The most modern ironworks anywhere in the world (at the time) opened in 1789 in one of the most remote and windswept locations possible - Blaenavon. It was here that the best quality iron ore, coal and limestone were found. These minerals fuelled the Industrial Revolution and our Valleys became the first place in the world where more people were employed in industry than agriculture.
Legendary places deserve proper recognition and Blaenavon is designated as a World Heritage Site, one of the most important industrial heritage sites in the world, because you can follow the story of the Industrial Revolution through the landscape. Blaenavon Ironworks, Big Pit (where the banter of the guides, former miners, is legendary) and miles of open countryside make up this extraordinary place. There’s the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, the Blaenavon's Heritage Railway, ironworkers’ cottages, chapels and churches and the Workmen’s Hall. Start your visit at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre where you can pick up an amazing selection of walking leaflets to help you explore this world-beating place. You will need more than a day to enjoy everything on offer here.
Work in the ironworks and furnaces gave men a terrible thirst and, with water often polluted, it was safer to drink beer than to touch the water. Rhymney Brewery was set up in 1839 to quench this thirst and they are still making Rhymney ales today at Rhymney Brewery Visitor Centre where you can taste their beers! Pair it with cheese from the Blaenafon Cheddar Cheese Company, who mature their Pwll Mawr cheddar 300ft below ground at the bottom of the mine shaft at Big Pit.
Exploring The Valleys that changed the World
Across The Valleys there are loads of sites that together tell the story of The Valleys - download a leaflet or have a go on the interactive map to plan your visit.
Enjoy the Brecon Mountain Railway Trek
Here’s a legendary multi-faceted adventure! Hop on the Brecon Mountain Railway and travel by steam train to Torpantaeu station, hike down the Brecon Beacons to Dolygaer and paddle across Pontsticill Reservoir to Pontsticill Station to catch the train back to Pant Station. Three types of transport all in one action packed day.