Walk 7 Pwll Penarth & Fron-las
This walk starts and finishes at the Waggon and Horses in Lower Canal Road and includes Pwll Penarth Nature Reserve, with lakes and water birds and a view of Penarth Weir on the River Severn. Higher ground gives superb views of the Severn Valley and Newtown. Much of the walk is on quiet tracks with road and some off-road walking.
5.3 miles • 2.5 hours • Moderate
Start at the Waggon and Horses at the junction of Lower Canal Road and Dolafon Road. There is roadside parking here. Walk down Dolafon Road towards the river and go through the gap in the hedge at the bottom of the road. If this path is muddy, there is a paved path on the left further down Dolafon Road. Climb up onto the river bank and turn left to follow the path along the top of the bank. At the end, the grass path drops down to a gate and joins a tarmac footpath/cycle route. Go under the pipe bridge, and past the ‘Old Pump House’ on your right. The Pump House drew water from the Severn to supply the head of the canal, was originally operated by water wheel, later by steam and eventually by a diesel engine, and ceased operation in the 1940s.
Continue on the tarmac path passing a small parking area near the Llanllwchaiarn to Aberbechan road marked by a fingerpost. This path is part of the Severn Way long distance path and also the Route 81 National Cycle Trail. Continue under a low bridge to pass Llanllwchaiarn church on your left. This church was built in 1814 on a site dating back to the 6th century and has a famous Arts and Crafts stained glass window and a carved rood screen. The church only opens for bi-weekly services.
The path follows the line of the old canal and is now close to the River Severn on your right. You will pass another parking area connected to the Llanllwchaiarn to Aberbechan road and a fingerpost.
Go through a gate with the sewage works on your right, cross the access road and continue along the footpath. Pass the old Dolfor Lock on your left and turn right through a gate into the Pwll Penarth Nature Reserve (SO 137928). This reserve, which passes the Penarth Weir, is operated by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, has two hides for bird watching. Details, including a map, can be found at www.montwt.co.uk/pwll.html Follow the path round the reserve and rejoin the canal path through a gate at the end.
Turn right and walk to the next fingerpost, then turn left across the Freestone Lock (SO 139930), through the gate and follow the track north up the hill to a field gate. Go through and follow the track through the copse to another field gate. Just after, turn left at a fingerpost (SO139932) and follow the narrow path uphill until you reach another 2 field gates and another fingerpost. Turn left onto a track.
Here (SO 135930) the walk can be shortened by taking the track down, past cabins on the right, to a narrow road. Cross this and retrace your steps along the footpath/cycleway.
To continue on the longer walk, pass the farm buildings then turn right up a slope, left at the top, then right at the fingerpost up the bank and through the pedestrian gate. Turn right to the field gate, go through then bear left through another field gate.
Go through this gate and continue along the line of the fenced hedge on your left and across the field. There are now magnificent views over the rolling hills to the north. When you reach a way-marker post by a large oak tree and the edge of a fence line, bear left, and follow the sheep track across the open field to a gateway. Pass through and head towards a pedestrian gate (SO 131932) in the fence ahead which will become visible as you cross the slight brow and go downhill. Go through and then right to another pedestrian gate on to the lane. Cross the lane and follow the path between the black and white abandoned house and a red brick farmhouse, Tynybitfel, to another pedestrian gate in the corner to the left, then on to the Llanllwchaiarn to Aberbechan road.
Turn right onto the road and walk downhill, taking care since this is a blind bend with fast traffic. After a short distance turn left up a lane signposted to Lower Gwestydd Farmhouse. Walk past white cottages, Garn Cottage and Garn Lodge, on the right, then turn left onto a footpath marked by a fingerpost.
Follow the track through a gate and down to the cottage, Fron-las. Go through the two gates to pass the house then cross the small paddock to enter the wood via a stile in the left hand corner. Follow the footpath down over a bridge and continue until you get to a stile and fingerpost on your left. Cross this stile and follow the footpath down through the wood until you reach the housing development.
The path passes behind houses and leads onto Lon Coed y Creigiau (Rock Wood Drive). This brings you back to the Llanllwchaiarn road opposite the church. Turn right on the pavement and rejoin the Severn Way on your left where the pavement ends.
You can now retrace your steps to the Waggon or take the rustic steps on your right just before the Old Pump House and go on to the road. Turn left and return to the Waggon past the mill workers cottages and the Cambrian Mill, part of which is now housing.
Waggon and Horses
This local pub run by Neil and Jackie offers excellent bar service with real ale and meals in their Garden Restaurant. The opening hours are:
Monday to Thursday - from 6 pm
Friday - 12-2, then from 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday - all day from noon
Open lunchtime during the week by arrangement, phone 01686 625790