If you’re looking for some of the best dog walks that Wales has to offer (and in video!), then you've come to the right place. Join us on our adventure, where we plan to travel all over Wales, seeking out the best spots to take your dog (or dogs!) and we want to share our adventure with all of you.
We started filming our series ‘Walk of the Week’ back in August, and have already visited some of the coolest dog walks Cardiff has to offer. Share our adventure with us, and discover some of the best-kept secret walking locations in your local area!
To watch episode eight, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Where’d we go this week?
This week we ventured out to northern outskirts of Cardiff to explore the woodlands of Cefn Onn Park (see on maps). The park itself really is beautiful; a tranquil woodland that really does bring you closer to nature. You could spend hours there exploring all of the corners of the park, and taking in all of the mighty trees that have resided there for many years.
Here’s a table to help you navigate to any given section you’d like. Hope you find our blog interesting and informative!
An Overview of Cefn Onn Park
Cefn Onn Park is a grade 2 listed country park, and is home to a wide variety of native and exotic trees, plants and wildlife! The whole feel and vibe of Cefn Onn is very soothing and quite relaxing; it really brings you close to nature, and is perfect for your dog to run, play, chase, smell and the rest.
The park itself offers free parking at the entrance. You’ll walk past a large Mural before entering the park, where you can see a timeline of the parks history spray painted by Peaceful Progress (more about them later on!).
From the moment you step foot into the park, you’ll be engulfed by mighty trees with a variety of different paths to choose from.
The main path you’ll find leads to the rather large goldfish pond. The pond itself is certainly a feature of the park, and there are plenty of benches around if you’d like to spend some time there.
Beyond the pond, there really is an abundance of trees, streams and wilderness to explore. If you’re up for an adventure, you can find plenty of points of interests littered all through Cefn Onn Park; for you and your dog!
You’ll also see Llanishen Golf club sharing a border with the park, so watch out for any incoming golf balls! (Just kidding, you should be okay…)
All in all, Cefn Onn really has it all. It’s super easy to access (via car or train!), and is certainly big enough even for the keen walkers (or super-adventurous beagles!). The area is rife with a variety of nature and wildlife, providing us with a perfect location for a scenic walk.
Extra note: There is a lost-and-found area by the entrance of the park, by the side of what we believe is the Rangers bungalow. If you happen to lose anything during your walk, you’ll likely find it here! We lost our camera case, and thankfully someone had left it here for us. Thanks a lot random citizen! You’re a superstar.
How to Get There…
The easiest way to get to Cefn Onn (if you’re not local) is to drive (see google maps). The route is pretty easy, and takes you through Llanishen. There’s free parking at the park, which makes driving (and parking) there a piece of cake!
You can get to Cefn Onn Park by train pretty easily too, as Lisvane & Thornhill train station is located only a couple of metres down the road from the entrance.
A Bit of History
As with all of the parks we’ve visited so far, Cefn Onn has a rich history that’s full of interesting nit-bits (main source: cardiffparks.org.uk)
Back in 1911, an Ernest Prosser owned the patch of land that we call Cefn Onn Park today. Back then it was called The Dingle!
Prosser was the General Manager at the Taff Vale, Cardiff and Rhymney Railway Companies at the time, and he set out to build his son a house near the woodland estate.
His son, Cecil, suffered from tuberculosis and the idea was to create a soothing environment for him to recuperate by spending time close to nature. Unfortunately Cecil passed away in 1922, and Ernest gave up his plans to build a house. That being said, he still maintained the land up until his death in 1933. You can find a painting of Ernest Prosser on the mural as you enter the park…
After Ernest’s death, his nephew Donald Prosser inherited the land, but because of the high maintenance costs and inheritance tax, he didn’t seem too keen to hold on to it. In 1944, Donald put the park up for sale and, thanks to a tip off from the head gardener, Tom Jenkins, Cardiff Council swooped in and bought the land the very next day! It may not seem like that much now a days, but the park was sold for £7,500- a sizeable sum in the 1940’s.
Soon after the Council bought the land from Donald Prosser, they bought even more land to the south and combined it all together to create Cefn Onn Park.
The head Gardener, Tom Jenkins, kept his position and was put in charge of the entire park. You can find plenty of rare or exotic trees, shrubs and plants in the park, as well as streams, ponds, woodlands and more. A perfect environment for all sorts of wildlife and plants! High five Tom Jenkins, you clearly knew what you were doing!
With regards to the car park that you’ll find there today, it was originally a lot bigger! In fact, in the 1980’s the whole car park (and toilets, and mess-hall that once stood there) was excavated to make room for the M4 that now passes over the entrance to the park! What was once level ground now requires you to go underneath the M4 and back up a pretty steep hill to get into the park. Since then, toilets, a garage, mess-room and rangers bungalow has been built at the entrance.
