Side Street Style

A family lifestyle, interiors & travel blog


Discover the real valleys

Country kid
Mr A with a view of the Rhondda Valley

So with the MTV show The Valleys coming to a close I felt it was time to share my thoughts about the "real" valleys. First of all we are renting a small cottage just outside Cardiff, it takes us 23 minutes from our front door to the city centre, on a good day it can be even less, which I have to say to get from any house to the heart of a city is not bad at all, yet our house falls within "the Valleys" but on the show they make out like it's a 100 miles away! We are on the commuter belt, a lot of people who live in this area commute everyday to Cardiff, the are all "making it" in the city, but they often opt to live outside the city due to house prices.

I am not going to sugar coat the fact that there are parts of the Valleys that are deprived, lack good transport links, lack good facilities, where ever second shop is closed down and areas that have drug and teenage pregnancy problems, but is there not a place like this in nearly every county?

What they fail to highlight on the show is the parts that are beautiful, inspiration and have a thriving community spirit. The older generation were the backbone of this country, literally, they kept our homes warm with the coal they provided us with there own hands, the beautiful Welsh choirs whose song would touch anyones soul and a green and luscious landscape ready to be explored.

War memorial
War Memorial at Ponty Common

We spend at least one day a week up the Rhondda Valley as John is a Treorchy boy born and bred and what they don't show on "The Valleys" is that a lot of young people are trying to better themselves with proper professions by either going to College or University. This is something I see in John and his friends, John went back to college, retrained as a traditional barber and now works in a prestigious Gentleman's Barber shop in the City, in of his group of close friends is a Civil Engineer, an Electric Engineer, a Solicitor, a Journalist, a Bio-Chemist and a Graphic Designer, all doing well from themselves and all from the Valleys.

As a mother and a family, I also want to highlight the beautiful places you can explore in the area and they are often quieter than places around the city. One Monday we explore Bryngarw house near Bridgend in the Ogmore Valley.

Natural childhood
Beautiful surroundings at Bryngarw House and country park

We have wanted to visit this country house and park for a while and finally got around to doing it, the weather was not amazing but it was dry and when we arrived we really didn't know what to expect but I can say for sure it is one of our new favourite places. They have excellent toilet facilities, an adventure playground for little ones and the Cafe stocks some lovely homemade food. They had three main walks - a River, Meadow and Forest walk. First we decided to take a little stroll and have a look around, the grounds are so beautiful and we walked along the river until we came across the oriental gardens, such a quiet and lovely place with a bridge over a stream, further on we came across Bryngarw House, a lovely country hotel. There is also little lake with swans and ducks that connects to the forest walk, which we decided to do.

Oriental bridge
John and Mr A getting their pose on

The forest walk was great, lots of fallen down trees for Mr A to climb on, different kind of florna and forna and so quiet you could hear all the birds singing away in the trees above. The walk is also way-marked with wooden signs, which are fairly easy to follow, as the country park is very large and at times would could of got lost.

forest adventure

forest life

After our forest jaunt we walked over to the Adventure playground which had a very impressive three tier slide in the shape of a massive teepee. Mr A was apprehensive at first but as soon as he had a go we couldn't stop him. The park also has some lovely wooden horses to ride on and climbing frames plus an outdoor fit circuit.

Adventure playhouse

Teepee slide

After a few hours of exploring we headed over the the cafe for some amazing American diner style milkshakes - I haven't had a proper milkshake with cream on the top for such a longtime and I don't think Mr A had seen anything like it before, we also share a home-made chunky rocky road between the three of us. The staff were very friendly and best of all the country park is free, although I have heard that when it's very busy you sometimes need to pay for overflow parking.

Other places we can personally recommend check out in The Valleys is Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr, which also has a miniature railway, Dare Valley Park in Aberdare, Caerphilly Castle and if your in the area Barry Sidings near Pontypridd is a nice place for a stroll.

This week we also spent sometime at the beach (another post to come soon) as well as the Ponty common - a green belt above the town and a nice place for families to walk and explore.

The rocking stone
Druid stones on Ponty Common

long grass

wild foxglove
Wild fox glove

running wild

I have joined up this post with #CountryKids link - a link for people who love to spend time outdoors with their kids, why not join in
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. Beautiful photos! I love the one of John and Mr A on the bridge :) The country park is so beautiful, and what an amazing adventure playground - the slide looks fantastic! You live in a lovely part of the country, great days out! Popping over from Country Kids x

    1. Hi Sara

      Thanks so much for stopping by, yes the photo on the bridge is really cute :)
      Laura x

  2. Some really lovely places! It's always better to hear from the people who know about places as they only want to sensationalise on the telly. When I take pictures in parks in Glasgow people don't believe me. There is always another side. I LOVE that picture on the bridge. #countrykids

    1. Hi Sabrina

      I know just what you mean! There are some amazing parts of Glasgow, I lived in Edinburgh for two years and had a lot of friends living in Glasgow - a really creative city.
      They always have to come from a certain angle on TV and unfortunately it's usually exploiting a place rather than celebrating it.

      Thanks for stopping by
      Laura x

  3. You are definitely surrounded by some stunning landscape and are right to be proud and passionate about somewhere so gorgeous. I can see you have so many wonderful places to visit and explore, I do love the picture of Mr A and Daddy on the bridge - priceless. Thanks for sharing your picturesque photos with Country Kids.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and yes there are some amazing family friendly places around here :)

      Laura x

  4. Brilliant post and great photos. I love the Welsh valleys :)
    That photo on the bridge is hilarious. x

    1. Hi Leanne

      Thanks for stopping by - I know I was laughing when they both posed on the bridge :)
      Just wish sometimes they would show the good parts of the valleys and not just the bad

      Laura x

  5. This is a lovely post Laura! We love getting out of the city to get fresh air and it's so great that you don't have to go far to be in the countryside - best of both worlds. Hx

    1. Hi Helen

      Thanks for the lovely comment, yes it's wonderful to be just outside of the city - it's easy to pop in when we want but also have lots of space to run around outside

      Laura x

  6. Bryngarw Country Park looks great. The playground looks amazing.


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