A proud heritage
Northwest of Cardiff lie the valleys associated with south Wales’ coal-mining industry. The county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff brings together the valleys of Rhondda Fawr, Rhondda Fach, Cynon, Taff and Ely. Three rivers run through the valleys – they are, unsurprisingly, named the Rhondda, Cynon and Taff.
Of the valleys, Rhondda is probably the most famous. Its last pit closed in 1990, changing the face of the area forever. The award-winning Rhondda Heritage Park pays homage to Rhondda’s history and workforce. Based at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, which closed in 1983, it evokes the sounds, smells and sights of what life was like in a working coal mine.
The underground tour, led by ex-miners, vividly recreates working conditions on a shift – there is even a simulated explosion.
One of the UK’s more unusual new attractions, meanwhile, is further south in the town of Llantrisant. Since 1967 it has been the home of Britain’s Royal Mint, which manufactures all British coins. In 2016 the Royal Mint Experience opened, offering visitors the chance to see behind the scenes and watch coins being minted.