Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: Mountain

History and Handlebars

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Caerphilly is all about the castle.

To be fair, covering 120,000 m2 Caerphilly Castle does tend to dominate the town.  It was built by Norman invaders but it was an attack during the 17th century that left the castle with its most striking feature - a leaning tower, which at 10 degrees has more of a tilt than its more famous counterpart in Pisa.

When you've finished exploring it there is a lot more to do in this corner of Southern Wales.  A journey of 8 miles and almost 400 years brings you to Llancaiach Fawr Manor and the year 1645.  You'll meet the servants of the manor who are busy looking after the house for the master, Colonel Pritchard.   They'll regale you with tales of what life is like for them amidst the turmoil of the civil war which rages around them.

What you need with so much history in an area is a museum to bring it all together.  Well, luckily for Caerphilly there's the Winding House.  As the name suggests, the building housed the winding mechanism for the local colliery (in fact you can still see the engine in action on special days throughout the year).  Today the museum is home exhibitions and artefacts charting the area's past.

Back in the 21st century and over in the next valley is Cwmcarn Forest's Mynydd, quite possibly the biggest, hardest, most technical downhill mountain biking track in the country.  It also has terrific views over South Wales, not that you'll be able to take them in as you hurtle down the side of the mountain.  There are also a number of other tracks at the centre if you're not quite up to the big one or if you're after something a little more sedate you can enjoy the beautiful 7 mile long forest drive.

To find our more about Caerphilly, please visit the website

Pedal Power

Event - Cycling, National Road Race Championships
Location - Abergavenny

Date - 26 - 29 June 2014

Website for further details


This week saw British Cycling unveil the race routes of the 2014 National Road Race and Time Trial Championships.  The event will be based in Abergavenny but the routes of the various races will take in most of the Monmouthshire countryside.

The elite Men's Road Race will see household names battle it out over a tough 183km course.  Sprinter Mark Cavendish will be the defending champion, but the route might be a bit too hilly for him.  Amongst the favourites will be Tour de France champion Chris Froome and Cardiff's Geraint Thomas.

The women's road race will be held over shorter 71km course, but promises to be just as tough.  Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead will be the clear favourite.

The time trial course, based at Newport's Celtic Manor, is 40km long and is sure to feature 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins as he goes head to head with the winner of one of the 2013 Giro d'Italia time trial stages, Alex Dowsett. 

The 20km long women's time trial coast will see defending champion Joanna Rowsell attempt to defend her title against the likes of Elinor Barker and Joanna Trott.

Have you Packed for Wales

Here it is.  The new Visit Wales TV advert. 

Asking "Have you Packed for Wales", the advert features Caernarfon Castle, the new Mountain Biking centre near Merthyr Tydfil and the Wales Coast Path amongst other places.

The full advert and campaign will be launched this Saturday - St David's Day. 

In the meantime, take a look at the advert and let us know what you think.

New Year Races

Nos GalanNos Galan Races
Mountain Ash
31 December 2013
Website - www.nosgalan.co.uk


It might still be over 2 months away but preparations for one of Wales' more unique new year celebrations are well underway.

The races, which this year celebrates its 55th anniversary, are held each New Year's Eve in memory of local folk hero Guto Nyth Bran.  It was said that he could run from Mountain Ash to Pontypridd and back in the time it took a kettle to boil.

Hundreds of people take part in the races whilst hundreds more line the streets in encouragement. The highlight of the night will be the arrival of a Mystery Runner who will represent the spirit of Guto, carrying the torch from his graveside at St Gwynno's Church down the hillside to the town centre four miles away.

Previous Mystery Runners have included Linford Christie, John Hartson, James Hook, Shane Williams and Dai Greene.

If you're tempted to take part, then online registration is now open, just go to www.nosgalan.co.uk

Tour de Caerphilly

This time next week, thousands of people will start to congregate at the top Caerphilly Mountain for what is rapidly becoming one of Wales' biggest annual sporting events.  For the third year running the Tour of Britain rolls into town.

Starting in Machynlleth, stage 5 winds it way through the Elan Valley and Brecon Beacons before arriving in Caerphilly where after 150 miles of racing the riders will face one final obstacle, the infamous Caerphilly Mountain.  Not content to make the riders struggle up it once, the route takes the race around the outskirts of the town and back to the foot for another go.

It will certainly prove to be a tough conclusion to the stage, especially the second time around.

Some of the world best cyclists will be competing as they aim for the race leaders Gold Jersey as well as making the final preparations for the World Championships in Florence the following week. 

Household names such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will be taking part as well as world class sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, winner of the famous Liege-Bastogne-Liege race Dan Martin and the young sensation from this year's Tour de France, the Columbian climber Nairo Quintana.

To find out more about the race, visit the Tour of Britain website

Discover Merthyr Tydfil

Take a look at this video of Merthyr Tydfil.  It might not be the obvious choice when thinking of a holiday in Wales, but as the video proves there's so much to do and some stunning scenery.  Enjoy!

Dare you take on the Mynydd

Are you up for a challenge? Well in this neck of the woods they don't come much bigger than the Mynydd

The Mynydd is a mountain biking track at Cwmcarn near Caerphilly.  To the un-initiated (i.e. me) it looks as if you have to be mad to ride your bike down here. Taking the steep drops, tight turns and huge jumps at break-neck speeds seems to be impossible. Yet they do and that is why this is considered to be one to the best tracks in the country by mountain biking enthusiasts.  It has been rated as a Black track, which means it is officially classed as severe and should only be tackled by experienced riders. You daren't take your eyes off the track, which is a shame as the views from the top are stunning.

The Mountain Biking Wales website describes it as

"a track which offers steep technical sections, a very fast open section near the bottom, jumps, drops, berms, infact probably one of the biggest berms you'll ever see, as well as some doubles and even a massive gap jump if you want to try it."

Don't believe me how hair raising it is, then take a look at this video: