Eglwysilan Common, a breathing space

Eglwysilan Common is a great lung of open country above the South Wales valleys.  I walked here on 4 August with Jay Kynch, local correspondent for the Open Spaces Society, and her husband Mike.

The common is an upturned horseshoe of yellow access-land on the Explorer map, with Abertridwr and Senghenydd (where the 1913 colliery disaster occurred) nestling in the U. On both sides of this hilltop common are the heavily-populated valleys.  The common provides physical and metaphorical uplift for those who venture up there.  There are rights for the public to walk and ride as it’s an urban common under section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925.

The view north-west to Abercynon

The view north-west to Abercynon

The common is mostly in Caerphilly with part in Rhondda Cynon Taff.  We walked on the west (RCT) side, starting from the dead-end road north of Eglwysilan church.

Entrance to the common

Entrance to the common

We followed the eastern boundary of this limb of the common and were soon looking down on Senghenydd.



A bit further on and the towns of Nelson, Quaker’s Yard and Merthyr Tydfil came into view, emphasising the contrast between the valleys and the common.  Away to the north we could see the Brecon Beacons.

The Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons in the distance

We stopped by the radio masts and then headed south to the trig point, with a view over Caerphilly to the Bristol Channel and Somerset.

Jay and Mike at the trig point

Jay and Mike at the trig point

There were not all that many animals grazing the common and I felt that it could have done with more, particularly cattle.  The vegetation might then have become more diverse. On our way back we waded through bracken and rushes.  It was good to see and hear buzzards, a raven and meadow pipits, with goldfinches around the blowing thistledown.



Later we visited Stuart Huntley, who has lived at Bryn Tail on the south-west side of the common for over 60 years.  The farm is not easily accessible; we had to drive round by Rhydfelin, south of Pontypridd, and up a steep hill to get there.  Stuart, aged 88, is housebound and was delighted to see us.  His son has taken over running the farm, but Stuart knows everything which is going on, nothing gets past him.

Stuart Huntley

Stuart Huntley

I had met Stuart nearly 30 years ago when he gave evidence at the Common Land Forum in January 1985.  The forum was established in 1983 and consisted of all the interests in commons; it was charged with agreeing a package of measures to address the many problems concerning commons.

Stuart felt then that there was conflict between the commoners and the public, in particular motorcyclists, and the police were uncooperative in dealing with offenders, the management committee was toothless because it couldn’t reach unanimity, and there was ugly road-widening and a reduction in grazing.  Many of these problems are still occurring today, and Stuart is as keen as ever to see them resolved.

Mike and Jay on the common

Mike and Jay on the common




About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, common land, common rights, Open Spaces Society, riding, Wales, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Eglwysilan Common, a breathing space

  1. ossjay says:

    Oops – typo – it was 1913 when the terrible Senghenydd mine disaster happened, with the centenary, and a fine memorial made, last year.
    It was a gorgeous day to be out on the common, many thanks for coming up with us.

  2. JILL BAIRD says:

    I have just moved to the area and have found Eglwysilan Common, but am very distressed by the amount of rubbish that is dumped, as well as general litter

    • Thank you Jill, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll ask Jay Kynch if she can help.
      Best wishes

    • ossjay says:

      Hi Jill. You are right that there is dumping and litter. I have asked the council to clear fly tipping, which can have dangerous stuff which would harm commoners’ stock. The common is split between Caerphilly and RCT – they do work together. In June, I was at the Nelson end, I spoke to Bobby who has the General Picton Inn greengrocers, and he is someone who feels like you, and acts on it.

  3. Andrew King Keep Wales Tidy Caerphilly says:

    Good Evening, I have recently been contacted by Fly Tipping Action Wales in regards to the fly tipping and litter on the common. If possible could you let me know what sort of areas are affected in order for me to inspect.

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