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.
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.
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.
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.
Keep up to date with news about the wildlife of Parc Penallta with our regular newsletter, Penallta Yafflings.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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. (These toilets are currently closed)
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.
The Education Centre, Parc Penallta, Penallta Road, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed. CF82 7GL.
Tel: 01443 816853