The original plan was to run from Bargoed in the Rhymney Valley to Cardiff passing through Ystrad Mynach and Caerphilly along the way but due to snow two days before, I was unsure whether icy patches would remain. At 18 miles I was on the look out for a route of a similar distance but would not be affected by ice. Using the OS Maps application I noticed that Bridgend to Cardiff along the A48 road would be slightly longer at 20 miles but would be a simple route to navigate.
With Bridgend railway station being located on the main Swansea to London mainline, it was easy to get to from Newport and with an ASDA nearby I could triple check that there was nothing left that would cause the dreaded runner’s trots! Lately I have found myself planning routes with supermarkets at the beginning just in case.
Bridgend to Cowbridge
Heading out of the town centre along the A473, the pavements were coated in a thin layer of frost which thankfully was not too slippery and wouldn’t cause any problems at the pace I would be running.
The A473 leads onto the A48 which would be the road I would follow for the next 18 miles or so. Prior to setting off I had randomly checked on Google Street View to see if there were paths along most of the road and it looked like there were but barely a mile in and I was already running on a grass verge on the side of a busy road. With dew laden grass and molehills to dodge, it was mainly an inconvenience, especially when compared to the terrain I contended with on the Sirhowy Valley Walk the week before.
Following an old Roman road, the A48 leading to Cowbridge is predominantly straight although undulating. My original route took me along the A48 around Cowbridge but I discovered that this section is a dual carriageway so you need to exit and join the A4222 through Cowbridge town centre. This is handy should you need to stop for refreshments or the toilet. Thankfully I had kept the runner’s trots at bay!
Cowbridge to St Nicholas
Climbing out of Cowbridge you rejoin the A48 which at this point is still a dual carriageway. I couldn’t quite determine whether there was enough room to run on the grass verge and for how long it continued before turning back into a single carriageway. At this junction there was a grassy, and possibly muddy, footpath that led up a hill towards a war memorial.
Consulting the OS Maps app on the phone I could see that the path wasn’t too long and would rejoin the A48 around 500m away. Not feeling safe on the dual carriageway I took a chance and headed up the path. Luckily the cold weather had hardened the mud on the incline and soon the path turned into more of a wide track leading to the main road.
The track rejoined the A48 just at the point where the dual carriageway had ended – perfect! I rejoined the grass verge for some more mole hill dodging although where possible I tried to run on the road. This continued for a few miles more before reaching Bonvilston where I was greeted with paths, on both sides of the road!
I knew the road passed through St Nicholas so my mind was focussed on reaching here. I didn’t know exactly how far away it was and never saw a sign with a distance on it so each time I’d reach the crest of a hill I’d be on the lookout for the village.
St Nicholas to Cardiff
After Bonvilston I passed Cottrell Park where I had run the Christmas Cracker race in December. I had completely forgotten that this was on the A48 but I now knew that St Nicholas was just around the corner. The reason why I had focussed on St Nicholas was that I knew a long, fast descent into Culverhouse Cross was just a mile or so away and at Culverhouse Cross you enter the outskirts of Cardiff so you know you are heading closer to the end of the route.
As I got closer to the centre of the city I had reached around 19 miles so detoured around the Principality Stadium and through parts of the city to round up to 20 miles.
Route Map and Profile