The Pilgrim's Route, Cwmbran

Fiona Ford and Derek Brockway

  • Location: Pilgrims Route through Cwmbran (ST2712 963)
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Time: 3-4 hrs

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Walk description

The walk started at the top of Belle Vue spur but there was only time for a linear walk, so a car was left at the end by the Green House Pub.

A circular walk of around 10 miles that can be split into a linear walk which is what Derek did. It's relatively easy with some steep downhill sections and plenty of horseflies in summer.

Accompanying Derek on the walk was Fiona Ford, countryside access officer from Torfaen Borough Council.

History on this walk

You begin on an ancient route that was part of a pilgrims trail from Llantarnam Abbey that would have passed over Mynydd Henllys, skirting the Iron Age fort and onto Penrhys Abbey in Risca.

About 200 metres up a sunken track behind the farm house, was a small chapel dedicated to St Derval, where pilgrims could rest and pray.

Look out for evidence of the industrial era - abandoned quarries and coal spoil heaps of Henllys colliery. Now turn down the hill to go over the larger coal tips and link with the top of the Incline.

As you come down, look to the left for two rows of workers houses - Old Row and New Row. Follow the lane and rejoin the incline alongside the aptly named Machine Cottage (used for weighing) on Incline Lane.

Things of interest

Look out for huge lumps of Conglomerate or 'pudding stone' along the route, which is believed to have been used as markers for the medieval tracks.

Pass the lime kilns that have been restored by Cwmbran Community Council and walk alongside the Monmouthshire-Brecon canal, crossing over the footbridge and look for the carved wooden seat.

Smell the sweet scent of baking from Burtons Biscuits cooking up Jammy Dodgers and Wagon Wheels.

St David Lewis was arrested in 1678 following a visit to Llantarnam Abbey (later hung drawn & quartered at Usk for treason of preaching the catholic faith and later cannonised). Look for the old plaque over the door of the Green House pub.

Wildlife on this walk

Lots of cleggs and horseflies! King cup water lilies are very pretty and there are plenty of dragon and damsel flies as well as moorhens, mallards, buzzards and fish such as rudd and perch in the canal.

A lot of trees grow along the industrial road which are water or wetland tolerant, such as the alder and willow.

Alder produces its own nitrogen for its roots and was used to make totems of the Celtic god 'Bran' as well as lock gates and pier pilings for the canals.

Expect to see beech trees, woundwort, silverweed, bracken, meadowsweet, strawberries and elderflower which can be used as an insect repellent.


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