|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||25.5 miles (41 km)|
|Meets:||A4063, B4181, M4, A4063, A4065, B4280, A4093, A4107, B4223, A4058, B4522, A465, A4059|
|Former Number(s):||A4058, A465|
|Route outline (key)|
The A4061 is a bit of a dark horse. Superficially, it looks like a typical local road linking lots of former mining communities in South Wales together. However, on closer inspection, it reveals itself to be an excellent driving road, full of fun twists and turns. It's popular with bikers as an alternative route from the M4 to the A465.
Bridgend - Hirwaun
The A4061 starts in the centre of Bridgend, at a junction with the A4063, and immediately crosses the River Ogmore to head northeast out of town. It heads through relatively flat terrain, passing the many industrial estates that have rejuvenated the area, with far too many roundabouts.
At times, the abundance of parked cars means it can be quite a challenge to pick your way past them as you head further and further uphill. It eventually clears the urban sprawl and heads towards the top of the mountain with a long sweeping set of hairpins, picking up the A4107 from the west. There are usually an ice-cream van and hundreds of sheep droppings here. After another set of hairpins at the other side, the Rhondda Valley comes into view, and there's a slow and gradual descent downhill. There's a sharp left TOTSO at the bottom (right is the B4223 down the valley), and the road heads under tree cover. After a right-hand bend, there's a TOTSO right and we're back into urban settings again. There's a flat run up over the bridge next to Treorchy Station, and then along to a set of lights in the centre of Treorchy itself, where the A4058 appears on the right.
The A4061 then snakes its ways along the heart of the Rhondda Fawr, with typical terraced houses on both sides. Then suddenly, there's a swing to the right and we're suddenly climbing uphill back into the mountains. There's another set of hairpins to navigate as the road starts to climb uphill, with the view of Blaenrhondda unfolding far below in the distance. Eventually, we reach the summit, and start to wind our way back down the other side. A final set of hairpins brings us out onto Hirwaun Common, where the road flattens and straightens out to give us a fast run away from the mountains.
The original starting point of the A4061 was at the junction of Nolton Street and Dunraven Place in the centre of Bridgend, where it branched off the A48. It followed what's now the B4181 up to the M4, after which it ran on the current route.
Just south of Ogmore Vale, it branched left from the current route, and headed along the west side of the valley, ending outside Nant-y-Moel station where the road hit a dead end. The whole area was rural and sparse until the rapid expansion of the coal industry in the mid-19th century, but following the population increase, transportation was difficult as roads had to fit around the imposing local geography.
Glamorgan Inter Valley Road
The mountain sections of this road were built as part of the "Glamorgan Inter Valley Road" project, to alleviate severe unemployment in the valleys of South Wales during the mid 1920s. This explains the TOTSOs in the Rhondda valley as it connected into what were previously side streets. The whole area had experienced severe unemployment after World War I, and it was hoped that the new roads would provide jobs, improve transport links, and allow people to visit the mountain summits for leisure purposes. The project was championed by future Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, who strongly believed that South Wales should move away from simply being a coal mining area.
The total cost was around £400,000, paid for by a composite of the national government and Glamorgan County Council. The mountain parts of the A4061 were mostly built by out-of-work miners, and completed quickly. Funding was cancelled partway through the project, but MacDonald insisted that the roads should be completed.
The opening of the Bwlch-y-Clawdd Road on 4 February 1928 took it up to the A4107, which was originally the through route down to Treorchy. The section from Treherbert to Hirwaun opened on 4 November 1929, and was initially an extension of the A4058.
The final section of road heading east into Hirwaun is the pre-bypass A465, completed in the mid-1970s.