The ‘ Taff Trail ‘ was happily guiding us into the town of Merthyr Tydfil. The rain was relentless. We were shivering with cold, our clothes squeaked with water, our bodies and bikes were splattered with mud. It wasn’t soon before the Cefn Coed Viaduct greeted us like a friendly giant. It was a remarkable piece of architecture that towered above us. A curved railway viaduct standing at 115 feet high with 14 impressive arches.
The hotel we found was a further 6 miles out of Merthyr Tydfil. It appeared dangerous to cycle along the busy road in the rain to the hotel so we found the local taxi rank instead. One of the drivers took pity on us and happily squeezed our filthy bikes into the boot of his taxi and allowed our muddy bodies to rest on his spotless car interior. The Taxi driver drove us to the secluded Nant-ddu-lodge on the A470, enthusiastically telling us about how much he loved cycling. His confession made me feel less guilty about the mud we had already smeared all over his car seats.
I am sure the Hotelier wasn’t expecting two mucky drenched rats, yet he welcomed us with open arms. It took a while to store the bicycles, get clean and recover the warmth in our bodies. This hotel was like a little treat. As we hungrily tucked into some delicious local food, listening to the endless pitter patter of rain on the roof we pondered the following day. The decision was made: the rain wouldn’t stop us from reaching Cardiff! We slept comfortably that night with anticipation for what tomorrow would bring? It only brought dark clouds and more rain!
No need for a return taxi. Instead we decided to be brave and cycle back to Merthyr Tydfil along the busy road. Within a few minutes we had both been sprayed with rain water from heavy trucks passing at top speed. We had to laugh about it. We got back on the Taff Trail with a good cycling pace to take us to Cardiff. We zipped through a cloudy lush valley and the villages of Abercanaid, Pentrebach and Aberfan. With every mile we passed, the morning rain followed fading until it was only the damp air that was hitting our skin.
We had fun cycling up and over the arch of a stone bridge called Pont y gwaith. It means the ‘Works Bridge’ and was constructed in 1811 to replace a wooden bridge associated with the nearby 16th century ironworks. The river Taff continued to guide us through leafy paths, under motorways and past memorials of times from long ago.
The closer we got to Cardiff the more the towns appeared to merge together. We enjoyed the challenge of trying to spot the Taff Trail signs as they guided us through a maze of streets and past people’s homes. Occasionally we would find ourselves chatting to locals wanting to share historic information about their area to us, like the enthusiastic person who encouraged us to witness the Melingriffiths Canal Water Pump in action.
Before we knew it we were cycling over an impressive footbridge which crossed the river into Sophia Gardens and into the city of Cardiff, heading towards the waterfront known as Cardiff Bay. We were in cruise control as our wheels turned and we finally approached the end and the busy hum of the waterfront in Cardiff. Cardiff Bay was alive with people. Spacious and open, there were buskers playing melodic tunes, street stalls selling collections of homemade goods and even a galleon style ship offering an insight to the past.
We had beaten the battle of the rain and had successfully reached the end of the ‘ Taff Trail ‘. We were so pleased with our efforts that we celebrated beside the seafront treating ourselves to a huge helping of fish and chips. With it came conversation and the question of “Where is the next cycle journey going to take us?”