Walking the Valleys
Over the past two centuries the South Wales Valleys have gone from idyllic rural landscape to the engine room of the British Empire to post industrial decline. Building on the success of their book Walking Cardiff, Peter Finch and John Briggs explore how the Valleys have changed, and how they are evolving for the twenty-first centuries in their new book Walking the Valleys.
As centres of coal mining and iron and steel-making, the Valleys saw over a hundred thousand people crammed between their steep sides. Their industry produced not only fuel and products exported around the world, but also archetypal working class communities, with their chapels, union militancy, self-funded workers’ institutes, and seemingly unbreakable identities. Fuelled by massive immigration, they were also a social experiment in assimilation and radical politics.
Now the pits and foundries have become heritage sites, the chapels are retail centres or housing, and Finch and Briggs explore how the Valleys have changed, and what they have become. Their forward-looking book is also one of record, as the towns and villages evolve into the twenty-first centuries. This is their take on Abercynon, Aberdare, Aberfan, Bargoed, Caerphilly, Gelli, Gelligaer, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Porth, Rhymney, Taffs Well, Tonypandy, Treherbert and Ystrad Mynach.
The informative texts can be used as both a route finder and a literary entertainment in themselves. John Briggs's lively photographs provide further detail and each walk is illustrated with a map. Armchair walkers will find the book as interesting and as useful as those actually pull on their boots. And natives and visitors alike will find a new discovery around every corner.
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