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Merthyr Marathon MM7- Tragedy

A cache by Write and Mane Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 11/20/2003
3 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

This is the seventh in the Merthyr Marathon series. You will need information gained in completing earlier caches in the series in order to start this one. There are eight stages: the first seven are virtual caches, the last a large plastic container. With maximum use of a car this multi-cache will involve about three miles of walking.

Any balanced look at the history of Merthyr has to be tempered by consideration of things that have gone wrong. This cache will do that but, hopefully, in an interesting way, while exploring some pleasant scenery in the Taff Valley.
Cars can be parked in the street in the vicinity of the given location, which is in the village that was formerly home to Lucy Thomas, Mother of the Welsh Steam Coal Trade. All of the caches are on or close to the route of the Glamorgan Canal, now followed by the Taff Trail and would involve a linear walk of about 5 miles. Returning by foot would result in a 9 mile round trip, but two alternatives are suggested. To add variety (and 1 mile) to the return walk, the west bank of the River Taff can be followed from Aberfan to Troedrhiw and crossing to the eastern side of the valley just above its floor, the Penydarren tramroad can be traced from Troedrhiw to Pentrebach, from where a footbridge gets you back to Abercanaid. Perhaps, a more appealing way back is to use the Taff Vale Railway from Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach (2 stops). Of course, the Taff Trail means that this cache can also be tackled by bicycle.


The letter/word codes used in previous caches in the series no longer apply.

Virtual Cache 1 N 51 be.fgh W 003 where:-
a = (letters in word describing 'Chariot' - question 1,MM5) divided by (letters in what engines fed to furnaces - question 4, MM1)
b = a x a: c = a x b
befgh = (aaabc x 2) - cdd, where d = c - 1
Question 1: This little terrace is called?
Question 2: It is an example of what-over-itself?
Mining was a cruel and hazardous occupation. We are not far from the site of Gethin Pits, which suffered two major explosions within four years. In 1862, 47 men and boys were lost and just before Christmas 1865, 34 died. Might some of them have been residents of this terrace?

Virtual Cache 2 N51 be.jgc W 003 aa.kch where:-
j = (letters in answer 2)
k = (difference in letters in words in answer 1) - g
In the first half of the 19th century, passing trade at this small inn, from the users of the canal, would have been prolific.
Question 3: What bird inhabited the grove (English and Welsh words)?

Virtual Cache 3 N 51 be.jgj W 003 aa.kbf
This street also takes its name from the bird that inhabited the grove. Note how the houses on one side of the street chose to have their backs to the road so that the fronts could (presumably, at the time) enjoy the view across the valley. In addition to occasional major disasters, mining suffered day-to-day tragedies. In 1864, 12 year old Phillip Samuel, who was working a stall in Abercanaid Colliery with his father, was crushed and killed by a fall of coal. The following year, the death of 9 year old Thomas Rees is recorded at Gethin Pits.

Virtual Cache 4 N 51 bn.kbm W 003 ag.ngn where:-
m = (difference between number of letters in English and Welsh answers to question 3)
n = (letters in Welsh answer 3)
Question 4: What is the name of this Row which leaves no doubt as to where its occupants would have worked?
Looking across and slightly up the valley, you can still see d-shaped scarring of the valley side. This is the legacy of an ill-fated venture into skiing. The intention, apparently, was that the dry ski slope in the summer would spend part of the winter season covered in snow from natural precipitation, supplemented by artificial snow. This is a different sort of tragedy - one for the sponsors (or was it tax-payers funding grants intended to regenerate the local economy?) who could have avoided the loss of money by simply checking weather records - normally the area just does not experience cold enough winters!

Virtual Cache 5 N 51 bq.dpq W 003 ak.hqb where:-
p = (letters in answer 4) - d
q = (letters in answer 4) - (letters in answer 2)
The plaque here commemorates a tragedy for Brychan.
Question 5: Who (one word) were his three sons fighting against when they lost their lives?

Virtual Cache 6 N 51 bq.rdn W 003 qp.ssf where:-
r = (letters in answer 5)
s = (letters in answer 5) + (letters in answer 4) - (letters in Welsh answer 3)
St John the Baptist Church was provided in tmrq as a Chapel of Ease for his workers by Anthony Hill of the Plymouth Ironworks. Unusually, he is the only person buried at the church.

Virtual Cache 7 N 51 bt.dpm W 003 ak.cqn
The memorial gardens commemorate the loss of 116 children and 28 adults on 21st October tsuu.
Question 6: What was the name of the junior school that stood on this site?
The slip of the spoil heap at Aberfan is perhaps the most emotive tragedy to hit any mining community in the United Kingdom. From here to the final cache you will pass the cemetery on the hillside above the canal where most of the dead are buried. This is not a place for gawkish tourism or for hunting geocaches - the tragedy is still too fresh in the memories of many families and friends who live in the area. However, should you choose to make a respectful visit to the part of the cemetery (high at the north end) reserved for the victims and their families, be warned that your emotions may be strained by the experience. Should you wish to find out more about the Aberfan disaster, a good starting point (which are are grateful to Derrylynne for finding) is

While the tragedy was too high a price to pay, it served to provide the incentive for a nationwide survey of other tips and a massive reclamation programme, which will have prevented further similar disasters and has effected an enormous environmental benefit.

Regular Cache 8 N 51 vp.stq W 003 qp.rnj where:-
v = u - q
This could be regarded as the site of a natural disaster - the jumble of earth and boulders (some very big!) marks the Tarren Landslip. But this is pre-historic and one of an abundance in South Wales, as a result of the geology, often accentuated by the transitional effects at the end of the last Ice Age.

Don't forget any of the clues from this cache - you never know when they will come in handy!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

TCF erprcgvba znl or vauvovgrq ng gur pnpur fvgr. Nqq 0.008 zvahgrf gb gur yngvghqr naq fhogenpg 0.004 zvahgrf sebz gur ybatvghqr naq svaq n znaubyr pbire. Gur pnpur vf jryy uvqqra va n pyrsg va ebpxf ng nobhg 20 zrgerf ba n ornevat bs 210 sebz gur znaubyr pbire. (Znar unf jnvgrq n ybat gvzr sbe Jevgr gb svaq na rkphfr gb zragvba n znaubyr pbire!)

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



  • AberfanThe tip that slipped onto the village sat just above the houses and in front of the pylons, on the left of the picture. Most of the material is now above the pylons, to the right of the picture.
  • Memorial Garden, Aberfan
  • Taff Valley above TroedyrhiwDuring those few magic days of autumn when the colours are at their best.

52 Logged Visits

Found it 40     Didn't find it 1     Write note 11     

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**Warning! Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.

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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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