As part of my ongoing plan to ride all of the National Cycle Network in Wales, I set off to explore the Rhondda Valleys through NCN Routes 881, 883, 884, & 885. I've been through the Rhondda on numerous occasions, but never as a specific destination itself. This weekend proved to be magnificent.
Maerdy & Treherbert Tour
Date: 13 August 2016
Distance: 67.7 miles
HENGOED to PONTYPRIDD - The day started off easy as I cycled down from Oakdale to join NCN Route 47 at the Hengoed/Maesycwmmer Viaduct. Heading west through Ystrad Mynach and Penalta Parc, I then turned south onto the Taff Trail (NCN Route 8) at Quakers YARD to Pontypridd. Riding the Taff Trail can be hit and miss in places, but the section just above Pontypool is quite unique. The pavement is rough in places and gets very narrow, but the views are quite surprising. It's one of the few places along the entire Taff Trail where you actually get down along side the river.
|Along the River Taff...|
In Pontypridd, I entered the city park and briefly joined NCN Route 4 (Celtic Trail) across town to find NCN Route 881 as it branches off into a housing estate. Odd as this may seem, the route quickly enters dense woods and becomes lovely. You then pass several historic markers before entering Barry Sidings Countryside Park. This is a great place for a pause to collect your thoughts, grab a snack, and have a toilet break (Note: it will be a while before you have access to public facilities again).
|Barry Sidings Country Park...|
|Little surprises along the way...|
As you leave the park and head north the route is a mixed bag of quiet roads and shared use paths for the next several miles until you reach Stanleytown.
|Looking over at the Heritage Park in Trehafod...|
|Sleepy little Llwyncelyn...|
Trehafod to Maerdy - The route becomes unpaved as it enters the woods at Stanleytown. It's a lovely smooth path which climbs gently along the Rhondda Fawr River.
|Entering the path at Stanleytown...|
|Very quiet and secluded...|
|Rustic details along the way...|
|Can you hear the water flowing over the rocks?|
|There's not a car or truck or traffic of any kind to heard.|
|Starting to climb just a bit...|
Maerdy and beyond - After a short ride above the river you pop out into Maerdy at the junction of the A4233. This too is a great place to stop and regroup. There is a wonderful historical marker full of pertinent local information and well worth the read.
This is also a good place to check your bike over... your brakes especially, but also your tyres. Make sure you've got plenty of water to drink... you'll be going on quite an adventure next.
|A great read and lovely stop for lunch...|
|Looking back from where you've come...|
|Looking forward on a rather inauspicious path...|
... and then you begin to climb.
... and then surprisingly the path becomes paved again as you enter the industrial remains of an abandoned colliery...
... and now it's camera time.
I could continue to describe the ride, but honestly the pictures tell the story best. And this is a perfect segue over to the Gallery section of my blog if you haven't been there before. So take a moment to review the map... noting the climb and descent. One special and surprising issue that I discovered was that Rhigos Road (A4061) was actually closed for repaving over on the Hirwaun side. Other than the occasional service vehicle, I had the road to myself. Fantastic!
The map shown below is the entire route that I rode on Saturday. I had set out to climb over to Hirwaun, but was rather disappointed to find the road under repair. However, I would not have discovered the ride down into Treherbert otherwise and that turned out to be a fantastic surprise! WooHoo!
Once I was back down in Treherbert, I merely followed A4061 & A4058 through Treorchy, Tonypandy and on down to Porth where I rejoined NCN 881 to Pontypridd and returned home as I had come. The major routes covered were NCN 881, NCN 884 & NCN 885. Part 2 of this adventure covers NCN Route 883.
Check back soon for the next part of this weekend adventure.
cheers | cm