Walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way | 9-mile route

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Looking for a long walk in Cardiff? Walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way route is a perfect local walk in Cardiff, through beautiful parklands, canals and forests.

The Cambrian Way is an incredibly scenic and challenging long-distance trail from Cardiff to Conwy. It’s over 298 miles through some of the wilder parts of Wales.

There are plenty of shorter, local routes to discover though, including the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way. It’s a great Cardiff walk to get you out of the city and into the countryside.

Stage 1 of the Cambrian Way runs from Cardiff to Machen and is just over 15 miles long.

Walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way

However, if you just want to walk within the Cardiff section, you can walk 9.5 miles from Cardiff Castle to the Caerphilly border, just by the Travellers Rest pub.

If you are looking for a long walk in Cardiff, this is a great trek through pretty parklands, heritage canals and wooded areas.

The Cambrian Way

The Cambrian Way is waymarked with the Welsh hat symbol, though large parts of it are over mountains, wide-open spaces and remote, Welsh wilderness.

This means that there can be some confusion over which path to take, so map reading is essential for the more challenging section.

The Cardiff section is fairly well marked, though it does cross in and out of the popular Taff Trail.

Walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way | 9 mile route

If you plan on walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way, take a copy of the Cambrian Way Stage one map with you or bring a Walking the Cambrian Way guidebook.

This way you can stay on the route for your walk. The recommended OS Map is the  151 Cardiff & Bridgend.

You can also find grid references for the Cambrian Way walk on the official website.

Walk Information

  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start grid reference: ST 17830 76463
  • Facilities: Cafes and toilets along the route
  • Map Needed: Cambria Way Stage one Map
  • OS Map: Cardiff and Bridgend
  • Highlights: Castell Coch, Glamorganshire Canal and Fforest Fawr

Walks around Cardiff

The Cambrian Way route starts from Cardiff Castle, located in the heart of the city centre. This is checkpoint 1 on the route.

Walk through the main entrance of Bute Park and you’ll see Pettigrew Tearooms on your right.

Walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way | 9 mile route

Pettigrew’s is a great place to pick up a takeaway coffee to start your walk with a warm drink. Remember to bring a reusable travel mug with you, to save on litter.

This section of the walk takes you through beautiful Bute Park with its manicured gardens and riverside walk.

The best time of year for this route is Autumn as Bute Park comes alive with a breathtaking palette of golden colours, vivid blue skies and a crisp chill in the air.

Refill app Cardiff

The route follows the River Taff along a wooded area and passes by a weir and suspension bridge.

As you approach the Gabalfa Bridge there’s a large Tesco with a Costa Coffee inside.

This Costa is listed on the Refill Wales App as a location where you can fill your reusable water bottle with tap water, for free.

Keep following the trail towards Llandaff Cathedral and keep an eye out for the waymarkers that will direct you towards Radyr Court Road and onwards towards Forest Farm.

If you have time, take a stroll around magnificent Llandaff Cathedral and admire its historic architecture, including a Romanesque sanctuary arch.

Forest Farm walk

When Ty_Mawr Road joins Forest Farm road this is where walkers can get confused and join the Taff Trail by mistake.

Make sure to look out for the entrance to the Glamorgan Canal Nature Reserve and head that way instead.

Here you’ll find ancient beech and oak trees and a heritage canal that’s home to several bird species.

Follow this section of the route until you reach the M4 motorway intersection. You’ll see that a series of walkways and bridges cross this junction.

Pay careful attention to your map or guidebook here and cross a footbridge to reach the A4054. Follow this road towards the small town of Tongwynlais.

There’s also a Starbucks near the M4 intersection if you need a coffee and toilet stop and to refill your water bottle.

Make sure to always carry empty coffee cups and any litter with you until you can find a rubbish bin on the route.

Castell Coch Cardiff

After a coffee break, head through Tongwynlais and towards the fairytale Castell Coch and the surrounding woodlands. This is checkpoint 2 on the route.

The castle was built in the 1870s by Architect and designer William Burges, at the request of the third Marquess of Bute.

Castell Coch Cambrian way Cardiff section

The uber-wealthy aristocrat had a vision of creating a medieval fantasy castle and Burges was happy to oblige.

Today the castle is open to visitors to take a step back in time and marvel at the richly decorated rooms.

Castell Coch Wales Autumn

If you need a lunch stop, then the nearby and slightly hidden Forest Cafe is a great option.

It’s a rustic stop for tea, coffee and amazing toasties. Sink into a comfy sofa and listen to the sounds of the on-site peacocks.

You can access the Cafe from Heol-Y-Fforest, a short distance up from the entrance to Castell Coch.

If you are walking this route on a Sunday, they also do one of the best Sunday roasts in Cardiff and can be enjoyed next to a roaring wood fire. Booking is advised as it’s super popular.

Fforest Fawr walk Cardiff

From Castell Coch take a sharp right and head up a steep hillside onto the forest track.

Be sure not to follow the Taff Trail at this point and head towards Hoel-Y-Fforest.

You’ll pass through sections of woodland, small farms and countryside as you continue through the Rhymney Ridgeway Walk and onto the A469 Thornhill Road.

The route also goes through the Golf course, so be aware of any rogue, flying golf balls!

Rhymney Valley Ridgeway walk

When the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway walk joins the Cambrian Way, you’ll find the Travellers Rest pub on the A469, on the Cardiff/Caerphilly border.

This is another great stop for some food or a cheeky wine or two. After all, you’ve earnt it after a big walk.

From this point, you can either get the bus back to Cardiff city centre or continue onwards to Caerphilly and Machen. Machen is the end of Stage 1 of the Cambrian Way.

If you are looking for a shorter section of stage 1 of the Cambrian way, then the Cardiff to the Travellers Rest walk is a lovely, long walk in Cardiff. It’s also suitable for a range of abilities and walking experience.

Walking in Cardiff

If you love walking in Cardiff and South Wales, why not join Ramblers Cymru?

Join the largest walking community in the UK and discover thousands of new walking routes across Britain. Your membership fees also go towards protecting paths and green spaces.

Some of the benefits of joining Ramblers include:

  • Unlimited free access to hundreds of group walks every week
  • Exclusive access to the Ramblers app bringing you the latest walking features and offers
  • Access to the Ramblers searchable library with thousands of routes on their website 
  • Special member offers including 15% off Cotswold Outdoor 

Walking checklist

Walking the Cambrian Way

Many thanks to Ramblers Cymru for supporting this content. What do you think of my guide to walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way?

Are you planning on walking any stages of the Cambrian Way? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. I tried part of this walk with my daughter but got completely lost on the golf course where the markers seemed to disappear! Well done for finding your way through!

    • Hi Tim, that part of the walk can get really confusing! I did part of the walk again the other day and I struggled with the Rhymney Ridgeway Walk section. I have been taking some public rights of way and map reading courses to improve my navigation skills, as the Cambrian way is definitely a route where map reading and navigation comes in real handy!

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