston-y-Fedw – Pen-y-lan – Rhiwderin – Mynydd Machen – Machen

The Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk is a 28-mile circular trail that follows the ridges on both sides of the Rhymney Valley between Machen and Ystrad Mynach (see www.caerphilly.gov.uk/countryside for further information). The present walk provides a further twelve-mile loop extending into the lower Rhymney Valley between Machen and Michaelston-y-Fedw. The route links sections of the existing Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk, the Rhymney River Circular Walk, the Michaelston-y-Fedw Circular Walk and the Sirhowy Valley Walk, to create a truly satisfying circuit through beautiful countryside; an optional ascent of Mynydd Machen (362 metres) is included.

The walk begins in the village of Machen, situated on the A468 between Caerphilly and Newport. Today few traces remain of Machen's industrial history, though during the nineteenth century it was the site of an extensive forge and several coalmines. Caerphilly Council has waymarked a three-mile route, the Machen Forge Trail, which connects some of the former industrial sites surrounding the village (further details on the website above).

After passing The Hollybush Inn in Draethen, the route climbs through the woodland of Coed Craig Ruperra. At the top of the ascent, it is recommended that you take the there-and-back detour to the walled enclosure of Craig Ruperra, where a wooden summerhouse once provided the residents of Ruperra Castle (see below) with panoramic views across the Rhymney Valley.

The main route now descends to the eerie ruins of Ruperra Castle. Built by Sir Thomas Morgan in 1626, this was one of the first 'mock' castles to be built in Wales. After passing into the hands of the Morgans of Tredegar, it became customary for the heir to the Tredegar Estate to make his home at the castle prior to assuming his title. Unfortunately, this once splendid building has been a ruin since 1941, when it was gutted by fire. It is the subject of a long-running and often contentious planning dispute.

Continuing down the valley, the walk emerges on the driveway to another former manor-house, Cefn Mably, once situated on the hill to the right. Like Ruperra, Cefn Mably was also gutted by fire, though more recently; after a mysterious conflagration in 1994, the remains of the house were converted into luxury apartments. The walk later passes St Michael's Church, Michaelston-y-Fedw, below which is a family vault containing generations of the Kemys family, erstwhile owners of Cefn Mably. The decline of this family and their once grand home was the subject in 1930 of a sonnet by the renowned Welsh-language poet, W J Gruffydd.

From Michaelston-y-fedw, the walk climbs gradually to Pen-y-lan, a ridgetop hamlet commanding extensive views across both the South Wales hills and the Bristol Channel. Fine views continue, before the walk descends steeply on a narrow tarmac lane to Rhiwderin, where the Sirhowy Valley Walk is joined on its long gradual climb to the summit of Mynydd Machen. Enjoy the views from the top: it is downhill all the way to your starting point in Machen.

Wales - South Wales - Central South Wales - Caerphilly

Features

Ancient Monument, Castle, Church, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Woodland

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