By Iris Knapman | Review Editor
The other week, a friend and I decided to take a trip to Fforest Fawr to kill a couple hours on a drizzly Sunday. While not the ideal weather for a hike, it made for some pretty fantastic views when we stopped to take in the rainclouds over the mountains. Also, the cool rain proved to be a blessing after we broke a sweat hiking uphill.
This destination is a nature site situated in Tongwynlais, a quaint village about a fourteen minute car drive (or thirty minute by bus) out of Cardiff. Its closeness to the city makes it the perfect place if you’re looking to get away for a few hours.
It consists of four trails that exhibit both the natural and man-made features of the land. The popular Sculpture Trail takes you around numerous carved pieces ranging from giant owls to Gandalf-esque wizards. Meanwhile, the Three Bears Cave Walk takes you close to (though not into due to safety hazards) the caves that once housed iron-mining operations. Each of the trails are rated in terms of the time required to complete and their difficulty. For example, the Sculpture Trail is the shortest and easiest of the four (1hr to complete). Don’t worry if you’re not super athletic; none of the trails have a difficulty rating above moderate.
Not only does Fforest Fawr represents all that is great about the Welsh countryside, (trees, grass, wildlife, etc.) but also provided the backdrop for the BBC serial dramas Merlin and Sherlock. If you consider yourself a fan you might like to take a trip to visit the filming locations of these favourite shows. Discovering this fact actually has me watching Merlin for the first time!
To get there, take the A470 and follow road signs to Castell Coch castle. The castle is one of two possible places to begin your trek through this beautiful woodland. Alternatively you can drive up to the Fforest Fawr car park (and stop off at The Forest Tea Room on the way!) Otherwise, you can easily reach Fforest Fawr by boarding the number 132 bus to Tongwynlais. After you disembark, you have a short walk from the village centre to the castle.
This Welsh castle is renown for its reddish hue, hence “Coch” (the Welsh word for red.) The first castle to occupy the land was over 940 years ago, however the castle we see today dates back to 1875. To further enrichen your trip, you can book tickets online to tour around this historic landmark and take a glimpse into Wales’ past, while you enjoy some bara brith (a traditional Welsh tea bread) from the castle’s tearoom.
You can find further details about Fforest Fawr here: https://naturalresources.wales/days-out/places-to-visit/south-east-wales/fforest-fawr/?lang=en.