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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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                                                                                                    Recent Reviews

                                                                                                    Great central location

                                                                                                    4 of 5
                                                                                                    This apartment is a credit to the owner Mary , super clean and great facilities, would highly recommend. We will defiantly use again. regards Kieron Roberts Country fayre
                                                                                                    • Review Submitted: 21-Jul-2016
                                                                                                    • Date of Stay: Jul 2016

                                                                                                    Sizeable and unusual accommodation in great location

                                                                                                    4 of 5
                                                                                                    We had a great week with the family including 2 toddlers in this nice property. It was pretty well equipped, clean and spacious and the novelty of our own bar area and plenty of seating made this an ideal choice. The Gower is a beautiful spot and the proximity of Three Cliffs Bay was one of the attractions. Ir proved bit more of a hike than we expected albeit a plants walk across fields and sand dunes but too far to "pop back" for replenishments and too far also to lug lots of beach stuff. Nevertheless there are plenty of alternatives not too far away by car. There is plenty of outside space too- sadly no garden or lawn but room enough for kids to run around, barbecues or generally lazing around. Of course the weather plays a big part and the property is roomy enough for a large group not to be under everyone's feet. the owner was helpful on the couple of occasions needed and very close at hand without being intrusive. Would recommend for a large family group or a number of friends. 5 en suite bedrooms is a major plus.
                                                                                                    • Review Submitted: 18-Jul-2016
                                                                                                    • Date of Stay: Jul 2016

                                                                                                    SpeedwayMandy.

                                                                                                    4 of 5
                                                                                                    A lovely apartment with everything you need, very clean and well kept. No on-site parking but 2 multistory car parks close by. The owner John Janos very good to deal with after we had problems with Homeaway questioning our payments. Would stay here again.
                                                                                                    • Review Submitted: 13-Jul-2016
                                                                                                    • Date of Stay: Jul 2016