One thing we’re not short of in Merthyr Tydfil is space. Explore the wild landscapes of the Brecon Beacons National Park by day and admire the heavens above on a starry night. Relax with a book in the neatly manicured gardens of Cyfarthfa Park or spot the wildlife in Parc Taf Bargoed near Treharris, formerly the site of three collieries, now a Green Flag Award winning park. Whatever type of space you enjoy most, you will find it here.
For Stargazers: The Brecon Beacons is one of only seven Dark Sky Reserves in the world. Tranquil Pontsticill and Llwyn On reservoirs are atmospheric spots for observing the night sky. You’ll be amazed at what you can see, even without a telescope! There are no specific facilities at these sites so take a deck chair with you, wrap up warm, then sit back and gaze upwards. If you’d like to try out a telescope or see a mobile planetarium, look out for the occasional stargazing events run by the local astronomical societies.
For Twitchers: Parc Taf Bargoed's is a must! A popular birdwatching spot in the south of the county borough, the lakes in this Green Flag park attract dippers, kingfishers, moorhens, coots, little grebe, mallards and herons. Once the site of the three coal mines, the water quality is now superb for wildlife – it’s filtered through one of Europe’s largest reedbeds. Over 60 species of bird and 20 species of butterflies are attracted to the wealth of habitats in this park. Where once coal was mined, now red kites soar overhead.
For History Buffs: Book a place on the regular guided walks around Cyfarthfa Park on the first Thursdays of each month. Led by a park ranger, you’ll learn about the history of the impressive 160-acre park and the Crawshay Ironmasters. Bookings 07912774631
For Photographers: Capture the vast vistas and amazing light of the Brecon Beacons. Some of the views of the central peaks (Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn) are from Pontsticill Reservoir. Photography workshops led by local experts will help take the perfect picture of our peaks, rivers and even the milky way.
For Families: On the circular walk through Penmoelallt Woods there are sculptures to spot, and a super range of activity sheets for children can be downloaded from www.merthyrnats.org.uk. During school holidays Par Taf Bargoed is the place for bird watching, pond dipping, bug identification and bat walks.
For Garden Lovers: Pontygwaith Farm is a welcoming 4 ½ acre garden adjacent to the Taff Trail near Treharris. Enjoy the perennial borders, lakeside walk, rose garden and Japanese garden that surround the 17th century farmhouse, and admire the Grade 2 listed humpback packhouse bridge that spans the river Taff. Arrive by car or call in when walking the Taff Trail. Visitors welcome April to August.