When I worked in Cardiff I used to travel down the A470 from Tredegar and would take Caerphilly Mountain road towards Pentwyn. I passed a sign for the Mountain View Ranch every day since the sign went up and always wondered what it was. One weekend, while wondering what to do with BattleKid, I looked it up. And discovered the Caerphilly Mountain Ranch was somewhere to take kids, so off we went. One of our main reasons for visiting – hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch. Continue reading “Hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch”
So, you’ve got a train-mad little boy, a nice sunny day in South Wales and nothing planned of a Saturday morning. What do you do? You visit the Brecon Mountain Railway of course.
The Brecon Mountain Railway is situated just a few minutes from Merthyr Tydfil and is a railway with a steam engine to thrill the hearts of any train fan. It is also located just 15 minutes from our South Wales home and was somewhere we had been meaning to visit but hadn’t until last year.
Running from Pant to Torpantau, the Brecon Mountain railway follows part of the original route of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway which closed in 1964. It takes you into the Brecon Beacons, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir before climbing up to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons.
On the day we visited the Brecon Mountain Railway, we drove to the Pant Station, parked up and bought our tickets in the office before making our way to the platform. We passed the locomotive running shed and workshop on the way to the platform and the smell was lovely. Grease, oil and engine smells. There is also a model railway as you approached the platform which BattleKid loved.
We waited patiently for our train, boarded and handed the conductor our tickets. The train left Pant Station and started its journey through the stunning Brecon Beacons towards Torpantau. We saw the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and the Pontsticill Reservoir.
Although it had been sunny when we left Pant, the clouds got thicker as we ascended towards Torpantau. We alighted the steam train and a certain little boy wasn’t too sure about the steam coming from the engine.
The engine spends a few minutes changing around before everyone gets back on for the journey back to Pontsticill. There, you have 25 or 30 minutes to enjoy the views, have a refreshment in the small café or spend some at the playground, as we did. You can even spend longer there if you want to, and get a different train back. We chose not to.
Back at Pant Station, we visited the traditional sweet shop and bought some rhubarb and custards for BattleDad, his favourites, before heading home. Although we had only been at the Brecon Mountain Railway for less than 2 hours, it was a fun filled 2 hours. BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his ride on the steam engine and his time at the playground.
Things to note if visiting the Brecon Mountain Railway
- There are 3 or 4 train journeys a day, depending on the time of year. There were three the day we visited.
- Adult tickets cost £14, children cost £7 (up to 15 years of age), and seniors cost £12.50 return. Under 3’s are free.
- There is ample parking at the Pant Station and it is free.
- The Brecon Mountain Railway is mostly wheelchair and buggy friendly, although wheelchairs are limited to manual ones and cannot leave the train at Torpantau Station.
- There are toilets at both Pant and Pontsticill Station and baby changing facilities.
- There is a tea room at both Pant and Pontsticill Stations.
- There is a gift shop at Pant, while the Steam Museum (which is free) is located at Pontsticill Station.
- A children’s playground is located at Pontsticill Station, which we can highly recommend for young children.
- The Brecon Mountain Railway also holds special days throughout the year such as for Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day. They also hold Santa Special Trains throughout the month of December.
- Trains run non-stop to Torpantau and return to Pontsticill for 25 or 30 minutes. Passengers are allowed to stay longer at Pontsticill and get a different train back to Pant station.
- For timetables and up-to-date news, it is best to check the Brecon Mountain Railway website.
We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours on the Brecon Mountain Railway and would highly recommend it for families as a day out in South Wales. It would particularly appeal to Thomas fans and fans of trains in general.
*I was not asked to write this review.
Although BattleKid and I had visited once before, we had never been dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle until earlier this year. When my nephew and Dad were visiting when BattleKid was 4 months old, we took a drive to Chepstow Castle. However, I couldn’t explore the castle as BattleKid was so small and I had his buggy. Fast forward three years and we, as a family, finally visited this wonderful castle on the banks of the River Wye.
Our sole intention this time was to not only explore the castle, it being BattleDad’s first visit, but also to do a spot of dragon hunting at Chepstow Castle. We were sure there must be a dragon lurking inside as we’d found dragons in other Welsh Castles like Carreg Cennen.
