In need of some more outdoor adventures in your life or maybe you want to try a completely different holiday? How about gorgeous Wales? Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales is an amazing location.
It’s perfect for trying numerous outdoor activities and having a more adventurous holiday with lots of things to do for both children and adults.
This was my first visit to Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, as part of an organised UK outdoor bloggers weekend to experience what Merthyr had to offer. My accommodation for the trip was at Parkwood Outdoor Dolygaer, an outdoor activity centre in Merthyr Tydfil, located in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Here I will share the outdoor activities in South Wales that I tried during my trip (some for the first time). Plus top tips for planning your holiday to Wales, exploring the local area in and around Merthyr Tydfil including beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park.
Have you visited South Wales yet? Let me know in the comments where you’ve been and anywhere else you’d recommend I visit.
Table of Contents
- 1 7 Outdoor Activites for a Holiday in South Wales
- 1.1 Go Indoor Climbing + Bouldering
- 1.2 Explore a cool Caving System
- 1.3 Try a Watersport – Stand-Up Paddleboarding
- 1.4 Go on the Four Falls Walk, Brecon Beacons National Park
- 1.5 Mountain Biking at Bike Park Wales
- 1.6 Go Hiking in the Beautiful Brecon Beacons
- 1.7 Visit Cyfarthfa Castle + Park
- 1.8 More Things to do on your Holiday in Merthyr Tydfil
- 2 Where to Stay in Merthyr Tydfil?
- 3 Where to Eat and Drink in Merthyr Tydfil?
- 4 Would I visit Merthyr Tydfil Again?
7 Outdoor Activites for a Holiday in South Wales
Go Indoor Climbing + Bouldering
Address: The Old Drift Mine, Trelewis, Treharris CF46 6RD
Experience the largest indoor climbing centre in South Wales at the Summit Centre. As soon as you drive onto the site you realise what an awesome place this is. But let me take you back a few years, the climbing centre was originally an old coal mine in the 1980s (there was a clue in the address I guess).
It’s now gone through an amazing transformation, all in an eco-friendly way with bio-fuel boilers and solar panels on the roof.
From a coal mine and industrial buildings, it’s now an amazing indoor climbing centre, only officially opened by Prince Charles himself at the beginning of March 2019.
The climbing walls themselves reach a staggering 18 metres high, and there’s a crazy 8-metre overhang (no I didn’t try it haha).
If you’re climbing alone, or maybe your climbing partner needs a break there’s also an auto-belay. I’d have loved to try it but it was quite popular!
There’s a mix of different levels and surfaces to climb on, including some overhangs! I managed to attempt a 5+ climb as my first one. A challenge for me, but I made it to the top (only cheating once haha).
In addition, there’s a small bouldering section, with a few challenging routes, well for me they were!
Climbing: £3.50 (5 and under), £5.00 (6-11 yrs), £6.50 (12-17 years), £7.00 (Concessions/students), £8.00 (Adults)
Bouldering: £3.50 (5 and under), £5.00 (6-11 yrs), £5.00 (12-17 years), £7.00 (Concessions/students), £6.50 (Adults)
You can also hire climbing shoes, chalk, harnesses and delay device.
And finally, there are courses, coaching and memberships available.
Check out Summit Centre on the Rock UK website for more information and how to book.
Becky’s Tips for Climbing + Bouldering
- Have lunch first (there’s a great cafe on site wink, wink!)
- Wear comfortable clothes, I had leggings and a warm top as the temperature was cool in the centre (not when you are actually climbing though)
- Nervous about climbing? Trust your partner or guide, and go at your own pace.
- Start with an easier route to warm up – unlike what I did haha!
Explore a cool Caving System
(But not where you might think)
Address: The Old Drift Mine, Trelewis, Treharris CF46 6RD
In addition, to the awesome climbing walls at the Summit Centre, there is also loads more other indoor and outdoor activities that you can get involved with. On-site you can try out the aerial adventure (pictured above), bushcraft techniques or even archery.
They also organise off-site activities such as gorge walking, kayaking, rafting, mountain walking, outdoor climbing and caving experiences. And that’s not the full list!
However, during my visit, I had the chance to try the on-site caving experience. I’ve been in a few caves, mainly the ones you walk into, have a look around then walk out and I’ve also explored the cave system under the city of Budapest which was pretty awesome. But I’ve never explored a UK cave and I was wondering, how real could a fake cave really be?
Step 1 was getting kitted out in lovely overalls, wellie boots, helmets with head torches. Oh, so I’m actually going caving! You then walk over to the cave entrance and have a short briefing, with a few tips and advice for what to do in the cave.
After the briefing, it’s head torches on and into the cave. Literally, as soon as you walk inside, it feels real!
