Rhys grew up in Bro Morgannwg and recently returned after living away. Now, he's out to explore parts of his hometown he's rarely ventured.
Hiking in the Glamorgan Vales
My venture to tackle the 10 Vale Trails in the Vale of Glamorgan continued on the northernmost walk. A trek around Hensol and Pendoylan, this circular trail epitomises the best of inland Vale of Glamorgan.
This time I had a companion on my hike. Not quite the furry four-legged friend I wish I had with me... but my best friend of 10 years, Ryan, still made the walk more enjoyable.
The native forests, impressive views of the coast and colourful landscape, make for a unique must-do walk. But beware. Unless you are professionally trained to ride a cow, you may get temporarily trapped in a field with cattle blocking your only way out.
Country Road and Getting Lost...
We began the trail at Hensol Forest car park where a camera crew was setting up outside their van. I felt a small part of me become excited as if Ryan set this up and they were there waiting to film us walking the 11.3km (7 mile) trail.
I was about to become the next, Levison Wood or Andrew Skurka. After writing this, maybe even the next Bill Bryson.
As you can probably guess, they were not there to film our journey and were in fact filming a nature show for S4C. It was a fleeting dream and so we set out of the car park and into the dense forest.
A Heatwave and Big Ben...
We arrived at the picturesque Vale Resort Golf Course, hugging the lake that’s home to majestic herons and an array of fish. Like most of the Vale Trails, this area of the Vale of Glamorgan is peaceful and scenic.
Climbing a gradual hill to reach a farmhouse, we were met with stunning views overlooking the distant Welsh mountains. The temperature had now peaked at 29°C and I'd begun thinking we had ventured into Switzerland.
Making our way off the farm track and into a field, we were surrounded by reed canary grass with the shadows of the transmission lines overhead bringing the occasional respite to the blinding sun. Continuing through fields, climbing over stiles, stopping to drink water under gigantic trees and crossing quiet country roads, we were almost at Pendoylan village.
A village with rich history, 13 grade listed buildings can be found on one stretch of road in Pendyolan. There is evidence of prehistoric and Norman activity here and a 15th-century estate. Numerous famous people have lived here over the years, some of whom shaped the landscape of Wales and Britain, including Benjamin Hall who oversaw the building of the Houses of Parliaments and who Big Ben is believed to be named after!
Leaving Pendoylan behind we were back looking up at another field to climb. We made our way up some surprisingly boggy farmland, through numerous fields still being baked by the heatwave. Towards the top, we could hear the mooing of a herd in the distance.
As the sound grew louder and louder, we came face-to-face with the culprits. Quite literally, because they were blocking the stile that we were due to climb over and they were not budging! A lovely couple and their four-legged companion, Lila, who were also doing the trail and had been a good half-hour behind us, soon caught up, and even Lila's barks wouldn't budge the herd.
Attempting to go around through other fields, the 5 of us had no luck and realised our options were to sit and wait or head back to Pendoylan. Luckily, we weren't being followed by a camera crew as we decided to wait, which would not have made for great TV. We won the battle of patience and the cows soon wandered off and so did we.
The Finale of the Glamorgan Vale Trail #8
The last section of the journey was arguably the most scenic. The temperature had reached 31°C and after climbing some more hills, Ryan became irritated that my numerous calculations of "it's not long until the end of the walk” kept being grossly underestimated. Another example of my fantastic exploration skills.
Heading up a road we reached the picturesque Pysgodlyn Lake where we sat and rested for a while, watching the fish below and the birds soar above, before continuing on towards another forestry track. We were now back walking alongside the conifers with the thought of a cold pint in sight.
Glamorgan Vale Maps and Apps
If you are to walk any of the 10 Vale Trails, I recommend using the detailed Vale Trails maps located at tourist information points or that can be downloaded online.
Additionally, if you love your history, I would recommend downloading the Vale Tales Storytelling App that brings to life some of the fascinating stories, myths and legends behind the 10 trails!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Rhys Russell
Rhys Russell (author) from Vale of Glamorgan on June 09, 2021:
Thank you Linda and Sukhdev! Really appreciate the lovely feedback.
Sukhdev Shukla from Dehra Dun, India on May 10, 2021:
Beautifully described, Rhys. I also liked the photographs, especially the reflection. Thanks for sharing.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 10, 2021:
Thank you for sharing the details of your walk. You’ve shown some lovely scenes in your photos. I enjoy learning about the Vale of Glamorgan.
Rhys Russell (author) from Vale of Glamorgan on May 10, 2021:
Thank you for your comment and feedback! I shall edit the article to include the map of the walk.
Rhys Russell (author) from Vale of Glamorgan on May 10, 2021:
Thank you so much for your continued support Liz and your kind words.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2021:
I am glad that the cows finally let you continue your hike. You have shown us a beautiful area, and I appreciate how you used some humor as you told the tale of your walk. Is there a map you could include so that we know exactly where you made your hike?
Liz Westwood from UK on May 10, 2021:
This is a well-illustrated and interesting account of your walk. Your humorous written tone is much appreciated. After the increased interest in walks over the past 14 months, I hope that your great articles register an increased footfall