We are regular visitors to Abergavenny as it is only 15 minutes from our house. We often pop down on a Saturday for breakfast in our favourite café before running some errands, like depositing money in BattleKid’s bank account or getting his ever growing feet measured in Clarks. A few times we’ve gone dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle after we’ve finished and BattleKid loves this little castle. Continue reading “Dragon Hunting at Abergavenny Castle”
On Saturday 30th July this year we went to Aberdare Bike Races. Now BattleDad and I have been quite a number of years ago on a Sunday afternoon and it was really good. We quite enjoyed it and, as it was our first race meet before we went to the TT for the first time, it gave us a good idea of what to expect when going to the Isle of Man. We decided to take BattleKid this year because he is two and a half years of age, motorbike mad and we thought this year would be a good time to take him to see whether or not he would enjoy it.
We decided to go early in the morning in case BattleKid didn’t enjoy it, as there are still times that he gets a little uneasy when BattleDad starts up his own bike. If he did enjoy it we could stay until lunchtime and still be back in time for BattleKid’s nap at the afternoon, if he didn’t then we could leave early enough. We arrived about 9:30 in the morning and made our way through the gates into the park.
We had booked our tickets online which was really handy. When you first go into the park, if there are bikes going around the track, you need to wait by the gates until the bikes have completed their laps. Only then do the Marshalls let you through into the middle of Aberdare Park where spectators are allowed and where the merchandise stands and food stalls are located.
We waited with everybody else by the gates until the bikes had completed their practice laps and this gave us a chance to see how BattleKid would take to the noise. Lolo was over visiting us from Ireland so he took him up into his arms and made a game of the bikes going around. By doing this, not only did BattleKid get really excited but it calmed any nerves he had. He did get a little fright when one of the bikes backfired but he soon got over it.
Once the bikes had finished their laps, the Marshalls opened the gates and let us through, and the first thing we hit was the playground. BattleKid had an absolute ball going up and down the slides, having fun on the swings as well, all while the bikes were doing their practice laps. The morning session is practice session and race laps are in the afternoon.
After a couple more goes on the swings we decided to make our way to the merchandise stands because BattleDad wanted to see a friend of his who would be on the Institute of Advanced Motorists stand. Unfortunately his friend wasn’t there yet but this gave us a chance to check out some of the clothes stands. I picked up a lovely Honda jacket for him for next year.
We also had time for BattleKid to have his first ever carousel ride on his own. He had a very serious face on him going around. After that we took another walk around the stands, stopping by the quad bikes track for the two boys to have a ride together. I think it was more for BattleDad than BattleKid, if we’re being honest!
BattleKid had a very serious face on him again as he and BattleDad were going around the track. It was quite funny looking at his little serious face with the very big helmet they had put on his head but they both seem to enjoy it.
After that we had another little wander around before walking around the lake and stopping by the side of the barriers to watch some more of the bikes doing their practice rounds. BattleKid had been getting a bit tired before this. However once we got to the side of the barriers he got a second wind and started really enjoying watching the bikes going round and round doing their laps. We watched a few more rounds of practice before we decided to head for home.
Although we didn’t spend too long at Aberdare Bike Races this year, it was a good introduction for BattleKid and he seemed to really enjoy it as did Mum, Dad and Lolo. We will definitely be taking him back next year when we will probably spend most of the day there as he won’t need his nap. Going to Aberdare Bike Races this year gives us a good idea that BattleKid will enjoy motor racing in the flesh. He enjoys watching the TT and MotoGP on the TV but seeing bikes up close and personal is a different story. This year’s visit to Aberdare Races also gets us excited for when we finally get ferry tickets for the Isle of Man TT, which we haven’t managed to do this year! One year soon we’ll get ferry tickets! They are the hardest part of trying to attend the TT.
Aberdare Bike Races are held on an 0.9 mile demanding circuit which winds it’s way through the trees in the local town park. First raced in 1950, it has seen not only local racers participate but also TT stars such as Ian Lougher and John McGuinness. This year it cost £12 per adult for a single day pass, or £23 for a full weekend adult pass. Under 13’s went free when accompanied by a full paying adult and children between 13 and 16 years of age cost £5 for a day pass.
There are numerous food stalls, plenty of merchandise stands and some fairground-type attractions for kids. There is no car parking at the park, although there is some limited space for bikes at the entrance. There are car parks in the town, less than half a mile away and you might be lucky to find some street parking around the park.
So if you are a biking family and plan to visit South Wales in July, I’d recommend you visit when Aberdare Bike Races are on. We’ll definitely be attending again next year. I also recorded a little vlog of our visit to the races this year which you can view below.
Thanks for reading.
*We were not asked to write this post.