Cyfarthfa Leat & Gurnos Tramroad
What can I expect when visiting Cyfarthfa Leat & Gurnos Tramroad?
You have the option to start your tour at either end of the leat, but we have chosen to commence our journey at the southern terminus, situated in Cyfartha Park & Castle. This picturesque leat flows into an ornamental lake overlooked by Cyfarthfa Castle, a historic structure constructed by William Crawshay II, the owner of Cyfarthfa Ironworks.
Originally, the leat directed its course towards the ironworks, where it provided power to a grand waterwheel named Aeolus. However, with the construction of the castle in 1825, the leat was redirected and repurposed to serve as a water supply for the lake, with water entering via a syphon.
Exiting the park through the north gate, you will cross Gurnos Road, where a modern replica of a tramroad section with wagon that once delivered limestone can be seen.
Follow the path, and you will encounter the leat along with an arch marking the southern terminus of the route.
As you continue along the leat, you will come across its main overflow spillway, creating a delightful waterfall.
At a certain point, you will reach a fork in the path. Take the left path to reach the Gurnos Tramroad. The leat will continue ahead, while the path that follows leads to a modern housing estate.
Continuing straight, you will notice the stone sleepers of the former tramroad with the leat’s retaining wall to your right and the Taf Fechan River to your left. The tramroad’s gauge is estimated to be 3 ft 7 in.
Close inspection of the sleepers reveals bore holes where cast iron chairs would have been attached, onto which the cast iron L-shape rails, known as plates, would then be fixed.
As you proceed, the leat will once again become visible, running parallel to the tramroad.
The tramroad will lead you to an open green space, where the leat eventually disappears into a culvert towards its source on the Taf Fechan River. Heading right, you can catch a glimpse of the remains of Gurnos Quarry, the source of limestone, which was transported down the tramroad to Cyfarthfa Ironworks.
Feel free to explore the Taf Fechan area before retracing your steps down the tramroad. When you encounter the fork, continue straight.
The tramroad will continue to run below the leat, which runs parallel above. Along the way, you will pass the overflow waterfall seen at the beginning of your visit.
Next, you will head under the old Brecon Road bridge and its modern counterpart. The tramroad would have continued along the Taf Fechan River until it joined with the River Taff, then crossing the Taff via Pont-y-Cafnau to enter Cyfarthfa Ironworks.
Since we cannot proceed further along the tramroad’s route, follow the path upwards and under the modern road bridge. This will lead you to the old road bridge, where you can walk back around to Cyfartha Castle & Park, an enchanting place well worth a visit.
How long does it take to visit Cyfarthfa Leat & Gurnos Tramroad?
It will take your roughly 1 hour to complete the route detailed above. You may wish to extend your visit by popping over to Cyfarthfa Castle & Park.
Is Cyfarthfa Leat & Gurnos Tramroad suitable for a picnic?
The tramroad is narrow; however, there is an open green space at the start of the leat that is suitable for a picnic on the banks of the Taf Fechan river.
How do I get to Cyfarthfa Leat & Gurnos Tramroad?
If arriving by car, park in the Cyfarthfa Castle car park. There are bus stops outside the main castle entrance on the Brecon Road with services to and from Merthyr Tydfil.