Pontypool Park was formerly land owned by wealthy industrialists the Hanbury family. Their former home is now St Albans School and the Museum. As municipal parks go it is remarkably large. The intricate wrought iron gates at the southern end are a thing of beauty, but unfortunately part of the gates were lost a few years ago when taken away for refurbishment. Walking along the central road through the park you can head uphill by turning right on several walking tracks, some more secluded that others. The most obvious track takes you up through a tunnel, from which you emerge into a meadow which is particularly beautiful when the bluebells are in bloom. Climb higher still, and at the top of the hill you will see a whimsical little building. This is the Shell Grotto, which was restored back in the 1990s. From Easter until September it is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The original shell grotto was built by the Hanbury family as it was fashionable to have such a building. It is roughly the size of a room, with pillars holding up the roof. The roof and pillars are studded with seashells, pieces of glass, animal bones and stones. The floor has an intricate pattern of animal bones set into concrete. It is a magical place to visit. From the Shell Grotto you can head north along a farm track for approximately 3km along the ridge of the hill until you reach the Folly Tower. (More about that in a separate entry.) From the top of the hill you get a wonderful view in all directions. Pontypool Park also incorporates a dry ski slope, tennis courts and a bowling green, as well as Pontypool Active Living Centre with a swimming pool, gym and cafe. There is a children's play area outside the Active Living Centre. The river Afon Llwyd flows through the park, an added attraction. The park has many mature trees and the rhododendrons by the river are beautiful in spring. The Italian Gardens are a feature on the slope on the town side of the river. There is also an avenue of flowering cherry trees in the middle of the park. There are many paths through the park, and if you head uphill towards Penygarn you will see the Gorsedd Stones which were placed in the park when it hosted the Eisteddfod. Another feature of the park is the Nant-y-Gollen Ponds. And of course a write-up of the park would not be complete without mentioning the rugby field with open terracing on one side and covered seating on the other. This field, apart from hosting rugby matches, is the venue for Pontypool's fireworks display every November 5th.