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The River Ely flows 26 miles from its source north of Tonyrefail to Cardiff Bay and the Severn Estuary. The upper part of the river flows through the South Wales valleys before it reaches Talbot Green and the more rolling countryside of the Vale of Glamorgan and eventually Cardiff.

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The river is already popular for fishing, walking and cycling. The completion of the Ely Trail from Cardiff Bay to St Fagans will improve significantly the Ely as a recreational resource.

The Cardiff Barrage now blocks the estuary of the River Ely now but despite this it still gets a run of salmon and sewin.