Tour of Britain Comes to Rhondda Cynon Taf
Our mountain roads, surrounded by 360 views, and dramatic landscape make a perfect adventure environment for cyclists.
As the Tour of Britain returns to Rhondda Cynon Taf to take some of the world’s best riders in the world over the epic Bwlch and Rhigos Mountains, and through the ancient Llanwonno Forestry, here’s why we are such a great place for cyclists.
We have some of the most challenging mountain roads – there is a reason cycling legend Geraint Thomas used the Rhigos as a training ground for the Tour De France! The ride is almost 3.5 miles long and will take you 1,000ft up to the summit, past a Dark Sky Discovery site (perfect for star-gazing at the end of a long day cycling) with views across the Brecon Beacons.
Take hairpin bends past Zip World Tower, the only attraction of its kind in south and mid Wales, home to Phoenix, the fastest seated zip line in the world, Tower Coaster (you won’t find another like it in Europe), the huge Tower Climber, zip lines for kids, Cegin Glo restaurant, Coal Mining heritage and more.
A similar experience awaits you at the Bwlch Mountain. While not as long and as high as Rhigos, the mountain has stunning views and there’s a chance to meet the local sheep and grab an ice cream or a coffee at the summit.
Bwlch is also known as “Britain’s Mont Ventaux”, following the efforts of elite cyclists to find a UK version of the “Giant of Provence” which offers the challenge of being able to be climbed from three different ways.
We are home to Dare Valley Country Park and Gravity, the UK’s first purpose-built family bike park.
There is an uplift service and bike/equipment hire if you need it and mountain side trails of varying levels. There’s a pump track and a colourful balance bike track for little ones.
Caffi Cwtsh offers a great range of food and there are also two coffee and snack cabins throughout the country park.
There’s an adventure playground and smaller play area for toddlers, as well as walking routes, lakes, trout fishing and more.
You can also bring your caravan, camper van or motorhome for an overnight stay, or stay in the on-site accommodation. The park is classified as a Dark Sky Wales site - perfect for spotting planets, constellations and more.
Barry Sidings Countryside Park is huge and has free parking. There’s loads of space and tracks to cycle and scoot. Take on the pump track or, for older/more experienced riders, there is a BMX track.
The park is home to the award-winning Barry Sidings Café, serving incredible burgers, loaded fries, ice creams, shakes and more.
Cwm Clydach Country Park/Lakeside Café is a licensed café/restaurant with a wide range of delicious food and beverages where you can relax indoors or on the terrace overlooking the lake before or after taking a leisurely lakeside stroll.
There are cycle/walking tracks between the bottom and top lakes with the Cambrian Memorial site situated between the two. For the more seasoned cyclist there are even tracks that go up over the mountain to join up to the top of the Bwlch mountain.
Disability side by side bikes can be hired to circle the specially widened tracks surrounding the lake.
Rhondda Cynon Taf is criss-crossed by the National Cycle Network and the Taff Trail runs straight through the county borough and offers a range of riding opportunities.
We are also home to Great Glamorgan Way routes, including the challenging Brynna to Taff Ely Ridgeway, where you begin in shady woodland that opens out to green landscapes and the Mynydd Coedbychan looms ahead, over the summit to the ruins of ancient St Peter’s Church, which has long been linked with King Arthur.
History and legends
Many of our cycle routes take you through Welsh history. The Taff Trail runs from Cardiff to Brecon and passes through Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, the place where the legendary Welsh National Anthem was written and composed.
The park is home to the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, a stunning restoration of the Art Deco lido that first opened in 1927.
It’s now an attraction for all, with three outdoor heated pools, inflatable obstacle course and seasonal events such as cold water swims, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day swims, but was once the place where the now Sir Tom Jones swam.
Use the Taff Trail to head north out of Pontypridd, past the site of the former Lady Windsor Colliery, one of hundreds of coal mines from which we used to help power the world. Our mining and industrial past is something we are fiercely proud of – you can find out more at A Welsh Coal Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park Museum in Trehafod, Rhondda.
Explore Llanwonno Forestry, with its steep, challenging tracks. Discover the waterfall and reservoir. Listen to the legend of Guto Nyth Bran, who is buried in the sixth century St Gwynno’s Church nearby, who was once the fastest man on the world and inspired the Nos Galan Road Races.
The races are held in Mountain Ash every New Year’s Eve, attracting runners from across the UK.
We have a range of accommodation options with plenty of space and, importantly, bike wash and bike storage facilities. Plus they are close to great places to eat so you can relax and refuel after an adrenaline-filled day.
St Alban’s Church in Treherbert is great for larger groups and has bike storage. It’s also close to the award-winning ‘UK’s Best High Street’ in Treorchy, which has a range of places to eat and drink, including its own ice cream parlour and micro-brewery.
If you prefer something a little more secluded then both Ty Ffarm and Hafod Ganol, on the outskirts of Pontypridd, offer loads of room for you and your bike, as well as gorgeous views and relaxation.