In association with Visit Rhondda Cynon Taf and Barry Sidings Country Park
I’m so looking forward to the summer holidays and having lots of adventures with all three of my children. I miss Little Miss E, 7½, and Little Man O, 5¾, so much during term time and can’t wait to have my little gang back together again. However, the one-to-one time I get with Littlest Boy I (I don’t think I can keep calling him Toddler now he is 3¼) while they are at school is really special. I’ve been making the most of it and trying to get in as many day trips with him as I can before the holidays.
The weather this week has been hit and miss but on Monday afternoon the sun started shining, and so we headed to Barry Sidings Country Park in Pontypridd.
We’ve been working with Visit Rhondda Cynon Taf to promote some of the family-friendly attractions in the area and, having already visited Lido Ponty/Ynys Angharad Park, and Rhondda Heritage Park mining museum, Barry Sidings Park was a natural next choice. I’ve heard from several people how beautiful it is. And it really is. The greenery all around, from the grass, trees and mountains, was incredible.
The park sits on the lower slopes of Mynydd Gelliwion and is easily accessible from the A4058 near Trehafod, north west of Pontypridd. I must admit, I drove past the entrance at first because it’s a really small turning off the main road, so keep your eyes peeled.
It is directly opposite Rhondda Heritage Park, meaning you could easily visit both on the same day. In fact, its name comes from its relationship to the former mine because it’s built on the original railway sidings where coal was once loaded from the Lewis Merthyr Colliery (now Rhondda Heritage Park) to be transported to the docks of Barry, where it was exported across the world. With Barry being my hometown, I loved this connection.
There’s a good-sized free car park and a café, selling hot and cold drinks and snacks, as well as cycling accessories on sale from The Bicycle Doctor, who are responsible for developing the cycling facilities in the park.
Although you can access the playground directly from the café and car park Littlest was on his scooter and so took the longer route on the paths alongside the pond, which is a natural focal point for visitors. We met another family who showed us some newts they had found in the water. We also spotted four ducks swimming across the water, butterflies in the reeds, and a squirrel in the woodland.
Considering the park was only developed in the 1980s, the pond area felt lovely and relaxing and the whole area was so green and vibrant.
Littlest was unsurprisingly keen to get to the playground. It’s a decent size, with different activities for different age groups, although probably best suited to the under 8 crowd. Highlights for Littlest included the round swings and the climbing frame with slides, with the park also having baby swings, a bigger slide with climbing net, and a roundabout.
If we’d had more time, I would have loved to have properly explored the woodlands. There is a smaller circular trail, a 1.5 mile walk along the old tramroad, while the park is also part of the Pontypridd Circular, a much longer 12-mile walk.
My eldest two loved the photos I showed them of their brother’s trip, so we’ve agreed we’ll go back over the summer. It will also give me the chance to seek out the waterfalls in the woods. I’d found some stunning photos while researching the park, which I would love to see for myself.
The park is also known for its bike track. There’s a mini one near the car park for smaller children, as well as a bigger purpose built trail system. See The Bicycle Doctor’s website for full details.