The 15.2 kilometre Trevithick Trail commemorates the first journey by a
steam locomotive to pull a load on rails in 1804, the
precursor of the Railway Age which changed the world in the
By the beginning of the 1800s Merthyr Tydfil was developing from a rural
community into the Iron Capital of the World with its four iron works at
Cyfarthfa, Dowlais, Penydarren and Plymouth.
It would continue to grow and by the middle of the
century became the largest town in Wales with a
population of more than 50,000 inhabitants as the four
great iron works continued to expand.
On February 21, 1804, the Penydarren locomotive,
designed and built by the Cornish inventor Richard
Trevithick for Samuel Homfray, master of the Penydarren
ironworks, pulled a load of 10 tons of iron and 70 men
nine miles down the Taff Valley – all for a bet.
The historic journey went from the Penydarren works
to the Navigation where it joined the Glamorgan Canal so
linking the industrial heart of Merthyr Tydfil with the
port of Cardiff and the rest of the world.
Along the trail markers point out the historical significance of various
locations as you follow the track along the nine-mile route.
But the Trevithick Trail is far more than a walk through the past.
Because it runs down the Taff Vale alongside the River Taff it passes
though a variety of habitats and the flora and fauna which
may be seen during your visit. These include an
abundance of trees, shrubs and wild flowers as well as
birds, insects and small mammals.
The River Taff is never far away from the trail so there is the opportunity of seeing
various fish, including trout and salmon, making their way upstream to spawn.
Merthyr Tydfil, standing at the head of the Taff Valley, 25 miles north of Cardiff,
is accessible from all parts of the country.
It is linked to Cardiff and the M4 motorway by the A470 expressway and to the Midlands and
Swansea by the A465 Heads of the Valleys road.
In keeping with that memorable event over 200 years ago there is a
rail service between Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil.
The trail is suitable to all users, it’s a shared-use heritage trail
appropriate for walking, cycling (all abilities), wheelchairs and horses
The Trevithick Trail, which starts in the heart of Merthyr Tydfil, is a new
initiative launched to celebrate the bi-centenary of the first ground breaking
trip into the Age of Steam in 1804. Exciting developments and landscaping
schemes are being planned to improve facilities even more for visitors on the Trail.
So, why not try the Trevithick
Trail, a walk through history surrounded by the
beauty of nature.