The Trevithick Trail – according to the official website www.trevithicktrail.co.uk – “runs for nine miles from Penydarren in Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon… It follows the line of the early nineteenth century Merthyr or Penydarren Tramroad which linked three of Merthyr’s ironworks to a loading point on the Glamorganshire Canal at a place then called Navigation”.
But try and follow the trail from the start – perhaps from the look-out point that overlooks the Traction Yard (once the site of the former Penydarren Ironworks) – and you’ll find the way blocked and no route signs.
The way is barred after the walk (or cycle ride) down Trevethick Street (wrongly spelled, of course) at The Rink.
A diversion onto Pontmorlais High Street and back through a narrow pathway into a small pass area adorned with a ‘No Dumping’ sign and piles of dumped litter and you might find the route of the old tramroad again.
Wrong. All that’s there is 30 or 40 yards of litter, discarded needles, brambles, tree trunks and trees between old stone walls from the ironworks era and the Morlais Brook.
Surely it’s time that the whole of this upper section of the Trevithick Trail is restored and way-marked so visitors can again follow the route that Trevithick and his Penydarren Locomotive took on that day of 21st February 1804.
Hauling five wagons laden with 10 tons of iron and carrying up to 70 passengers (according to Trevithick’s own account) the steam engine drove the full nine and a half miles of the tramroad in just over 4 hours. History was made.