This public park is located not far from the village of Cwmdare and Aberdare town. It is made up of five hundred acres of land and contains woodlands, pastures, and moorlands.
One of the fascinating things about Dare Valley Country Park is that the land was previously ravaged by industry (coal extraction in particular); it used to have pits and drift mines and was in general considered to be damaged the land. It has recovered since then, as the result of a two-year reclamation project, and now has rivers, lakes, and pastures along with healthy forested woodlands full of lush trees.
The Dare Valley Country Park has numerous trails throughout its expanse, and no matter which path you choose you will see the panoramic scenery and abundant wildlife. Springtime, in particular, brings with it many varieties of bright and vibrant wildflowers, which bloom all throughout the pastures and along the hillsides. These flowers will often last well into the summer months as well.
The lakes of Dare Valley Country Park (which were artificially created) are notable for the way they attract wildlife, most especially herons, coots, cormorants, and dippers.
Some favourite activities in Dare Valley Country Park include hiking and dog walking, as well as camping caravanning. The trails in the park have a great deal of variety to them; some are paved and more well-trodden, while others are more natural and go through slightly wilder areas.
The three main paths are the Bwllfa Trail, the Cae Mawr Trail, and the Penrhiwllech Trail. The Bwllfa Trail has paved trails on flat ground; this trail is ideal for anyone who wants or needs a flat surface, and even has an alternative pathway that is covered with tarmac, which is particularly significant for anyone using a wheelchair, pushchair, or stroller. The Bwllfa Trail is the shortest of the trails, at 3.5 kilometres for the full-length path and 2 kilometres for the paved route.
The Cae Mawr Trail, meanwhile, takes you along more rustic countryside paths across and around the hills. Sturdy footwear is recommended for walking this trail, since certain portions may be muddy or uneven in certain places depending upon the local weather conditions. The Cae Mawr Trail is longer than the Bwllfa Trail, at about 4 kilometres in length total.
The Penrhiwwlech Trail, in comparison, is a more severe trail that leads up out of the valley via more countryside paths and onto the upland plateau. This trail involves more rough terrain than the other two runways, and it’s generally advised to have hiking experience before trying it since the trail is more rugged and portions of it are even nearby to unfenced cliffs; protective clothing is also recommended depending on the season and weather conditions.
The park also features a visitor centre that can inform guests about the history of the park as well as suggest activities that they might enjoy during their visit. The Visitor Center also has a restaurant where you can purchase meals and refreshments.
The Dare Valley Country Park is open the entire year and even provides free parking for all its visitors.