Stop One - The Royal Mint Experience
Rhondda Cynon Taf has proudly hosted the Royal Mint and its 1,000 years of treasures, history and legends since it moved to Wales from London half a century ago.
The Royal Mint Experience is the only one of its kind and allows visitors the unique chance to see behind the scenes at this quintessentially British establishment, which makes money and medals for countries all over the world.
What does it feel like to sit in a room with £1million in £1 coins?
Can you strike your own coin?
Explore six zones, which explore the origins of the Royal Mint and its links to the Tower of London, the treasures produced here that travel all over the world - from Olympic medals to Canadian coins, how money is made and the traditions behind it and, of course, discover the appeal of collecting coins.
There's lots to do at the Royal Mint Experience which is rated as one of the best Tourist Attractions in South Wales. It also has an on-site gift shop and restaurant to enjoy during your stay.
Stop Two – Llantrisant town
The Royal Mint Experience itself is located on the first main road into Rhondda Cynon Taff from the M4 and, as you arrive, you will travel through rolling countryside, before arriving at the historic hilltop town of Llantrisant, which dates from the 13th century.
Once one of the most important viewpoint forts in Wales in Norman times, this unique town remains a precious and hidden treasure.
Scattered around a traditional Bullring - fighting upon which was ceased due to the poor behaviour of the crowds, not the bull - is a delightful collection of independent stores, bakeries and places to eat.
Explore further through the pretty cobbled streets and discover ancient churches and the remaining fortress tower of Llantrisant Castle, which held the captured King Edward II before his execution.
The tower still stands proudly, now guarded by the goats who nibble the overgrowth to keep it at bay, close to Llantrisant Common, which has acres of land to explore.
Stop Three – Refreshment ideas
- A short drive from Llantrisant is Lanelay Hall - a stunning Victorian Mansion that has been transformed into a restaurant and hotel, with delicious afternoon teas or a full dining menu.
- The Loft Restaurant at The Heritage Park Hotel reflects tradition and heritage with many of the timbers in its beamed ceilings originating from an old wharf warehouse on the waterfront of Cardiff docks. The hotel is also conveniently situated next to the Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park.
Whereever you choose to dine, you will eventually head into the heart of Rhondda Cynon Taff, where the rolling green pastures that inspired Richard Llewellyn's "How Green Was My Valley" and Sir Tom Jones' "Green, Green Grass of Home" ascend into dramatic industrial and natural landscapes.
The industrial and mining history for which we were famed the world over has shaped the landscape of the Rhondda, which has become all the more dramatic and beautiful as nature reclaims it.
Necklaces of terraced houses, painted a rainbow of colours, cling to the hills and mountains, following the curve of natural mountains and mining-carved coal seams.
This ruggedly beautiful landscape now provides some of the best walking, cycling and horse riding experiences in South Wales and is a haven for adventurers and photographers.
It provides the perfect welcome to your next destination - the Welsh Mining Experience - located in the heart of the Valley that inspired its incredible story.
Stop Four - The Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park
Another top-rated TripAdvisor attraction, the Welsh Mining Experience is located on the site of the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery and maintains some of its original features, such as the iconic chimney and outbuildings.
The men who will take you on a trip back in time and underground are the same men who once worked hundreds of meters underground in the perilous mines, so they have personal stories and memories to share with you.
Be thrilled on The Dram Cinematic Experience - hang on tight as you experience the journey of a runaway coal dram - and make sure you take a trip down memory lane in the recreated Miner's cottage.
Get a souvenir to remember your time at the Welsh Mining Experience in the traditional gift shop, which has a lovely range of locally-made arts and crafts and Welsh-themed items, including Miners Lamps and slates.
If you have time, you can take a journey to the top of the Rhondda, and enjoy the magnificent views from the top of The Bwlch Mountain - if the ice cream van is there, make sure you get one - they are made from a delicious recipe that has been passed down through generations.