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Walk of the Week | Exploring Wales

We are on a quest to make Wales the healthiest and happiest place to live. Join us as we explore some of the best dog walks that Wales has to offer.

Rhydypenau Park & Nant Fawr Woods, Cardiff

Dino Hodzovic

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.

Drone photography of Nant Fawr Woodlands in Cardiff. Trail starts at Rhydypenau Park into the woods. Series title, 'Walk of the Week' written across the photo.

We've just started filming our new series in Cardiff, and aim to showcase some of the coolest walks that we can find. That way, more dogs (and their owners!) can share our adventure, and find some of the best-kept secret walking locations in their local area! 

To watch episode two, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Where'd we go this week?

This week we set out to explore Rhydypenau Park (find on maps). The park's great for kids and animals alike. In the summer, you'll always expect to find both running around. Following the main path, we crossed a bridge over to Nant Fawr Woodlands (maps). It wasn't long before we caught sight of Llanishen Reservoir (maps). Eventually we came across big open fields that seemed to go and go. If you're looking for a quiet patch of earth to explore, these fields certainly offer you that!

Rhydypenau Park

Rhydypenau Park, photographed from the sky. You can see much of Cardiff in the background, as well as the surrounding countryside Wales has to offer.

Rhydypenau park is only around the corner from Cardiff High School and backs onto Rhydypenau Primary School too. That means you'll always find kids playing in the area.

The park itself offers a great deal of open playing fields – plenty of space to let your dog run loose. Even Marley! There’s a small children’s play park close to where we entered the park too.

A photograph of Dino showing Rhydypenau Park children's play area in the new video series, Walk of the Week. Location: Cardiff, Wales.

You’ll find plenty of dog walkers around, and (as you’d expect) they are all super friendly. A lot of dogs are off lead going about their business. It's certainly a dog friendly location.

Follow the yellow brick road...

Photograph taken of Beth walking along a path, whilst we were filming Walk of the Week in Rhydypenau Park, Cardiff. The sun is shining, but where is Marley?

If you follow the path that goes around and through Rhydypenau Park, you’ll find a small stream with a bridge. The stream is Nant Fawr, which translates to 'the big brook', and crossing the bridge puts you in Nant Fawr Woodlands; another great place for dogs and walkers alike.

Nant Fawr isn’t so big any more... In fact, it was reduced to a small stream with the construction of the Caerphilly railway tunnel, way back in the day. That being said, Nant Fawr still offers a stripe of greenery and wilderness along its route, that sit’s hidden within suburbia. 

The photograph shows off the greenery and wildlife present in Nant Fawr Woodlands. The path goes on for some time, and is an amazing place to take your dog.

You’ll find loads of wildlife rubbing stamps throughout the woods. They were put there by the Friends of Nant Fawr Woodlands Community. In fact, you can download a booklet that’s full of fun facts for children to learn. The idea is to find each of the markers in the woods, and create a rubbing of each.

You can find and download the booklet (for free) on the website!

photograph of a wildlife rubbing stamp in Cardiff taken from video series,  Walk of the Week .

The well-trodden trail continues through Nant Fawr Woods offering a good balance of paths to follow and pure wilderness to explore. If it's raining, don't forget to pack your wellies!

Photograph of one of the paths that travels along Nant Fawr, past Llanishen Reservoir. In the summertime, the grass and weeds are a deep shade of green.

When it comes to the other dogs in the area, this walk is full of life. All the dogs (and their owners!) know each other and get on well. There really is a strong community vibe, and we were welcomed to the area with open arms.

Llanishen Reservoir

Nant Fawr Woodlands runs right alongside Llanishen Reservoir. Unfortunately the reservoir is fenced off to the public, and has been for some years. However, the Reservoir itself has a bit of a history, that's actually really interesting... 

Photograph of Llanishen Reservoir in Cardiff, taken from Walk of the Week series.

Are you ready for some facts? 

