Merthyr Marathon MM8 - Taff Gorgeous
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This is the eighth cache 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 nine stages: the first eight are virtual caches, the last a medium sized plastic container. The stages are arranged to create a circular walk of about 5 miles with about 400 feet of ascent.
We began the series with the comment, "You have to feel sorry for Merthyr Tydfil." Hopefully, we have now redressed the balance but, if not, this exploration of the Taf Fechan Valley will surely succeed.
The given location is a small car park which serves as a convenient spot from which to tackle the cache. After the first virtual cache, the stages are designed to follow a circular route, the outward half using the Taff Trail , road and track above the valley bottom, while the return keeps as close as possible to the south bank of the river. The Difficulty and Terrain gradings reflect the wet ground conditions that may be experienced other than in the best weather and the effect of tree cover at some cache locations: in favourable conditions, both could be reduced by one. Please note that most of the rock encountered (including stone used in what looks like a concrete path) is limestone and can be slippery when wet. Even maximising the use of a car, more than half of the distance and ascent would be involved and some rough ground cannot be avoided.
THERE IS A "WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY" CONVERSION AVAILABLE FOR THE FIRST EIGHT OF THE MERTHYR MARATHON SERIES. PLEASE CONTACT US BY EMAIL IF YOU WANT DETAILS.
The letter/word codes used in previous caches in the series no longer apply.
Just across the road from the car park is a community facility. Question 1: What was this (three words)? And we do not think the answer can be found at the building itself!
Virtual Cache 1 N 51 cb.gfe W 003 hc.adf where:-
a, b and c are the letters in the words of answer 1, in the order in which they appear
fgh = bc x a
d = (letters in name of school destroyed in Aberfan tragedy - answer 6 of MM7)
e = (letters in epidemic that struck in 1849 - answer 1 of MM3)
Even passing through Merthyr on either the east-west or north-south trunk roads, you are unlikely to miss this impressive structure. It is jjk feet high and was restored in 1997, enabling the Taff Trail to be routed over it three years later.
Virtual Cache 2 N51 ck.eeg W 003 hc.hjm where:-
m = k + (letters in the last word of answer 1 above)
Question 2: What was the surname of the designer of St John's Church?
Yes, we have to admit that Cefn Coed y Cymmer is not the most inspiring place from which to start this quest, but we are now about to leave and things will definitely get better! And be thankful that you were not here 150 years ago. The village reflects haphazard and rapid growth, with little regard for good planning, in response to the housing needs of workers in the rapidly expanding iron industry in the nineteenth century. There was little water, no sanitation (it was nicknamed Bucket Town) and the average life span in 1851 was 17½ years. The safest drink was beer, at one time provided by 27 inns.
Virtual Cache 3 N 51 cg.ekn W 003 ha.jng where:-
n = (letters in answer 2 above)
There is a wealth of information here, including the observation that 21 trains a day were counted in jnpq. The Brecon to Merthyr railway was built in 1860-63, involving some impressive engineering and the labour of many men. It closed in its centenary year, with all the credit going to one man, Dr Beeching! The next leg of the route is intended to provide views of Pontsarn Viaduct, rather than take you over it. If you want to do this, make a short diversion now.
Virtual Cache 4 N 51 cg.mmc W 003 hh.npj
The leg to this cache should take you past the Italianate house of Hy Brasail and Cae Burdydd field, with its mysterious mound, which was the site of the battle of Maes Faenor in the thirteenth century. Because of the long history of worship at this place, the congregation was reluctant to stop using the church, even after it had been declared unsafe and the new church provided in jnpr.
Virtual Cache 5 N 51 cp.rrb W 003 hh.pdc
Yes, you cannot get away from the Crawshay name! Robert Thomas died at the age of st. Despite the short epitaph, it is uncertain if his request would have been granted and it is said that the 10 ton slab on top was intended to ensure that he would not come back! The church boasts a relatively new red tiled roof - entirely out of keeping with its surroundings in the National Park!
Virtual Cache 6 N 51 cs.mct W 003 ht.pqs
Question 3: How many letters are on the cast iron marker post?
The letters are the initials of the pre-privatisation water company and the post marks a trunk main from the Pontsticill Reservoir, just over a mile upstream. A little further on, the concrete surround to this pipe will act as a helpful path.
Virtual Cache 7 N 51 us.nrr W 003 tq.rmk where:-
u = (answer 3 above)
The Pontsarn Viaduct stands 92 feet high and is 455 feet long. Question 4: How many spans does it have?
It was originally intended to have one more, but difficulty in finding a stable foundation at the western end resulted in a less graceful solution.
Virtual Cache 8 N 51 ug.sqc W 003 ha.fkv where:-
v = (answer 4 above) - p
Even we did not have the nerve to use the facility that you will pass just to the west of this point as a clue, but the additional waypoint was needed to confirm the route to the narrowest part of the gorge, which here is also a nature reserve. But pause anyway to enjoy the view of Pontsarn Viaduct through the trees and Morlais Castle Hill towering above. On the way down the gorge, you may see evidence of experiments with amphibious vehicles … by local youths, using other peoples' cars!
Regular Cache 9 N 51 ux.wev W 003 hy.dxz where:-
w = (answer 4 above) + h
x = (answer 4 above) - t
y = (answer 4 above) - (answer 3 above)
z = (answer 4 above)
The cache is close to the point where the natural gorge has been widened by limestone quarrying, for building and, especially, to provide flux for the furnaces at Cyfartha. The shortest way back to Cefn Coed is by crossing the footbridge about 300 yards further downstream and following the steep path out of the gorge up to the Taff Trail. Perhaps more interesting, adding about half a mile to the return, but giving a gentler ascent, is to continue downstream on the tramroad that linked the quarry to the ironworks. Leave this under the third bridge (it certainly would not be the first!) which comes immediately after the second and is at the bottom of Cefn Coed High Street. For much of the route, the tramroad is sandwiched between the river and the feeder canal for both the lake at Cyfartha Castle and the ironworks.
Ybbx sbe gur ynetrfg obhyqre nebhaq, gura urnq hc gur fybcr gbjneqf n cebgehqvat cneg bs gur ebpx snpr sbe fbzr rvtugrra lneqf. Gur pnpur vf jryy uvqqra va n pnivgl haqre n ebpx.
- Cefn Coed Viaduct
- Pontsarn ViaductMorlais Hill with its quarries and the site of the final cache for MM3 is behind the viaduct.
- Taf Fechan Gorge View 1
- Taf Fechan Gorge View 2
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum