Poor Driving Conditions

One of the reasons we chose to move to Pontypridd was that it’s got excellent road and rail links, including the impressive A470 trunk road. But on Saturday, the recent and unseasonable winter weather turned both the A470 and its predecessor (renumbered the A4054) into snow-bound car parks for the morning.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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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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

Whitchurch Railway Station

Viewed from the bridge that carries the A470 over the Coryton Line, Whitchurch Railway Station looks a sleepy little station well buried amongst greenery.

Whitchurch Railway Station

Looking west along the tracks, you can clearly see the bridge that carries the A470 over the track, and the odd little kink in the track as it approaches Coryton Railway Station just out of shot.

Whitchurch Railway Station

The station itself is small and functional. Unlike some of its neighbours, it has no CCTV cameras at the time of writing.

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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One of the great pleasures of visiting Cardiff is taking a stroll through Alexandra Gardens, part of Cathays Park.

Standing at the heart of Cardiff’s historic civic centre, Alexandra Gardens is overlooked by law courts, university buildings, police station, national museum, local and welsh government offices, and the falcons that nest in the clock tower. It is a legacy of the wealth extracted from the valleys to the north and brought down to the docks by canal and competing railways.

It’s also one of the cheapest and most convenient places to park your car in Cardiff, if you happen to be a local who knows such things. And that’s why I found myself wandering through the park back in March 2010, trying out my new Nikon 35mm lens for the first time on my way to meet some fellow bloggers and the Guardian Cardiff correspondent at a pub in the centre of the city.

The Photos

The Cenotaph

Late March is a great time to photograph Cathays Park, as the low sun has just enough colour in it to bring the portland stone to life.

Words On The Cenotaph

I’m afraid I can’t translate the inscription that runs around the top of the cenotaph. If you can, please leave a translation in the comments.

Graffiti On A Tree

The park is very popular with students from the University of Wales, Cardiff, which occupies many of the buildings that surround the park both to the east and the west.

Statues Inside The Cenotaph

This is the Welsh National War Memorial, unveiled in 1928, as a remembrance to soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the Great War of 1914-1918. The statue on top represents Victory.

Gardens And City Hall

Looking south (with the Cenotaph behind me) across Alexandra Gardens towards the back of City Hall. Just out of picture, to the right, is the famous clock tower, currently home to nesting peregrine falcons.

Cardiff Centenary Walk Beside The Cenotaph

In 2005, a 41-point walk around the centre of Cardiff was created to celebrate 100 years of Cardiff officially being a city. Point 25 can be found beside the Welsh National War Memorial.

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 Gabalfa Roundabout and Flyover marks the coming together of three of Cardiff’s most important road arteries: the A470 down from Merthyr Tydfil and junction 32 of the M4 motorway, the A469 down from Llanishen and Caerphilly, the A48 Western Avenue from Llandaff and Canton, and the A48 Eastern Avenue out to junction 29 of the M4. The roundabout and flyover were built during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, around the same time as the A470 trunk road up to Merthyr Tydfil, and the Heath Hospital that is adjacent to the roundabout.

The Photos

Flyover Towards The City

For many drivers, travelling south into Cardiff from Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, or just from Junction 32 of the M4 motorway, this is their main view of the Gabalfa roundabout: the flyover that takes you over the A48 and down towards Maindy and Cathays.

Flyover At Gabalfa Roundabout

Beside the flyover runs this sliproad that drivers use to go down to the Gabalfa roundabout. From here, you can go east onto the A48 and/or into the Heath Hospital, west onto the A48 Western Avenue towards the large Tescos and the turnings to Llandaff and Canton, or south down towards what eventually becomes City Road.

Cyclist in Silhouette

Because the A470 intersects north / south, and the A48 intersects east / west at the Gabalfa roundabout, there are pedestrian walkways across the roundabout, reached by subways like this one.

Approaching Gabalfa Roundabout

This shot shows the sliproad down to Gabalfa roundabout from the foot of the A469. It’s normally a little busier than this, but in recent months traffic around this area (and on the A470 into Cardiff) has seemed lighter to me, perhaps due to the very high price of petrol at this time.

Underside of the Flyover at Gabalfa Roundabout

The flyover at Gabalfa roundabout carries the A470 over the A48. It also carries the road over the pedestrian route across the roundabout too!

Above The A48 At Gabalfa Roundabout

The flyover at Gabalfa roundabout carries the A470 over this road, the A48. The A48 runs from junction 29 of the M4 in the east out to Culverhouse Cross in the west, making it one of the major arteries of Cardiff. It’s normally a little busier than is shown here.

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 Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff

This unusual building stands on the roundabout formed where the A470 down from Merthyr meets the A469 down from Caerphilly. It’s currently a Weatherspoon pub called the Aneurin Bevan after the founder of the National Health Service, but it is a site that frequently changes hands.

I’ve been unable to track down online anything about the older history of this site, and especially whether this building pre-dates the construction of the Gabalfa roundabout or not. If you know, please do let me know.

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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Burnished Copper Roof of the Millennium Centre

Download the full-size picture to use as your desktop wallpaper.

Continuing this week’s theme of great slabs of single colour, my desktop wallpaper today is this shot of the wonderful copper roof of Cardiff Bay’s Millennium Centre. There’s something about the rich look of burnished copper. Definitely something I could look at all day long!