There’s a smallish gap to take you into the cave system and fairly soon after you’re crawling through sections before reaching open spaces within the caves.
We were inside the cave for nearly an hour, inside there are a few surprises, some nice and those maybe not as much, but I enjoyed it all the same!
The attention to detail inside the cave is fantastic. I’d highly recommend that you give it a go if you’ve not tried any caving before. It’s an ideal safe environment for both children and adults to try a new outdoor activity.
Please contact the Summit Centre directly for costs. Plan your trip now: how to book the caving experience
Becky’s Tips for Caving
- Wear some thick socks, more comfy with wellies on, hiking socks are perfect.
- Tuck your trousers/leggings inside your wellies.
- Wear something you don’t mind getting wet + dirty – you won’t go underwater or be covered in dirt but you might get wet.
- Mobile phones – leave in the lockers available. You might need to crawl and having a phone isn’t practical inside the cave.
Try a Watersport – Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Address: Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer, Pontsticill, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2UR
One of the activities organised by Parkwood Dolygaer was the Stand-Up Paddleboarding, known as SUP! Since the location of the activity centre is right next to a huge reservoir it’s the perfect location.
Back at the centre, you get changed into designer wetsuits, hmm, ok maybe not designer but who cares what it looks like if it’s going to keep you warm. We also had a jacket on top too, it was a pretty cold day so in warmer months you wouldn’t need them.
You’re also given a paddle, full instructions will be given later and remember to listen as stupid I was too busy taking photos and ended up using the paddle the wrong way round, oops!
Depending on whether you’ve tried SUPing before you might have the opportunity to try out the 12-person SUP board. We had six people and our instructor on ours, I have to admit 12 people would have been a lot but maybe 12 children would have been a comfy ride.
We learnt a few skills, a few people braved jumping in the water, which I initially bailed on. Paddling a large paddleboard does require some coordination skills, which isn’t one of my fortes. But once I was on my own paddleboard I was soon loving it, maybe one day I will be a pro!
Becky’s Tips for Stand-Up Paddleboarding
- Don’t forget your swimming costume or shorts to wear under your wetsuit
- The water isn’t as cold as you might think (jump in!)
Go on the Four Falls Walk, Brecon Beacons National Park
Location: Cwm Porth, Ystradfellte, Aberdare, CF44 9JF (Not exact postcode)*
Grid reference: SN928124
In addition, to the beautiful roaming hills of the Brecon Beacons, they also have some amazing waterfalls. We were lucky enough to see them in full flow on our waterfall walk. Mainly because it was also pouring it down with rain, which you might not consider to be that lucky haha!
Whether you are visiting in the hot summer months or rainy day you won’t be disappointed. The picturesque wooded surroundings make these beautiful waterfalls look pretty any time of the year. But if I have a choice, go when it’s rainy. There are fewer people on the trails and you get to see some awesome sights.
The Four Falls Trail is about 4 miles, but since you’ll be seeing lots of epic waterfalls on the way round then allow yourself plenty of time, 2-3 hours. The terrain is fairly good, a little uneven at times and can be slippy when it’s raining.
One of the highlights was going behind one of the waterfalls (and getting soaked too) but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it! I’m sure in warmer days when the water isn’t so fierce you wouldn’t get as wet
Bring some change for the car park – £4*
Becky’s Tips for the Four Falls Walk
- Go when it’s raining for epic views
- But don’t forget your waterproofs
- Feeling adventurous? Then go and explore behind the waterfall!
Mountain Biking at Bike Park Wales
Address: Gethin Woodland Centre, Abercanaid, Merthyr Tydfil CF48 1YZ
This is an amazing place to visit if you love adrenalin activities or alternatively if you want to learn a new skill, not falling off would be mine!
Bike Park Wales has over 40 trails, that cater for everyone. For a total beginner (like me) you can start on the green route, known as the Badgers Run, then make your way up to the Blue routes.
Or for those with more experience, there are the Red and even Black routes, which to a beginner looked terrifying but equally amazing!
During our visit, we had a guide with us for the duration who gave some great coaching tips and also gave me the odd nudge as I wasn’t feeling overly confident!
Becky’s Tips for Bike Park Wales
- Allow plenty of time to sign in/hire equipment if you’ve not been before
- Coaching sessions are amazing if you’re a beginner, like me!
- Trust your mountain bike – ok, it took me a while but once I did I loved it!
Go Hiking in the Beautiful Brecon Beacons
Less than two miles from Merthyr Tydfil, you’re in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Yes, it’s really that close, how awesome! There are plenty of amazing walks from hiking the highest mountain in South Wales, Pen y Fan to exploring some of the other trails close by.
