Sculpture hunting at Garwnant Visitor Centre

Garwnant Visitor Centre

With breath-taking views, beautiful woodland, an adventure playground and a family sculpture trail, we had a fantastic time in the sunshine at Garwnant Visitor Centre this afternoon.

It’s around 40 minutes from Cardiff along the A470, five miles north of Merthyr Tydfil and 14 miles south of Brecon, and marks the southern gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Managed by Natural Resources Wales, Garwnant is part of the Fforest Fawr Geopark, which means it’s a recognised area of important geological heritage. It’s free to visit, with car parking costing £2 for the day (coins only). We were there for around two and a half hours, but with various woodland trails, mountain bike trails, the playground, plenty of picnic tables and a café, you could easily stay all day.

Garwnant Visitor Centre

Garwnant Visitor centre

My children spotted the playground as soon as we arrived in the car park and couldn’t wait to test it out. It’s split into two areas – one for those aged under eight and one for seven to 15 year olds. The younger playground is best suited for toddlers really; it wasn’t enough for my three (even two-year-old Toddler Boy I). They spent most of their time in the older area, with its zip wire, wooden obstacle course and various rope climbing structures. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a playground with such a beautiful view – and it was great that the wooden equipment had obviously been designed to fit in with its natural environment. The playground floor itself was covered in chippings made from recycled tyres, which made for a lovely soft and springy surface.

Garwnant Visitor Centre

We loved the wooden sculptures of Goldilocks and the three bears dotted around the playground, as well as the BFG sitting in the car park – it was a great warm-up for the forest sculpture trail.

We picked up a leaflet from the visitor centre, which gave various clues to help us guess the identity of the 10 sculptures we would find on our way. I won’t give too much away, but all of them can be found living in the forest and my three especially loved the mole made from Welsh slate, the dragonfly sat in the middle of a pond and the fox.

Garwnant Visitor Centre

Garwnant Visitor Centre

At just half a mile/1km, the trail is easily manageable for little legs. The guide says it takes around half an hour, but we stopped to explore the rocky stream areas along the way and played Pooh sticks for a while, so it took us more like an hour. It’s accessible for buggies – apart from one hill half way around, which is tricky but manageable, and there’s a few areas close to the stream and pond that we needed to take extra care with Toddler, because he loves to climb and explore but does not yet have that sense of danger.

If we’d had more time, we would have liked to have done the tree trail too, which is also around half a mile. We saw some of the wooden posts with pictures of leaves on them on our way round, to help you identify the various trees that grow at Garwnant.

Garwnant Visitor Centre

And when the kids are older, we’ll no doubt be back to try the mountain biking trails. There’s one which has been designed specifically for junior first-time riders, one for more experienced riders and a mountain bike skills park, with child-friendly obstacles.

After all that playing and walking, we stopped in the café for ice cream. Again, the log cabin-style café fits in so well with its surroundings, not to mention the huge solar panels generating power. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and they sell a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and small meals, with a children’s menu and high chairs available.

Have you been to Garwnant Visitor Centre? Do let me know in the comments section below, by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy or on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page.

For more ideas for local family-friendly days out, click on the Cardiff section of Cardiff Mummy Says or follow me on Instagram.

You might also like these other free places to visit: Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail; Gnome and Fairy Trail at Amelia Trust FarmCwmcarn Forest; Forest Farm and Glamorganshire Canal; Bute Park; Cosmeston Country Park and Medieval Village; Porthkerry Country Park; Cefn Onn Country Park.

Garwnant Visitor Centre

8 Comments to Sculpture hunting at Garwnant Visitor Centre

  1. What a lovely idea – I’ve done a few similar trails with my daughter and it’s a great way to get out and explore the woods. Lovely playground too.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      I love these kinds of places. It’s such a lovely way to explore beauty spots as a family x

  2. esther james

    I have often driven past here on the way to Penyfan but didn’t realise what was there. Will definitely be popping in with the kids next time I’m in the area

  3. This looks like a lovely place to visit if the weather is nice and dry. I think Eva would be more interested in the playground than the sculptures knowing her lol x

  4. How cool – definitely interested by the trails (lovely part of Wales for walking).
    Have you been to Dewstow Grottoes near Chepstow? Think that would make a fun family day out.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Dewstow has been on my list of places to visit for ages but not quite got round to it yet. It looks beautiful.
      Let me know if you make it to Garwnant. The walks there are lovely.

  5. I have taken my family to Garwnant before, but didn’t realise there was a sculpture trail!! Thanks for the tip! And yes, do Dewstow, it’s brilliant.

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