The Reservoir itself was constructed in 1886, as a part of the Taff Fawr scheme to supply the ever-growing population of Cardiff with water. On the whole, the reservoir was a success and was used to supply water up until the mid-1970’s. In 1973, Welsh Water took responsibility of the reservoir. 

Since then, the water has been used for water activities such as dinghy sailing, windsurfing, power boating and canoeing courses. Cardiff Sailing Centre (owned by Cardiff County Council) had been at the reservoir for 30 years, before having to move to Cardiff Bay after the reservoir was drained in 2010.

Llanishen Reservoir, back in the day when fishing and sailing were permitted on the water. No fences were present back then, and the public had full access to the reservoir.

(photo taken from Wales Online article: Llanishen Reservoir over the years. You can find it here)

Redevelopment Plans

In 2001, Western Power Distribution (WPD) acquired the reservoir from Welsh Water's holding company. At the same time, Welsh Water was acquired by the not-for-profit organisation Glas Cymru. It's a little confusing, right? Try to stick with it.

The following year (as some of you may remember), WPD proposed redevelopment plans involving the construction of 300+ new homes on the historical site. They promised a much smaller water area, a new sailing club and a wildlife education centre.

The plans went back and forth from parliament, to the UK Environmental Agency, to Cardiff Council and back again. It’s a difficult process to get planning permission, especially when you're planning to replace a reservoir with houses.

On top of that, as you can imagine, the local community got together and began to protest the plans on multiple fronts.

A 'Save our reservoirs' banner, put up in Cardiff in response to the redevelopment plans by Western Power Distribution to replace Llanishen reservoir with new houses.

Eventually, with the support of the local community, the Welsh Government refused the planning permission and the whole thing was scrapped. Hooray!

More happened after that, which get’s a little more complicated... WPD sold the reservoirs to a smaller company it already owned, Hyder Industrial Group Ltd. in order for them to retain adequate water supply they needed to run their rod mills in the area.

In 2016, Welsh Water acquired both Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs (again) on a 999-year lease, provided the water supply was allowed to continue to Hyder Industrial Group mill's. Groups such as the Reservoir Action Group welcomed the move, hoping that the site will be reopened to the public in the future.

And that’s where we are right now!

An article written earlier this year (April 2018), on the Wales Online website reads:

“There is once again a hint that boats could return, with a mention of “water-based activities” as one future use."

- Here’s hoping!

Beyond the Reservoir.

Around 20 minutes from crossing the bridge at Rhydypenau Park, you'll come across another bridge, only this time even smaller and closer to nature. You can really appreciate the waters flowing down the Nant Fawr from here, and it's a good opportunity for your dog to get wet!

Dino and Marley crossing a small wooden bridge over Nant Fawr.

Over the bridge the landscape changes drastically. From wooded wilderness, the path opens up into huge open fields once again. Each field is surrounded by wild and wooded borders; flattened grass paths trail along the edges and through to other fields. You won’t really see many people around this patch, other than the occasional dog and their owner - but even that's rare!

Aerial photograph of the open fields by Llanishen Reservoir, once you pass through Nant Fawr woodlands

We like to let Marley run around free as there isn’t too much mischief a dog can cause here. It offers an excellent opportunity to stretch the legs or chase a frisbee or two.

Aerial photograph of the big open fields that we explored during this episode of Walk of the Week. Location: Cardiff

After checking google maps, we found that Corpus Christi High School actually backs onto the fields. Mind you, I can't imagine you find too many kids playing up in these fields.

From the grassy fields, you can continue along the Nant Fawr trail all the way to Lisvane. It supposedly comes out at the Black Griffon Inn; a local pub in Lisvane. We haven't been yet, but will be checking it out soon!

Here’s the full episode; check it out!


If you like the video or are local to the area, it'd be awesome if you'd share it with your friends and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Where next? You decide!

We are already looking for new and wonderful places to visit and explore. At the moment we are still in Cardiff, but drop us a comment on YouTube and tell us where you think we should go next.

Thanks for reading, and catch you all on next week's Walk of the Week!

- Dino & Beth (and Marley!)