Bryn Deri Primary School children had a busy day in April learning about the Penrhys Pilgrimage - and the work being done to reopen the route.
As you can see from the above pictures, the children enjoyed a workshop where they met a 'medieval pilgrim' who discussed with them the reasons for embarking on the pilgrimage (everything from spiritual enlightenment to a cure for illness, a nice walk - or just to enjoy the challenge). They also discussed the practical problems they would face: what food they would take; what clothes - and how would they manage for money?
The workshop is part of a project supported by the community council to re-establish the pilgrimage route, which passes through our community. The route will bring more visitors to Radyr, bringing more business to the shops, restaurant and bars on Station Road - as walkers enjoy the physical and cultural benefits of following the path. As part of the project, bilingual way-markers will be installed (including in Radyr), providing local information along the route.
The Penrhys Pilgrimage has existed since the late Middle Ages, leading to Llanfair (the Church of Mary) at Penrhys, in the Rhondda. Pilgrims began to travel to Penrhys after a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary was found in a tree there. The statue was described as very tender, with Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms - and stories of miracles and healings began to circulate. Welsh poets have left a record of hundreds of pilgrims on foot and on horseback heading towards Penrhys, from Cardiff and elsewhere. At the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century, the English government ordered officers to seize the statue of Mary, by night. One contemporary account records that it was taken to London to be burned, in case it became a focus for a Catholic revolt against the new Protestant faith. Today, a stone statue stands on the site of the original, wooden statue.
The pilgrimage was one of the busiest in Wales, if not Britain. It started from Llandaff Cathedral, traveling on the west side of the Taff. In the old days, it went along Llantrisant Road from Danescourt, untill it reached Golf Club Lane. From Radyr, it climbed to Pentyrch, before heading to Creigiau, Groesfaen (where there used to be a stone cross) and Llantrisant. After a night in Llantrisant, the pilgrims headed over Llantrisant common towards Trebanog, where they climbed the mountain before descending into Dinas Rhondda. A final climb from there brought them to Penrhys, where the statue stood in the church associated with the Grange (which belonged to Llantarnam Abbey).
Speaking after the workshop, Community Councillor Helen Lloyd Jones said 'It was wonderful to see how engaged the children were with our Medieval pilgrim. I know that the Penrhys Pilgrimage Project is very grateful to the Community Council for sponsoring these workshops, one for each primary school.'
Many residents will be all too familiar with the sorry state of the River Taff as it passes by Radyr and Morganstown. The banks are littered with plastic waste - which looks ugly and can be harmful to wildlife.
The council has today contacted Natural Resources Wales to seek their support in tackling this problem. This is what we told them:
To: Natural Resources Wales
As you know, the River Taff passes by the communities of Radyr and Morganstown, in north-west Cardiff.
For us, the river is a valuable resource - thanks especially to the Taff Trail, which follows the river on its eastern side. The trail is used by many of our residents - and at all times of year. Some use it for their daily commute. Others for a healthy walk. Some chose to picnic near the river. Families use it - as do couples, young people and ramblers.
It is a pity, therefore, that much of the river bank is an ugly mess - with plastic bags and assorted rubbish hanging from the branches of trees overhanging the river. I enclose some pictures for you to see just how bad it looks (see below).
Our view is that the plastic bags and rubbish are carried by the Taff to the river banks passing at Radyr and Morganstown. There is no evidence of any litter on the banks that could blow towards the river. As such, clearing the plastic from the trees overhanging the river would not offer the most sustainable solution. As the rubbish is cleared, more would be washed down by the river.
Clearly, this is an embarrassment. One of Wales’ most famous rivers, which runs through our capital city, is once again an eyesore. And it’s mainly because of plastic waste which has, of course, featured in the news recently (as a threat to wildlife as well as un unpleasant sight).
Could I therefore, on behalf of Radyr and Morganstown Community Council, ask you to bring various agencies together - to identify how and where this rubbish enters the river - and to consider what steps could be taken to prevent that happening in future - and to remove any rubbish that enters the river as soon as possible?
We want to be proud of our river.
Thank you - and best wishes
Radyr and Morganstown Community Council
We will let you know what Natural Resources Wales has to say in reply.
These pictures were taken on 7 April 2019. Tell us what you think, or let Natural Resources Wales know how you feel about the state of the river. Click on a picture to enlarge it.
The following pictures show no rubbish on the river banks - so is the rubbish coming down the river?