WHEN Wales begins to open up following the latest lockdown, many people will be looking for places to visit for nice, relaxing days out and a change of scenery.
Here we look at the top five places in Torfaen to visit according to reviewers on TripAdvisor which may provide some inspiration for when you are able to travel.
Please note that due to the coronavirus restrictions in place in line with Welsh Government guidelines, many of the attractions are closed to visitors at this present time and you should not drive to visit any of these spots. Those that are open are for exercise within walking distance from your home only.
1 – Cwmbran Boating Lake
Cwmbran Boating Lake is a popular destination for local people walking, taking in the sights and seeing the geese, swans and ducks. There are play areas for children and space to have picnics on the grass.
Cwmbran Boating Lake. Picture: South Wales Argus Camera Club member Marie Coombes
‘Frequent_flyerUK’ said: “Nice big open spaces to walk and play. Take bread (or frozen peas) for ducks. Good little cafe counter for hot drinks etc – open in lockdown.”
‘Carys’ said: “A visit to the Cwmbran Boating Lake is a must for anyone visiting the area. We visit every weekend and sometimes during the evening in the week after work. With lots of green open space, a play area for children which is very large and has many toys, a big walk around the lake, and a small cafe which serves great takeaway food, there is not one bad word to be said about this beautiful lake.”
2 – Big Pit National Coal Museum
The Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon is on the site of a working mine. You can experience going down into the pit using the shafts and see historic pieces of kit and uniform used as well as finding out about the history of the area.
Rebecca Madge took this picture at Big Pit
It opened in 1880 and closed as a working mine in 1980. In 2000 it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
‘Denise G’ said: “Attended during Covid period and regulations attended to well. Staff incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. Very interesting – well laid out with clear explanations all the way round. Loved the shower exhibition !! Couldn’t go down into the mine due to CV19 restrictions but was so impressed will go back post Covid to see.”
‘DevizesTwin’: “I came here with a friend when it was not possible to go to an exhibition in London. It did not disappoint. It is a great all-weather attraction, with history, heritage and high views in abundance.
“The staff were fabulous. There is a cafe which offers a range of hot and cold snacks and drinks. Toilets were clean and efficient.
“Essentially you have the option of a below ground extravaganza and/or plus lots of ground level interest. For photographers there are plenty of discarded heavy duty industrial mining equipment on the hillside to photograph. (Photography however is not allowed underground.) Going underground might be a challenge if you are infirm as it is essentially escorted walk tunnels which are not very tall after being lowered in a cage. The cage ride takes about 30 seconds. It is very safe. People who do not like confined spaces, or the dark may also be challenged. There are strict rules about not taking ANY batteries underground. Lockers are provided so you can leave these items secure on the surface. Allow 45/60 minutes for the underground tour. In busy days there may be some queuing time to add on. Above ground if you want to see it all allow a further 90 minutes. Photographers will probably want to spend unto 3 hours here which is time to inched 20 minutes in the cafe.
“Car Parking which is an additional charge is plentiful. Admission to is free except going underground is an extra charge too. A really fabulous and unusual attraction.”
3 – Pontypool Park
Known locally as ‘the people’s park,’ Pontypool Park is 64 hectares of Italian gardens, ice houses and shell grotto. There is a children’s play area, the rugby pitch which is home to Pontypool RFC, tennis courts, pitch and putt, bowls and a dry ski-slope.
Winter sun, Pontypool Park, taken in early December by Julie Morgan, of the South Wales Argus Camera Club
There are also footpath links to the Brecon Beacons and Folly Tower. It was originally laid in 1703 as a private estate.
‘Dinhin’ said: “Beautiful park. Was immaculately kept when I strolled through. Saw lots of wildlife really enjoyed my walk lots to see.”
‘bearrobertoconnorbear’ said: “I have visited this Park Many times. Its really big and got lots of facilities ranging from tennis courts, outdoor bowling Green, Skateboard park for all the keen skate boarders and trick cyclists. Children’s play area, Hhome to the famous Pontypool rfc. There is also the run in the park every Sunday for all you fitness people. Lovely place. Pontypool Council need to wake up and utilise this fantastic park with more event. Steam and classic car shows would work as well as more music. Make car parks in Pontypool free like Cwmbran and see the difference. Support your local traders and bring the future in to Pontypool. Sorry for going on but this is a fantastic Park. People naturally wander into Pontypool Centre to check the shops out. There is a leisure Centre at the park with Cafe and Sports utilities. Also Parking there.”
4 – Greenmeadow Community Farm
A working farm for more than 250 years. It is set in more than 120 acres with a wide range of pedigree and rare animals. The community farm gives the opportunity for children and adults to get up close with the animals and experience life on a farm.
There are homemade meals on offer in the Café Cwtch, using local produce and a farm shop to take home some memorabilia.
Throughout the year there are usually a number of various events going on to give a deeper insight into life on the farm and to provide entertainment and education.
‘Steve j’ said: “Really friendly family place to visit. Many animals to see and a lovely cafe for food. Do so great events throughout the year as well.”
‘Lisa D’ said: “We came here with our granddaughter. It brought back wonderful memories for us as we used to bring our children when they were young. We had a lovely few hours and we were lucky as the sun was shining (granddaughters fave was the chickens so we had to get her one from the gift shop). Sadly, we were more tired than our granddaughter but she had a ball. We will come with a picnic next time.“
5 – Blaenavon Ironworks
Blaenavon Ironworks first harnessed the power of steam in 1789. In the same location 100 years later, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas transformed the steel industry across the world by inventing a method to remove phosphorus from iron ore.
Blaenavon Ironworks. Picture: South Wales Argus Camera Club member Les Morgan
It is one of the best-preserved ironworks in the world and is the setting for BBC drama Coal House. The ruined furnaces are still visible as are the remains of the foundry, cast house and water balance tower.
There are exhibitions and advanced interpretation features as well as reconstructions to give a detailed insight into the industry.
‘helstravels’: “Although we are from a steel town we found this place informative, interesting and thought provoking.
“A row of cottages depict home life in the decades.
“An audio visual display makes understanding the processes easier.
“Guides are available.
“We had difficulty getting downloading the QR code for our booked visit but this was overcome, I do think alternatives to this maybe a good idea.”
Richard S said: “This is an attraction like no other I have been to. The site and the staff envelope visitors with a sense of history. You are able to appreciate the pride and ambition of the achievement here, whilst at the same time realising the unbelievable hardship the workers and their families must have undergone.
“You might think an ironworks visit would be dull. This is a thrilling experience. Go if you can.”