Carved from a former coal tip, Parc Penallta is well known as the "place with the horse". As one of the largest figurative earth sculptures in the country, "Sultan the Pit Pony" attracts visitors from far afield who come to see and admire him. But Parc Penallta is not just about Sultan, impressive though he is. Climb to the High Point Observatory and you will be rewarded with panoramic views across the South Wales valleys. As you explore this diverse site it's hard to imagine that this beautiful and tranquil place was a black coal tip only 30 years ago.

Parc Penallta is a place for you to explore. From the wide-open areas on the plateau to the more intimate spaces of the lower part of the site there are hidden gems for you discover. Walk through our willow tunnel, watch a dragonfly's aerial acrobatics over a pond or find the Sleeping Giant, you'll be well rewarded for your efforts.

What to see and do

Sultan the Pit Pony

No visit to Parc Penallta is complete without seeing Sultan the Pit Pony. Sultan is the iconic feature of the park. At 200 metres long and 15 metres high he is one of the largest figurative earth sculptures in the country. Locals gave him the name Sultan after one of the popular "show" pit ponies from the nearby Penallta Colliery. In springtime his coat is covered in a carpet of cowslips, in the summer he buzzes to the sound of bees and insects. Nearby are several hoof-shaped ponds; perhaps he gallops around at night! Sit in his ear and enjoy the views or visit the viewpoint, nearby, to get an elevated view of Sultan the pit pony.

High Point Observatory

For the best viewpoint in the park make your way to the High Point Observatory where you'll be rewarded with stunning 360° panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Looking like an alien spaceship has landed the 6 "wings" point to the local communities surrounding the park. Those communities helped design them and each depict images of local heritage, natural wildlife and recreation. 

The impressive High Point Observatory

Wildlife

With its mix of woodlands, ponds and grasslands Parc Penallta is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Look out for several species of orchids in early summer, many types of dragonflies and damselflies and explore our acres of flowering meadows which are alive with butterflies, bees and other insects throughout the summer. Flocks of goldfinch can be seen feeding on alder cones and seed heads throughout the autumn and there is a good chance of seeing both green woodpecker and bullfinch at any time of year. In winter watch as flocks of starling drop in to roost in the reed beds around Nelson Bog. There's also Penallta Marsh wildlife area, a small example of rhos pasture rich in both wildflowers and insects.

Walks and Trails

There are miles of paths to follow at Parc Penallta but to get you started we have 3 waymarked walking trails of different lengths. They all start from the main car park and can be found on the Parc Penallta leaflet:

  • Sultan trail (1.6km) - passes Sultan & some artworks. Stone dust and grass paths; generally gently undulating but two short steeper slopes. 
  • Skylark trail (2.1km) - passes Sultan, good views, takes in a quieter part of the site. Stone dust and grass paths; generally gently undulating but two steeper slopes. 
  • Woodpecker trail (3.7 km) – the biggest circuit of the site with good views. Stone dust and grass paths; two long steep slopes.

With our Audio Trail you don't even to leave the comfort of your home, although we recommend you do! It's not a guided trail as such but a series of sound recordings that describe some of the background behind seven of the fascinating features of the park. Visit the Audio Trails page to listen or download the sound clips. 

For those who wish to explore further afield, the park offers a great starting point. Cyclists can use Route 47 of the National Cycle Network and cycle in safety to Sirhowy Valley Country Park in the east or towards Taff Bargoed Park and the Taff Trail in the west. For walkers why not follow the 8 mile Escape to... Eglwysilan Common walk or the much longer 27 mile Stride out... Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk.

And more...

There's plenty more for you to discover. Walk out onto the Crannog Lake, fish in our purpose-built fishing ponds, search for our sculptures or fly a kite on the Events Arena, you'll soon find out why Parc Penallta is such a popular place to enjoy the great outdoors. 

Planning your visit 

Where it is   Parc Penallta is to the western outskirts of Ystrad Mynach.

How to get there   By car - Follow the brown tourist signs at Tredomen roundabout on the A472 at Ystrad Mynach.  The main entrance and car park is located midway between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer on Penalltau Road. By bus - Services C16 Caerphilly to Nelson, Service C17 Bargoed to Caerphilly and Service 7 Blackwood to Pontypridd. By bike - NCN R47 runs through the lower part of the park. Nearest railway station - Ystrad Mynach (10 minute walk) & Hengoed (30 minute walk). 

