Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: caerphilly

Downhill Drama

New mountain bike for Christmas? Then you'll obviously want to hurtle down a mountain at full speed to try it out won't you?

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 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."

Caerphilly's Christmas Festivities

Caerphilly Christmas FayreOne of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Wales gets underway this weekend.

The Caerphilly Christmas Fayre attracts visitors from far and wide to experience the festivities in this historic town.  With the giant medieval castle providing the backdrop, the fayre is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Visitors will experience Christmas through the ages as the fayre embraces the traditions of Christmas past and present.

Over 100 stalls will be ready to tempt you, including a Farmers' Market selling the best local produce and a Continental Market, ensuring that you get a taste of a European Christmas.

Caerphilly Castle itself will also get in on the act as it is transformed into a Victorian fairytale castle full of decadence and romance.  There'll also be traditional fairground rides, mulled wine and of course a visit from Father Christmas himself.  There'll also be free entry to the castle for children.

For more information on the fayre take a look at the website or see what other Christmas events are coming up over the coming weeks by clicking here.

Happy New Year

Llancaiach GhostToday is Calan Gaeaf in Wales.  Translated into English, this means the start of winter and is an ancient celebration to mark the Celtic New Year. 

These days the more modern celebration of Halloween is more widely celebrated although this has its roots in the Calan Gaeaf celebrations.

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.

The King of Castles

With its towering turrets and sprawling water defences, Caerphilly Castle dominates the town of Caerphilly.

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.

GTOA All Set for Southern Wales

Caerphilly CastleA 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 civil war.

Back in the present day, and the group will then head for Wales' only distillery at Penderyn in at the top of the Rhondda Valley.

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 stores.

Dinner at Llanerch Vineyard will round off the day in a relaxing manor.

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 Guiding.

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.

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

The Big One

Big CheeseEvent - The Big Cheese
Location - Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly
Date - 25th to 27th July 2014
For more information please visit the website

Now, if there's two things that Caerphilly is famous for, it's cheese and the castle.  It is fitting then that their Big Cheese Festival takes place in the fields surrounding the giant fort.

An extravaganza of family entertainment, the Big Cheese is one of Wales' must see attractions which attracts up to 80,000 people from all over the country.

Where else can you hear the whack of sword on shield, see birds of prey soar majestically in the sky and smell and taste the finest local produce?  There's also a packed entertainment programme including musical entertainment, craft stalls, activity marquee and a traditional funfair.

And the best bit...it's free

Christmas in Caerphilly

Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre returns once again this year on Saturday 7th & 8th December.

Once a traditional market town, Caerphilly returns to its days of old with an eclectic mix of medieval entertainment, food and drink, and an abundance of stalls selling unusual Christmas gifts such as medieval replica, traditional crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

Caerphilly Castle is at the heart of the fayre, which is open to visitors all weekend; entry fee with even more market stalls, medieval entertainment and re-enactments within its walls
Visit the website for more details or see what other events are on in the area this Christmas by clicking here

Christmas is Coming

It's the end of October and the shops are starting to fill with festive offerings.  So, over the next couple of weeks, we'll look ahead to some of the events that are happening in Southern Wales over the festive period.  Today it's Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre:

Caerphilly ChristmasCaerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre
Caerphilly
7 - 8 December 2013

Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre returns once again this year on Saturday 7th & 8th December. Once a traditional market town, Caerphilly returns to its days of old with an eclectic mix of medieval entertainment, food and drink, and an abundance of stalls selling unusual Christmas gifts such as medieval replica, traditional crafts, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

Listen to seasonal period music and laugh at the hilarious frolics of the Jester, tricks of the medieval magicians and re-enactments from the knights, but watch out for the medieval beggars who will be roaming the market and chatting to visitors!

Caerphilly Castle is at the heart of the fayre, which is open to visitors all weekend; entry fee with even more market stalls, medieval entertainment and re-enactments within its walls
Visit the website for more details

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