Visit Southern Wales

Visit Southern Wales Blog

Archive for tag: cwmcarn

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

Caravanning, but not as you know it

Romany CaravanAfter my blog back in May about Glamping in Cwmcarn near Caerphilly, it seems that the phenomenon is starting to catch on:

We all know the scenario - caravan holiday, cramped conditions, lashing rain, howling wind and a trudge across a sodden field to get to the showers and toilets.

But now you can forget all and stay in an authentic Romany Caravan.  A traditional Vardo, the caravan used to travel the lanes of the Welsh countryside but has now found a permanent home on a sheep farm near Bridgend. 

You may still find conditions a bit cramped if you bring the entire extended family, but it is ideal for a couple looking for a romantic getaway as you snuggle in the caravan, watching the stars and listening to the sounds of the countryside.  Anyway the rest of the family can stay in the nearby self catering house or pitch a tent or two next door.

And no more trudging across soggy fields either as the caravan comes complete with a cabin housing toilet, hot water, shower and washing facilities.  There is also a terrace and barbeque area and an internet connection meaning you don't have to get away from it all if you don't want to.

Caravan holidays will never seem the same again.

If you're interested in stayining the Romany Caravan then visit their website for more details

(Thanks to Brent Davies for the image)

Camping for softies

GlampingGlamping is, apparently, the way to go.  No, I'd never heard of it either but apparently it means glamorous camping.  It's all the rage amongst those who want experience the great outdoors without the leaky tent and soggy sleeping bag.

And now you can glamp (is that a proper word?) right here in Southern Wales.  Cwmcarn Forest near Caerphilly is already well known for the superb mountain biking trails and spectacular views from the scenic mountain drive but are now hitting the headlines with their brand new camping pods.

These timber pods are ideal if you like the idea of camping but also like life's little comforts.  The pods come equipped with a heater, a light and electric.  They are ideal for a short break without the hassle of packing away a wet tent.

Fancy trying them out?  Take a look at their website and don't forget to tell us how you got on.

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: