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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Valleys top Rough Guide's list
The River Taff in Pontypridd
Valleys residents say the area is naturally beautiful
The south Wales valleys top the list of places to see in the new edition of the Rough Guide to Wales.

The British version of the guide book also describes the valleys as an "interesting and distinctive" corner of Wales.

Wales as a whole is called one of the most "beguiling" parts of Britain.

But visitors are also warned about Wales' "vast and ugly caravan parks" and "gastronomic disappointments".

The valleys head the list of Wales's top 30 attractions compiled for the Rough Guide to Wales, and Newport's transporter bridge is in third.

Coverage for the rest of the country in the fifth edition of the Rough Guide to Wales ranges from "loud and lairy" Newport to "breezy and resurgent" Swansea and the "crowning glory" of north Wales - Snowdonia.

The Wales guide, written by Mike Parker and Paul Whitfield and now in its fifth edition, warns visitors: "The worst thing you can possibly do is call a Welsh person English".

A street in Trehafod
A group of old ladies came to our house to welcome me with a bunch of flowers - it was like I was at home
Anoma Paul, valleys resident of 22 years

As well as criticising the caravan parks and "unappetising" Welsh food, the guide also warns against town centre hotels which are "often just rooms above a noisy bar".

The new version of the Rough Guide to Britain, out on 29 June, also claims Welsh people are "resentful of English dominance".

The valleys beat top tourist attractions like Portmeirion in north Wales, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea and St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire to become the Rough Guide's number one attraction in Wales.

Lifelong valleys resident John Hughes, 72, the founder and owner of the Groggs shop in Pontypridd, put the area's success down to the people and the picturesque countryside.

"If I've been away on holiday I really notice just how green and beautiful the valleys are on my drive back to my home in Pontypridd," he said.

TOP 10 WELSH ATTRACTIONS
1. The valleys
2. Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall, Powys
3. Transporter Bridge, Newport
4. National Waterfront Museum, Swansea
5. Soar-y-Mynydd chapel, Powys
6. Portmeirion
7. Aberglasney, Tywi Valley
8. Castell Carreg Cennen, Carmarthenshire
9. Oak woods, sacred to Druids
10. Lava bread
Source: Rough Guide to Wales 2006

"And the people are fantastic. Sometimes you go to places and the people are a bit stand-offish, but in the valleys they are very friendly and supportive of one another. There's a strong community spirit."

Anoma Paul, who owns a Pontypridd newsagents with her husband, said she did not know anyone when she arrived in Wales 22 years ago, but was made to feel at home immediately by the warm welcome she received from valleys residents.

"When I first arrived I was taking a shower when my husband called to me to say some people were there to see me," said Mrs Paul.

"I thought I knew no one in Pontypridd, but a group of old ladies came to our house to welcome me with a bunch of flowers. It was like I was at home.

Trehafod
The guide describes the valleys as a "distinctive" corner of Wales

"Their welcome meant I have never missed my previous home.

"It's that sort of friendliness that helps to make the valleys such a good place to visit."

Mum-of-six Cheryl Williams, 39, agreed the valleys had a lot going for it but thought there should be more for children to do.

"The countryside is beautiful but it's very difficult to see it and enjoy it with your children if you haven't got a car.

"The valleys does have a bad reputation with crime and drug use but it's not as bad as some people think it is. It's fine where I live in Tonyrefail."

Porth resident Matthew Davies, 33, thought the rich heritage and history of the valleys made it a top attraction.

But he thought the regeneration of the road networks was "ruining the area's natural beauty".

A spokeswoman for Rhondda Cynon Taf council said there was a lot to see and do in the area including museums, parks, theatres and walks.

"We are pleased that the rich cultural heritage and outstanding natural beauty of our area has been recognised in this way," she said.

The Rough Guide to Britain has also published its top 35 attractions and the Welsh entries are topped by Snowdonia at number eight, followed by Portmeirion, Harlech, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and St David's Cathedral.




SEE ALSO
Colliery's winding house facelift
02 Apr 06 |  South East Wales
92m invested in industrial past
15 Jun 05 |  South East Wales

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