New mountain bike for Christmas? Then you'll obviously
want to hurtle down a mountain at full speed to try it out won't
Luckily for you, we've got the Mynydd at Cwmcarn Forest near Caerphilly. A fearsome
downhill track that fully tests the most experienced riders (and
scares the rest of us).
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
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
the chance to visit the Guardian Mining Memorial this
Towering above the village of Six Bells, in the heart of the Valleys, the Guardian
stands as a monument to the mining industry that once dominated
this landscape and commemorates the lives lost in the 1960 Six
Bells Colliery disaster.
Despite visiting several times in the past, the monument never
fails to impress. And this time we were lucky to get a guided
tour of local expert Meg Gurney.
She has a wealth of knowledge on the Guardian - the process of
building it, the history of the Six Bells site and the mining
industry locally. She also told us some poignant stories of
those who perished in the disaster and those who had lucky
escapes. Hearing these stories added so much more to the
If you're visiting, be sure to call in to Tŷ Ebbw Fach. The former
coaching inn has been transformed into an information centre about
Guardian, whilst also providing light snacks and refreshments in
its excellent coffee shop.
For more information on the Guardian or Tŷ Ebbw Fach click on the
Did you know Wales produces its own
whisky? It might not be as well known as its Scottish or Irish
counterparts, but that is changing.
Penderyn Whisky (which takes
its name from the village in the Brecon Beacons National Park where
the distillery is based) started production in 2000 and the first
bottle was released on St David's Day in 2004. It was the first
whisky to be (legally!) produced in Wales since the 19th century.
The distillery is situated on a natural spring and it uses this
water, to produce the whisky.
The visitor centre opened in 2008 and gives visitors a tour
explaining how the distilling process works. Even better, at the
end of the tour you get the chance to sample the whisky (or vodka,
gin or cream liquor that they also produce).
And if you're really into your whisky, why not try the Penderyn
Distillery Master Class tour. This includes a detailed
tour of the distillery, an in-depth look at how the whisky is made
and also an expert tasting session.
For more details take a look at their website - www.welsh-whisky.co.uk
Today is Calan Gaeaf in
Wales. Translated into English, this means the start of
winter and is an ancient celebration to mark the Celtic New
These days the more modern celebration of Halloween is more widely
celebrated although this has its roots in the Calan Gaeaf
One place you should visit today is Llancaiach Fawr, a
16th century manor house and, reportedly, the most
haunted house in Wales. Many sightings and strange goings on
have been reported in almost every room of the house. Ghosts are
believed to include a former housekeeper named Mattie and that of
an unidentified young boy.
Llanciach Fawr is marking Halloween with a spooky ghost tour where
visitors can see if any spirits are coming out to play. Take
a look for yourself on the Ghost Cam, if you dare.
Aside from the ghost tours, Llancaiach Fawr itself is a great day
out. Visitors can step back in time to 1645 and the time of
the Civil War.
The house is decorated in the style of the era and visitors get
the chance to meet the mansion's servants who will tell you of what
life was like at that time. Servants you might come
across include the maids, the cooks and the groom. And if you're
lucky you might even get the chance to meet Colonel Pritchard, the
master of the house himself.
Take a look at their website for more details.
Standing on the banks of
the River Wye in the pretty
village of Tintern, it's hard to imagine a more tranquil setting
for one our biggest historical attractions.
Tintern Abbey was built in
the 12th century by an order of Cistercian monks who lived in the
Abbey for 400 years. Latterly the Abbey attracted the
attention of celebrated poets and artists such as Wordsworth and
Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies,
it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales.
These days the remains are popular with visitors to this corner of
Wales and walkers exploring the nearby Wye Valley and Offa's Dyke
Other attractions nearby include the Abbey Mill Craft Village and
Tintern Old Station, a delightful country park with an award
winning tea room based in the station's old ticket office.
For more information please click on the following links
Tintern Old Station
Visit Wye Valley
Just to the north of Newport lies Caerleon, a
small town with a big history. The town was once one of the
most remote outposts of the mighty Roman Empire and one of only
three permanent fortresses in Britain.
The legacy of that past is clearly visible today with many relics
and remains throughout the town. The amphitheatre is the most
complete in Britain while the barracks are the only one of
its kind still on view in the whole of Europe. A short stroll
through the town brings you to the Roman Baths, in their time a
state of the art leisure complex with heated changing rooms,
exercise rooms and an open air swimming pool.
Telling the story of the town's Roman past is the National Roman Legion
Museum. Exhibitions and artefacts show how the
town and its garrison lived, fought and died.
Visit the museum's website for more
With its towering turrets and sprawling water defences,
Caerphilly Castle dominates the town
It's actually the second biggest castle in the UK behind
Windsor. It has been there since the late 13th
century when Gilbert de Clare decided he needed to keep the
rebellious locals at bay.
They're much more welcoming to visitors these days. They've
even built a bridge over the moat to stop you getting your feet wet
on the way in.To find out more about this impressive castle, take a
look at the video or visit the website.
In the tranquil surroundings of the
Bridgend's Garw Valley, lies
the beautiful Bryngarw Country Park.
113 acres stunning parkland to explore, including native
woodlands, formal gardens and secluded glades.
And lurking amongst the flora and fauna are the Ancient Keepers of
Bryngarw - four mythical guardians of the park's woodlands,
meadows, gardens and river. Awaken the keepers with your
special 'talisman' (available from the visitor centre) and hear the
stories, myths and legends of this mysterious area.
For more information on Bryngarw Park visit the website
A busy weekend is in
store for us as welcome the Group Travel Organisers Association
Western Branch to the region for a familiarisation visit.
The group, who are in Cardiff for their AGM, will also take time
to visit some of the area's best attractions and sample some
legendary Welsh hospitality.
The tour will kick off with a visit to Llancaiach Fawr, a
17th century manor house near Caerphilly, which takes you
back in time to see how the servants worked and lived during the
Back in the present day, and the group will then head for Wales'
only distillery at Penderyn in at the top of the
From there they head to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet
near Bridgend, to browse (and
spend) in some of the centre's 90 designer and big name
Dinner at Llanerch Vineyard will round off the day in a relaxing
The following day, the group will head for the St Fagans National
History Museum and enjoy a trip aboard the Cardiff Bay Road
Train. Whilst in the Bay, they'll also visit the Norwegian
Church and the Senedd.
The weekend will then be rounded off in unforgettable style with a
sumptuous feast at Cardiff Castle's famous Welsh Banquets.
The group will be guided by Steve Griffin from Griffin
We hope the GTO's have a great time and that they will be inspired
to return with their groups in the not too distant future.
This weekend sees Wales' biggest and best food festival
come to Abergavenny.
The historic market town, which has a great reputation amongst
foodies will be full of stands, stalls and exhibitors giving
visitors, quite literally a taste, of Wales.
Complementing the stalls are a variety of masterclasses, tastings
and talks whilst there is plenty to keep the kids happy with
workshops, story telling and live music.
Don't worry if you can't make it to Abergavenny, there are two
more great food festivals coming up over the next few
Look our for the Bridgend
Food Feastival (26-27 September) and the Newport Food Festival (4 October)