Walk 33: Rhondda Heritage Park Circular: In the valley of black gold…Cwm Hafod

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.6 miles (2.5km)

Time to walk: This is a very short walk with a steep climb & many vantage points so, although it won’t take long, it’s worth taking a snack & sitting & taking in the fantastic views

Difficulty: A mixture of road & grass paths. It also contains a steep climb up the valley

Parking: Either outside, or in the car park of the Rhondda Heritage Park (check times though as they do lock the gates)

Public toilets: The Rhondda Heritage Park

Map of the route: @Cwm Hafod Walk

map

This is one of those walks that’s very short, but if you lived in The Rhondda (pronounced Rhontha) Valley, you’d do it every Sunday afternoon to walk off your Sunday lunch

It’s a cracker & the views are simply stunning, plus we’re walking in lots of history where once was one of our country’s most famous industries…coal

The Rhondda Valley is a former coal mining valley in Wales made up of two valleys, the larger Rhondda Fawr valley (mawr large) & the smaller Rhondda Fach valley (bach small)

The two Rhondda Valleys, often called just The Rhondda, are probably the most well known of the South Wales Valleys.  In 1807, a poet observed ‘such scenes of untouched nature as the imagination would find it difficult to surpass’

However, by the mid 19th century, this changed enormously as a result of intensive mining for the area’s ‘black gold’, which transformed the landscape into a scarred, industrial one. Nowadays, the mines & most of the scars have disappeared & first time visitors are often taken aback by the sheer beauty of the area with the villages & towns closely enveloped by steep-sided forest & heather clad hills

It’s simply stunning & we love this place!

So…

Let’s Walk, or in the local lingo…Gadewch i ni gerdded

1. Our walk starts in the car park at the wonderful Rhondda Heritage Park

2015-02-27 12.20.31

2015-02-27 12.18.03

2015-02-27 12.18.42

2. Rhondda Heritage Park offers an insight into the life of the coal mining community that existed in the area until the 1980s

2015-02-27 12.18.57

2015-02-27 12.25.24

Visitors can experience the life of the coal miners on an underground guided tour through one of the mine shafts of the Lewis Merthyr colliery. Tours are led by former colliery workers. Rhondda Heritage Park is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage

Here’s a Youtube link showing the underground experience…

2015-02-27 12.26.03

2015-02-27 12.11.12

2015-02-27 12.25.12

Rhondda Heritage Park is a testament to the coal mining history of the Rhondda Valleys, which until the end of the 20th century was one of the most important coal mining areas in the world. In an area only 16 miles long the Rhondda alone at one time had over 53 working collieries

3. The colliery will be in our sights pretty much all round this walk. So, still in the car park, head away from the centre & take the marked path to the right…

2015-03-02 13.50.08

…& through the gap in the hedges…

2015-03-02 13.51.32

On the right through the bushes is the wonderfully named…The Bertie…but maybe 3 minutes into a walk it’s a bit early for a stop

2015-03-02 13.52.32

4. The path shortly comes to a t-junction where we take a right turn…

2015-03-02 13.52.40

…& head a few yards up to the next road…

2015-03-02 13.57.27

5. Cross the main river now so head left over the bridge…

2015-03-02 13.57.48

2015-03-02 13.58.44

6. Then it’s next left under the main road…

2015-03-02 13.58.51

2015-03-02 13.59.34

…where there’s a fingerpost showing the path up the hill on the right…

2015-03-02 14.00.18

7. We mentioned at the start that this walk had a steep climb so ready? Then ‘rope on’…

2015-03-02 14.00.56

This is a really steep climb & you gain height quickly. The views start coming though…

2015-03-02 14.02.57

2015-03-02 14.03.07

8. There’s a waterfall that cascades down from here & the stream that feeds it is on the left…

2015-03-02 14.03.53

…after a quick breather, head up another 50 yards & cross the bridge…

2015-03-02 14.04.54

9. Now the path bears immediately left & hugs the hillside…

2015-03-02 14.05.38

..& just when you think all the climbing’s over…just around the corner it gets even steeper…

2015-03-02 14.06.21

 10. Phew…we did warn you, but there’s a fence to lean on at the top…

2015-03-02 14.10.40

…& just look at the stunning view…

2015-03-02 14.07.38

11. Breath back? Then follow the grass path to the right…be careful though as there’s quite a drop to the left…

2015-03-02 14.11.59

2015-03-02 14.13.06

It really is a stunning walk…

2015-03-02 14.14.23

12. There’s not too much to say… just enjoy the views…

2015-03-02 14.14.44 18.33.51

2015-03-02 14.15.41

2015-03-02 14.15.58

13. Now cross another small stream by stepping stones…

2015-03-02 14.16.43

The views just keep coming...

The views just keep coming…

…& then finally there’s a narrowing of the path near a fence that leads to a hard road…

2015-03-02 14.19.22

14. At the end of the track turn left on the road into Gethn Terrace…

2015-03-02 14.20.38

…which contains many brightly coloured cottages

2015-03-02 14.21.11

15. Fancy a quick break…well there’s a bench with a fantastic view here. Why not take advantage…

2015-03-02 14.21.36

2015-03-02 14.22.52

…plus you’ve got a xmas tree with the lights still on to admire…

2015-03-02 14.22.08

16. It’s time now to head back down into the valley to complete this walk & the path that takes us there is slightly further along on the left…

2015-03-02 14.26.28

…before turning right…into the park…

2015-03-02 14.28.53

17. And then there’s another view…probably one of the best on this walk…

R1

…again the path’s easy to follow & you can see the route back below…

2015-03-02 14.33.04

2015-03-02 14.33.22

18. For a short time the path heads back up towards the street, but then immediately dives left back down the hill…

2015-03-02 14.35.35

2015-03-02 14.36.13

…careful with your footing on this bit & there’s a bridge to cross at the bottom…

2015-03-02 14.37.0419. Safely down? Then press on – the rest of the walk’s flat…

2015-03-02 14.37.31

2015-03-02 14.37.45

At the bottom turn left through the car park area to pick up the path …

2015-03-02 14.38.45

20. And now you’re on the path you saw from above…

2015-03-02 14.39.13

2015-03-02 14.39.38

The gorse is just starting to come out

The gorse is just starting to come out

21. The colliery is across the river on your right…

R3

2015-03-02 14.46.11

…& eventually the path arrives at a bridge to cross the river which is in full flow…

2015-03-02 14.47.49

2015-03-02 14.48.11

2015-03-02 14.48.24

2015-03-02 14.49.01

22. Across the other side there was another photo opportunity…

R4

…& then turn left & continue past the tennis courts…

2015-03-02 14.51.13

…& down to the underpass…

2015-03-02 14.54.18

23. If you have a look through the trees, you can just make out the waterfall you climbed up the side of near the start of this walk…

2015-03-02 14.55.04

Head under the road bridge & then turn right at the fingerpost to arrive back at the Heritage Centre car park…

2015-03-02 14.55.57

2015-03-02 14.56.31

2015-03-02 14.58.11

So there we go…a very short, but stunning little walk

If the Heritage Centre’s open, why not go & do the tour as you’ll then be able to see what’s under where we’ve been walking!

Go Walk!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s