Govilon History

Village Trail

Forge & Railway Trail

This walk Starts at the Forge Car Park and follows the railway track and country lanes to explore the west of the village. The route is about 2.5km and takes about 60 minutes and keeps to steady gradients and all weather tracks. A few diversions are highlighted off the route to explore other village treasures.

The Forge Car Park has a small number of car spaces.[Forge Car Park Sign] At the rear of the parking area turn right onto the Old Railway Line now a community Cycle path (route 46). The route of the line climbs 1000 ft in the 8 miles from Abergavenny to Brynmawr and sections of the route are accessible from Llanfoist to beyond Gilwern, and through the Clydach Gorge from Clydach to Brynmawr.

As you commence your walk look to the left for evidence of a landslip. The hillside to the left tumbled down across the railway track some years ago. The quick reaction by a local resident prevented a passenger train from Brynmawr ploughing into the mass of rock and debris. The gouged skyline and concrete drainage channels are all that remain. The railway viaduct spans the Cwm Shenkin Brook and provides good views towards the village. Directly below the viaduct is a field which marks the site of the Wildon Iron Works. This operated until 1860 with a small furnace, lime kilns, brick kilns and workshops, producing wire rods and nails from bar iron. The larger house set back from the road was the Forge Managers house [Houses] and dates from 1675. There were also 4 workers cottage, but only one still stands. Towards the village were the works office and adjoining workshops. Both are now private houses.

The Cwm Shenkin Brook, tumbling from its source at the Keepers Pond, high above on the Blorenge mountain, provided water and power to villagers for many centuries. Culverts still divert the Brook to where 3 water wheels once powered machinery at the forge. Just below the forge the brook cuts into the left side of a small valley. Here are the remains of Upper Mill, which ground corn until at least 1881. Its ruins are accessible with great care. On the righthand side of the same valley, a series of springs exist. These provided the village with its early water supply. One of the springs is known as St Patrick Well, one of only two such dedicated Holy Springs in Wales.

Looking upstream from the viaduct you can just make out the flat contour which carried Baileys Tramroad from Nantyglo into Govilon. Constructed in 1821 this brought iron products and coal to Govilon canal wharf.

Walking beyond the viaduct the track enters a long cutting through Old Red Sandstone rock. Pass under the road bridge, known locally as Burnt house bridge. This carries the lane up hill towards the Tyla and the Limestone Quarries which sit high above the village. At the end of the cut choose to ascend the steps alongside the steel beam bridge onto Church Lane, or continue along the track to avoid the steps. For this alternative route continue up the track and take the first left exit and turn left on the lane to return to the bridge. The lane soon passes a single story house called Siop Newydd (New Shop).(Siop Newydd photo). This lane probably follows the track built for Baileys' tramroad.

Siop Newydd can be viewed from the bridge. It was the site of a smithy for Baileys' tramroad. At its peak up to 14 blacksmiths were employed for repairs and maintenance. This included shoeing horses used to pull the trams. The tramway sidings are clearly recognisable in the field between the lane and the railway track. The high ground all around contains many small holdings and farms.

From the steel beam bridge walk down Church Lane taking care of traffic as there is no side pavement. There are magnificent views across the River Usk Valley towards the Sugar Loaf, Derry and Skirrid Mountains, as well as a fine view back towards the Blorenge. The rural aspect of fields, hedgerows and woodland act as a reminder of the importance agriculture has always had in this area.

At the road junction choose to divert from the route either to return to the forge car park via the lane (right) or follow the foot path sign to pass through a field towards Ty Mawr and the canal (left). Ty Mawr, or Llanwenarth House, was built by Sir Morgan Lloyd in the middle of the 16th century. It was the chief house and estate in the parish and it is said that Cecil Francis Alexander wrote her "All things Bright and Beautiful" whilst staying at the house (photo). The refrain "The purple headed mountains, The river running by," referring to the Sugar Loaf and Blorenge mountains and the River Usk.

Rejoin the route by turning right at the canal (Bridge 99) (photo) and follow the tow path towards Govilon until you reach the Aqueduct (photo) above Christchurch.

If you stay on the main route, continue down Church Lane to Aqueduct House and Cottages[Photos]. The lane now drops steeply into a narrow cut to pass under the canal via an aqueduct built in 1803.[Cut photo] Pass under the canal and join the Red Trail, either clockwise or anti-clockwise until you reach the foot and road bridges on the canal (bridge 99). Here follow the Purple Trail directly up hill.

At the Old Railway Crossing(photo) turn right to rejoin the green trail.

Here you can see the remains of railway sleepers still situated on the road. Take a moment to read the Govilon Heritage Board. Follow the track of the old railway line alongside the station. {old Photos and ticket}. Pass under Station Road bridge and onwards for 200 metres to return to Forge Car Park.

 
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