Natural environment

This is a mountainous area of South Wales with a number of generally parallel valleys running from North to South, carrying rivers down to the sea. The mountains and valleys are timeless of course and, although affected temporarily by pits, mines, and industrial complexes, retain their fundamental character long after those activities have ceased. The modern views of the Valleys on this page - if they can be imagined minus the houses - reflect the true nature of the area as it has been for millennia. Although the harsh reality of working in the mining industry must have stamped itself on our ancestor's characters, we can be sure that the raw, natural beauty of their surroundings did too.

This map is fairly specific to our Fosters of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and contains most of the main communities in which they lived. (The other famous valleys of the area, the Rhondda Valleys, are off the map to the West.)



Merthyr Tydfil from the surrounding mountains in the mid-19th Century



Fishing in the River Taff below Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil



The view from Merthyr Tydfil looking North to the Brecon Beacons



Abercarn and the Ebbw Valley in 1847, a few short years before our ancestors moved there




The Ebbw Valley today with |Abercarn in the far distance



A view of Abercarn from across the Ebbw River



The Ebbw River near Abercarn



The Cwmcarn Valley, a few minutes walk from Abercarn



Rhymney Valley, with Pontlottyn in the middle distance


Rhymney Valley (right) and Sirhowey Valley (left) looking south from the Heads of the Valleys



Sirhowey Valley, seen from the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway