Day 5. Caerphilly to Bridgend, a Goshawk and preserved railway lines

Caerphilly Castle

This promised to be an interesting day, almost all the route was shown to be off-road. The Valleys’ coal mines, ports and quarries were interconnected by mineral lines and, when the mines were closed down, the lines were preserved and converted for use by cyclist and walkers, almost always running through woods or along river valleys. They are a joy to ride as they are straight and level with a good, firm, well-drained surface, are shady with a lot of wildlife to see including a Goshawk which flashed across the path into woods. A rare bird in the British Isles, their numbers are now increasing, particularly in Wales.

After having another look at the Castle, and negotiating the outskirts of the town, found myself on the first preserved line heading to Taff Vale where I picked up another  heading north to Pontypridd from where the route headed up the valley towards the once great mining centre of Merthyr Tydfil. Turned off into Pontypridd, a pleasant town with a  small, busy pedestrianised centre with a convenient outdoor cafe for a sit down and a snack. The way out of town was not immediately obvious but with local help headed along “the little lane up by my aunts” by which time it was possible to see that I was off up the shoulder of a small mountain Mynydd y Glyn and was soon off the bike for a long push. The compensation is the extra detail you now see like the butterflies which are hard to recognise as they fly in front of you on the bike; those small but colourful  flowers which hide in the grass; the birds you disturb in the hedgerow and best of all those stops  when you get your breath back as the countryside is opening below. There is always the compensation of the downhill freewheel to come, this time with the exhilaration of two 1 in 10 hills on a narrow winding lane into the Tonyrefail valley. The route was then up a hill mostly along a dismantled railway to the top on the moors and I had a long tea break admiring the Estuary and sympathising, from a distance, with a Duke of Edinburgh Award looking group of young walkers with heavy packs crossing the moors in the hot sun. The long downhill  started with a very rough track which the bike took in its stride into the Ogmore valley leaving route 4 to travel a few miles South to where Juliet had managed to find me a B & B in Bridgend.

It had been a lovely ride, but it was becoming late as there had been so many interesting things to look at. Then I had some difficulty in finding the lodging as I had dropped my note with the address of the B & B which Juliet had found for me so it quite late when I set off for the 20 minute walk from the B & B into town. The first place I saw was a McDonald’s; a Whopper has never tasted so good.

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