Here are some wonderful walks I went on last time I visited the Brecon Beacons, including Pen y Fan.
On this visit, I opted to climb Fan y Big, (yes, I promise that’s its name) but also explored some of the walks close to Parkwood Dolygaer Activity Centre, including even more waterfalls.
Becky’s Tips for Hiking in the Brecon Beacons
- Always take a map and compass
- Avoid Pen y Fan at the weekend (if you can help it) as it’s really popular
- Take some snacks and plenty of water for your walk
Beginner hiker? Read about what I suggest for taking on a day hike
Visit Cyfarthfa Castle + Park
Address: Brecon Rd, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8NN
Directly located in Merthyr Tydfil, the castle is full of history and well worth a visit when you visit arrive in Merthyr Tydfil to give you a feel for the place. Or alternatively, it’s a great rainy day activity, if you’ve already done the waterfalls walk!
The Castle, or mansion as it’s also known, was home to the Crawshay family, who owned the Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil.
Not only is there a Castle with a museum, shop and art gallery but the ground are pretty huge and wonderful to explore, there’s a miniature railway, splash park and the park to walk around.
Read more about visiting Cyfarthfa Castle and Park here www.cyfarthfa.com
Becky’s Tips for Cyfarthfa Castle
- Be sure to ask what’s behind the door… (yes, a cryptic clue!)
More Things to do on your Holiday in Merthyr Tydfil
Of course, it’s impossible to do everything on a short trip. Here are a few more activities that you might want to fit into your Merthyr Tydfil holiday if you’re staying a little longer!
- Go stargazing, the Brecon Beacons has been certified as an International Dark Sky Reserve
- Ride on the Brecon Mountain Railway
- Walk or go on a bike ride one of the long-distance trails in the area – Taff Trail or Trevithick
- Book a show at Canolfan Soar, a bilingual theatre, with shop and cafe
- Check out any events at Redhouse Arts Centre
- Go bird and wildlife watching in the Parc Taf Bargoed
For further information on things to see and do in Merthyr Tydfil check out their website here www.visitmerthyr.co.uk
Where to Stay in Merthyr Tydfil?
The town of Merthyr Tydfil has plenty of accommodation options and also some great places to stay. Check out these great options which can be booked via Bookings.com.
Address: Castle St, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8BG
One of the popular hotels in Merthyr Tydfil with a hotel restaurant and bar
Queen Bee & B
Address: Atalanta House, Fothergill Street, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 0HT
Directly located in Merthyr Tydfil, this quaint guest house has fantastic reviews and is in the perfect location for you to enjoy your trip.
Or alternatively, you can also stay at the Parkwood Dolygaer Activity Centre, which is only a 20-minute drive from Merthyr Tydfil town centre. There is a range of accommodation options to suit everyone.
Click here for more places to stay in Merthyr Tydfil and check the availability and latest prices via Booking.com
Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer Activity Centre Accommodation
This is the first dedicated outdoor centre that I’ve stayed at in the UK. There might be a certain stereotype when it comes to outdoor centres but newly refurbished Parkwood is a fantastic facility and I was pleasantly surprised.
There are options for whatever size group you are. Away from the main centre, there is a cute self-catering 3-bed cottage, then a larger 6-room chalet (where I stayed below) or the traditional dorm rooms available too.
The chalet is complete with a social area and a small kitchen. There are 6-rooms, all ensuite and you have the option to adapt them to suit your group. In fact, at full capacity, the chalet actually sleeps up to 26 people. My double room had two pull down beds which would have turned it into a 4-bedroom, the same as four of the other rooms.
The twin room opposite my double had four pull down beds. This would certainly have made it quite a squeeze with all your belongings but it’s perfect for groups or families or if you are on a budget.
As well as the accommodation, the outdoor centre has a small reception and cafe, then plenty of space for changing rooms and outdoor kit.
Oh, and did I mention it has epic views!
Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer is perfect for outdoor lovers, nestled in the Brecon Beacons National Park, it’s situated next to a huge reservoir, called Pontesctill Reservoir and hills in all directions.
Even a short 5-minute walk (or look to your left as your drive over the bridge on your way in) from the Activity Centre and you can see the highest mountain in South Wales, Pen y Fan. I didn’t hike up it on this trip but if you fancy giving it a go then you can read my post here about walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The wonderful thing about the outdoor centre is that they are flexible to suit your needs, whether it’s accommodation, activities or both, they cater to everyone.
The Cottage at Parkwood Outdoor Centre
How to Book?
Contact Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer directly via:
- Phone on 01685 848 309,
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or the ‘Contact Us’ form
Where to Eat and Drink in Merthyr Tydfil?
