Rhondda Cynon Taf's beautiful countryside and open spaces cover an impressive 80 per cent of the county borough.
Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the amazing and diverse scenery and views, from the rugged, dramatic landscapes left from mining in the Rhondda to the green, rolling hills of Taff Ely and the moors-like atmosphere of the mountain tops and Cynon Valley.
Throughout the County Borough there are amazing and diverse access opportunities. In the north of the County Borough areas of open countryside is extensive and backs onto the terraced streets.
The open moors can offer remote and challenging walking, thick forestry plantations contrast with the dappled sun-lit deciduous woodlands on the valley sides and bottom. You can choose a steep scramble by a mountain stream or a level, surfaced former railway track by the river, suitable for all abilities.
In the south, the footpath and bridleway network is denser, it takes you through the quiet farmland countryside or onto hill sides where there are spectacular stretching views over the Vale and Cardiff. There are a number of routes which take you through the borough which can be used on foot, cycle or wheelchair, the Taff Trail is one such route that starts in Cardiff and finishes in Brecon.
Find out more about our walks, trails and become a tourist on your own doorstep by visiting the tourism pages
Local Access Forum
The County Borough Council is currently in the process of re-establishing a statutory Local Access Forum (LAF), as required by the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act).
The third term of the statutory LAF, which was appointed in February 2010, has been disbanded following the prescribed three-year period of operation. The Council is now required to appoint a ‘new’ set of members.
The function of the Forum is to advise the Council, the Countryside Council for Wales and other bodies exercising functions under Part I of the CROW Act, as to the improvement of public access to land in the Council’s area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area and as to other matters as may be prescribed. These bodies must, by law, have regard to relevant advice given by the Forum.
Regulations require the Forum to meet at least twice a year. However, it is anticipated that meetings will generally take place more frequently at a time and place agreed by the Forum members.
Areas of Work
The LAF will advise upon aspects of public access in the Council’s area, including public rights of way and the new right of access to open country and registered common land. The Forum will consider all forms of access, including horse riding, cycling and off road driving, and not just access on foot. The exact nature of this work will be decided upon by the LAF itself, in agreement with the Council. However, work in the first year of the Forum is likely to include:
- The monitoring of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
- Implementation of the Walking and Cycling Action Plan for Wales 2009-2013
- Outdoor Wales online
- Access to water
- Improving Local Environment
- Green Flag/Green Flag Community Award
- Countryside Code Campaign
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 brings a new right of access on foot to open country and common land, it also improves the laws for public rights of way. People will be able to access areas of countryside mapped as open country, this is land defined as mountain, moor, heath and down, common land and land designated as access land by the landowner.
The new open access land gives a greater access to the countryside for walking, running, climbing, bird watching and picnicking. There are some restrictions in the new access land, e.g. the new right of access does not permit the use of pedal cycles or motor vehicles on the new access land.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 also gives landowners the opportunity to dedicate areas of land to become access land. The Forestry Commission have dedicated all the forests that they own, though there are some forests which are on leased land, these are not dedicated.
The open access land opened in May 2005, you can find out where the open access land is by emailing: ParksCountryside@rhonnda-cynon-taff.gov.uk or visiting Countryside Council for Wales . All the open access land and the dedicated forestry open access land is plotted on the Ordnance Survey Maps, Explorer Series.
These access signs indicate where access land begins and ends.