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Bedwellty Circular, 02 March 2024

So today was my Bedwellty circular, a watered down version of a much more challenging route we undertook a few years back, the route then started near my home in Ebbw Vale, so started with a steep descent and then after the main part of walk completed, a tiring steep ascent, such is the way with valleys walks. Today 10 Merthyr Valley Ramblers including welcome first time rambler Stacey Fiona White and her 2 terriers Ronnie & Phoebe embarked on the route from the centre of Tredegar. We took a leisurely stroll through the town towards the impressive clock, built in 1858 and a reminder of the towns rich iron heritage. We then made our way through Bedwellty Park, A listed Regency villa surrounded by a historic garden established in 19th century for the famous Homfray Ironmaster dynasty. Bedwellty House and Park are intimately linked with the early social history of Industrial Wales. Its relevance continued when the house and park were given to the people of Tredegar and consequently became a centre of the Labour movement in Wales, and Britain at large. Probably the most famous name associated with Bedwellty House and Park is Aneurin Bevan, credited as the founder of the National Health Service. The park contains an arboretum, tea rooms and the biggest block of coal in the world! (which we didn't see today, my bad as leader!). Our climb then began by road towards the Cefn Golau pond and the Cholera Cemetery, weather conditions had changed significantly by this point so we did not fully explore the cemetery and admire it's views (non existent today!). We made our way to the Cairn for our first very welcome and warming tea break. Unbeknown to the rest of the group, it was at this point (as leader) I was strongly considering a route change, avoiding the trig at Mynydd Bedwellte, visibility was poor, and the snow was heavy, I was confident with my navigation though and decided to proceed to the highest point of our walk, the challenge was gratefully accepted by the group and we reached the trig for another group photo opportunity before retracing some steps to drop out of the wind on a lower path, this path would take us to the Bedwellty Quarry incline winding wheel, something I discovered in lockdown in 2020 by accident! It is a scheduled monument but is somewhat in decline and I wonder why steps have not been taken to firstly preserve it and secondly promote it, it is quite an outstanding feature of local industrial heritage. We made it our lunch spot before descending down to Bedwellty Pits, from here we were able to take the cycle route back to the main road, we followed the road for a while before crossing the bridge towards Tredegar Leisure Centre and its welcome community toilets! It was then just a short walk back, again through Bedwellty Park, past the clock and back to the cars. The difference back down in the town was quite staggering, not a sign of snow as we experienced up high. Huge thanks to all that braved the elements today, it was one of my most enjoyable walks as a leader I think!