Silliness At Sardis Road

Silliness At Sardis Road

There are several stations along the old Taff Vale Railway that provide park and ride facilities – most notably at Trefforest and Taffs Well. Sadly, despite being one of the major towns along the route (arguably the most major other than Merthyr at one end and Cardiff at the other!), Pontypridd does not provide such a scheme.

What we have instead is the car park at Sardis Road. It’s a pay and display car park, but the all-day parking charges are pretty reasonable. And, on Sundays and Bank Holidays, car parking is free. There’s just a couple of problems with that.

First of all, the car park is only open from 7am to 7pm. If you’re a commuter who needs to be heading into Cardiff before 7am, you can’t park here. And if you’re a commuter who can’t be sure of making it back to rescue the car on time, you can park here, but you’ll have to come back the following day to rescue your car.

Secondly, as the sign says, the gates are locked at 7pm Monday to Saturday. So how exactly are you supposed to park for free on a Sunday if the gates are still locked …? Just to be certain that it wasn’t a mistake on the one sign, I popped down to the other sign and checked that too. They are consistent. The locked gates on a Sunday also means that the recycling bins hosted in the car park aren’t easily accessible if you’re too old or otherwise infirm to carry the waste from the road.

I’m sure that Rhondda Cynon Taff council must have good reasons for these restrictions, but they are very commuter unfriendly. Commuters needing to drive to the railway station are probably much better off driving to Trefforest or Taffs Well, especially if you’re likely to have to work late unexpectedly or if you need to commute on a Sunday.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Restricted Shore

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To bring this week to a close, here’s the last of my choices from the many photos I took over the years with the Nikon D200, which I recently sold.

Although we’re all here because we enjoy looking at photos that I’ve taken with the Nikon D200, ironically it is this camera that convinced my wife to switch to Canon in early 2010. Why? Because the Nikon D200 had a strong bias towards greens and blues, and didn’t see reds in quite the same way. This photo in particular epitomises just how much the D200 loved green, which was fine by me, because most of my photography tended to be of things that were overgrown. There’s also no denying that (depending on which eye I use) I don’t see reds very strongly either.

I took countless other photos with the Nikon D200 that I was pleased with, but there’s no denying that it is my HDR photography that proved the most popular with my readers. Next week, I’ll share a selection of Nikon D200 HDR shots with you, and then round off on the Saturday with a set of all of my favourite D200 photos, including the ones that are the wrong way up to make for a good wallpaper choice!

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Earlier in 2010, I decided to spend a Sunday exploring the railway stations of the Coryton Line. This is the surviving section of the Bute’s Cardiff Railway, the last of the great railways built to bring coal down to the Cardiff docks. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Bute’s original intention was to run this railway along the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (which the Marquis had earlier bought), but that ultimately he wasn’t allowed to close the canal, and so had to come up with an alternative route for his railway.

Today, the Coryton Line is a single-track commuter run that swings east to west across the north of Cardiff. There are no services on a Sunday, making it the perfect day to explore these stations.

The Photos

Coryton Railway Station

This is the northern end of the Coryton Line, the surviving segment of the Cardiff Railway’s torturous (and ultimately unsuccessful) route up into the valleys in competition for carrying Rhondda and Merthyr coal.

Today, just beyond the fence, there’s a short (about 20 mins or so) but beautiful walk along the old trackbed up to Longwood Drive.

Coryton Railway Station

The bridge in the background carries the A4054 (the original Merthyr Road, before the A470 was built in the late 1960’s) over the old route of the Cardiff Railway.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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2008 Review: Janet's Foss

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My desktop wallpaper today is another of my favourite photos taken with my beloved Nikon D200, which I recently sold after four and a half years of faithful service.

At the time of writing, I still haven’t sorted through and processed many of the photos from our 2008 holiday in North Yorkshire (did I mention that Yorkshire is the greatest country in the whole world yet?) but one of the photos that I have uploaded is this lovely shot of Janet’s Foss waterfall in the North Yorkshire Dales near Malham. We’d gone over to Malham for the day in the hope of taking some shots of Malham Cove, but sadly the Cove was closed because someone had fallen to his death from the limestone pavement above as we walked up from Malham. It’s a lovely circular route: Malham Cove, up to the world-famous limestone pavement, across to Gordale Scar, and then back to Malham past Janet’s Foss.

