The Garth

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Garth Hill
View of the Garth Mountain
Summit: 1,007 feet ST103835
51°32’36"N, 3°17’42"W

Garth Hill (usually called The Garth, or Garth Mountain) is a hill located near the village of Pentyrch in Glamorgan. It is thought to be the inspiration for "Ffynnon Garw", the fictional mountain (or hill) featured in the book, and later, film, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain by Christopher Monger.


The Garth can be seen from nearly the whole of the City of Cardiff, and on a sunny, clear day as far as Weston-super-Mare, across the Bristol Channel in Somerset. It lies adjacent to the Taff Vale with the village of Pentyrch on one side and looks down onto the small village of Gwaelod-y-Garth. The Garth has a number of ancient burial mounds tumuli on its top which date from the early to middle Bronze Age, around 2000 BC.

Fine views of Cardiff and the Taff valley are obtained from the prominent crag visible in the picture.

The Garth has a sister hill, the Lesser Garth. The Lesser Garth is of limestone, which is extensively quarried and was formerly mined for iron ore. The valley between the two is eroded in softer coal Measures, shales in the main, while the Garth itself is formed of the resistant pennant sandstone formation. Until the 19th century, the valley was full of small coal mines which fed the ironworks below in the River Taff valley, opposite Taff's Well. There is now little trace of these.

The access road to Pentyrch village, Heol Goch, runs between the Garth and the Lesser Garth.

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Christopher Monger was brought up in Taff's Well close by the Garth, and in 1995 he produced a popular film, based on his own story, named The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, starring Hugh Grant. The story concerns a hill named "Ffynnon Garw" which the crafty locals turn into a mountain by building an earthen mount on its summit to raise it above the level of 1,000 feet required for the Ordnance Survey to classify it as a mountain.

The location of Ffynnon Garw in the book rather implies it is The Garth; however, the story is fictional. The film has resulted in a stream of visitors climbing to the summit of Garth Mountain to view the location. The History Society and the local community council are erecting a notice on the mountain to explain its real historical significance. The new notice will tell them that the story in the film is not true. To set the record straight the Pentyrch History Society and Community Council will leave the information notice up near the summit.

View from the top of Garth Hill
The Garth from Culverhouse Cross, about 5½ miles to the south