Visit Southern Wales

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Archive for tag: Blaenavon

Whistle Stop Tour of Southern Wales

Six Bells Mining MemorialI had a great couple of days out of the office showing a group from UK Inbound around our area.

UK Inbound is a trade association that represents Tour Operators from around the world who bring travellers into the UK.  And 15 of those operators pitched up in Cardiff on Thursday to see what Southern Wales could offer them.

Arriving in Cardiff Central train station the group made the short journey out to Llanerch Vineyard on the outskirts of the city where they enjoyed a cookery demonstration from chef Angela Grey in the vineyard's cookery school.  Next it was into the restaurant for lunch and a welcome from owner Ryan Davies who gave the group a taste Llanerch's very own wine.

Following Llanerch Vineyard the group made the quick hop to the UK's favourite Tourist Attraction, the St Fagans National History Musuem.  They were intrigued by the buildings which make up the museum's exhibits, particularly the Workingmen's Institute, church and the row of ironworkers' cottages from Merthyr Tydfil.

Caerphilly CastleThe following day saw the group visit Caerphilly Castle, one of the biggest in Europe, before winding their way through the Southern Wales Valleys to the town of Tredegar and the newly restored Bedwellty House.  From there it was a short journey to the village of Six Bells and the impressive sight of the Guardian Mining Memorial.  Next stop was the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre for lunch and a quick tour to find out why the area has been named as a World Heritage Site.

Then it was time for many people's highlight of the day, a tour of the Penderyn Distillery, the only whisky distillery in Wales.  The group had a guided tour of the site where they learned all about the process of making Welsh wysgi before finding themselves in the bar where they could sample some of the finished product.

The group then headed back to Cardiff for their last night in Wales.  We only had a couple of days to show them what we can offer.  We really could have done with a couple of weeks instead.

You can see more images from the trip on our flickr page

Is this Wales' best attraction?

Big Pit National Coal MuseumThis has got to be one of my favourite attractions in Wales. It's the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon. It tells the story of the coal mining industry throughout the Southern Wales valleys.

The highlight of the visit is the underground tour. Take a ride in the lift to the bottom of the pit where you'll get an appreciation of what the men, women and boys who worked down here had to endure in years gone by.

If that's not enough for you, speak to your guide. They are all genuine ex-miners and as well as taking you around the pit, they'll also tell you of first hand tales of what life was like for them underground.

Oh and the best bit - it's all free.

www.museumwales.ac.uk/bigpit

Easter Ideas 2 - Big Pit National Coal Museum

Big Pit National Coal MuseumThe Easter holidays are now well underway and with the glorious sunshine here in Southern Wales it's time to get out and about. 

Last week's Easter Idea was a trip to Techniquest in Cardiff Bay.  Today we head North out of the capital city and into the Southern Wales Valleys and to the Big Pit National Coal Museum at Blaenavon.

The award winning museum is easily one of the best attractions in Wales.  There are plenty of opportunities to explore the restored pit head baths and exhibitions on the surface but the real highlight is underground tour. 

Head to the lamp room to be kitted out in your helmet and lamp and then step inside the cage for your journey for the 300 feet journey to the bottom of mine.  Your guide around the pit will be an ex-miner who will be able to tell you first hand stories of what life was like for them and their colleagues working underground.

Entry to the museum is free and is open 7 days a week.  More information can be found here.

Remember, if you do visit, tell us what you thought of it by leaving a comment below.

Going Underground

Big Pit National Coal MuseumThis has got to be one of the best attractions in Wales.  It's the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon. It tells the story of the coal mining industry throughout the Southern Wales valleys.

The highlight of the visit is the underground tour.  Take a ride in the lift to the bottom of the pit where you'll get an appreciation of what the men, women and boys who worked down here had to endure in years gone by.

If that's not enough for you, speak to your guide.  They are all genuine ex-miners and as well as taking you around the pit, they'll also tell you of first hand tales of what life was like for them underground.

Oh and the best bit - it's all free.

Valleys Essentials

Big Pit National Coal MuseumThe valleys of Southern Wales have long been known for it's wealth of heritage attractions and castles.  But did you know there are so many other attractions, events and other days out for you to experience.

Now, the people of the Valleys Heart and Soul website have come up with a list of the top 50 things to do in their area.   They teamed up with Rough Guide author Mike Parker to create a list of the Top 50 Valleys Essentials.  Included on the list are the must-see heritage attractions, unmissable eateries and events and scenic walks across The Valleys.

Which is your favourite?  Maybe you're a fan of the area's industrial history and therefore Rhondda Heritage Park, Big Pit National Coal Museusm or the World Heritage Site at Blaenavon will get your vote.  Caerphilly Castle is also in the list as is the nearby Llancaiach Fawr Manor House and Merthyr Tydfil's Cyfarthfa Castle Museum.  The Guardian statue at Six Bells near Abertillery is probably the newest attraction featured.

Food and drink lovers maybe tempted to vote for the Blaenavon Cheddar Company or the Penderyn Whiky Distillery.  There's also plenty of choice for outdoor lovers with the Brecon Mountain Railway nominated as well as the Mountain Biking tracks at Cwmcarn.  There are plenty of walks to choose from too including the Taff Trail and the Iron Mountain Trail as well as some slightly more unusual sights, such as the 200 metre long earch sculpture of a horse at Parc Penallta near Ystrad Mynach.

Don't forget to vote, or if you can't see your favourite on the list you can nominate on the website by clicking here

Blaenavon - World Heritage Site

BlaenavonAt first it might not be obvious what links the town of Blaenavon with India's Taj Mahal, Australia's Barrier Reef or the Great Wall of China. In fact all these places (plus another 886 around the world) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The status of World Heritage Site is given to an area or monument which is considered to have had a significant historical impact on the world. Blaenavon was awarded its World Heritage status in 2000 in recognition for the role it played at the forefront of the industrial revolution.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth century the town became one of the biggest and most important coal, iron and steel producers in the world. Find out more about the past at the town's World Heritage Centre, Big Pit National Coal Museum or the Blaenavon Ironworks museum.

Today the area is thriving and is popular with tourists eager to find out more about its past. The town's high street is also popular, lined as it is with many independent retailers selling local crafts and produce.

Try some of the fantastic Blaenavon cheese, which comes in a range of weird and wonderful flavours - Cider and Onion Marmalade, Mustard Leek and Ale or for a bit of bite try Anadl y Ddraig (Dragon's Breath), a hot chilli cheddar.