On 24th March 2018 Asher and I will run 40 miles from Brecon, South Wales to my home town of Mountain Ash along the Taff Trail. I am doing this to celebrate my 40th Birthday and to raise much needed funds for Central Beacons Mountain Rescue, after a fire destroyed their head quarters the end of last year.
Canal Wharf, Brecon to White Hart Inn, Talybont on Usk
Stage one is a flat easy section following the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. The whole route follows the towpath flowing under canal bridges and over the River Usk via the Brynich Aqueduct. Some interesting historic sites can be seen along the canal banks, such as the remains of old lime kilns and the Brynich lock. Also on this route in the village of Pencelli is the canal boat marina.
White Hart Inn, Talybont on Usk to Torpantau railway station
After leaving the flat easy tow path this next section takes you onto a gradual climb, lifting you above Talybont Reservoir along forestry tracks. The views from this section are pretty impressive. The total ascent of this section is 1849ft. The last half a mile of this section is on road. Although a quiet and remote area, care should be taken for passing traffic. There can also be cattle roaming free at this point. This section ends at Torpantau railway station.
Torpantau railway station to Pontsticill Reservoir Dam
The first mile of the section takes you along forestry path. There are some gates to pass through with areas of grazing sheep and then it’s back on the road for two and a half miles. The road is single track and runs alongside Pentwyn Reservoir. It is a quiet and remote area, but please be aware of traffic. There is a steep section to climb on this part of the road. Once you leave the road its back to forestry track and another steep climb, however you will start to see Pontsticill Reservoir come into view below with rewarding views. The track meanders through Taf Fechan forestry before reaching the road once more and downhill to Pontsticill reservoir dam.
Pontsticill Reservoir Dam to Travelodge Rhyd-y-car, Merthyr Tydfil
Upon reaching Pontsticill Reservoir dam wall, this is the 20 mile half way point. The start of this section is road for 1 mile and then heads off to the west through Cwm Taf Fechan Nature Reserve and over the old viaduct. When the footpath reaches the village of Cefn-coed-y-cymmer, pass by Saint John the Baptist Church, crossing the road at High Street and back onto the footpath to cross Cefn -coed Viaduct. The Taff Trail continues alongside the A470 passing Pont y Cafnau, the world’s earliest surviving iron railway bridge and on to remains of Cyfartha blast furnaces. The Taff Trail joins the road at A4102 and route continues past Merthyr Tydfil College following the River Taff until Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Village and the Travelodge.
Travelodge Rhyd-y-car, Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon Fire Station
This section of the route follows the A470 and River Taff in a southerly direction, through the village of Aberfan, Edwardsville and skirting around Quakers Yard. At Aberfan the Taff Trail crosses under the A470 and crosses back underneath again at Pontygwaith Works Bridge. This bridge was used to run the first ever steam locomotive in 1804. The bridge has also featured in an episode of BBC Merlin. This part of the trail was once part of a tram road that ran the first ever steam locomotive and the sleepers can still be seen intact.
Abercynon Fire Station to The George Restaurant Mountain Ash
The easiest and shortest section of the route, the home straight. Cross the road at Abercynon fire station and the route continues under the railway tracks and past the sports centre and rugby club. Crossing a road for the last time and through Pontcynon Industrial Estate, the Cynon Trail meanders alongside Afon Cynon River for the next 3 miles to the destination of Mountain Ash.
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