Circular Walk Guide - Coed Ely

About the walk

How far is it?A moderate walk of 7 miles / 12km.
Where does it start?Coed-Ely Constitutional Club, Coed Ely (STO 15865).
Can I catch the bus? The 121 and X9 buses from Cardiff to the Rhondda stop opposite the Coed-Ely Constitutional Club.
Where can I get a drink?Coed Ely Club or Ely Hotel.
Which map should I take?O.S. Explorer 151 & 166.

Getting to the start

From J34, M4, take the A4119 to Tonyrefail (do not follow the new bypass road to the Rhondda).
Park at the Coed Ely Constitutional Club having asked permission beforehand (01443) 670261.

Finding Your Way

Coedely Map

(1) In the car park face South and turn right up the road, crossing over the river Ely and then over the new bypass. The Ely rises some 3 miles to the North, below Dinas mountain and flows to the sea at Penarth.

As you walk up the short steep hill, to your left is the site of the former Coed Ely-Coed Lal colliery which was opened in 1910 by the Welsh Navigation Steam Coal Company. It was, by far, the biggest colliery in the Ely Valley employing over 2000 men at its peak. The colliery closed in 1985, eighteen months after the strike of 1983.

Above you on your right stands a large detached house, Ty'n-y-Coed, which was built for the Agent of the Colliery, a Mr W T Griffiths, The two semi- detached houses on your right as you continue up the hill were occupied by the Colliery Manager and the electrical engineer.

Pass through the farm gate. After crossing a stream you will be standing at the foot of the reclaimed colliery tip. Continue along the farm track bearing to your left.

Within 200m you will reach a traditional field barn. Below lies the village of Coed Ely built to house the the colliery and coke oven workmen in the early 20th century. Across the valley is Garth Grabban (a hill known locally as Scrapan). On it you can seen Garth Hall and Garth Grabban Farm House. The latter was the birth place of the famous Methodist preacher William Evans whose great grandson, Ivor Novello, was to become world famous.

The track continues through a shallow stream and upwards to Graig Fatho Farm (2) (Matthew's Rock) Graig Fatho is a fine example of an early 17th Century farmhouse. Over the dry stone wall you can see the storeyed porch of the farmhouse, a clear indication that the house was built by someone of minor gentry status. The lower building was formery a kitchen with a granary above.

The track continues between dry stone walls and through a gate. (3) Climb upwards past 'the rocks' on your right, carved with "Dduw cariad yw" - God is love. Continue along the track until you reach another gate. (4) Cross the stile, turn left and then immediately right through a gate to continue along the trackway. Within 300m you will see a small gate on your left (5) which leads into the field. Here you can view the ruins of Capel Llanbad - St. Peter's Church.

Llanbad Church was built in the late 12th century bu the low circular banked enclosure which you can detect surrounding the trackway near the gate suggests the existence of a 6th century Celtic religious settlement or 'clas'.

Retrace your steps to the small gate and turn left. This 'hollow way' was first used by people in prehistoric times as the valley floors tended to be too wet and too thickly wooded to be used for travel.

After two more gates, the land opens out into a large unfenced area. Turn right off the track (6) and follow the path beneath some crags. Look out for Buzzards. Within 400m the path becomes a little indistinct, but merges with a path coming down the hill to your right. Turn left along this path. The wind turbines now tower above you to your left.

Half a mile on you will pass through a gate where a stream ripples its way to a reservoir. Climb up the path and bear right towards Gelli R.haidd Uchaffarm (now abandoned). The path swings left around the farm sheds. Turn right here towards the farmhouse. (7) Passing in front you will notice the prominent crest of the 'Guest' family on the front wall.

Leave the farmyard through the gate and now follow the metalled narrow road all the way down to Thomastown. Along the way, following the Nant ilid stream, you will see a number of 16th and 17th century farmhouses - Gelli rhaidd Isaf, Llanillid and Rhiw which are all interesting examples of traditional vernacular architecture.

On reaching the village of Thomastown turn right at the crossroads, (8) up Pembroke Street, so named because the builder of the village, Meyler Thomas (note also Meyler Street on your left), had his home in Pembrokeshire. Take the lower path until you reach the steep hill you walked a few hours ago. Turn left and within 50m you will reach your starting point.

Grid References for points in text
PointGrid Reference
1ST 015865
2ST 012854
3ST 009849
4SS 996852
5SS 994854
6SS 991855
7SS 994869
8ST 008868

The associated leaflet for this walk was produced by the Taff Ely (Llantrisant) Ramblers, assisted by Caerphilly Mountan Countryside Service and supported by Llantrisant Town Council.