During my 3-day trip to Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, I tried a few different places to eat! Some of these were at the activities locations and the others are situated in Merthyr Tydfil town centre.
Summit Centre (Rock UK)
Address: The Old Drift Mine, Trelewis, Treharris CF46 6RD
At the Summit Centre, where you can do indoor climbing, bouldering and caving they have a fantastic cafe. If you’re short on time then it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee or eat before your activities. They offer jacket potatoes, paninis and other delicious snacks. As well as a great cake selection, including some very special gingerbread men!
Address: 62 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, CF47 8DE
Situated on the High Street in Merthyr Tydfil, this popular restaurant has a fantastic vibe (and the menu of course!) They do amazing stone-baked pizzas, which are delicious, as well as burgers, grilled food and loads more to choose from.
This stylish restaurant has a really lovely feel about it. The night we visited, there was even a young 15-year-old girl performing in one of the rooms singing in Welsh, which I’ve never heard before.
Check them out here www.woodfired.cyrmu
The New Crown Inn
Address: 28 High St, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8DP
Although, I didn’t eat here (I had a drink instead :)), you could smell some delicious food. This, in fact, is a pub in disguise, not only do they do food and drink, but they also arrange fantastic theme days and nights at the pub, as well as live music.
Be sure to check out what’s happening so you don’t miss out. They’ve recently done a Harry Potter event and coming soon they have planned a Lord of the Rings event. And they really go all out so you don’t want to miss it!
Read more about The New Crown Inn here thenewcrownmerthyr.co.uk
Parkwood DOlygaer Activity Centre
Address: Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer, Pontsticill, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2UR
If you are taking part in activities at Parkwood Dolygaer Activity Centre, be sure to contact them about arranging food for you as well. There’s no local shop in walking distance. Alternatively, they have a small cafe and shop on site so you can buy something when you’re there.
Address: 3 Pontmorlais W, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8YE
This restaurant has a very homely, relaxed feel to it. The restaurant has a traditional Portuguese restaurant but is very flexible, especially if you have dietary requirements. One person was vegetarian but also had a dairy intolerance and they happily created a new dish for her! Great customer service.
Another wonderful thing was the talented musician that arrived later in the evening to serenade us whilst finishing our meal, the perfect combo.
There’s no website but you can read the Trip Advisor reviews here for more information.
Bike Park Wales
Address: Gethin Woodland Centre, Abercanaid, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 1YZ
Again, if you’re short on time the on-site cafe and restaurant is great for a quick snack beforehand or maybe after your mountain biking to refuel! They have hot food or a selection of cakes. You know I like my cake!
Try the brownies they are tummy!
Mango Indian Restaurant
Address: 91 High St, Cefn-coed-y-cymmer, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2PN
After lots of outdoor activities on your South Wales trip, sometimes all you need is a big curry at the end of the day. Mango Restaurant also offers a takeaway service but I opted to dine in on my last night in Merthyr Tydfil. And I wasn’t disappointed. I even got a free poppadum, good job as I dropped on the floor, oops!
If you are on a budget, or simply prefer to cook for yourself there are plenty of supermarkets in Merthyr Tydfil, so you can stock up on supplies for your outdoor activity weekend adventures!
There’s a Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Spar so plenty to choose from!
At Parkwood Outdoor Dolygaer, there’s a small self-catering kitchen in the chalet and also a kitchen in the cottage so you could spend the daytime exploring and the evenings eating lots of yummy food!
Would I visit Merthyr Tydfil Again?
After spending three days in Merthyr Tydfil and the Brecon Beacons National Park, I certainly had a taste for some new outdoor activities that I would like to continue.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a something I’ve wanted to try for ages, although this time I’d like to try it when it’s better weather haha! Also, since falling off a bike as a child I’ve always been nervous about riding a bike downhill. I wouldn’t say I’m cured but my confidence has gone up a level with the support of the staff at Bike Park Wales.
Of course, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m a total hiking addict. Although I did a few walks on my visit to Merthyr Tydfil there are certainly plenty more trails that I would love to explore.
I was really impressed with the facilities at Parkwood Outdoor Dolygaer Activity Centre, the accommodation was fantastic and the staff were wonderful and really helpful. Maybe next time I’d like to try staying in the cottage, which we had a mini tour and looked like a great place to stay.
If you’re planning a road trip around Wales be sure to add Merthyr Tydfil to your list
Has that tempted you to book your next outdoor adventure weekend in South Wales? Feel free to ask me any questions about Merthyr Tydfil or the outdoor activities I took part in during my stay in the comments below
*This was a sponsored trip was arranged by Visit Merthyr along with the activities. My accommodation was provided by Parkwood Outdoor Dolygaer Centre. However, all thoughts and opinions are always my own.
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