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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Securing The Gate At Caedelyn Park

If you regularly drive into and out of Cardiff along the A470, you’ve probably noticed that, hidden just behind the houses to the east, is a sizeable open area. Bounded to the north by the Coryton line (the surviving stretch of the old Cardiff Railway line), and to the south / east by Rhydwaedlyd Brook stands Caedelyn Park.

The brook itself is largely fenced off (presumably because of the amount of children who play in the park), and at one point along the fence is a little slipway down into the brook. This slipway is secured by the gate shown in this photo, and its rather eye-catching green-sheathed security cable.

References:

http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/content.asp?parent_directory_id=2865&id=408&pagetype=&keyword=

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (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 Rooftops Of Cilfynydd

Cilfynydd today stands on the northern edge of Pontypridd as it creeps up the Taff valley towards Abercynon and beyond to Merthyr Tydfil. It sits to the east of the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (now buried beneath the A470 trunk road).

Most of the old terraced housing was built between 1884 and 1910, with the population exploding from a hundred or so people to over 3,500! This sudden population of what was originally a farming hamlet was driven by the opening of the Albion Colliery (closed 1966; today is the site of Pontypridd High School) in 1887. The village suffered great tragedy and loss in 1894 when 290 men and boys were killed by a massive underground explosion in the colliery.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilfynydd

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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Completed in 1926, Llwyn Onn is the southernmost and largest of the three reservoirs built across the Taf Fawr to supply water to Merthyr Tydfil and the valleys south to Cardiff. With unsually warm and dry weather so far in 2010, water levels at Llwyn Onn have dropped dramatically, revealing Pont-yr-Daf and allowing safe access along the retaining wall to the sluice gates at the southern end.

The Photos

Path Down From The Taff Trail

The Taff Trail (national cycle route 8 ) runs down the western edge of the reservoir, and from the road there are plenty of paths like this one that you can use to walk down to the shores of the reservoir.

Pont-yr-Daf Revealed By Drought

When the reservoir is at normal levels, Pont-yr-Daf lies underwater. But current water levels have fallen low enough to reveal the bridge – the only surviving structure from when the reservoir was created. This shot is looking north … note how the whole northern end of the reservoir is both silted up and completely dried out.

Pont yr Daf Revealed By Drought

Another shot of Pont-yr-Daf, showing the low water levels as we look south down the reservoir.

On reflection, I should have taken this photo at f/8, and made it sharp front-to-back. A lesson for future shots, I think.

Human Detritus In The Reservoir

Here’s a pile of human junk out in the middle of the drying Llwyn-Onn reservoir.

Note how green the ground is starting to turn at this spot. My wife reckons the ground here could have been exposed for about a month for these plants to take hold like this.

Looking South From Pont-yr-Daf

The Llwyn-Onn reservoir is completely dry north of Pont-yr-Daf. From the bridge itself, you can clearly see how the water is retreating south towards the reservoir’s retaining wall.

Reservoir Rubbish Up Close

This is a close-up shot of a tree that had been washed up in the reservoir at some point.

The Beach at Llwyn Onn

The water levels at the Llwyn Onn Reservoir north of Merthyr Tydfil have fallen quite low this year, exposing all of the northern end of the reservoir bed. It is drying and cracking up quite nicely.

Chasing The Receding Water

As the water level drops, the reservoir bed is being slowly uncovered. At first, the bed is a horrible sticky mud, and until it dries out it’s a bit tricky to walk on. The local fishermen have solved this problem, by creating stone pathways out to the water and extending them as the water level continues to drop.

Llwyn Onn Reservoir

Here’s a shot of the reservoir retaining wall, looking south along the reservoir towards Merthyr. You can clearly see how far the water stocks have fallen already this year, and summer is only just beginning.

The Tree Growing Out Of The Drainpipe

At the top of the retaining wall, my wife spotted this tree growing out of a drainpipe. It certainly looks like it has been here for some time.

The Sluice Gates At Llwyn Onn Reservoir

With the water levels so low, we were able to carefully walk out along the reservoir wall to the sluice gates.

The Bars Of The Sluice Gates

To stop debris being flushed into the sluice gates (and, presumably, to stop nosey photographers from doing something silly and ending up falling down the gates!) there are these metal bars across all of the sluice gates at the reservoir.

View this photo at ‘large’ or better on Flickr … the rust patterns in the bars are quite something.

Where Do The Gates Go?

Behind the bars lie the sluice gate itself … but what does it look like and where does it go?

Inside The Sluice Gates

This is what the bars are protecting … one of the sluice gates at the reservoir. Not far into the blackness there must be quite a drop down to the valley floor below. We didn’t go and explore the other side, so I couldn’t tell you whether the gates empty into the river below or into the water plant. Either way, it’s a ride that you don’t want to try.

Uncovered Shoe

Whilst clambering back along the reservoir wall after visiting the sluice gates, I spotted this shoe further down towards the receding water. I’m guessing it was washed up here when the water level fell, rather than being simply abandoned by someone else scrambling along the wall.

See Also

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Looking North Along The Lost Canal

I wasn’t around when the Glamorganshire Canal still existed; I wasn’t even born when in 1969 the canal was filled in to make room for the A470 trunk road. So I can’t say for certain that the Glamorganshire Canal ran exactly along this wall, and I can’t say for certain that this wall is a remnant of the wall sometimes seen in old photos separating what’s now the A4054 from the canal …

… but whenever I stand at this spot and gaze north towards Navigation (modern-day Abercynon), sometimes it’s nice to dream of what the views might have been two hundred years ago, and one hundred years ago.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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