The Friends of Cefn Onn Park Group
The Friends of Cefn Onn Park are an enthusiastic bunch locals who work with Cardiff Council to keep the park looking as beautiful as you can find it today. Their roles include working with neighbouring landowners, applying for project and educational grants and organising volunteer-run workdays at the park! You can find a full list of what they get up to on their website, here!
The Friends of Cefn Onn Park have been around since 2010, and are clearly very passionate. In fact, Gareth Thomas, the chairman of the group has been in the papers a couple of times, raising awareness of what they do, and why it’s so important for the park. (source: Walesonline.co.uk)
Most recently, in 2016, Cefn Onn Park received a whopping £459,000 from the National Lottery Fund. The money was used to help renovate and improve the park, and was graciously received by the Friends of Cefn Onn group. Gareth Thomas was quoted to say:
“On behalf of the Friends of Parc Cefn Onn I’d like to acknowledge the significant work that Council staff have done in putting together such an excellent funding bid. The innovative and all-inclusive nature of the proposed work will really emphasise the historical and peaceful aspects of the Park. We are really looking forward to continuing to work with the Council to put these exciting plans into practice to help restore and improve this much loved Welsh Country Park on the edge of Cardiff. It will take a couple of years to complete and will benefit visitors long into the future. Diolch yn fawr Cardiff Council and Heritage Lottery!” (source: businessnewswales.com)
One of the major improvements to the park was creating a robust pathway from the entrance of the park through to the goldfish pond. This path makes the park a lot easier to access for wheelchair users, which just makes it even better!
If you were interested in finding out more about the Friends of Cefn Onn Park, or if you want to get involved, you can become a member via their website and find out when the next workday is online! Simply click here to find out more.
The Mural at Cefn Onn Park
In 2013, the Friends of Cefn Onn Park group commissioned a grand mural to be spray painted at the entrance of the park. Honestly, you can’t miss it!
Graffiti artists, ‘Peaceful Progress’, created the Mural after holding several workshops and consultations with the local community, where everyone’s opinion was heard and everyone had their say. In the end, it was decided to spray-paint a time-line of the parks history, and it was to cover the whole wall in the under passage.
Looks pretty cool, doesn’t it? We think so. To find out more about Peaceful Progress, and all of the work they’ve done, feel free to visit the website: peacefulprogress.org.
Llanishen Golf Club
Alongside the park, you’ll find Llanishen Golf Club. Founded in 1905, the club is renown for being super friendly and welcoming to new players, or anyone who fancies a round of golf!
You can book a tee time on their website, and we’ll leave a table of their prices below:
The club accommodates both men and women, and they even have a rather spectacular clubhouse, where you can buy new equipment, sit down for a spot of lunch or simply grab a beer. If you’re into golf, this place is certainly worth visiting!
For more info about Llanishen Golf Club, click here.
Llanishen, or ‘Llan-isan’?
Okay, so we mentioned in our video that Cefn Onn Park is in Llanishen, and we called it ‘Llan-isan’. Well, here’s why…. (source: llanishenhistory)
Over a thousand years ago, way back in 535 AD, two monks set out from the small settlement of Llandaff, to begin their own settlements some place else. One of the monks, Isan, decided to set up camp in the then-wild terrain near Caerphilly Mountain. Oh, did we mention that they called their settlements ‘Llans’? So, Isan’s town was aptly called Llan-Isan!
Over the many years since then, ‘Llan-Isan’ has been morphed a little, to give us ‘Llanishen’ today. It does help explain all the places in Wales that start with Llan….
The Woman Goddess Seat
Unfortunately any detailed records have been destroyed in a fire at the Park Services Office in 2002 apparently! What we do know is that the bricks are all custom built, and it was put together on site. Since then, it gets a quick scrub with water each year, and only has one or two bricks missing! (Source: cardiffparks.org.uk)
Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk
The park actually sits near the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk, which will apparently take you all the way up to Penalta Park through Caerphilly and back around in a big 28-mile loop! We haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s certainly one for the future. You can click here to see a map of the route, if you’re tempted.
Without further ado, click below to watch the full episode:
Where are we heading next?
This is our eighth episode!! It feel’s like yesterday when we first started filming Walk of the Week.
We have another episode already filmed and ready to go, but we have hit a little snag whilst filming our 10th episode. In short, our drone got hit out of the sky by a bird and into a lake. The bird is fine, but our flying camera is not! We’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to hopefully get enough support to continue filming the series, and to take it all over Wales.
If we’re unsuccessful, Walk of the Week will unfortunately have to be put on hold after episode ten (two weeks time!). Don’t worry though; we love filming these episodes and if we do have to stop, we wholeheartedly hope to bring it back as soon as we can!
Here’s a link to our Kickstarter campaign to find out a little more about our story.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll catch you on next week’s Walk of the Week!
- Dino & Beth (and Marley!)