Dare Valley Country Park & Aberdare
Aberdare has a rich history which dates back to the twelfth century. In the nineteenth century the town grew into a prosperous suburban area and trade centre. This was to serve the population boom caused by the mines and the growth of iron working in the area.
At one point Dare Valley Country Park was home to a staggering 19 collieries and drift mines. Two major railway lines passed through Dare Valley to take the extracted coal to the ports of Cardiff & Swansea. However, by 1965, all of the mines had closed (with the exception of Bwllfa, which remained open to provide ventilation to the mine system – the coal was extracted in the next valley in Maerdy Colliery).
Work to reclaim the valley floor in Dare Valley began in 1971. Coal tips were removed, the River Dare was re-routed and two lakes were created. Dare Valley Country Park was opened in 1973 and now features a visitor centre, the hotel accommodation, camping and caravanning, walks and a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Dare Valley was the first Country Park in Wales and the first in Britain to have been created largely from reclaimed land.
The Park retained several important landscape features of our coal mining heritage. The Twin Tips (Powell’s Pit, Bwlfa No. 3) is a classic example of a finger run tip, with its ramparts (which are reminiscent of a Celtic Hillfort), and a wonderfully preserved haulage incline route.
The Dare Valley is a classic example of a glaciated U Shaped valley, with the glacial cwm of the Darren (Tarren Y Bwllfa) at its head. It is from this cwm that the Dare Valley glacier formed 15,000 years ago and gouged out the wide, deep valley that we see today.