We had planned to go to the beach today but the weather wasn't as nice as forecast so we quickly changed our plans and headed North to Garwnant Visitor Centre. Garwnant is just north of Merthyr Tydfil on the A470 at the edge of the Brecon Beacons. We have driven past many times on our way to the mountains but haven't visited for years. The centre is free to visit and just costs £2 all day for parking.
There are walking routes, trails for mountain bikes, an all ability trail and two puzzle trails. One puzzle trail has animals to spot and one has trees. The tree trail would be fantastic for older children. They could take paper and crayons and do rubbings too.
|Each tree has a wooden sign post. If you look behind, there's the tree.|
We loved this place. It was clean and well maintained. Bear loved it too. It has something for everyone. There is an onsite cafe which we didn't try. The visitor centre is modern and has baby changing facilities available in the mens and the disabled toilets too.
Garwnant Visitor Centre- A Toddler Explores
From the car park we could see wooden statues of a badger and a frog so we headed that way first. When we got closer I realised it was Toad of Toad Hall. Not a frog. Bear didn't like Badger and refused to get too close "Don't like" he said. He liked Toad though. Well who doesn't like Toad?
|Hello Mr Toad|
We followed the path past some rabbits and up to The Gruffalo. Bear liked the Gruffalo and I really think I should get the book. We continued until we came close to some tree felling so turned around and headed for the visitor centre to get a map. On the way we saw a man with very big ears and big feet. I'm told it's the BFG, another book I should buy or at least read.
|Rabbit? Or Hare?|
|Look Gruffalo, over there is Grandad|
As we approached the visitor centre Bear found two playgrounds. One is for under 8's and just has a slide and a couple of baby swings but in the other playground was a zip wire and swings and climbing ropes and a huge swing! Grandad took Bear on the zip wire but the combined weight was a little too much and it grounded sending them both tumbling. It was so funny but I was holding coats (and laughing too much) so sadly didn't get a picture.
From here and all around the site are magnificent views and lots of places to have a picnic. We also saw Goldilocks and the three bears and decided to visit them later.
|Fantastic playground with stunning views|
|Bear loved the big swing|
|View of the reservoir and Beacons from the visitor centre|
I wanted to walk around the animal trail, a short walk with animal statues to find and part of the puzzle trail. Even with the map I found it difficult to find the start of the trail but once on it, it was clearly marked..
The animal trail takes about half an hour to walk but we stopped for a snack and to watch the tractor unload felled trees so it took us much, much longer. The path is suitable for buggies all apart from a hill but Grandad managed to push the buggy up while I watched Bear carry a stick.
|There are lots of waterfalls too if you wander from the main path|
|Big hill to push buggies up, the rest is easy. Bear liked this stick.|
The animals are great and there are clues on the map of what they are and where to find them. It's a fabulous way to entertain children. Here are a couple to whet your appetite.
|Reflections in the water. The only place on the trail where you have to hold onto little ones.|
|Not everything is carved wood. This is a fantastic slate mole complete with earthworm.|
|Eyes! Nose! Can you guess what it is?|
We finished our visit by the visitor centre and Bear went and said hello to Goldilocks and the baby Bear. He particularly liked the baby Bear. I wonder why?
|Bear fancies some porridge|
|Love this picture so had to put it in twice|
We will definitely be back as there is so much to do that we just didn't get time for.
People ask me how I know about these places, well sometimes Google tells me and sometimes I check out two sites. Cardiff Mummy Says has loads of great ideas and not just in Cardiff and on facebook is an amazing page Family Days Local. Places to go in South Wales. Have a look if you live in South Wales, I'm sure you'll find places that you didn't know about right on your doorstep.
Do you know any places that bear could explore? We would love some more ideas.
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