Garth Mountain, Cardiff
The Garth Mountain walk is an easy but pleasant hiking trail just north of Cardiff. The summit offers up super wide-ranging views that take in the Brecon Beacons to the north as well as the north coast of Somerset and Devon to the south
Hiking up Garth Mountain
We are always on the lookout for new hikes to enjoy and ultimately write about. Sometimes we simply haven’t the hours to go adventuring far from home with the limited time we have at our disposal. Therefore, finding a hike on our doorstep is at times precisely what we need.
Driving north from Cardiff on the A470, I have often glanced up to the left at the baron, treeless top of Garth Mountain and have often wondered what it would be like to climb.
It was only when a work colleague recommended the Garth Mountain walk as a good day out, that it suddenly made its way towards the top of our ‘to do’ list.
On a Sunday in June 2018, Didem and I decided that Garth Mountain was to be our day’s adventure and our starting point in Taff’s Well was only a 25-minute drive away!
How to Get to Garth Mountain
If you are not sure about the specific location of this climb, then the following Garth Mountain map should clear things up for you. Situated just to the north of Cardiff, directions to climb the Garth mountain are really not that complicated.
However, there are a number of starting points for the Garth Mountain walk. These include the villages of Pentyrch to the south and Gwaelod-y-Garth and Taff’s Well to the east.
Being so close to the Welsh capital, Garth Mountain is easily accessible by a number of transport modes. We arrived by car, but it is also possible to get close to the Taff’s Well starting point by both train and bus.
If you are coming from Cardiff, you have a choice of either the number 26 Blackwood bus or the number 132 Maerdy bus. The journey time to Taff’s Well is approximately 25 minutes and both services can be picked up on Castle Street in Cardiff city centre.
If you are planning to arrive by train from Cardiff, you can pick up the service from either Queen Street or Cardiff Central stations, and the journey time is approximately 14 minutes and 18 minutes respectively.
How to Climb the Garth
There is a variety of Garth Mountain walks to choose from depending on your chosen start point. The Garth Mountain walk route that we opted for starts in Taff’s Well.
There is no dedicated Garth Mountain car park at the Taff’s Well starting location, but there is plenty of unrestricted parking to be found along Cardiff Road. Try and grab a spot as near to the Taff’s Well Inn as this is where the walking route begins. The Garth Mountain postcode for the Taff’s Well walking route is CF15 7PR.
If you are planning on using public transport, Garth Mountain parking will be of little interest. Considering arriving by train? You have just over a half mile walk north on Cardiff Road, from Taff’s Well train station, to reach the starting point.
If arriving by bus, you will be pleased to know that there is a bus stop directly outside the Taff’s Well Inn!
Garth Mountain Walk Route
When we started researching this walk, it was difficult to find an online resource that clearly and accurately described the walk. We therefore aim to describe this route in detail and use images to help you visualise the walking route.
To start with we would like to show you the precise GPS tracked Garth Mountain walk that we undertook. We recorded this using the View Ranger App.
The route starts directly between the Taff’s Well Inn and Ffynnon Taf Primary School.
Head down this road in a westerly direction and in no time at all the road splits. Make sure you take the right split.
Within a few minutes, the path takes you via a footbridge across the River Taff.
Spare a few minutes to enjoy the views over the glistening waters of the River Taff, both north and south. Besides, you never know what bird life that you may catch a glimpse of!
The path then climbs steeply up the western bank of the Taff, until it meets Main Road.
Turn right and follow the road a short distance until you see the Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn on your left-hand side.
Take the left turn directly before the pub and follow the narrow road as it climbs steeply. In a few hundred metres, there is a sharp left hairpin bend in the road.
Continue along the road as it now climbs gradually out of the village of Gwaelod-y-Garth.
You will definitely know that you are on the right route when you pass over a cattle grid.
Soon after crossing the cattle grid the road flattens out and you will now find yourself shrouded by a wonderful verdant canopy. As we made our way along this stretch of road, we could hear little more than the rustling of leaves, swaying of branches and the deafening sound of birdlife amongst the greenery that surrounded us.
