I first visited Merthyr Tydfil in January 2018, when Brew Dog and I did a fabulous walking route from the town. So, when I was invited back to experience more of what the town had to offer I jumped at the chance. What followed was a weekend packed with adventure, laughter and fun. Whether you’re a family, group of friends, a couple or a solo traveler you will be able to find your fun in Merthyr Tydfil. I’ve put together this handy guide to show you how!
Merthyr Tydfil: 10 Steps to an Adventurous Weekend
1. A place to rest your head
We stayed at the fantastic Parkwood Dolygaer Outdoor Centre and couldn’t have been better looked after. This is a great base for explorers of all levels. Choose from large group accommodation, camping or the beautifully refurbished Dolygaer Cottage. You can go self-catering or have food provided. We were so well fed during our stay that we needed lots of activity to burn off those delicious calories! Parkwood have a fab group of friendly, qualified instructors who can take you on loads of activities. Or you can just step out of the door and explore the surrounding hills yourself. I am planning on gathering a group of friends and visiting again soon.
Our first activities were at the brand spanking new Rock UK Summit Centre. We only missed Prince Charles opening it by a week! I love a bit of climbing and after a nice lunch in their cafe, it was great to get kitted up by the instructors and have a play on the vast array of different walls. My usual wimpiness on the bouldering wall came out but I gave it a go! If you aren’t already a climber the centre has a great range of courses, from Climbing Tots to Private Taster Sessions to get you off the ground.
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground or, more precisely, under it then Summit Centre’s man made caving system is the place for you. We had such fun scrambling around and learning about cave systems. One of our group was very nervous of confined spaces and didn’t fancy entering the cave. Our instructor was so good at putting his fears at ease that he ended up dong the whole tour. Summit Centre run outdoor caving trips too, as well as tons of other activities.
Merthyr Tydfil is nestled right by the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park. With boundless miles of footpaths to explore, you will never run out of options. It’s natural to head for the hills to take in the views but did you know the area is also famous for it’s gorgeous waterfalls? The lovely team from Parkwood showed us the Four Falls Trail and we just couldn’t stop taking pictures. You can even walk behind one of the waterfalls – don’t expect to stay dry though!
5. Go paddling
I love being on or by the water and in the Merthyr Tydfil area there are plenty of opportunities for this. The rivers in the area are a mecca for white water kayakers but we had a go at something a little less adrenaline pumping. Despite high winds on the Saturday of our visit the Parkwood gang had us in peels of laughter with some stand up paddleboarding. We all had a go on a giant SUP together before braving the waves on individual boards.
All this activity and adventure left us with huge appetites. Luckily Merthyr has plenty of options to re-fuel after a full on day. We ate at Woodfired and Portugalles, both of which catered for our mixed dietary requirements well. Both venues also had live entertainment to accompany our meals. The atmosphere in town on the Saturday night was particularly buoyant due to Wales bringing home the Six Nations Cup!
7. Be entertained
Occasionally you meet someone whose spirit and passion blows you away. Karla Brading, Media and Marketing Manager of the New Crown, Merthyr Tydfil is just one of those people. During our visit to the New Crown they had some brilliant live music on but it was Karla’s tales of future plans for the pub which really excited us. Not only is she busy booking some great bands but she is also putting on fantastic family events at the pub. You can see where Karla’s creativity comes from as, in her spare time, she’s a wonderful children’s author.
I’ve a confession to make: I might be An Adventurous Girl but I’m not always a brave one. I’m ok with that and have learnt to do what I enjoy and park what I don’t. That’s where I was at with mountain biking before my visit to Bike Park Wales. Luckily our lovely instructors at this awesome place knew just how to help with a fear filled rider and soon had me whizzing (well, gently descending) one of the longer runs.
With miles of trails for all abilities, bike hire, an uplift service to take you up the mountain and a scrummy cafe there is something for the newest and most hardcore riders to enjoy.
9. Step back in time
When I visit an area I always love to learn a little about its history. On a break from our more active pursuits we were treated to a visit to Cyfarthfa Castle. Our wonderfully enthusiastic guide talked us through Merthyr’s role in the industrial revolution. The castle itself was built by William Crawshay II, the owner of the town’s Ironworks.
The castle grounds are packed with more attractions, such as the miniature railway, splash and play and the recently renovated ice house.
10. Hit the trails
It wouldn’t be right for me to miss out the fantastic trail running you can do in the area. From Parkwood you are on the trails as soon as you step out of the door. On my wild runs I spotted wild Welsh ponies, climbed tough hills, followed sweeping paths through forests and drank in beautiful views. You can even run up the famous Pen Y Fan mountain. Just grab your trainers, choose a route and head out!
My friend Becky the Traveller (who took loads of these fab pics) and I managed to squeeze in one more walk before we headed back to Notts but there is still so much more of the area for me to explore. I will be heading back to the Merthyr Tydfil area soon…hope to see you there!
For more information on all the area has to offer pop to the Visit Merthyr website.