This takes you up to the highest point in Cardiff, with excellent views up the valleys and down towards Cardiff. The hill was the inspiration for the Hugh Grant flick The Man Who Went Up a Hill. It is a lovely route with some variation, but there is necessarily a mile or so at the start and the end next to the busy road. You could drive to Taffs Well to avoid this if you felt so inclined
Distance: 6.7 miles
Time: 2.5 hours (walking)
Strenuous (long ascent and quite a steep descent)
Teilo wag factor: 3.5 (Forests, streams and the top of the Garth, but there can be livestock up here so dogs should be on leads, plus the start and end are by the side of the road).
From the school head into the village, passing the Lewis Arms on your right and head out of the village. Get on the right hand pavement as you leave the village and go down towards the roundabout. Cross this and follow the road down then up and turn left by the lights to head into Taffs Well. Just before the zebra crossing as you enter Taffs Well there is a footbridge on your right. Take this and cross the River Taff, with pleasant views of the Garth to your right.
Go straight on when you’ve crossed over, behind some houses. Then turn right and go past some houses and playing field and turn right heading into Gwaelod-Y-Garth. You will pass some houses on your left, and where another road joins this from the left there is a footpath up through the forest, with some steps. This path climbs steadily through the forest and keep going straight. Eventually the path bears to the left and you walk by some fields. There is then a gate to enter the field, go through this and out the gate which is directly opposite (there are sometimes horses or sheep in this field so keep dogs on a lead). When you exit the field you will be on a narrow road.
There are various routes up the Garth from here, but I’m going to suggest turning left on this road and staying on it for about half a mile. You will see a driveway leading up to a garage on your right. Take this and before you get to the garage there is a footpath on your right. This leads up the Garth and then turns back a bit. You can see the summit marker and mound eventually. Head towards this for excellent views (if it’s not cloudy) down to Cardiff Bay and up the Valleys.
Once you feel like setting off again, turn right, so you’re heading along the top of the hill. There are a few burial mounds here, dating back to 2000 BCE. Follow the path and eventually it bears right, and starts a steep descent. This path goes right, crosses a small stream and then comes left again. There are various routes down on to the road from here, but I like to stay on the path so it is running parallel, but quite high above the road, through some woods.
This will eventually turn right and take you down some steps onto the road. You should come out directly opposite a stile which you can use to go back into the forest you ascended through. But for a bit of a longer walk, turn left instead along the road. Cross a cattle grid and round a sharp hairpin (my car didn’t make this on the way up once!) and into the village of Gwaelod-Y-Garth. There is an excellent pub here, The Gwaelod Inn, which does a good range of beer and nice food.
Once you’ve refreshed yourself here, turn left out of the pub and past a white house on your right. Directly past this is a footpath on your right. This descends into a pretty vale, with streams and the river Taff on your left. Turn right at the bottom and follow the path, always keeping the river on your left. The path divides as you come out by some houses, and take the left branch, so you are by the river again. Follow this and it turns right, brining you out onto a housing estate. Turn left, and then the next left again, going down towards some garages, and then right behind some houses.
This will then bring you to the bridge on your left, which you crossed originally from Taffs Well, so cross back over and retrace your steps to Tongwynlais.