The South Wales Valleys cover much of the South of Wales, from Monmouthshire to Carmarthenshire, and from the Vale of Glamorgan to the Cardiff and Swansea coastline.
These beautiful, green frequently parallel river valleys, are well known for their industry, for the iron works in the North (from the late eighteenth century onwards) to the mining communities in the South Wales Coalfield who have been most deeply affected with pit closures in recent years. Steel, coal and iron have all suffered in the last 100 years and most retain only traces of the previous success now.
But the valleys (there are over twenty of them) aren't just about industry. This truly is a beautiful area to visit and with its combination of close-knit and almost interconnected villages, larger towns, and some cities, there's a lot of variety.
Natural Resources Wales has created some special mp3 audio walking guides to accompany their maps. Covering legend, industry in the gunpowder works and much more, this great idea actively encourages the younger members of the family to map-read, persevere and learn about their surroundings along their walking route.
But don't worry if you don't have any particular walking locations in mind. The South Wales Valleys have plenty to see - from Waterfall country to the Afan Forest Park, there's something for everybody, wherever you stay.
Why not take a trip to one of the mining museums - for example, the Big Pit Mining Museum includes a 100 mile journey underground - or see the elaborate 'figurative earth sculpture' of Sultan the Pit Pony - a really impressive 200 metre horse sculpted into the earth! And the site of Blaenavon Ironworks is also a haunting reminder of South Wales' past.
But for those who a holiday isn't complete without a trip to a castle or two, try Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil with its beautiful fountain, or the spectacular, moated Caerphilly Castle. And of course, you can't visit the South Wales area without taking the most picturesque trip on a steam train at the Brecon Mountain Railway.
Doctor Who directors have frequently made use of the South Wales Valleys for their film shoots. - from Merthyr Tydfil Town Hall to Caerphilly Castle. What a brilliant basis for a holiday - to explore the sites of your favourite episodes! Or you could explore the Penderyn Whisky Distillery in Pontpren - the only distillery in Wales, independent and one of the smallest in the world.
The M4 motorway covers the entire South Wales coastline and this is supported by various good quality and well used A roads leading off in all directions deeper North into the valleys. The Valley Lines run railway service as does the South Wales Main Line, so check your nearest available station if you intend to travel by train. With airports close to the coastal cities of Cardiff and Swansea, the South of Wales and its Valleys are accessible and well worth a trip!
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