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Enjoy Merthyr’s great outdoors in second Stride and Ride festival

The beautiful and accessible countryside and leisure facilities of Merthyr Tydfil will play host at the end of the month to a week of events aimed at getting people of all ages out and about.

Merthyr Tydfil’s second Stride and Ride festival will get underway on Saturday 23 June with no fewer than 42 exciting activities spanning nine days, from orienteering to Nordic walking and even a ‘toddle waddle’.

The festival is a joint venture between the County Borough Council, Active Merthyr Tydfil and the Merthyr Tydfil Stride and Ride Forum – which was formed following the success of the inaugural event in 2017.

The week kicks off with the popular weekly Merthyr Tydfil Park Run at 9am on Saturday, followed by ‘Walk The Gap’ with local walk leader Harri Evans, which takes in the Taff Trail and offers spectacular views of the valley from the mountain landmark affectionately known locally as The Gap or The Giant’s Bite.  Energetic eight to 14-year-olds can take part in the first ‘Kids Go Try’ event led by Merthyr Triathlon Club.

Sunday will feature the festival’s first ‘Toddle Waddle’, a gentle stroll from Rock UK down to Parc Taf Bargoed and back to use the facilities and sample coffee and cake.  Prams, pushchairs, trikes and scooters are all welcome.

Monday 25 will see the official launch of the festival at Rock UK followed by a guided walk from the centre down to Parc Taf Bargoed.  Booking is essential, with the launch starting at 1.30pm and the walk at 2.15pm.

Tuesday’s many activities include a Nordic Walklng taster session led by Valleys Nordic Walking in Cyfarthfa Park.  Nordic walking provides a social whole body workout using up to 90% of the boy’s muscles and burns up to 46% more calories than normal walking. There will also be a chance to try orienteering with the local authority’s Venture Out team in Cyfarthfa Park.

The new sport of ‘Trail Plogging’ will make its Merthyr Tydfil debut on Thursday.  Led by Run Wales and Keep Wales Tidy, the activity – also known as ‘eco running’ – will see runners picking up litter as they jog.

On Saturday, people can try out ‘Geocachlng In the Park’, Led by The Men’s Project – a digital treasure hunt in and around the woods in Cyfarthfa Park. ‘Push Down the Path’ in wheelchairs, meanwhile, led by the Disability Sport Merthyr team will allow participants learn about inclusive opportunities in the area.

A local history lesson will be provided in ‘Off the Rails, Rail Steam and Speed’, led by local historian Huw Williams, a one and a half-mile walk discovering Merthyr Tydfil’s role in the golden age of steam.

County Borough Council Cabinet member for Regeneration and Public Protection Cllr Geraint Thomas said

“For the second year, the Stride and Ride Festival is bringing together sporting volunteers from many clubs throughout Merthyr Tydfil with members of the public who want to become active.

“The importance of activity tourism to the local economy has grown hugely over recent years through the development of BikePark Wales, Rock UK Summit Centre and Parkwood Dolygaer and the substantial trail infrastructure development we have.

“This is evident by the number of people and groups now using our trails network and public spaces, which will be used to their full extent throughout this fantastic growing outdoor activity festival.”