Torfaen means break-stone and was the original name of Afon Lwyd. Today Torfaen is highly urban especially in the southernmost areas. To the north end you find miles of countryside, perfect for scenic drives around and to other destinations that are further north. A lot of people live in Torfaen, the population, which is also 99% Caucasian tallies in at 91,100 with 14.5% of them literate in Welsh to some degree.
Blaenavon is a World Heritage Site found on a hill which is the same hill where the Afon Lwyd begins. As an ironworks and coal mining town it at one time held many residents. Blaenavon was the site televised by the Channel 4 Archaeology program entitled 'Time Team' during February of 2001 as the tried to locate "The Lost Viaduct" which would be the first railway viaduct of the world ever. The viaduct was used by horse drawn vehicles to transport coal. The exploration team did find the lost viaduct during the filming, and, they found its roof deeply buried under up to fifteen meters of rubble and dirt.
Blaenavon World Hertage Site also sports a Welsh cheesemaker. The Blaenafon Cheddar Company produces handwade welsh cheddar along with soft goat cheese.
Cwmbran Shopping Centre
This shopping center is the second largest in Wales. It is part of a "New Town" effort and these 'new towns' are developed from a Master Plan. At the Cwmbran Centre find the Cwmbran Library, the Citizens Advice Bureau, a Cinema, the Congress Theatre, House of Fraser, HSBC, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, Dorothy Perkins, Blockbuster Video and several others including places to eat. Three thousand places for parking cars, a bus station and the nearby Cwmbran railway station add to the centre's convenience and it is a popular place to shop in Torfaen.
One of the best places in Torfaen is the Pontypool Park. Pontypool Park comes from Pontypool House that belonged to Major John Hanbury who was the area's ironmaster. This wealthy man helped develop a corrosion resistant iron coating that could be applied to things like plates, glasses and utensils to prevent corrosion. Pontypool Park emcompasses 150 acres east of Pontypool centre. Between Pontymoile Gates and Pontymoile Basin and St. Alban's RC High School and Pontypool Museum it includes footpaths that take you to Brecon Breacons Park as well as to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. There are many old chestnut trees at the park, an Italian Gardens, ponds called the Nant-y-Gollen Ponds and a national cycle route.
The Pontypool Museum
The museum features both temporary and permanent exhibits that include much of the industrial, cultural or social facets of Torfaen Valley or Pontypool. There are household items, clocks, collections of the corrosion resistant Japanware and various happenchance documents and printed matter such as pamphlets, postcards, stock certificates or tickets.
The Fourteen Locks Canal Centre
Rebuilt and exciting you can hire space here, visit for free and join in guided walks on the first Saturday of each month. Walks include heritage trails and exploration of the Nature Reserve. There is also a souvenir shop that sells related merchandise including maps and books.
The Big Pit Coal Museum offers an underground tour of an authentic coal mine. There are tours with multi-media displays and museum exhibits that offer all the details that went into the processes of coal mining and how those communities with family members involved in the coal mines or other connections withstood this type of lifestyle. There are workshops, stables and many more related items to see. The underground tours are daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and admission is free.
Chocolate Making at Chocs Away offers visitors the chance to create their own handmade chocolate treats. Paying a visit to the Llanyrafon Mill gives one a glimpse into history, free parking and a water mill that has existed since 1632 or even earlier. Horseback riding is available at Ticken's Trekking, the experience includes a pony just for the children. Additionally there the Waterside Rest restaurant serving food and alcohol at the Mon and Brecon Canal that adjoins the Visitor/Heritage Centre that includes a nearby boat hire facility and picnic bookings.