How to Do the Garth Hill Walk, South Wales
How to Do the Garth Hill Walk, South Wales

How to Do the Garth Hill Walk, South Wales

At just 307 meters tall and with a number of trails to choose from, the Garth Hill walk is a fun one that can be done in just a few hours. The walk entails a river crossing and a beautiful dark green forest with a golden floor. On a clear day, from the top, you’ll get great views of the Taff valley and down to Cardiff in the distance.

I’ve climbed the Garth Hill twice. The fist time was on a warm summers evening; the second was on a misty and wet but atmospheric spring afternoon. I’ve walked both the easy and a harder route and will share my experiences with you so that you can do the Garth Hill Walk too.

Table of contents

How long does it take to climb Garth Hill?

This obviously depends on the route you choose and your level of fitness, but up and down takes between three and four hours starting from and finishing in Taff’s Well.

Getting to Taff’s Well is pretty easy too. It’s a short train ride from Cardiff (directly into Taff’s Well) and the drive from Cardiff isn’t much longer either. Taff’s Well has limited parking though, so keep your eyes peeled for a space. The best place to look is along the main road that runs through the centre of the village.

The blog author standing on Garth Hill during a sunset with the Taff Valley visible in the background.

How do you climb Garth Hill?

I’ll now explain the two Garth Hill walks that I’ve done. First, I’ll talk about the easy route that I did, then I’ll go onto the more difficult way. Both routes share some of the same sections. So if you want, you can make things more easy or difficult for yourself on the day. 

Easy route

This was in early spring and the day was foggy and wet, but that didn’t put us off. We came via train from Cardiff and so started from Taff’s Well train station. Exit the train station and immediately cross the River Taff over the bridge.

The Garth Hill in the background shrouded in fog. The River Taff is in the foreground.

Once on the other side, head straight to Main Road. Follow Main Road until you come to Georgetown (a small road coming off Main Road). Here you’ll see some steps heading up into the woods; take these steps. From here the route gets adventurous.

Once in the woods, keep following the trail uphill. After a few minutes walking you’ll enter a forest. The tress here are enormous and there’s a rich contrast of browns, gold, purples and greens throughout the forest.

There are several trails in the forest that may confuse you. Just keep heading uphill and you’ll be going in the right direction. The trail gets a little steep as you come to the other edge of the forest, but it’s nothing challenging.

A curvy, golden tree in the forest that is part of the Garth Hill walk

As you leave the forest, there’ll be a gate you need to pass through. This takes you out into an open field ahead. Cross the open field heading uphill and you’ll come to Route Des Alps. This is a road which is part of the harder Garth Hill route. Cross Route Des Alps and get back onto the dirt trail heading uphill. Things get a little steep and slippery once you join to trail again, but just for short section. Keep heading uphill and you’ll join the main trail that snakes up the side of the Garth Hill.

Form here you just need to follow this long snaking trail as you wind your way up Garth Hill. On a wet, muddy day, you’ll need to watch your footing here and there. Rainy weather, however, doesn’t make things much more difficult.

Keep following the trail until you get to the top. The very top of Garth Hill is marked by a trig point. When we got up there on this day though, it was basically a whiteout. So, we got to the top, but didn’t walk over to the trig point.

That’s the easier route for the Garth Hill walk. It’s good fun in any whether, but you’ll want to do it on a clear day to get the most out of it. I talk about climbing Garth Hill on a clear day in the harder-route guide below, so read on for that.

More difficult route

This was the summer walk and we parked the car a few minutes’ walk from the Taff’s Well Inn. The Inn is on the main road in Taff’s Well. Then we headed towards the pub as the route starts from just next to it. If you’re looking at the pub, then just the right of it is a lane heading downhill. Follow the lane all the way and you’ll come to steps taking you up to a bridge. 

The bridge crosses the River Taff and brings you to a paved hill path. You’ll need to take this up to the road. As you come out on this road, turn right and keep going until you come to the Gwaelod Y Garth Inn. Take the road left here and head uphill.

The blog author on the forest trail that forms a part of the Garth Hill walk.

Now you’ll need to follow the road uphill for a short while. The road is called Route Des Alps and you’ll follow it for around 600 metres. Look back down it and you’ll begin to see some nice views over to the Taff Valley. You come to a trail heading off the right side of the road and up the side of the Garth Hill. Take the trail and leave Route Des Alps behind.

So far you may be thinking that this route actually sounds easier. Well, although up until this point it’s been mostly paved road, the incline is steeper and continuous. I found this more tiring.

Once you’re on the trail, it’s just a case of following it round the side of the Garth Hill. This trail will eventually lead to the point of the main trail that I joined when doing the easier route. So, if from here you want to get on the main trail and slowly snake up Garth Hill, then continue on. 

However, for this harder Garth Hill walk, we took a more adventurous and challenging detour. Not long after joining the trail, there’s a steep narrow track cutting off to the side and sharply heading directly up to the top of Garth Hill.

Things get steep here and in the summer the ferns can be quite tall. So, you may need to chop your way through with your hands. It’s worth it though, because you’ll start getting better views sooner than on the standard trail route. Keep heading up this steep incline and you’ll quickly get to the top.

Lilly, the author's friend in the forest that is part of the Garth Hill walk.

From here, there’s a dip in the trail before another small incline. At the top of this smaller incline things flatten out and it’s a clear way forward to the very top. Over to the far side of this flat section you’ll see a mound with the trig point. On a good day you’ll get stunning views onto the Taff Valley and down to Cardiff.

And that’s the Garth Hill Walk. Try taking the hard route up and easy route down if you want to get all of the scenery and challenge yourself.

More walking and hiking adventures in Wales

I’ve written more guides for hikes and walks in Wales which you can check out below. And for all of my travel advice and inspiration, head to the A World Over blog.

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