WELCOME! I've been cycling through the Southeast Valleys of Wales since 2010 and I can't say (or show) enough about the place. I just love it. So if you've got the interest and would like to spend some time... sit back and let me show you some of the fabulous places I've discovered.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cordell Country Heritage Ride

Having just finished reading Alexander Cordell's "Rape of the Fair Country", I found myself wanting to get out and ride in the valleys where I live... to see the land of which Cordell wrote. Of course, nothing is as it was in the 1840's and the coal mines and iron foundries are long gone. But the land, the people, and the beauty is here.

We're very fortunate to have Sustrans. These folks have done an amzing job converting the abandoned rail lines into traffic-free routes which wind up and down the Southern Valleys of Wales. The circular route I followed is shown below.

So sit back and relax and ride with me up through Cordell Country.

Six Bells & The Gaurdian. This grand monument is at first hidden through the trees as you cycle up NCN 465 from Aberbeeg. As you get closer the trees clear, the valley opens, and this sculpture quietly dominates the skyline. It is a powerful tribute to the lives sacrificed for the coal industry. There is a visitors centre with a small cafe and heritage room located across from the car park. Read more @ Guardian of the Valleys.

The irony of Margaret Thatcher closing the mines, putting hundreds of thousands out of work and devastating the Welsh economy... is that nature has reclaimed the valleys.

Up over the mountain from Brynmawr one feels as if you have completely left civilization. All I could hear was the wind and my rolling bicycle tyres...

Far off in the distance you can see The Blorenge.

A restored steam train pulls out of the Blaenavon High Level Station during a weekend railway gala...

Still Waiting... sculpture on an abandoned platform quietly remembers.

This project is under development.  Check back for additional information to be included on the Big Pit National Coal Museum and the Blaenavon Ironworks & National Heritage Center... meanwhile here's the route. 

 Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road

Cordell Country Heritage Ride
Distance: 32.5 mi.
Skill Level: Advanced
Approx. Time: 6 -7 hrs.
Elevation: +2620 ft. / -2620 ft.
Max. Grade: 10.8%
Avg. Grade: -0.3%

My ride started in Newbridge heading up NCN Route 465 toward Brynmawr. I then rode NCN 46 over the Heads of the Valleys to Route 492 and down through Blaenavon to Pontypool. In Pontypool I rode NCN Route 466 back to Crumlin and Newbridge. "Just like that."

Big Pit: National Coal Museum
Blaenavon Ironworks & World Heritage Site
Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway