A few weekends ago I attended a friend's birthday party in Wales. He lives in a small town called Pontypridd, and rather than taking the train, I decided to walk the Taff Trail from Cardiff.
I’d recommend the following route to hike or cycle along the Taff Trail. If you want, go further then Pontypridd, or walk till Taffs Well and take the train from here. After Taffs Well the walking trail isn't as interesting.
The Taff Trail
The Taff Trail is a popular hiking and cycling route in Wales. It’s named after the river Taff that you follow during your hike.
The hike starts in the lovely capital city of Cardiff at the bay side. However, I started at Cardiff Castle because I didn't have much time. This, plus it’s the place where my coach stopped!
Cardiff Castle and gardens
Cardiff Castle is the first and maybe also the most beautiful point of the trail. The castle's from the Victorian times and has been well maintained over the years.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to visit the castle itself, but together with the surrounding parks, it’s a wonderful place. Top tip: Walk around and get lost in the gardens.
Follow the Taff
From the park around the castle, you can follow the Taff up north. This is the trail that you have to follow. Along the way you’ll see some interesting spots. There’s a nice concrete area where you can have a picnic, alongside the bridge and the Taff Trail.
If you decide to walk to Taffs Well, make a detour to Llandaff Cathedral. Enjoy this peaceful area till you reach a water pump.
Melingriffith Water Pump
You’ll spot this impressive water pump the moment the trail reaches the main road. Technically, this is a water pump engine. The water pump was built in the 1790s.
It lifted water from the tail-race exiting the Melingriffith Ironworks, into the Glamorganshire Canal. The water pump was restored in 2010 to its original glory.
Radyr Weir Hydro Scheme
I was very lucky when I reached this hydro scheme. When I arrived, a man was standing in the door of the building. After asking whether I was able to look inside, he kindly agreed, although I wasn't allowed to take pictures. It felt so great to be walking around a non-touristy area.
This hydro scheme creates enough energy throughout the year to power 550 homes. It’s fully automatic, and when the water level in the Taff’s too low, the machine automatically switches off.
If you’re doing this trail by foot, I’d recommend visiting Castell Coch and then take the train from Taffs Well back to Cardiff. However, if you’re seeing it by bike, I’d suggest cycling much further.
Castell Coch may look like an old castle straight from the Middle Ages, but it’s actually not that old. The castle was finished in 1891, and built on the order of architect William Burges, who was fascinated by medieval architecture.
Finishing the hike
This hike for me was quite a challenge. I walked all the way to Pontypridd, which is around 25 km in total. To walk that in just over 5 hours is quite an achievement! However, if you’re planning on hiking yourself, I wouldn't recommend starting and stopping half way.
With a bike, of course it’s possible to stop along the way, and you can cycle maybe the whole trail and/or all the way to Pontypridd. It’s especially pleasant if you’re blessed with really nice weather like I had. That said, don’t forget to bring your sun cream, as it’s all too easy to get sun burned hiking or biking the Taff Trail.