I love this photo not just because of the memories, but also there’s something about the light there that I think it captured very well. Looking at it now, it makes me think that I should take a week of work at some point and do a set of waterfall photos for the blog. Maybe once we’ve had enough regular rain to restore the water table levels, eh?

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Former Post Office On Westgate

If you know anything about the history of this building, please do leave a comment below.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Ice By Candlelight

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My desktop wallpaper choice today is another of my favourite photos taken with the Nikon D200, which I sold recently after four and a half years of faithful service.

Like many photographers here in the UK, I’m a subscriber to Amateur Photographer Magazine, the world’s oldest photography magazine. One of the things they do is run the prestigious Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, and back in 2007 I was planning on entering and having a real go at the competition. This was the photograph I took for for the first round, picking a study of ice in a glass by candlelight. I assume (hope!) it was relevant to that round’s topic.

I came a cropper because I didn’t have the means of printing my photos myself, which quickly put paid to my ambitions that year. Maybe I should ask Santa Claus for a really good printer for Christmas, so that I can enter the 2011 competition?

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Drive through the suburb of Llanishen, and you can’t fail to notice the “Save Our Reservoirs” placards planted in garden after garden as you go down the streets.

The reservoirs in question are Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs, two adjacent reservoirs to be found just to the north-east of picturesque Llanishen itself. Why are they at risk? Through a convoluted chain of events that started when the UK’s water utility companies were nationalised, they are now owned by Western Power Distribution, an American company that is reported to have spent the last nine years trying to get permission to build several hundred homes on the site.

At the time of writing, it is difficult to understand Western Power Distribution’s side of the story, as I’ve been unable to find any evidence of them attempting to connect with, or work with, the local community. Their official UK website makes no mention of Llanishen Reservoir at all, and they have provided no comments for any of the press stories that I’ve read. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Wikipedia page for Llanishen Reservoir repeatedly questions WPD’s motives for recent drainage activity at the site.

Finally, it’s worth noting that local BBC news coverage of this story has been sporadic throughout (there is a growing problem of poor regional news coverage from the BBC in Wales, as reported to the media regulator Ofcom), and that Wales Online’s Your Cardiff and Guardian Cardiff remain the best places to keep up to date with this story as it continues with no conclusion in sight.

The Photos

Double Fencing At Llanishen Reservoir

I found it utterly impossible to photography the current water level at Llanishen Reservoir, as it is very thoroughly fenced off.

Former Viewing Point Over The Reservoirs

There are plenty of open footpaths that run around the fenced off reservoirs. One of the footpaths leads to this viewing point, with this charming mural set into the ground. Unfortunately, because of the way the trees in front have been allowed to grow, you can’t see anything of interest from here any more.

CCTV Warning At Llanishen Reservoir

Lisvane Reservoir isn’t completely fenced off, but the same can’t be said for Llanishen Reservoir. It is Llanishen Reservoir that Western Power Distribution is draining as part of their 9-year battle to replace it with housing.

No Access Permitted To Llanishen Reservoir

Western Power Distribution, the current and controversial American owners of Llanishen Reservoir, have been very thorough in securing access to the reservoir.

Steps Down Into Lisvane Reservoir

The reason I came to photograph the two adjacent reservoirs was a report on the Reservoir Action Group website about how Western Power Distribution, the American owner of these two sites, had drained Llanishen Reservoir.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anywhere to view the water level of Llanishen Reservoir, as it is heavily fenced off, but I was able to shoot the fallen level of Lisvane Reservoir. According to the Reservoir Action Group, the water level here has fallen because water is being taken out of the reservoir for use in industry down in Cardiff Bay.

Car Park Opening Times

There is a car park at Lisvane Reservoir, which the signs say is open from 8am to 4pm “until further notice”.

Lisvane Reservoir Entrance Notice

… and this is the notice at the entrance to the car park, confirming the dangers of open water such as Lisvane Reservoir.

A Sign Ignored

Not the prettiest of pictures – I’ll hope you will excuse me for that – but I couldn’t help but notice that this sign appeared to have become a magnet for the very thing it asks people not to do.

A failure in individual responsibility?

