Risca - Twmbarlwm - Crosskeys - Mynydd Machen - Risca

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Risca - Twmbarlwm - Crosskeys - Sirhowy Country Park - Mynydd Machen - Risca

This is an energetic walk linking Twmbarlwm (419 metres) and Mynydd Machen (362 metres), the two mountains that lie either side of the Ebbw Valley above the small town of Risca.

The most strenuous part of the walk is early on, after a short, level section along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal leads to a steep climb up a dead-end lane and track towards Twmbarlwm. As you climb, the gradient eases off, though this is followed by another steep pull up to the summit itself. Formed by a grassy mound known locally as the 'tump' or 'pimple', this 'summit' is in fact the remains of a Norman motte or mound on which a wooden castle once stood. The views from here are fantastic, stretching across the Bristol Channel to the south and on a fine day, as far as Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons.

A steep, grassy slope leads down to Pegwn-y-bwlch, a narrow pass between Twmbarlwm and the neighbouring prominence of Medart ('bwlch' means 'pass' in Welsh). Ahead is Cwmcarn Forest and the presence of the forest drive and mountain bike trail makes this a potentially busy spot. Leaving the crowds behind, the route joins the quieter Darran Road and descends along a lovely section of the waymarked Raven Walk above the area of Crosskeys.

After the short valley crossing, the climb of Mynydd Machen is postponed as you follow a woodland path into the Sirhowy Valley. Though steep in places, the climb up the side of this valley is far less strenuous than the ascent of Twmbarlwm and leads to a beautiful ridge walk shared by no fewer than three waymarked trails: the Raven Walk, the Sirhowy Valley Walk and the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk. To the right, grassed-over tips act as a reminder of what a busy industrial area this once was.

From Mynydd Machen – where there are further great views to be had – a fairly straighforward descent leads back to your starting point.

Wales - South Wales - Gwent - Countryside

18/02/2015 - Liam Tovey

Have done this walk today, easy to follow guide, great views. The walk is closer to 11 miles, than the 9.5 on the guide

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