Over thirty new Public Rights of Way will be created between the Cynon and Taff Valleys, thanks to an agreement made by Forestry Commission Wales and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.
The 21 footpaths and 14 bridleways will be in Gethin woodland near Merthyr Tydfil which is managed by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Gethin woodland covers 850 hectares and offers visitors far-reaching views of the South Wales valleys and the Brecon Beacons.
The natural surroundings along with the peace and tranquillity of the forest environment are popular with local people and visitors alike, particularly families.
The new routes, which will be 21 kilometres long in total, will allow walkers, horse riders and cyclists to enjoy sections of woodland where no Public Right of Way had previously existed.
They will be clearly signposted with waymarkers and some will link to existing footpaths and bridleways in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Karl Charlton, Forestry Commission Wales’s Local Area Manager said, "One of the objectives of Forestry Commission Wales is to promote woodlands as a rich resource for recreation, health and wellbeing.
"We hope that this new network of waymarked footpaths and bridleways will encourage more people, in particular those who live in Merthyr Tydfil, to visit and enjoy Gethin woodland."
Edward Foley, Engineering, Highways and Transport Manager at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, said, "The creation of these additional Public Rights of Way is a splendid example of collaboration between Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Forestry Commission Wales.
"The additional routes will offer more opportunity for local people and tourists to expand their scope for recreation and exercise."
The Friends of Gethin Woodland Park was set up by Phillip Watkins to help with the creation of the Public Rights of Way.
Phillip Watkins said, "I would like to thank Forestry Commission Wales for allowing these Public Rights of Way which are of great benefit to the whole community.
"I would also like to thank members of the Friends of Gethin Woodland Park, The Groundwork Trust and the Ramblers Association for their help and support.
"It is wonderful that our work has enabled legal recognition of these ancient routes."
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council will undertake the work necessary to bring the new routes into a fit state for use by the public and, once created, they will be responsible for the maintenance of the route surfaces.
Photo: Gethin woodland from Merthyr Tydfil
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, email@example.com, 0300 068 0057.