Park hours   The park is open all year round. It is also free to access the park.

Car parks   There are two car parks; the Main car park (off Penalltau Road) is more handily located for the upper part of the site including Sultan the Pit Pony, the Events Arena and the High Point Observatory. Fforest car park, off the A472 offers easier access to the lower part of the site for the National Cycle Network, the Crannog Lake or the Fishing Lakes. Please note that the barrier to Fforest car park closes at 5:30pm (summer) and 4:30pm (winter). Pay and Display parking operates at both car parks.

Other access points   Access can be gained on foot or by bike along the NCN R47 from Nelson and Ystrad Mynach. Other entrances are located by Tredomen Business Park, Buzzard Way in Cwm Calon and various footpaths across the fields to the north of the park.  

Park Office and Education Centre   There is a small park office and Education Centre for use by visiting schools and groups located close to the main entrance off Penalltau Road. Opening times vary depending on staff availability.

Toilets   An environmentally friendly compost toilet is located between the Main car park and the Events Arena. It is open from 9:00-5:00pm (summer) and 9:00-4:00pm (winter). Toilets are also available at the Education Centre but depend on Centre being open. 

Picnic tables   Picnic tables are located by The Events Arena, the Crannog Lake and the Fishing Lakes.

Accessibility   Parc Penallta can be divided two distinct areas for accessibility. The area around the Main car park and Events Arena is comparatively flat with stone dust paths that can be a little rough in places. Along the valley bottom the cycle route and the path from the Fforest car park is generally flat and surfaced with tarmac, although there is a gradient leading up to the car park. Linking the two areas the paths are steep with rough stone surfacing. There are also large number of grass and naturally surfaced paths across the site. Access control points are kept to a minimum and are all mobility scooter friendly apart from those on the public rights of way that lead into the surrounding farm land. There are regularly spaced benches around the Events Arena and along the NCN Route 47.

Contact Information

The Education Centre, Parc Penallta, Penallta Road, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed. CF82 7GL. 

Tel: 01443 816853
Email: countryside@caerphilly.gov.uk 

Suggested Content

Audio Trails
Audio Trails
Making the most of the learning opportunities in our green spaces
Learning
Sports Pitch Bookings
Pitches & Courts
Playgrounds in Caerphilly
Play Areas
Bluebells in Flatwood Meadows Local Nature Reserve
Flatwoods Meadows
A view of a meadow, part of Cwmllwydrew Meadows
Cwmllwydrew Meadows
The fish sculpture at Riverside Park
Riverside Park
Aberbargoed Grasslands National Nature Reserve
Aberbargoed Grasslands
Ystrad Mynach Park
Ystrad Mynach Park
Waunfawr Park
Waunfawr Park
Sir Harold Finch Memorial Park
Sir Harold Finch Park
A view of Nelson Wern Park
Nelson Wern Park
Welcome to Morgan Jones Park
Morgan Jones Park
Mature oak woodland at Bargoed Park
Bargoed Park
Bee Orchid, one of Caerphilly's most wanted
Most Wanted
Local Seed Bank
Local Seed Bank
Penallta Marsh Local Nature Reserve at Parc Penallta
Penallta Marsh
A view of a meadow and woodland at the Memorial Park Meadows
Memorial Park Meadows
Winter frost on Graig Goch Local Nature Reserve trees
Graig Goch
Oxeye daisies
Wildlife Sites
Teen rangers celebrate making a bush shelter
Teen Rangers
Junior Rangers with home made kites
Junior Rangers
A walker strides out on the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk
Walking Trails
Healthy Walking
Volunteering
Public Rights of Way
Campers enjoy their stay at Parc Cwm Darran
Campsites
Sirhowy Valley Country Park
Sirhowy Valley Country Park
A couple enjoy a quiet moment at the water's edge
Pen-y-Fan Pond
High point observatory at Parc Penallta at sunset
Parc Penallta
Picnickers by the Ogilvie Lake at Parc Cwm Darran
Parc Cwm Darran
Bargoed Woodland Park
Sheep grazing in a field
Activities
Parc Penallta in the snow
Country Parks
Our urban parks
Urban Parks