National Cycle Route 8, The Taff Trail
Distance: 88km / 55 miles
The Taff Trail leads from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil, Talybont Reservoir and Brecon.
It’s a mainly traffic-free route that takes in the sights of Wales’ vibrant capital before heading to the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and ending in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park.
It starts in Cardiff Bay, home to some fantastic attractions such as the Doctor Who Experience. Just a short ride away, you’re transported from cosmopolitan Cardiff to rural heaven. Cycle eight relatively gentle miles along a disused railway line that follows the Taff corridor, to a region of crashing weirs rich with wildlife, impressive mountain backdrops and the picturesque Castell Coch perched on the mountainside.
On the trail, there are plenty of pretty places to stop and picnic before arriving at the industrial heritage town of Pontypridd. Here you will find a museum, a historic old bridge and the tranquil Ynysangharad War Memorial Park.
Back on the trail, head for Merthyr Tydfil, a town built on iron and coal, and home to the magnificent Cyfarthfa Castle. Visit the Castle’s museum and art gallery before climbing steadily up the Torpantau Pass where you’ll discover the old Merthyr Railway. Drop into the pretty vale of the Usk, close to the small village of Talybont-on-Usk. Then pick up the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal at Brynich Lock and follow the old towpath into the centre of Brecon.
The surfaces are good throughout and there are plenty of places to stay along the way if you don’t fancy doing the whole thing in one day. Using Beacons Bus you can catch the bus to Brecon with your bike following on the trailer and then cycle back to Cardiff.
From Brecon, it’s possible to continue east on quiet roads, passing through Talgarth, Felindre and finally Glasbury, where you can join route 42 (Lôn Las Cymru) on the banks of the River Wye.
Barney and I have done this lovely route a few times travelling in the opposite direction, starting off in Brecon and ending up in Cardiff before arranging for Big Mike Taxis to come and pick us and the bikes up and bring us home.