Dirty Life Buoy At Lisvane Reservoir

To finish this set of photos, here’s a shot of one of the eye-catching life buoys that can be found around Lisvane Reservoir.

The future for Llanishen Reservoir is looking more and more uncertain, now that the Environment Agency has given Western Power Distribution permission to drain it completely.

If anyone from Western Power Distribution or the Reservoir Action Group sees this set of photos, and wishes to invite me and my camera for a guided tour as this battle continues, please do get in touch, as I would be very happy to cover this story as it continues its new chapter.

References

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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The Martians Are Coming!

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My desktop wallpaper choice today is another of my favourite photos taken with the Nikon D200 during the four and a half years that I owned one.

We have a tradition in our family of going out for a meal to celebrate our birthdays. Back in 2007, when Kristi asked me where I’d like to go, I think she was expecting me to nominate one of our favourite Japanese restaurants (which, to be fair, is where we go most years for both of our birthdays). But that year, I surprised her by nominating a little fish and chip shop on the seafront of Scarborough back in my native Yorkshire (best country in the world, btw!). As with Borth the previous year, January proved to be a great time to go out with the camera, and my favourite shot from the visit was this shot looking up at one of the street lights on the sea front.

I liked the shot so much, it became my profile picture online just about everywhere 🙂

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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In 1858, the Rhymney Railway opened a branch route which ran from the Taff Vale Railway (modern Valley Lines route) at Walnut Tree Junction (modern Taffs Well station) up and over the Glamorganshire Canal to Penrhos Cutting, where it was joined by the Barry Railway and the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway. It survived the construction of the A470 trunk road, and was in use up until 1984, long after the railroad had constructed the Caerphilly Tunnel in 1871 to provide a much more direct route between the eastern valleys and Cardiff.

Today, it forms a section of the Taff Trail, a national cycle path (route 8) that runs from Cardiff Bay in the south all the way north to Brecon in the heart of the Brecon Beacons.

The Photos

Plenty of Lamp Posts at Taffs Well

The Rhymney Railway route starts at Taffs Well railway station, with the magnificant Garth behind it. The Garth, with its three distinctive barrows, dominates the skyline looking north from Cardiff.

Half a Mile to Tongwynlais

At the start of this section of the Taff Trail, if instead you want to head south towards Cardiff (a route which threads its way through Tongwynlais and then largely follows the River Taff), you can pick up refreshments in the village of Taffs Well if you need them. Just cross the railway by the nearby bridge.

If you’re heading north along the Rhymney Railway and then either up Penrhos Cutting to Caerphilly or along the Pontypridd, Newport and Caerphilly railway route up through Nantgarw, your nearest refreshments are some miles away. Stocking up first in Taffs Well might be a good idea.

Daisies Beside The Path

These lush daisies stand large and proud beside the fence at the start of the route.

Gate Guarding Cycle Route Eight

To try and keep the Taff Trail just for walkers and cyclists, the route is guarded by gates such as this one. They do break up leisure cycling a bit, as it’s much safer to dismount to navigate, but they seem a reasonable compromise to stop dirt bikers abusing the trail.

All Quiet On The A470

The route crosses the major A470 trunk road over a distinctive railway bridge. I don’t know for certain, but I’m willing to bet that this bridge is modern and was constructed when the A470 was built in 1969/1970.

Note how the A470 was empty when I took this shot. I commute up and down this road every weekday, and traffic levels have been (relatively) low for several months. Several years ago, it wasn’t unusual on a morning for this stretch to be completely stuffed with queueing traffic.

Rhymney Railway Bridge Over The A470

This is what the view is like along the bridge … wide and flat, with just the offensive graffiti for company.

Central Divider

Almost immediately beyond the bridge over the A470, the former Rhymney Railway section of the Taff Trail crosses a much older bridge, which originally went over the Cardiff Railway. The trackbed over the bridge has been tarmaced over, but this central divider with its metal studs (rivets) remains a major feature.

Bridge Over The Cardiff Railway

There’s hardly anything left of the Cardiff Railway in the immediate vicinity, as much of it was obliterated by the construction of the A470. There’s the Cardiff Railway stretch between Coryton and Longwood Drive that I’ve covered before, and also a stretch through Taffs Well that I haven’t yet written up … but in between, I think this bridge that carried the Rhymney Railway over the Cardiff Railway is about the only bit of the Cardiff Railway that still exists.

