Sunday, 14 April 2013

Historic Ride through the Vale

Strong winds and wet weather persist this weekend so I opt for a short ride around the rural Vale.  I start from my front door in St Athan and head for the back lanes leading to the rural village of Llancarfan.
Ford at Llancarfan
For the first 13 miles it's mostly up hill, climbing to the highest point of 429ft.  On the plus side it has some great views over the rural Vale countryside.  From Llancarfan I head for Dyffryn and my first stop of the trip... 
St Lythans Burial Chamber
St Lythans burial chamber is set imposingly on higher ground a short walk from the road.  It is all that remains of a once larger Neolithic burial monument dating back some 5,000-6,000 years.  Legend says the wedge shaped cap stone spins three times each Midsummers eve, which fits in with the Welsh name for the chamber 'Maes-y-Felin', which translates to Mill of the Meadow.  On the same night the stones are said to go bathing in the river. 
A short ride up the road past Duffryn Gardens is my next stop at Tinkinswood bruial chamber.  The last time I visited here was around 10 years ago where I was conducting a survey of all the neolithic burial mounds and stone circles, whilst studying Archaeology at University 
The Quary, Tinkinswood
It's a slightly longer walk to the burial chamber, on the way passing what is known as The Quary, where the stones for the chamber were originally thought to have originated.
Tinkinswood burial chamber
The tomb at Tinkinswood is capped with an enormous 40 tonne limestone capstone, thought to be the largest in Britain.  The covering mound is more prominent than St Lythans and has been well excavated.   Some 920 humans bones were found within the chamber.
St Quintins Castle 
From Tinkinswood I took the main carriageway through Cowbrigde (what was once a roman road) and onto Llanblethian to visit my last stop of the trip at St Quintins Castle.  This rather large fortification is hidden away on top of a natural steep embankment at the back of Llanblethian village.  The stone keep which stands on an earlier timber fortification was built in the late 12th century.   
 This is the first time I have visited the castle sine I have lived in the area and I was surprised at the size of it.  From here it was a very steep climb through the lanes back to St Athan.  A nice slow paced 23 mile hilly ride exploring the histories of the Vale of Glamorgan.

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