The Taff Trail follows the course of the River Taff from the Welsh Capital into spellbinding scenery and through the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The 55-mile (89-kilometer) route begins from Cardiff Bay and journeys north along pretty riverside paths, old railway railway lines, serene canal towpaths, forest roads, and rugged mountain passes to finish in Brecon.
The trail utilizes a closed branch of the Taff Vale Railway and of the Glamorganshire Canal; both built in the 18th and 19th centuries to transport coal and iron ore to the docks at Cardiff and Barry.
Highlights along the way include: Cardiff Castle, a stunning site with a 2,000-year history; Castell Coch, the fairytale castle of Wales; The Rocking Stone, a glacial boulder surrounded by a stone circle; Pontsarn Viaduct, which was built in the 1860s; Pontsticill Reservoir, a vast water store situated in picturesque surroundings; the beautiful Blaen y Glyn waterfalls; the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal; the Usk Valley; Brecon Castle, a magnificent Gothic structure in the heart of the national park; plus more.
The most common way to walk the trail is from south to north (as per this Collection). However, there is no reason why you can't hike the other way.
In this Collection, we split the route into four stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Cardiff, which has direct trains from London, Birmingham, and Manchester, among others, and has connecting services around Britain. From the station, it is a two-mile (three-kilometer) walk to Cardiff Bay, where the hike begins.
To get home, you can catch the T4 TrawsCymru bus service from Brecon back to Cardiff, where you will easily find trains to your desired destination. Due to Beacon's geographic position, your route home can depend a great deal on where you are going, so further research is advised.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Cardiff. Alternatively, you could find long stay parking in Cardiff. To get back you can catch the T4 TrawsCymru bus service from Brecon back to Cardiff.
For more information about the Taff Trail, visit: mytafftrail.co.uk.
For the T4 TrawsCymru bus service, visit: trawscymru.info/t4.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
The Taff Trail starts its 55-mile (88 kilometer) journey from Cardiff Bay, right in the heart of the Welsh capital.
From the waterside, the trail follows the Taff corridor through the city; meandering past Cardiff Castle, through parks and green lanes, all the way to Castell Coch.
Whilst there has been a castle on the site of Castell Coch since the Norman period, architect William Burges transformed the crumbling ruins into a Gothic masterpiece during the Victorian era under the request of the third Marquess of Bute.
Following the sharp ascent past Castell Coch, the trail descends gently through farmland and woodland all the way to Pontypridd, where this stage finishes.
Pontypridd has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage explores a landscape with a rich industrial heritage.
Before leaving Pontypridd, it is worth visiting Saint Catherine's, a listed church that was completed in 1870 in response to the growing population of the town, due to industrialization.
Another must-see is the Rocking Stone; a glacial boulder from when ice sheets covered these lands that is surrounded by a 19th-century stone circle.
The trail diverts from the shaded banks of the Taff on a few occasions along this hike, but follows its course consistently; rewarding you with some serene sections.
With level, easy-going walking, and firm pathways throughout, this hike should be leisurely.
This stage finishes in Merthyr Tydfil, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
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This challenging stage takes you through the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
With 17.5 miles (28 kilometers) of distance and a hilly terrain to contend with, this hike will really test your fitness and stamina.
The trail climbs gradually out of Merthyr Tydfil, passing over Pontsarn Viaduct, which was built in the 1860s to carry the Brecon and Merthyr Railway over the Taf Fechan river.
You continue upstream and eventually reach the banks of Pontsticill Reservoir, a vast water store set in picturesque surroundings that was completed in 1927.
The trail continues above the reservoir, affording some lovely views over the water below.
As you leave the reservoir behind, you are treated to the beautiful Blaen y Glyn waterfalls which cascade through the landscape.
You descend to Talybont Reservoir and continue to Talybont on Usk, where this stage finishes.
Talybont on Usk has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
After a grueling penultimate stage, the Taff Trail concludes with a leisurely saunter along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
With less than eight miles (13 kilometers) of distance and a near flat terrain, you have plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings on this hike.
From Talybont, you join the canal towpath and follow it for the entirety of the hike; enjoying the serene atmosphere it affords.
Along the way, you hike over the Brynich Aqueduct, which was completed in 1800 to carry the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal over the River Usk.
When you arrive in Brecon, where this stage and the Taff Trail finishes, it is worth paying a visit to Brecon Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic structure where people have worshipped for more than 900 years.
Brecon has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.