Walking the Taff Trail
A stroll by the River Taff into Cardiff
(Photos/words © urban75, Aug 2007)
Running north from the upmarket developments of Cardiff Bay to the market town of Brecon in the north, the Taff Trail is some 55 miles (88km) in length.
The Trail passes close to the once-mighty industrial towns of Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil before breaking out into the open moors and dramatic vistas of the Brecon Beacons.
Much of the trail runs along the routes of former tramways, railways, canals and present day canal towpaths, and is open to walkers and cyclists (and in part to horseriders).
We picked up the trail south of Tongwynlais and walked the six miles or so into central Cardiff.
We reached the trail west of Coryton halt, walking a short stretch of the old Cardiff Railway.
A rather sad remant of the once mighty Glamorgan canal, which opened in 1798 and linked the Port of Cardiff to the iron works of Merthyr Tydfil.
Over 200 barges were using the 25 mile long canal by 1836, negotiating their cargoes of iron and coal through over 50 locks - a journey that took over 20 hours. The building of the Taff Vale railway spelt the end of the canal trade.
Entering the Longwood site of special scientific interest (SSSI) which contains ancient woodland, rich grassland and a wide range of fauna and flora including the Common Spotted Orchid, Southern Marsh Orchid, Yellow Rattle and Pig Nut.
The walk took us along the east bank of the Taff. It barely stopped raining for the entire trip!
Sluice gates for the old one-mile long Mellingriffith feeder canal which once served as the main water supply to the once-extensive Mellingriffith works.
The canal is rich in wildlife, supporting heron, kingfisher, snipe, water rail and a wide variety of dragonflies, while lesser spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and treecreepers can be spotted in the nearby woods.
Approaching Radyr Weir.
A Pontypridd - Cardiff train passes Radyr Weir, originally built during 1774-1775 to provide water to power the Mellingriffith tin-plate works.
Two hundred years of intensive industrial activity had left the Taff in a moribund state by the 1970s, but salmon and sea trout stocks had recovered sufficiently by 1993 for the National Rivers Authority to monitor over 500 salmon and 700 sea trout returning to the river to spawn.
An example section of the Melingriffiths and Pentyrch Tramway which ran along this route for over half a century (1815 to 1871).
Now restored, the Mellingriffith Water Pump was constructed around 1806 and worked for 140 years before becoming derelict. It was restored in the 1970s and received a Prince of Wales award in 1982.
Walking through Hailey Park, which runs alongside the Taff for around a mile.
A National Cycle Network cast iron signpost points the way to Caerdydd (that's 'Cardiff' in Welsh, English people!) and Castell Coch.
Note that someone has slapped on a poster for a missing '8 month old Tan Wire Hair Terrier' which is apparently, 'of a nervous disposition' and is in, 'need of her daily medication.'
Graffiti on the A48 Western Avenue underpass.
Crossing the Taff into Pontcanna Fields by the footbridge at Blackweir.
The bridge had a distinct wobble when we walked over it, bringing back memories of the famous 'Wobbly Bridge' over the Thames.
Looking north across Pontcanna Fields.
Wales were playing a friendly rugby international against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium a short distance away, and I hoped that the single black crow perched atop the posts wasn't some sort of dreadful potent of the score.
A look back at the pedestrian bridge over the Taff at Blackweir.
The open spaces of Pontcanna which host several rugby pitches.
We arrived at Castle Street just as the crowds were streaming out of the Millennium Stadium. Happily, we'd won the game 27-20!
The entire walk added up to over seven miles, and seeing as the majority of thatwas in the rain, we were happy to grab a warming coffee in one of our favourite Cardiff cafes, Europa, at 25 Castle Street.
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