Tarquin's cycling pages

02 June 2011 - Abercynon to Aberfan

WhereAbercynon to Aberfan
(Brecon Beacons and South Wales)
Date02 June 2011
Duration3 hours 15 minutes
Distance12 miles (~19 km)
Trail conditionsDry tarmac and dirt track
Anonymous Unknown Scott Aspect 60
Josie Wilton-Jones 9 Baracuda Jacabat
Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones 31 GT LTS 2000 (TWJ)

Trip report

Description by Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones

See pictureThe part of the Taff Trail between Pontypridd and Abercynon is by far the least family friendly part of it, with heavy traffic competing with bikes for space. As a result, our route begins at Abercynon, just as the dangerous parts end.

See pictureSee pictureA lane leads off the road near the fire station in Abercynon, heading between warehouses. It's wasy to miss. The lane leads all the way up the river to Quakers Yard.

See pictureSee pictureAfter crossing a road, the route enters a forest, eventually crossing a bridge to reach the start of the Pont y Gwaith Nature Reserve.

See pictureSee pictureThe nature reserve boasts some of the World's oldest viaducts...

See picture...As well as some good views of the Daren y Celyn crags.

See pictureSee pictureThe major feature of the reserve, however, is that it is the site of the World's first proper steam railway, where the first steam locomotive was used in 1804. The sleeper stones used to hold the rails in place for Richard Trevithick's railway are still clearly visible.

See pictureSee pictureTaking a left fork leads to a road, where to the left leads down to Pont y Gwaith. This steeply arched bridge was constructed in 1811, and challenges any cyclist who is not ready for an obstacle.

See pictureSee pictureImmediately, the route passes through an underpass beneath the A470. This has a vast amount of wasted space devoted to steps, and only a tiny ramp for bikes. The intention is for cyclists to push their bikes up here, and it takes a very determined cyclist to remain on the saddle. This seems pointlessly stupid considering that this is one of the major Welsh cycling routes.

See pictureSee pictureThe route turns sharp right at the top, and follows the A470 up the valley, finally climbing up to an underpass heading back down under the main road. Part way down the slope after the underpass, a small path doubles back on the left, continuing into Aberfan.

See pictureSee pictureThe path remains level through Aberfan's back alleys, with occasional views towards Mynydd Cilfach-yr-encil.

See pictureSee pictureAt one point, a graveyard up to the left contains the memorial to the victims of the 1966 Aberfan Disaster, where coal tips slumped and slid down onto the town. No trip to the area is complete without a visit to this heartbreaking site.

See pictureJust a short distance further on, below the path, are the remains of the school that was flooded with liquid coal debris, killing 116 children - half of those in the school, as well as 28 adults; teachers and other villagers.

Although it would easily have made a good linear ride, we decided to all return along the same route. It is noticeably easier on the return. If you wish to extend the route, the entire Taff Trail is of course available.

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