Discover the Valleys Regional Park
Spanning from Carmarthen to Pontypool and Bridgend to Merthyr, the South Wales valleys are packed with green spaces rich in natural habitats and bustling with things to see and do. Sometimes called the South Wales Coalfield because of its history, the now recovered stunning countryside, breath-taking views, rich culture and fascinating nature of the Valleys offers the Valleys Regional Park.
Acting as launch pads into the wider Valleys landscape, the Valleys Regional Park Discovery Gateways spread out across the region and offer a range of experiences and activities for everyone. From mountain biking trails and bridleways to cold water swimming, walking or just a spot of lunch surrounded by nature, there’s much to enjoy in each Discovery Gateway.
Blaenavon World Heritage Centre, Blaenavon
Blaenavon World Heritage Centre is a testament to the miners and ironworkers of the past. Set in 33 square kilometres, you can see indications of the Welsh iron and coal industry across the site. As such, the attractions, events, activities and landscape make for a perfect day out. Main attractions include Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon Ironworks, the World Heritage Centre and Blaenavon Heritage Railway. This Discovery Gateway is a real indication of the history of the South Wales Valleys, all set in a landscape enjoyed today by walkers, cyclists and families.
Bryngarw Country Park, Bridgend
Set in over 100 acres of parkland, Bryngarw is complete with woodlands, wetlands, meadows and formal gardens to explore, as well as a wide range of fun activities and facilities for the whole family. Activities include cycling alongside the River Garw, taking part in pond dipping sessions with the park Rangers or shooting down the immense slide in the play area. Bryngarw’s café also offers delicious refreshments to have a bite to eat during your visit. Demonstrating the very best standards in both environmental and cultural heritage, Bryngarw Country Park has achieved Green Flag Award status, as well as Green Heritage Accreditation.
Cwmcarn Forest, Cwmcarn
Cwmcarn Forest is a close retreat but feels like a million miles away! Renowned for being a mountain biking paradise with oodles of trails, ample parking and a bike repair shop, Cwmcarn Forest really is somewhere to explore if you are a bike enthusiast! If you’d prefer a walk, there are plenty of trails for longer walks and for leisurely strolls. For fun seekers there’s water activities available to take part in as well as an adventure playground for younger explorers. Breakfast, snacks and meals are all available at Cwmcarn’s Raven’s Café and there’s even overnight stay options at one of the glamping pods or scenic lodges.
Cyfarthfa Park & Castle, Merthyr Tydfil
Cyfarthfa Park’s 160 acres of parkland provides a great day out for the whole family. There’s lots to do, with spectacular views across the valley and to the Brecon Beacons. Visit Canolfan Cyfarthfa’s Café, enjoy the Splash Pad and Playground with the kids, take a ride on the miniature railway, play tennis, or enjoy a wander round the Crawshay Nature Trail. If you have enough time, a visit to the ironworkers cottage, also renowned as the birthplace of Welsh composer, Joseph Parry, will definitely top of your day-out!
Parc Penallta, Ystrad Mynach
There are plenty of hidden gems to discover at Parc Penallta. Walk through the willow tunnel, watch a drangonfly’s aerial acrobatics over a pond or find the Sleeping Giant. Don’t forget to visit Sultan the Pit Pony, an iconic feature of the park and one of the largest figurative earth sculptures in the country. With miles and miles of paths to follow, there are plenty of walking trails of different lengths to explore. Start from the main car park and enjoy your adventure!
Ynysangharad War Memorial Park & The National Lido of Wales, Pontypridd
The only one of its kind in Wales, Ynysangharad Park and National Lido is a premier outdoor pool attraction and industrial themed adventure play park. There’s plenty of activities to immerse in whilst visiting Ynysangharad, from bowls, tennis and cricket to footgolf and park runs. Not forgetting the lido which has recently been updated to include external and internal showers, heated changing facilities and three heated swimming pools. Don’t forget to visit the Visitor Centre when you pop by, with heritage boards and interactive games and puzzles, there’s plenty to do for the whole family.
Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly
Caerphilly Castle is renowned for being Wales’ largest castle. Offering the perfect day out for budding historians, Caerphilly Castle is steeped in history with towers to explore, a maze to negotiate, a dragon’s den and The Great Hall. Built in 1271, Caerphilly Castle has survived many Welsh attacks, though one in particular left a rather remarkable scar; the famous leaning tower, caused by Oliver Cromwell’s roundheads in 1648. Leaning 3m out of the perpendicular, you are sure not to miss it!
Parc Bryn Bach, Tredegar
Whether you are visiting alone or as a group, there’s so much to do at Parc Bryn Bach. Set in 340 acres of idyllic grass and woodland with a stunning central lake you can take part in archery, bushcraft, caving, climbing, footgolf, mountain biking, kayaking, open water swimming and much more. If walking is of more interesting to you, there are numerous walking trails of all different lengths and for all abilities. Both the on-site Visitor Centre and Lake View Café are dog friendly so your four-legged can join in with adventures!
Dare Valley Country Park, Aberdare
Dare Valley Country Park is a perfect spot for families. Set in over 500 acres, there are walking trails for all set in woodlands, pasture and moorland; home to an abundance of wildlife and nature. Activities include stream dipping, guided walks and events throughout the year for all to enjoy. For adventure seekers, there’s laser tag, canoeing, kayaking and various mountain bike trails for all abilities. Grab a snack in The Black Rock Café and don’t forget to check out the camping and caravan site for longer stays.
Parc Slip Nature Reserve, Bridgend
Parc Slip’s 300-acre Nature Reserve and Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre really does have something for everyone! The reserve is home to over 1,000 species of wildlife and there is over 10km of walking tracks on site to explore. The 4 WILD themed walking trails are sure to guide you to some stunning parts of the reserve. For more active visitors there are traffic-free cycle tracks to explore as well as a bridleway that runs through the site. Don’t forget to stop off at the Visitor Centre café for some scrumptious refreshments. Toilet facilities, a green roof bike shelter and car charging point are also available for use.
Llyn Llech Owain Country Park, Cross Hands
Llyn Llech Owain Country Park is made up of 180 acres of enchanting scenery and its Welsh history dates all the way back to the late 1300s. This Discovery Gateway is particularly special to visitors because of its lake. A historic serviceman, Owain Lawgoch, once looked after Mynydd Mawr (Big Mountain), a well located on the mountain. Everyday Owain would collect water from the well for himself and his horse and then carefully replace the stone slab which held back the water once finished. Though on one occasion he forgot to do so and the water poured. As a result, the lake was created. Llyn Llech Owain Country Park was subsequently titled from Owain’s actions, meaning ‘the lake of Owain’s slab’. As well as the renowned lake, this Discovery Gateway has a network of footpaths, cycle trails and a bridleway to enjoy, as well as the lakeside visitor centre and an abundance of wildlife habitats.
Afan Forest Park, Port Talbot
With plenty of thrilling mountain bike trails for all levels, Afan Forest Park in Port Talbot is a perfect destination to visit for bike enthusiasts. For adventurers on foot, follow way-marked walks from the visitor centre out into the surrounding forest land. Home to Cedar’s Tearoom, the visitor centre is a perfect place to begin or finish off your day-out with some delicious homemade refreshments. On-site parking (fees apply) and public toilet facilities are available on site.