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.
My journey to explore the 10 Vale Trails in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, continues with the idyllic walk in and around Dinas Powys. Vale Trail 6, the Salmon Leaps Walk, is a family friendly 8km (5 mile) walk on gentle terrain. However, if you wish to do the shorter version of the walk, you can take the 3 mile option.
Heading through a glacial valley, wooded ravine and quiet countryside, this 'figure of eight' trail gives you the opportunity to explore an iron age fort, the ancient history of Dinas Powys and perhaps even spot the occasional leaping salmon!
Limestone Cliffs and an Iron Age Fort...
The trail begins at Dinas Powys village square, heading up a small hill towards the golf club. Being careful to avoid golf balls (if you hear someone scream "fore", a stray ball could be heading your way!), follow the marked path around the edge of the course towards the Cwm George woodland, home to the Iron Age fort.
Leaving the town behind, you will find yourself enchanted by the peace as you head deeper into the woods. Every step along the rugged woodland path leads you beyond mammoth beech and sycamore trees that tower overhead, to the accompaniment of birdsong all around.
Near a steep limestone cliff at the end of the woodland lies one of the best preserved Iron Age sites in Cymru, and arguably the most important in Europe. Dating back to 300 BC and thought to have been inhabited for almost 1,050 years, The Cwm George Iron Age Hill Fort has not only left a permanent physical mark on the landscape, but is also believed to have had an influence on the name of the area!
Before the Normans invaded the Vale of Glamorgan, the landscape also provided the occupants with an unusually high standard of living for this part of south Wales.
Celtic Leaping Legends...
Once you have visited the hill fort, continue out of the woodlands to the silent countryside path through open fields home to sheep and cows for just under 1km. At the end of this path you will reach a right turn just before a bridge. If you are looking to do the shorter 3 mile walk this is where you go through the kissing gate. Continue following the signs from here.
Back on the longer walk, you will arrive at a bridge where you will now follow the river for around 2km, heading to towards the cascades of 'The Salmon Leaps'. Despite its name, you are very unlikely to see any salmon as none seem to exist in the river! The name is likely to have derived due to salmon having a magical and mythical reputation as wise creatures over the centuries in many Celtic legends. Despite not seeing any leaping fish, keep your eyes peeled for ducks, tadpoles and heron!
Advancing beyond the falls you will head into a serene woodland, walking alongside the river, climbing up a short distance, avoiding the possible fallen trees, towards a field.
Oliver Cromwell and a Medieval Castle...
Once you leave the field, often occupied by some horses, turn right past the farm almost heading back on yourself, and continue up the gravelly path. If it's a clear day, when reaching the top, turn around and look into the far distance where you will be able to see the Somerset coast! Continuing to follow the signs past farmhouses and fields full of bulls, you will pass Cwrt yr Ala house, the former home of Oliver Cromwell's counselor and other many interesting characters.
Going back over the bridge you will now be at the kissing gate, joining the path for the shorter 3 mile walk, where you continue to amble through scenic open fields before reaching the Cadoxton river near Dinas Powys Castle.
The medieval castle is surrounded by thick vegetation and is in a ruinous state. It was built soon after the Norman conquest for a wealthy lordship of Dinas Powys and is said to have looked very impressive before being reported to be 'al in ruine' in the sixteenth century.
A Storytelling Companion...
With the quiet countryside in the distance, you will reach the main road following the signs back toward the village square. The serene Vale Trail 6 is certainly one of the most scenic routes I’ve done and probably my favourite walk in the Vale so far!
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!
© 2020 Rhys Russell
Liz Westwood from UK on August 04, 2020:
This is a well-illustrated and interesting article, packed with information about the local area.