Cwm Dare (Dare Valley)
The village of Cwmdare was built in the 1850's to house the workers of the mines in the valley. Before this, Dare Valley had been home to just a few farmhouses and small holdings.
Coal mining in Cwmdare (Dare Valley) is recorded from 1851 but it is thought that some mining had taken place before that. Work to reclaim the valley floor in Dare Valley began in 1971.
In order to create the present Dare Valley Country Park, 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, camping and caravanning, walks and a diverse range of flora and fauna.
There are plenty of excellent wide open spaces where dogs can run free. In total the Park has 500 acres of open countryside. It is a shame it's quite so difficult to find. You drive up steep roads through a housing area of terraced houses and narrow minor roads in order to get to it. It is surprising to find such a huge Country Park hidden behind all these residential terraces. However as it was a former coal mine, this makes more sense, as of course the housing stock would have been developed around the mine.
As Aberdare is relatively close to the castle, it is worth visiting for this Park, especially if you have dogs that need to really have a good run off the lead. I went in the winter and the place was deserted. It might be a bit busier in the summer, being so close to a town, but with so much space I doubt you would meet many other people.