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The South Wales Valleys has a rich industrial heritage. Where coal lines once connected the Valleys and Cardiff Bay; now lie train tracks, facilitating travel between the Welsh capital and South Wales’ wider, diverse landscape.
Within the South Wales Valleys, you will find 12 Discovery Gateways – each one a unique ‘launchpad’ for exploring the area’s natural beauty. They are places where you can get out and about, have fun and find out more about nature.
BLAENAVON WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE
Near Pontypool · 45 minutes from Cardiff
Located partly within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is testament to the miners and ironworkers of Wales’ past.
Set within 33 square kilometres, the attractions, events and activities you’ll find here make for the perfect day out.
BRYNGARW COUNTRY PARK
Bridgend · 25 minutes from Cardiff
Set in over 100 acres of parkland, Bryngarw Country Park is bustling with visitors and full of wildlife. With woodlands, wetlands, meadows and gardens to explore — plus a wide range of fun activities and facilities for the whole family to enjoy — there is always something to do at Bryngarw, whatever the season.
Caerphilly · 15 minutes from Cardiff
Caerphilly Castle is Wales’ largest and Britain’s second-largest castle behind Windsor. With towers to explore, a dragon’s lair and The Great Hall to discover; Caerphilly Castle offers the perfect playground for budding historians.
From Cardiff Central railway station, the Ystrad Mynach train will take you straight through to Caerphilly. It’s then just a 10-minute walk to the Castle from the station (you should be able to see it in the distance!)
CWMCARN FOREST DRIVE
Near Risca · 30 minutes from Cardiff
From thrilling adventures to tranquil overnight stays, Cwmcarn Forest is close enough to retreat to yet feels like you’re a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The hills of this previously mined area have been transformed into peaceful forests with impressive views, walking and mountain biking trails, rivers, reservoirs and so much more.
CYFARTHFA PARK & CASTLE
Merthyr Tydfil · 30 minutes from Cardiff
Set in 160 acres of parkland with spectacular views across the valley, Cyfarthfa Park provides a great day out for the whole family.
Enjoy the peace and comfort of Canolfan Cyfarthfa’s Cafe while watching your children play in the Splash Pad and Playground, take a ride on the miniature railway, play tennis, enjoy the Crawshay Nature Trail, or head out to spot the beautiful wood carvings in the forestry.
DARE VALLEY COUNTRY PARK
Aberdare · 40 minutes from Cardiff
Dare Valley Country Park is home to over 500 acres of walks, trails and family fun set in woodlands, pasture and moorland — which is home to an abundance of wildlife including wild birds and waterfowl.
With an array of activities on offer such as the Dare Gravity Bike Park, there’s something for everyone!
PARC BRYN BACH
Tredegar · 35 minutes from Cardiff
Set in 340 acres of idyllic grass and woodland with a stunning 36-acre lake, Parc Bryn Bach is the perfect setting for adventurers of all ages and abilities. The Park is home to a range of family-friendly outdoor activities, including a variety of supervised water sports — from swimming to kayaking and paddle boarding to canoeing — all of which take place on the beautiful lake.
Near Ystrad Mynach · 25 minutes from Cardiff
From the wide-open areas on the plateau to the more intimate spaces in the lower part of the site, there are plenty of hidden gems for you discover at Parc Penallta. Walk through the willow tunnel, watch a dragonfly’s aerial acrobatics over the pond and hunt for the Sleeping Giant — you’ll be well-rewarded for your efforts.
PARC SLIP NATURE RESERVE
Bridgend · 25 minutes from Cardiff
Parc Slip is home to over 1,000 species of incredible wildlife and some of Wales’ rarest plants. From endangered great crested newts that breed in the ponds and lakes, to elusive harvest mice and charismatic lapwings found in the wildflower meadows — which are themselves vibrant with orchids, ragged robin and buttercups.
YNYSANGHARAD PARK & NATIONAL LIDO
Pontypridd · 15 minutes from Cardiff
Ynysangharad Park and National Lido is an historic family attraction and is Wales’ premier outdoor pool attraction.
The industrial-themed adventure play park is the only one of its kind in Wales. And no trip is complete without stepping into the Visitor Centre — with heritage boards, interactive games and puzzles, large video screens and much more just waiting to be discovered.
To get to Ynysangharad from Cardiff Central, hop on the train to Pontypridd and take a short walk from the station to the park!
Find further information on the Valleys Regional Park.
DISCOVER THE GREAT OUTDOORS IN CARDIFF
From cycling tracks to white water rafting, there's plenty of ways you adventure outside in our capital.