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A guide to the history and natural beauty of the Afan Valley

The beautiful forest-covered Afan Valley is in South Wales in the county of Neath Port Talbot. The city of Swansea and the beautiful Gower Peninsula are nearby to the west.

The Main town is Port Talbot which lies on the bottom end of the valley and next to the seaside resort of Aberavon.

One feature which makes the Afan Valley unique in the local area is that it is a river valley, which means it is a V-shaped valley as opposed to the rest of the South Wales valleys which are glacial valleys and therefore U-shaped. This is the reason that the Afan Valley is known locally as “little Switzerland”.

Another feature of the valley is that it consists of a hard limestone base which drains away the rain without creating massive pools of mud and makes the area ideal for mountain biking. The mountain biking trails in the Afan valley were recently voted amongst the best ten in the world.

There are some remains from Roman times when the Romans dominated the area and built roads across the tops of the valleys to patrol the area. The Romans built a fort in Nearby Neath. Neath also has an ancient stone Castle, built in the 13th century and a Cistercian Monastery at Neath Abbey (now ruins) founded in 1147 by Sir Richard de Granville.

During the Industrial revolution the Afan Valley and surrounding areas became a major metals and coal mining centre and many canals and viaducts were built. A railway viaduct and an aqueduct in Pontrhydyfen still exist. The aqueduct remains in use today as a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. A plaque commemorates the birthplace of the great Welsh actor Richard Burton, who grew up in a house adjacent to the viaduct.

In recent years Neath Port Talbot council has been spending millions of pounds developing this area for tourists. They have created more than 30 miles of the best mountain biking trails in the country and some say, Europe. Alongside the trails are included footpaths for ramblers, ideal for nature lovers of any kind to explore the forestry and natural features of the countryside. The valley is rich with wildlife and birds of all sorts, which is why it is considered to be an area of great natural beauty. The work of the council is ongoing and new trails and services are being added every year.

Tourist attractions now include Afan Forest Visitor Centre which has some shops, a mining museum and car park. Many of the trails start from here. At the top of the valley in Glyncorrwg the focal point is the Dropoff Cafe which is a centre dedicated to serving the many mountain bikers who come to cycle on the trails.

Written by Gary Jones - Owner of Property 403493 in the Afan Valley, Wales


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Glamorgan Holiday Cottages & Apartments (240)

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                                                                                                      Recent Reviews

                                                                                                      The perfect escape

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      We have just got back from a week long holiday at '266' and can honestly say it's the nicest holiday rental we've had. It was very well equipped, Diane had thought of everything. Even helping us by providing a wheelchair for my elderly mother which enabled us to to explore so many more places in the area. The house is beautifully decorated and the playground in the garden, hot tub and decking surpass expectations. It's a great location with a variety of destinations to visit all within a short distance. Every day of our holiday was completely different and we loved it. Thank you Diane, your kindness and all the extra little touches you had thought of were so refreshing and made us very welcome. We will be back
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 19-Aug-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Aug 2016

                                                                                                      Great little cottage

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      Stayed for 4 days with our dog, great little cottage everything you need with all the privacy you may need as well. Scott and family where very helpfully and told us about the great beaches and walks to take with the dog.wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 17-Aug-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Jul 2016

                                                                                                      Very spacious, spotless and well equipped.

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      This property was ideal for our needs with a mixed range of adults and children of different ages, all were perfectly accommodated especially with the 2 cottage set up. Both cottages were well equipped with everything that is needed, the basics were provided (tea, coffee, milk, dish washer tablets, washing up liquid, kitchen roll etc). Lots of towels and comfortable bedding were provided too The location is ideal for beach, walking, mountain biking, site seeing in general (choice of 3 castles :-) and is close enough to Cardiff for a city visit. Christine and Rob were very helpful with booking and ensuring our stay was perfect. The pub next door was ideal, we visited twice and where not disappointed with any of the dishes. We would highly recommend this property to family and friends and hope to go back as there is so much to do in the area it is well worth a second visit. Thank you
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 16-Aug-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Aug 2016