Things to do around Aberdare

Dare Valley Country Park with lake in front, near Aberdare in the South Wales Valleys

Dare Valley Country Park, South Wales Valleys
With valleys in every direction and jaw-dropping landscapes on tap, Aberdare prides itself on the nature there. Being close to the Brecon Beacons and Merthyr Tydfil, the hills are lush and green while the opportunity for outdoor adventuring is endless. Here are some of the things you can get up to in and around Aberdare.

Dare Valley Country Park

Paths and trails now cover 500 acres of regenerated woodland over the ex-colliery site a mile or so from Aberdare. There's free parking, an interactive visitor experience centre plus an on site café offering a variety of local produce. The pushchair and family friendly trails are great for year-round wildlife spotting while the longer walks up into the hills provide spectacular views over the Dare Valley. You can also camp onsite and make the most of the countryside.

Cynon Valley Museum

Indulge your cultural and arty side with a couple of hours in this wonderful, volunteer run community museum. As well as a fascinating insight into the Cynon Valley's history, it has a shop specializing in local and handmade crafts, two exhibition galleries, a café offering homemade cakes and a varied programme of events. Entrance is free, plus there's free parking onsite. 

Coliseum Theatre

After a hard day's adventuring, how about a night out at the theatre? Adding a touch of Art Deco glamour to Aberdare, the Coliseum Theatre holds regular shows, music nights, cinema screenings and community events. Watch out for old favourites on the classic cinema showings!

Nant Moel Reservoir, Aberdare

Ever fancied giving fly fishing a go? Nant Moel reservoir is dedicated to the pastime, having everything you need whether you're a beginner or an advanced fisher. The waters are regularly stocked with rainbow trout and blue trout, some of which measure up to a whopping 7lb! The facility spans 12 acres of Cynon Valley countryside. Buy your annual or day tickets from Gareth Rees Newsagents on Canon Street in Aberdare town centre.

BikePark Wales, Abercanaid

At BikePark Wales in the South Wales Valleys, you get a day's access to the UK’s best variety of mountain bike trails for under a tenner. The network of paths includes jump trails, steep slopes, rocky reaches, zig-zagging lines and family-friendly scenic stretches, plus they're constantly adding new sections to keep things exciting. You can also hire bikes, have professional coaching and refuel on home-cooked food at the woodland café. 

Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer, Pontsticill

For an action-packed time to the south of the Brecon Beacons, head to Dolygaer Activity Centre. It has so many activities for you to choose from, all of which make the most of the dramatic landscape that surrounds it. Popular choices include bush craft, caving, abseiling, hiking, archery, rock climbing, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding.

Brecon Mountain Railway, Pant, nr Pontsticill

If all that outdoor action seems a bit overwhelming, then you can still enjoy the spectacular views of the Brecon Beacons from the seat of a narrow gauge heritage steam train. The Brecon Mountain Railway runs alongside the Taf Fechan Reservoir to Torpantau, 1313 feet (400m) above sea level. A return journey takes around 1 1/2 hours, or you can break your journey and enjoy some of the walking trails in the area.

Parc Penallta, Caerphilly

This large green park is an ideal place for a relaxing walk or some time out amongst nature. It has marked trails though woodlands and grasses, with streams, wetland boardwalks, marshland, a fishing lake and ponds along the way. You'll also be able to see spectacular views over the county, the UK’s largest figurative earth sculpture (a pit pony named 'Sultan') and plenty of wild animals. 

Penderyn Distillery Visitor Centre, Penderyn

One of the smallest distilleries in the world and one of very few in Wales, Penderyn is an independent whisky distillery at the foot of the Brecon Beacons. It produces some of the finest malted barley spirit, which is then matured to become a fine malt whisky. More recently, it's started making other spirits too. Go on a guided tour to find out about the history and the processes involved (and enjoy some sampling, too!)

Cyfarthfa Castle and park, Merthyr

Back in 1824, a busy time for the Welsh iron industry, ironmaster William Crawshay II commissioned the building of this castellated mansion on the Merthyr hills. It gave him a vantage point from which he could see his ironworks in action. It has since become a museum and art gallery, where visitors can enjoy talks, workshops and exhibitions that tell stories of the past. 

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