Side Street Style: An Action Packed weekend in The South Wales Valleys

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

09/05/2019

An Action Packed weekend in The South Wales Valleys

Jumping for joy

This was a press trip with The Valleys

I was recently invited to spend a weekend exploring some of the fantastic things on offer in the South Wales Valleys which I was really excited about especially as I live very close to the Valleys and having the chance to dig a little deeper into what makes this fascinating part of Wales tick was a great opportunity. Over the years the Valleys have faced some scrutiny in the media, after the decline of the coal mining industry which had an effect on the socio-economic stability of the area but the locals are passionate with a deep running cultural heritage they are proud of and times have changed with more funding being invested in the area, which is naturally a playground for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits. I have written many times about a variety of adventures we have had in the area such as glamping in Cwmcarn Forest, running down sand dunes in Merthyr Mawr, our many visits to Caerphilly Castle and Castle Coch or looking for fairies at Mountain Ranch.

I know so many people who have come to the area and have been pleasantly surprised by what is on offer from breathtaking scenery, country parks, museums to the amazing local produce, I highly recommend you put it on your list of places to check it out and here's why.


Tredegar Summit Centre


Tredegar Summit Centre

The weekend started with an action-packed rock climbing group session at the Tredegar Summit Centre which is located in the heart of the Welsh Valleys just 25mins from the M4 and surrounded by beautiful hills and woodland. The centre offers something for every member of the family from bouldering and rock climbing to high ropes and archery as well as an outdoor play area suitable for toddlers.

Having done a little bit of climbing over the years I was eager to have the chance to give it another go as did my 8yr old who joined me for this activity (before heading back home as I carried on the rest of the weekend child-free). The instructor was knowledgable and reassuring and we managed to take on two different walls with my son whizzing up both of them. After working up a sweat we had a relaxing cup of coffee and welsh cake in the cafe that looks out across the outdoor play area. I have already promised my eldest that we will be coming back to try out the high ropes! This centre is perfect for anyone who wants to try something new as well as other outdoor pursuits such as caving, bushcraft and kayaking.


Hotel room

Hotel bar


Heritage Park Hotel

After our rock climbing session, I dropped my eldest back at home and headed to the Heritage Park Hotel where I met up with all the other bloggers on this trip and also check into my room for the night. I aim to be as honest as possible in my reviews and having had attended a wedding here a few years back I wasn't sure what to expect as my previous impressions were that it was a bit tired and outdated, however, it's been taken over by new management and they have done a fantastic job in bringing this hotel back to its former glory and making it a great place for a weekend break.

The hotel is located right next to the Rhondda Heritage Park which is an important cultural attraction for the whole family and offers guided pit tours down into a former working mine. It's also only a short drive from the market town of Pontypridd and around 35 mins from Cardiff, the Welsh Capital.

Walking into the hotel the reception has had a complete facelift and is a contemporary and welcoming space and check-in was a breeze. I was equally impressed with my room which was stylish, spacious and had everything I needed, including a very comfy king-sized bed and seating area. After I settled in I headed back down to the bar for a pre-evening drink and also gave me the chance to explore more of the hotel. The bar is certainly a highlight with large comfortable sofas and modern seating which flows into the rustic and open planned restaurant. While we didn't eat at this restaurant during the evening I did have a delicious breakfast here and it's such a relaxing space and I am planning to dine here again soon.


Welsh brewed beers

Chocolate mousse

Casa Mia


Casa Mia, Caerphilly

Once everyone was ready we headed off to Casa Mia, a family run restaurant in Caerphilly which opened in 2017 and has wowed diners with the incredible unrestricted view of Caerphilly Castle as well as the friendly atmosphere and delicious Mediterranean cuisine on offer and it certainly lived up to it's growing reputation as it was packed with locals.

Before our food came we were treated to beer tasting of some locally brewed beers including tipples from Tudor Brewery based in Abertillery which has named some of its beers after local peaks including Sugarloaf and the Skirrid, Mad Dog Brewing Company from Penperlleni and Untapped Brewing co from Raglan. Even though I am not a huge beer drinker I was really impressed with the variety of local brews as well as John who talked us through the different kinds and process of making them which was fascinating.

Back to supper and after a busy day, I decided to go for vegetarian Pizza Napoli which was a traditional thin base which I love and followed by a delicious Chocolate mousse, let's just say both plates were pretty much licked clean. I would certainly recommend Casa Mia, I loved the bustling atmosphere and it's a great spot for a special date night or casual family lunch.


