A GROUP of Cwmbran teenagers set off on a 33-mile pilgrimage along a route used by 13th-century mo-nks yesterday.

It was recently discovered that Cistercian monks would walk from Llantarnam through Thornhill on the famous Cistercian Way.

The eight young people, aged from 13-17, from Thornhill, are following the route to learn more about the area where they live. Their four-day adventure will take them over Mynydd Maen, and end in Penrhys, in the Rhondda.

The pilgrimage is part of the Thornhill Through the Wormhole project, which looks at the heritage of the area.

The youngsters will be learning about the route's history and carrying out environmental projects, camping for the first two nights, then staying in a youth hostel for the third night.

The group will carry a video camera to record everything on a DVD. Kath Cleaves, a Communities First youth development officer, said: "We want to give the community a sense of belonging and a sense of their roots. We want people to be proud of Thornhill because it is part of a significant history. This was one of the most important pilgrimage routes in Wales."

David Hawkeswood-James, 16, is one of those taking part. He said: "I wanted to go because I love walking. I want to get out there and explore the mountains. It's going to be interesting to see what they did in olden times."

Fellow walker Emilie Wright, 17, said: "I thought it sounded very interesting, and I'm interested to find out what the monks used to do."

Councillor Bob Welling-ton, leader of Torfaen council, said: "These young people are getting a real insight into the history of their neighbourhood. Thornhill has got a fascinating past which goes back hundreds of years before their homes were built. This project is giving them the chance to learn more about it."

The Wormhole project is organised by Torfaen council's Youth Service, BTCV, Communities First, The Prince's Trust, Pontypool Museum, Llantarnam Grange and Torfaen Voluntary All-iance.