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Trevithick Trail: Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon

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The Trevithick Trail is a stunning and historically important trail closely following the route of the former Merthyr Tramroad from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon. On this tramway the Penydarren locomotive entered history by becoming the first ever steam-powered railway locomotive to travel with a load. It took this honour on the 21st of January, 1804, after a 500 guinea bet was made that it could haul 10 tonnes of iron. It was slow going but after some 4 hours Richard Trevithick’s engine completed the 9 miles from Penydarren to Abercynon and made history! Today you should be able to complete the 9 miles quite a bit faster but you will find plenty to distract you along the way. The trail is as true to the original alignment as over 200 years of development has permitted but you will find short hills and sections on quiet residential roads breaking up the journey. There are sweeping views of the mountains and the valley that will take you breath away, the area is full of mining history, and the Trevithick Trail project installed numerous pieces of original artwork en-route - the area around Trevithick’s Tunnels is especially well worth exploring if you have the time. At Pontygwaith Nature Reserve the Trevithick Trail joins NCN 8 where you can return to Merthyr Tydfil on the Taff Trail without having to retrace your steps. However, to follow the tramroad to its end, continue south along NCN 8 to Abercynon on an amazing piece of the tramroad that runs parallel to the River Taff. Be sure to look down as you will be able to see the original sleepers – now over 200 years old!