What to do this bank holiday weekend? An ascent of Yr Wyddfa, maybe, with an added 45-minute wait with hundreds of others to reach the summit for that crucial selfie in the mist?

Or how about joining the queue up Pen y Fan?

Or a peaceful hike through the mountains of the Rhondda, stopping for a refreshing dip in a crystal-clear pool beneath a waterfall, watched over by a pair of kingfishers.

It took lockdown to get me exploring my milltir sgwâr and in the process, I’ve discovered so many places and things.

Take the remains of St Peter’s church of Llanbad, overlooking Brynna to the south. The old church dates from the 1700s, judging by some of the gravestones, but it seems the site’s importance dates from much earlier.

Standing on the ancient green road, a skein of pathways linking churches and communities, and with views stretching to the Bristol channel, St Peter’s is close to the ‘cariad stones’, where a father carved out his thanks to God for saving his daughter’s life.

Another walk I do starts from the former pit site in Maerdy, up past a reservoir and the remains of Castell Nos, a medieval defensive motte. Further on a delightful little 17th century bridge takes you over the mountain to Treorci and beyond.

When we think of the valleys we think mainly of their industrial past - and there’s plenty of that to look at - but so much was going on long before which remains unexplored, and that’s part of the fun, not only for walkers like me, but for ornithologists, naturalists et al.

Who’s heard of the ‘Maerdy monster’, a species of millipede discovered in 2017? Spoil tips have also become home to many different strains of fungi.

And don’t forget the abundance of wimberries at this time of year, which make the most delicious crumble. Never leave home without a tub to collect them in is my advice.

My most regular walk takes in the two lakes on the site of the old Cambrian colliery in Cwm Clydach where my grandfather worked.

64 men died in two disasters there in 1905 and 1965. My grandfather may well have lost his life had he not changed his shift the day before.

A winding wheel stands as a poignant reminder of the hardship suffered by our communities who sacrificed so much for their greedy coal masters.

My final offering has a quintessentially Rhondda feel to it. Beyond Blaenrhondda are the final few remains of the Western World, an attempt in the 1980s to recreate the Wild West as a tourist destination.

Visitors were met at Treherbert train station by cowboys in horse-drawn carts and transported to a world of saloon bars and gunslingers.

Needless to say, the dream didn’t last, but the memories and the stories live on and that’s what counts.

If you’d like to visit the Rhondda valleys, you can check out our 2.6k member-strong Facebook group: Rhondda walks with Leanne. I hope you enjoy your bank holiday weekend.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.