I've really fallen in love with Merthyr over the years. Moving from the small town of Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire to Merthyr Tydfil was a real eye-opener for me, but I soon discovered the many ‘hidden treasures’ that can be found here. I’d like to take you on a journey around some of my favourite places in the historic town I now call home.
Theatr Soar and Café
This cultural centre and theatre is the focal-point for anything taking place through the medium of Welsh or that promotes the Welsh language in Merthyr Tydfil, whether that’s Welsh lessons or creative performances, gatherings or a friendly cuppa in the café. It's also a great place to buy local produce as gifts – there’s plenty on offer for everyone.
Previously Soar chapel, the building has been renovated and adapted into a performance theatre, however the old pipe organ, the backbone of the original chapel, remains in situ, and offers the perfect backdrop to the many Welsh and English-language shows staged here. With a variety of plays, live gigs, poetry evenings and much more, this is definitely one of my favourite places to visit in town.
Trevithick / Taff Trail
The Taff Trail is one of the most convenient and scenic footpaths in the Merthyr area. If you, like me, live on the outskirts of Merthyr town centre, walking into the town centre from my doorstep in Aberfan is a great alternative to driving, and a way to reduce my carbon footprint. The picturesque scenery leading from Aberfan to Troedyrhiw and into Merthyr is postcard-pretty, and you can enjoy views of the Brecon Beacons and Pen-y-Fan along the way.
Autumn is my favourite time of year to walk along the Taff Trail from Aberfan to Merthyr. I love seeing the beautiful colours and feeling the leaves crunching beneath me as I take each step. I also like to walk to town for a meal, and then catch a train back at the end of the day. This is one of the many things I look forward to be able to enjoy again post-lockdown.
I could spend all day exploring the treasures inside the grand walls of Cyfarthfa Castle. The interior museum is now over 100 years old, and houses historic art and artefacts associated with Merthyr Tydfil.
After spending time browsing the rich content on display at the museum, I’d recommend a stroll along some of the many different paths and trails scattered around the area. And if you have kids (or not!) why not visit The Active Zone, an amazing play park which has a splash-pad, and is great fun for all ages!
Finish your day by experiencing a freshly prepared meal made from local ingredients served in the tea rooms. This place certainly has plenty to keep everyone busy.
St Tydfil's Shopping Centre
Another reason to love Merthyr is because we have something on offer for everyone! Whether you're shopping for gifts for a friend or a family member, or undertaking your weekly shop, St Tydfil's Shopping Centre is a typical Valleys' market, and visiting is a truly unique experience. One of the treasures on offer is Bakestone's, selling freshly cooked Welsh cakes prepared by owner Chris Jones, who once even taught Jamie Oliver how to cook his special recipe!
Eating out in Merthyr
And while on the topic of food, it’s worth noting that we are spoiled for choice in terms of places to eat in Merthyr, with something to suit all tastes. There are a variety of fish and chip shops, including Fountain Fish Bar, my favourite, which serves the fluffiest and crispiest chips to treat yourself at the end of a busy week. Glebelands Fish Bar in the town centre is also well-established on my list of top fish bars in Merthyr.
If you are looking for a fancier night out, Jol's offers a wide range of quality dishes made using local, quality Welsh ingredients, prepared by a top class chef. Or why not enjoy a meal from the famous New Crown Inn? A lively music venue in Merthyr town centre serving delicious Portuguese delicacies.
And there we are, at the end of my little tour of Merthyr, and this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this wonderful town has to offer. Whether it's a family day out or a weekend on top of the rocky windy mountains of Merthyr discovering yourself, an afternoon of Welsh cakes or a cuppa in the cozy little market – welcome to Merthyr Tydfil!
Follow Eädyth on Instagram to find out more about her latest musical projects.
As we enter 2021 restrictions are still in place, with the health crisis continuing to have a significant impact on our lives. But when it is possible to do so, when businesses and attractions can reopen, I would encourage you to get to know and appreciate what’s on your doorstep over the spring and summer this year.