Hike Welsh Valleys

Parc Calon Lan


Guided walk around Blaengarw

As a family, we have explored a lot of the nature reserves and country parks in the Valleys but I have never visited Blaengarw so I was looking forward to discovering somewhere new and best of all the sun decided to come out making it a perfect day for a hike.

We met our guide at the information cabin located at the on-site free parking at the entrance of Parc Calon Lan and he gave us the low down of all hikes and walks on offer in the area before we set off up the Valley to reach a vantage point that offered views all the way to Cardiff Bay and the coastline. You can also look out for peregrine falcons and sculptures along the lakeside, woodland and mountain paths which have been carved out of a landscape reclaimed from an old railway and coalmine.

I really enjoy our hike up especially with it being such a beautiful sunny day and the views were incredible, plus our guide was very knowledgable and informative and gave some great insight into the local area, history and culture and this is certainly somewhere I will be bringing the kids over the summer, especially as he also mentioned there was a walk to a nearby waterfall which I would love to check out.


Table flowers

Tondu Farm house


Woodlands Bistro, Tondu

After our energetic morning walk, I was certainly ready to tuck into some good food so we headed off to Tondu in the Bridgend Valley and enjoyed a meal at Woodlands Bistro which is part of an amazing social venture set up to help those in the local community, promote wellbeing and skills development plus it's set on a beautiful 43 acre site. On the site is also a bunkhouse with stunning views across the Valley, which you can hire on Airbnb and is a fantastic spot for a group weekend away.

The bistro itself is a real hidden gem and has a very welcoming and homely feel to it in a beautiful setting. I opted for the vegetarian Sunday lunch and it's been one of the most delicious vegetarian meals I've had in a long time with everything cooked and prepared on site. The Bistro has started to become a real favourite among locals and as the opening times are limited it's important to book in advance as their Sunday lunches often sell out well before the weekend and for good reason!


Surfing porthcawl


The one thing I can say for the Valley is that the weekend only scratched the surface of what there is to do in the area and actually when I got back home I picked up the kids and the bikes and we headed out on the Taff Trail, a well-known cycle path that runs all the way from Cardiff through the Welsh Valleys to the Brecon Beacons and one of our favourite things to do as most of the trail is traffic free.

Since this trip I have also taken the kids Geocaching in Barry Sidings country park as well as hiking up Garth Mountain which has paths running up it from both the Cardiff and Valleys sides, we started in Taffs Well and highly recommend it as a family friendly hike. Most recently has been getting back on my surfboard and heading out to Rest Bay in Porthcawl, this Blue Flag beach is great for families and those wanting to get into board sports and if surfing is not your thing you can also hire Fat Bikes in Porthcawl and go cycling on the sand dunes.


South Wales Valleys


I was kindly invited by The Valleys to be a guest and spend the weekend exploring the area

18 comments:

  1. I can't believe I lived in Cardiff for 3 years and saw hardly any of the rest of South Wales! Deffo need to plan a trip and explore some of these places for myself

    www.theemeralddove.co.uk

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    1. Yes do it!! There is so much on offer in the area

      Laura x

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  2. Wow! Looks like you had an amazing time. There's so much to do and the food looks ace!!

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  3. Wow looks like such a great place to visit and how fantastic that there is so much to do. I have found memories of visiting South Wales when I was small and would love to return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There certainly plenty on offer and loads of places to get out and explore

      Laura x

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  4. Oh lovely! We love Wales but havent really been to South Wales very much at all. It looks like there's a lot of fun to be had there!

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    1. Ohh do come and explore the area Laura - plenty of family fun to be had here

      Laura x

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  5. We love Wales and it looks like you had a great time and lots to do!

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    1. Yes was really fun!! So much to see and do

      Laura x

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  6. I have never been to Wales or the Valleys before, it looks beautiful. It sounds like you had such a fun-packed weekend x

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    1. Ohh do come and visit when you can, such a fun place and so much to explore

      Laura x

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  7. That's amazing how many diverse activities you can make in one place. Rock climbing with a cup coffee and surfing are my favorites!

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    1. Yes so much to see and do - also SUP'ing is big here too

      Laura x

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  8. We really enjoyed our Easter in Wales and know we have so much more to explore

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  9. What an incredible adventure, I am loving the look of the Heritage Park Hotel.

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    1. I love how they have redecorated it - such a stylish hotel

      Laura x

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Lovely comments

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