The amazing array of greens were beautifully highlighted by the rays of sunlight that danced through the gaps in the canopy above.
Further along, the canopy opened up revealing sweeping views across light green grassy meadows and dark green forests to the south.
If you are not 100% sure that you are on the right track there are a couple of landmarks that you will pass, that will put your mind at rest.
Firstly, you will see a derelict barn off to your left-hand side and within a few hundred metres a couple of pink terrace cottages will appear on your right-hand side.
Once you pass the pink cottages, continue along this road for approximately 300 metres. You will then see a path leading up and off to your right-hand side.
This is where you leave the road and continue on the next stage of the Garth Mountain walk. The path now leads up a gradual incline as you make your way towards the summit of Garth Mountain.
The views off to your right-hand side (south) become ever more far-reaching as the climb continues. Subject to weather conditions, it may now be possible to see right across the city of Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and even as far as the north coast of Devon, across the Bristol Channel!
Continue along the worn path between the sprawling ferns that are abundant along the top of the Garth ridge. Within a few minutes, you will see the trig point on top of the tumulus that indicates the summit of Garth Mountain.
At the summit, you are spoilt with 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to the super southerly views, already mentioned, you can now see as far as Port Talbot to the west, Newport and the Severn Bridge to the east and Pen-y-Fan (Brecon Beacons) to the north.
Having enjoyed your break at the summit and taken in the wide-ranging views, it is time to commence the return portion of the Garth Mountain walk.
From the trig point head east along the relatively flat ridge of the Garth Mountain for a few hundred metres. As you approach the steep eastern slope the path veers to the south. Now you have some dramatic views across Taff’s Well immediately to the east.
From this point, the path descends gradually down the southern side of Garth Mountain until you meet the road that you arrived on.
Turn left and follow the road back into Gwaelod-y-Garth. Of course, you can head straight back to the starting point to complete the Garth Mountain walk. However, may I suggest dropping into the Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn for a well-earned drink and a bite to eat.
We did and we can wholeheartedly recommend this pub. Take a look at the large number of positive reviews on TripAdvisor. Clearly many people have enjoyed their experience there as much as we did!
Now that you’re feeling suitably refreshed, retrace your route back across the River Taff to the starting point on Cardiff Road, Taff’s Well.
Garth Mountain Walk – Our Thoughts
Let’s start off with the positive aspects of the Garth Mountain walk. If you live in, or close to Cardiff, the Garth is a convenient hike for you. It only took us 25 minutes to drive to Taff’s Well from our home in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.
We also liked the variety that this hike offered. We experienced everything from river views, quiet wooded country roads to the tree free Garth Mountain itself with the 360-degree panoramic views.
The Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn was also a great highlight of this hike and one I am sure many will enjoy following a walk to the summit of the Garth.
On the negative side, the hike didn’t really offer much of a challenge. That said, if you are looking for more of a gentle afternoon stroll, this walk would be perfect.
Road traffic noise is something we cannot abide when out walking in nature. Unfortunately, when approaching the eastern side of the Garth Mountain ridge, on our descent, traffic noise from the A470 was clearly audible.
All in all, this was a pleasant enough hike and one you should try at least once. At the end of the day, if you are out in nature taking advantage of the wide-ranging benefits of hiking, you are assisting your physical, mental and social well-being.
Interesting Facts About the Garth
How high is Garth Mountain?
The Garth Mountain height is 307 m (1,007 ft)
Is the Garth a mountain?
People refer to it as Garth hill, Garth mountain or simply the Garth. So, which is correct? Up until the 1920s, the British Ordnance Survey defined a mountain as higher than 1000 feet (304 metres). However, this definition no longer applies.
From our research, we can find no specific authority definition for a hill or mountain in terms of its height. So, as far as we can see, you can call the Garth whatever you like. For the purpose of this post, we have opted for “Mountain”.
If this debate interests you, take a look at this article on “The Difference Between a Hill and a Mountain”.