Garwnant Visitor Centre is based near Merthyr Tydfil on the fringe of the Brecon Beacons. It is the starting point for a number of forest walks, puzzle trails and biking routes. Being free to enter with just £2.00 for parking it makes for a very reasonable family day out.
We headed there in the height of the summer holidays and it was not that busy. Which was a nice surprise, as we all know how busy places get during school holidays.
We managed to have a picnic, play in the parks, complete two of the trails and stop for an ice-cream all in the space of an afternoon.
We started off in the play area where the kids played for around an hour before I could convince them to stop for a picnic. There are two play areas; a smaller one for younger ones and a larger one for kids aged 7 to 15. There are climbing frames, obstacle courses, swings and a zip line.
Whilst the older area suggests it is for ages upwards of 8, my 4 year old had no problem keeping up with her brothers in there. The play area also happens to have the most amazing views so hanging about there while the kids play was very pleasant.
There are lots of picnic tables dotted around the park and there are some dotted along the walks too. Some have metal frames for you to place your disposable barbecues which I thought was great.
Spotted around the park, in addition to the animals you will find on the trail below, are various wooden sculptures. The kids enjoyed seeking out some of their favourite characters such as the Big Friendly Giant (BFG), Gruffalo’s Child and Toad from Wind in the Willows.
The Animal Sculpture Trail:
This trail starts in front of the visitor centre. It lasts around half an hour, without stopping and is around 1 k.m. You can pick up a leaflet from the centre which has a map and some clues so you can guess which animal will come next on the trail. There is also a place for you to fill in your answers.
There are a total of 12 animals to find. They are mainly wooden such as the Eagle, Snake and Rabbit but there are some others too such as a mole made from Welsh slate, a deer made from willow and a wire dragonfly.
The walk meanders through a forest area, next to a stream and then on through a treelined walk. Apart from one steep section it is a pretty easy walk and you’d be able to manage it with a buggy.
The Tree Trail:
You can start this trail at the car park opposite from the play area near the sculptures of Toad and Badger from the Wind in the Willows. Like the trail above it is a short trail of around 1 k.m. and takes around half an hour.
Using the same leaflet as for the animal trail, you match your pictures of leaves on the leaflet to wooden plaques you discover on the trail. The plaques are positioned by the types of trees too so it is good for learning and identifying the different types from Oak, to Willow to Silver Birch. There are seven types in total to find.
I found the actual walk to be a nicer walk than the one above as it meandered more through woodland and took you over more bridges over the stream. Saying that, the end of the walk overlaps with the start of the one above so you could combine the two.
It is a pleasant walk, very easy to do with kids and nice for the older kids to be able to learn.
What else is there Garwnant Visitor Centre?
There is a cafe on site which seemed pleasant enough. We had taken a picnic so didn’t sample the food, but we did call in for an ice-cream.
We didn’t get to try out everything. There was the low ropes course which we missed and didn’t spot until we were about to leave.
Along with the two puzzle trails I’ve outlined above, there are other longer ones to try. There are also mountain bike routes. These start at an easy level for kids. There is also a mountain bike skills park suitable for kids. We’ll definitely be taking the bikes next time.
Address: Cwmtaf, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, CF48 2HU, Wales
Dogs Welcome – The walks, visitor centre and the cafe are all dog friendly. There are also dogs water bowls located outside the cafe.
Facilities ar Garwnant Visitor Centre:
Cafe, Toilets, Baby Changing, Disabled Toilets.
Wheelchair and buggy friendly routes available
Play area, low ropes and picnic tables
Parking – charge applies
Monday to Sunday 09:30 – 16:30
Monday to Friday 11:00 – 15:00
Saturday to Sunday 11:00 – 16:00
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:00