Pantyreos – Twmbarlwm – Pensarn Farm – Pantyreos

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The walk begins from a lay-by on a narrow, dead-end lane about half a mile up the road from Henllys Church. Confusingly, the church is a good mile and a half from the present-day village of Henllys, which was built at the opposite end of the parish in the late nineteenth century to house the miners working in Henllys Colliery. Prior to this, Henllys was a parish of scattered farms with no centre other than the church.

Descending to cross Pantyreos Brook, the walk now climbs through woodland, offering glimpses of Pantyreos Reservoir below (Pant-yr-eos translates as 'Hollow of the Nightingale', presumably referring to the bowl-shaped valley now filled by the reservoir). Across the valley is the ancient farmhouse of Cwrt Henllys, built on a site that may once have been a court for local Welsh princes.

After emerging on a lane, the walk climbs ever closer towards Twmbarlwm's distinctive hump, which is eventually reached via a very steep, grassy path. (Unfortunately, illegal use of the mountain by motorcyclists has caused a considerable amount of erosion on this section). Once the site of an Iron Age hill-fort, Twmbarlwm was later appropriated by Wales's Norman conquerors as an ideal location for a motte-and-bailey castle, giving them a bird's-eye view over their newly conquered territories in South Wales. The distinctive 'tump' that forms the mountain's summit is not natural at all, but the remains of the Norman motte or mound on which a wooden castle once stood. Today, it provides an elevated viewpoint that has been voted the third-best in Wales.

From Twmbarlwm, the walk proceeds northwards along the ridge, offering views to both sides. On the left is Cwmcarn Forest Drive, from where most people you meet on Twmbarlwm will have walked.

Near Mynydd Henllys you say goodbye to the ridge and begin to descend. Between here and Pensarn Farm, care is required while negotiating a beautiful, steep-sided, wooded valley in which the path is narrow and often slippery.

The stream running through this valley is the Nant y Pandy, which is now followed, through a mix of fields and woodland, to within half a mile of your starting point. In May, bluebells are plentiful, particularly on the edge of Coed y Twrch, but be prepared for mud after wet weather.

Two farms in this valley, Pandy-bach ('Little Pandy') and Pandy-mawr ('Big Pandy'), share the name of the stream and derive their names from a time when both brook and farms were linked to the woollen industry, pandy being the Welsh word for a fulling mill.

Lying directly behind Pandy-bach (on the other side of the stream from which you are walking) is Henllys Bog, a small wetland area that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its rare flowers and invertebrates. (The only way of visiting the bog is by following a path on the left off the access track to Pandy-mawr).

Wales - South Wales - Gwent - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Mountains, Woodland

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