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With Rhymney Valley to the north, Caerphilly Mountain to the south and an abundance of forests, parks and hillside trails in between, Caerphilly County Borough is a green and scenic region just a stone’s throw from the Welsh capital.
From its medieval castle and Tudor manor to its more recent mining heritage, there’s plenty of history and culture to explore here too – or taste, in the form of world-famous Caerphilly cheese.
History and culture
Caerphilly Castle is Wales’ largest castle and is the region’s most popular and impressive attraction. With its array of moats, dams and huge defence walls, a 30-acre expanse of greenery and even its own leaning tower, there’s enough here to spark even the most idle imaginations. The use of film and sound helps to bring to life the stories of former inhabitants. As you pass through the great hall, sounds of feasting fill the air and a virtual fire crackles in the hearth. Interactive exhibits, such as the table that acts like a giant iPad, mean that with the flick of a finger you can open an ancient scroll or explode a casket on a digital map. A statue of the late comedian Tommy Cooper, who was born in Caerphilly, stands just outside the castle grounds.
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Close to the border of Merthyr Tydfil in the north of the county, Llancaiach Fawr is a restored Tudor manor, where the staff – mostly acting as servants – dress in period costume and the refurbished rooms are presented and furnished as they would have been in 1645. Fires crackle, candles flicker and the sounds and smells of domestic life transport visitors back to the 17th century. Here you will find out what it was like to live through the Civil Wars.
Perhaps the most significant era in more recent history for Caerphilly was the Industrial Revolution. Coal mining transformed the economy in South Wales during the 19th century, and the evidence of this once booming industry can still be seen today. New Tredegar’s Winding House sits on the site of the Elliot Colliery, and comes complete with a Victorian winding engine (which operated the cages that took men down into and up out of the earth). Today it’s a museum showcasing local history, from the Roman Empire to present day.
Just outside of Caerphilly town, Senghenydd is another mining town worth visiting. The community centre is home to Aber Valley Heritage Museum, which exhibits photos and memorabilia from the height of the region’s mining pursuits, as well as interactive, educational screens. The nearby Senghenydd Memorial and Garden pays tribute to the men, women and children who lost their lives in 152 mining disasters across Wales, including the Senghenydd colliery disaster, which claimed 439 lives and is the worst mining accident to have occured in the UK.
With hiking and cycling trails for a range of abilities, a children’s playground and opportunities to try orienteering or watersports, Cwmcarn Forest is a one-stop shop for outdoor excursions and makes for a perfect family day out. There’s also a cafe and visitor centre, as well as glamping facilities, on site.
Parc Penallta is another great place if you want to get some fresh air while in Caerphilly. The paths are easy to follow, the gardens are beautiful and if you hike to the park’s highest point, there are lovely views of the South Wales valleys. The star attraction, however, has to be Sultan the Pit Pony, a 200m long earth sculpture which honours the ponies that worked in the old collieries.
Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Caerphilly.
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