|The Clydach Gorge Fascinating scenery and relics of a bygone age.|
|Routes 2. and (2a.)
5km (7km) 1.5hr (2hr) 240m of ascent Old quarries, industrial relics, a Welsh hill-farm, waterfalls, woods and refuse. Easy to follow paths. Easy parking
240m of ascent
Old quarries, industrial relics, a Welsh hill-farm, waterfalls, woods and refuse. Easy to follow paths.
Clydach Camp (A), the former Clydach Station (B), and the old railway viaduct over Cwm Dyar - from Clydach Limeworks
Route map and location of sites
Note that for convenience, this map loads into a new window
DescriptionThe path starts at the bottom of Station Road, Clydach. This is the left-hand turning (going towards Merthyr Tydfil) off the "Heads of the Valley Road" (A465) 1.5km after the turning to Gilwern and just past the Lion pub on the right. You can either park in the first lay-by just after you turn into Station Road, and where the route starts, or a bit further on where there is a another lay-by and pleasant picnic site complete with picnic benches and bring-your-own-fuel barbeques.
1. Across Station Road from the first lay-by, there is a stile. Climb this and follow the path that leads steeply uphill. At a marker post you meet and follow another path that climbs less steeply to a second post just before a broken-down stone wall. Turn left and follow this wall, climbing steeply again, to a stile which is crossed to a road. Turn right, then left at the first junction. Follow the road uphill until about 50m past the old railway line (Private) there is a footpath on the right. Take this pleasant path between stone walls in the same direction as the railway, eventually turning sharply uphill, through a gate, and then out to a track at the base of the "cliff".
2. Turn right and follow this path, narrow in places, until it arrives at the foot of Clydach Limeworks and Cwm Quarry (the larger quarry further along the path). Bailey's tramroad wound down the side of the valley, here following the line of the later railway, in front of the quarries but these were not established until limestone was needed to build the railway viaduct and to line the tunnel. The two main kilns with their double draw-arches were built about 1877 at the time the railway was doubled to twin-track. Stairs between the kilns can be ascended but there is a risk of slipping on debris and of further falls of debris. To the right of these kilns was a ball mill for making ground lime (holding down bolts for its engines in front) and further to the right are remains of concrete aggregate bins erected in the 1930s. These were fed from a crusher that took stone from Cwm Quarry which was opened in the 1920s. Two older limekilns are further along with a brake-house some way above and the evidence of old inclines can be seen traversing the site.
3. Before climbing up to the viaduct you can investigate the tunnel that takes Nant Dyar under the tall arches of the viaduct. It is possible if the water is not too high (great care needed as slippery) to get down to where the stream enters the tunnel. Where the Dyar leaves the tunnel can be seen from under the viaduct. Climb the bank to the top of the viaduct and the old Clydach station is obvious from its platforms. The building by the end of the viaduct was the Station Hotel. Cross a stile and take the path that starts immediately above the station and climbs diagonally past tall electricity pylons leading to a rather typical Welsh hill-farm. The next part of the walk is interesting but rather sad owing to the general dereliction and copious refuse strewn around what was at one time an attractive moorland area cut by fast flowing streams in deep rocky gullies. Follow the track/road through the farm and on to the crossroads in Waunllapria.
4. Turn right and about 150m further on turn left beside a small stream. Cross this by the wooden footbridge and continue slightly downhill to Clydach Camp, possibly an Iron Age site but definitely a quarry later. Follow the path round until you reach the curtain of limestone left by the quarrymen. Here there is an excellent view across the valley and a fine picnic spot.
5. (Route 2a) A narrow path leads Westwards in front of this curtain before descending an incline, retained by a massive wall, that probably conveyed limestone to Clydach Ironworks. Where the incline levels out, under some trees, there are some remaining stone sleepers. These can be identified by the hole where the rails were nailed. The incline has been cut into by Llanelly Quarry and the path becomes slightly difficult as you cross a gully and climb up to enter the quarry. Walk through the quarry past a double lime-kiln situated just before an arch that leads under the Merthyr, Tredegar & Abergavenny railway to the road. Cross the road and descend the good path (the incline of 1811) to a bridge. Instead of crossing the bridge turn left (upstream) along the R. Clydach for about 250m to a fine waterfall. Re-trace your steps to the bridge and continue towards Daren-felen (see route 1.) A short diversion across the "Heads of the Valley" road by a footbridge brings you into Cheltenham where the path of the Clydach Railroad crosses what was the Merthyr-Govilon Turnpike road of 1812-13. A splash of colour is provided by a gable-end covered with old enamelled signs. Go back across the road and return to where your car is parked.
6. (Route 2.) Take the path that descends NE from Clydach Camp to the road and follow this downhill until just past the old chapel. Take the small road that leads back to the viaduct from where a path leads down, beside the stream, into Clydach and thence back to your car passing an amazing garden on the way.
Old railway sign seen in Cheltenham