Gate Across The Trail

Aways beyond the bridge over the Cardiff Railway, a padlocked gate stands across the route. There’s one of the usual cycle gates beside it (so that cyclists and walkers can use the route as normal).

Alleyway and Gate

This section of the Taff Trail is crossed in places by alleyways that disappear into housing estates in one direction, and up the hill (presumably to the other Taff Trail along the old Barry Railway – yes, there are two Taff Trails running in parallel here!). Metal gates bar them to prevent non-walkers and non-cyclists from abusing the route.

It would be interesting to dig out some old maps to see whether any of these were here (as public footpaths) back when the railway was in existence.

Tree in Abstract

The Rhymney Railway section of the Taff Trail is very green this time of year – almost monotonously so. Occasional breaks of light like this provide interesting contrasts.

Tree in Abstract

The contrast of shade and well-lit trees beyond can make for eye-catching scenes such as this … but I imagine that if you’re cycling rather than walking, you’d probably miss them as you whizz by.

Sign in the Undergrowth

Does anyone know what this sign might be? I spotted it half-buried in the undergrowth along the route. Is it a left-over from when the railway was here, or something unrelated?

Rusting Post

I’ve no idea what this metal post’s original function was. It stands by the route, and is happily rusting away. If you can shed some light onto this, please leave a comment below.

Rusting Post Up Close

I’m a bit of a sucker for textures, especially when they contrast with a soft background like this one does.

Posts Beside The Rhymney Railway

Here are some old posts (I’m guessing they were railway fence posts from back in the day) standing beside the Taff Trail as it runs along the route of the former Rhymney Railway. As you can see, this particular stretch is long, straight, and very green, with not a lot to see.

The Two Taff Trails Merge

Not far from the start of Penrhos Cutting, the other Taff Trail route (which runs along the old Barry Railway line that used to go over Walnut Tree Viaduct) joins the Rhymney Railway route. I’m planning on covering the other Taff Trail route at a later date.

Bathed In Sunlight

When you get to Penrhos Cutting, the trail goes under this bridge. I’ll talk about the bridge more in the next photo.

What you’re seeing isn’t rain. It was a very dry, very sunny day, and when I angled my Nikon D300s up towards the sun, these strange streaks of purple light appeared on the image. I think it looks better as black and white, but if anyone really wants me to, I’ll upload the colour original for you to see for yourself.

Bridge At Penrhos Cutting

A little saner than my last shot, here’s the bridge at Penrhos Cutting that the Taff Trail goes under before its climb up Nantgarw Hill. It doesn’t take a lot to imagine local boys standing up on the bridge, waiting to be engulfed as a steam train huffs and puffs its way up the valley from Walnut Tree Junction. Maybe the driver blew the train’s whistle for them as his train passed by.

It’s a romanticism that our modern railways, with their sealed carriages and grumbling motors, simply can’t compete with. Who knows … when oil finally starts to run out, maybe we’ll all be forced back to a second age of steam?

Two Miles To Caerffili

At the foot of Penrhos Cutting, the intrepid explorer has a choice. He can continue along the Taff Trail (cycle route 8) to Nantgarw and on to Pontypridd, or he can continue to follow the old Rhymney Railway line up Nantgarw Hill and into Penrhos Cutting.

Entrance To Penrhos Cutting

If you leave the Taff Trail and decide to continue to follow the Rhymney Railway route up Nantgarw Hill instead, this takes you into Penrhos Cutting and on to Caerphilly. At the far end of the cutting (approx 2 miles) stands Penrhos Junction, which I’ll cover at a later date.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Borth Beach At Sunset

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I recently sold my beloved Nikon D200 after four and a half years of faithful service, and this week I’m spending the week looking at some of my personal favourites from the thousands of photos I took with that camera.

My first choice comes from the very first time I took the D200 out. I had this shot as my desktop wallpaper for quite a long time after I took it, so impressed I was with the difference between the D200 and its predecessor the Nikon D100. I remember thinking how the photo looked like a portal back to where it was taken, because of the substantial increase in resolution from the D100.

Another favourite photo from the Nikon D200 tomorrow.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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