Image of a map of South Wales pointing out the Valleys of South Wales, click on the map to go through to an interactive town map of south wales towns

The Valleys | South Wales | Tourism | Things to Do | Accommodation | Events

It would be disingenuous to deny that the South Wales Valleys are emerging from a very difficult century. But to dwell on those difficulties would be to fall into a common trap that overlooks the monumental historical importance of the region and the regeneration projects that are turning the Valleys into one of the biggest tourist destinations in Wales.

A new millennia has brought a sea change in thinking in the Valleys, local economies are driven and united by the realisation of just how much they have to offer. The last 200 hundred years may have brought hardship but they also turned the region, at various points, into one of the most influential parts of the world and bequeathed to history the labour movement and the very first National Health Service. Its significance in world history is too often overlooked. 

Fortunately this is a dawning realisation; the World Heritage Centre at Blaenavon is a truly world class attraction that is leading the way for many more destinations that have so much to offer.The Afan Valley and the Brecon Beacons are perfect for walkers, nature enthusiasts and extreme sports lovers alike, whilst it should also be noted that the Valleys have the highest concentration of country parks in Wales. As if that wasn’t enough there are also some historic and charming towns, like Caerphilly, Ebbw ValeMerthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd, full of medieval history, friendly faces and unforgettable charm.

PIcture of the Blaenavon world heritage centre in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do

Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage Site

Blaenavon is undisputedly the best place in Britain to explore what the Industrial Revolution really meant for those who lived through it. In addition to the World Heritage Centre and its interactive museum, within Balenavon the Big Pit: National Mining Museum offers visitors a unique chance to experience the visceral conditions of life in the mines. The Blaenavon Ironworks is yet another resource dedicated to the industrial history of South Wales. Used as the setting for the BBC’s Coalhouse, the Ironworks is one of the most important monuments to have survived from the early part of the Industrial Revolution.
Image of Caerphilly Castle in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle was built towards the end of the 13th century by Gilbert ‘the red’ de Clare, a Norman Lord famous for his auburn locks, as fortification against his sworn enemy Llewelyn the Last Prince of Wales. It survived numerous attacks largely due to the unprecedented scale and complexity of its defensive architecture and its utilisation of natural marshes and moats which can all be enjoyed by today’s visitors. Today it survives as a national landmark, second only to Windsor as the largest castle in Britain, and is frequently used in television series like Merlin and Dr Who.
Image of teh Garwnant Visitor Centre in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do

Garwnant Forest

Just five miles north of Merthyr Tydfil, Garwnant Forest is a gateway to the Brecon Beacons. Garwnant is a wonderful place to explore all the Beacons have to offer and to discover the secrets of the wildlife that lurks within the woodland. The forest is home to three reservoirs, a number of streams, spectacular views and local wildlife. Garwnant is predominantly family orientated, with several easily accessible and well signposted trails, and several play areas. The new visitor centre has very recently re-opened a number of improved and new facilities, all designed to make your foray into the forest even more fun.

Forests and parks in the valleys

Image of the Afan Forest in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Afan Forest Park: The Afan Forest Park is set in one of the most beautiful valleys in Wales. It is home to many memorable walks and pulse racing mountain bike tracks but you can also enjoy the woodland in a Land Rover on the Afan Forest Safari or even enjoy open air theatre at the purpose built amphitheatre.
Image of teh Bedwelty Park in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Bedwellty Park: The gardens that surround the listed Regency villa of Bedwellty, were designed for a local industrial magnate early in the 19th century with as much care, grandeur and exoticism as the house itself. The grounds play host to several seasonal events and also boast cascading ponds and a stone grotto.
Image of Cyfarthfa Park in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do

Cyfarthfa Park: The beautiful grounds that surround the Crayshaw family home contain as much history as the celebrated museum within the castle walls. The Crayshaws were especially interested with innovative horticulture and were able to experiment on a grand scale, many of their innovations are still visible today.

Image of Parc Bryn Bach in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Parc Bryn Bach: Bryn Bach Park is an 340 acre area of grass and woodland surrounding a 36 acre lake. Bryn Bach is a haven for cyclists, walkers and picnic makers, but you can also fish, canoe, play a round of golf or even camp in this glorious setting on the doorstep of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Image of Taf Bargoed in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Parc Taf Bargoed: The Taf Bargoed Park, developed on the site of a former colliery, is often described as the hidden gem of Merthy Tydfil. The Green Flag Park facilitates walkers, cyclists, canoeists, riders and anglers and boasts an exceptional Environment and Heritage Centre that delivers information on the social and natural history of the park.
Image of Festival Park in Ebbw Vale, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Festival Park: The site of the Garden Festival of Wales in Ebbw Vale has been renovated as new tourist destination. In addition to a shopping centre Festival Park now includes an owl sanctuary, a fishing lake, a woodland craft centre and a sculpture trail with works that featured in the Garden Festival.
Image of Cwmcarn Forest in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Cwmcarn Forest: Cwmcarn is another converted mining valley that has been transformed into an area of outstanding natural woodland. Once home to a Bronze Age settlement, Cwmcarn can be explored by car, bike or foot with a number of trails, fishing lakes and sculpture paths. The forest hills provide some unforgettable views and the opportunity to get back to nature.
Image of Aberdulais Falls in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Aberdulais Waterfalls: In many ways the Aberdulais Falls encapsulate the history of the Valleys. The power of one of the most scenic waterfalls in Wales is tamed by the industrial ingenuity of man. A trip to Aberdulais not only includes breath taking views of the waterfall but also an educational experience in how the force of the running water was harnessed to power the tin plate industry.

valleys heritage

Image of Bedwellty House in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Bedwellty House: Bedewllty House was built for the master of the Tredegar Ironworks. After the closure of the works at the end of the 19th century the house was given over to the people and it was here that Aneurin Bevan, architect of the NHS, began his political career. The plight of the miners in Tredegar and the lessons he learnt in Bedwellty House, were to drive the ethos of the rest of his career.
Image of the Big Pit in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Big Pit: National Coal Museum: One of the finest museums in Wales, the Big Pit is an innovative educational experience that brings the life of a miner to life, revealing the day to day experiences of the workers who built an empire. With an underground tour, exhibitions and virtual guides, the Big Pit is an unforgettable day out set in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image of the Blaenavon Ironworks in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Blaenavon Ironworks: Used as the setting for the BBC’s Coalhouse programme, the Ironworks houses the best preserved blast furnace complex of its period and type in the world. It is one of the most important monuments to have survived from the early part of the Industrial Revolution. Part of the Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Ironworks provide an invaluable educational resource for anyone interested in the history of the Valleys.
Image of Cyfarthfa Castle in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Cyfarthfa Castle: The home of the Crayshaw family, this early 19th century mansion houses an incredible array of artefacts from the social history of Merthyr. The museum allows the visitor to gain a perspective on the differing lifestyles of mine owners and mine workers, and the incredible wealth accrued by the former. Cyfarthfa also exhibits a impressive collection of paintings and documents from the Merthyr Rising and the roots of the labour movement.
Image of Llancaiach Fawr Manor in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Llancaiach Fawr Manor: The 16th century manor house was built for the Ap Richard (later Prichard) family during the tumultuous reigns of Tudor monarchs. The family and the house went on to play a significant role in the civil war, todays visitors are invited to step into a reconstruction of what life was like for country gentry in the 17th century.
Image of Joseph Parry Museum in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Joseph Parry’s Cottage: The ironworkers cottage where the famous Welsh composer, Joseph Parry, grew up is now open as a museum. 4 Chapel Row not only provides an insight into what life was like for a working class family in the middle of the 19th century, but it also houses an excellent exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Joseph Parry.
Image of POntypool and Blaenavon Railway in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do Pontypool and Blaenavon Heritage Railway: The highest standard gauged preserved railway in England and Wales is an appropriately industrial way to explore the landscape around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blaenavon. Whilst you survey the traces of Blaenavon’s industrial past you will also be treated to a landscape that is full of surprises and natural splendour.
Image of the Winding House in the valleys, south wales, click the image for more information including nearby accommodation and things to do The Winding House: The Winding House is home to the museum of the county of Caerphilly. The history of this ancient town; from Roman occupation, to Norman conquest, Civil War and the Industrial Revolution, is retold inside the glass facades of this award winning building. There is an exciting programme of exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of artefacts and research facilities.
 
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EVENTS IN THE VALLEYS

date event
Fri 24 Oct Family Pop-up Cinema at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Fri 24 - Tue 28 Oct Ghost Tours at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Mon 20 Oct - Sun 2 Nov Keep 56 group at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Fri 24 Oct Pop-Up Cinema at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Sat 25 Oct Big Draw workshop at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Tue 28 - Fri 31 Oct Halloween Childrens Activities at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Thu 30 - Fri 31 Oct Ghost Train at Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
Fri 31 Oct Spooky Halloween day at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Sat 1 Nov Big Draw workshop at Caerphilly Castle at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Sat 1 Nov Evening of Mediumship at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Sat 1 Nov Ponty Big Bang 2014 Fireworks at Pontypridd
Sat 1 Nov Tredegar Tune Club at Bedwellty House & Park
Fri 7 Nov Farmers Market at Merthyr Tydfil / Merthyr Tudful
Sat 8 - Sun 9 Nov Antiques Fair at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Sat 8 Nov Car Boot Sale at Afan Forest Park
Sat 15 Nov Christmas Cake Toppers Class at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Sat 15 Nov Quilting for Christmas Class at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Sat 15 Nov Traditional Christmas Wreath Making Class at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Tue 18 Nov Living Landscape Lectures at Blaenavon World Heritage Centre
Tue 18 Nov Toy & Train Fair at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Thu 20 Nov Tea & Talks at Bedwellty House & Park
Sat 29 Nov Menter Iaith Christmas Fair at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Fri 5 Dec Farmers Market at Merthyr Tydfil / Merthyr Tudful
Sat 6 - Sun 7 Dec Blackwood Christmas Market at Caerphilly
Sat 6 - Sun 7 Dec Steam Santa Specials at Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
Sat 6 Dec Tredegar Tune Club at Bedwellty House & Park
Fri 12 Dec Elvis is in the Building at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Sat 13 - Sun 14 Dec Caerphilly Castle Victorian Christmas at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Sat 13 - Sun 14 Dec Caerphilly Christmas Fair at Caerphilly Castle - Cadw
Sat 13 Dec Car Boot Sale at Afan Forest Park
Sat 13 - Sun 14 Dec Medieval Christmas Fayre at Caerphilly
Sat 13 - Sun 14 Dec River of Light Lantern Making Workshops at Caerphilly
Sat 13 - Sun 14 Dec Steam Santa Specials at Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
Sun 14 Dec Tudor Treats at Llancaiach Fawr Manor
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