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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

                                                              A perfect cozy property

                                                              5 of 5
                                                              We had the perfect stay in Swansea, mostly because of this cozy and clean property that we stayed in. There were three of us staying but it would have been perfect for four people too. We felt like home as soon as we walked in. The owner got us wine and chocolate to welcome us. The apartment was perfect for us, the neighbors were quiet and the view to the beach was amazing. Everything was really close to us (shops, nightlife etc). Two bedrooms and two bathrooms were very needed, especially we enjoyed the bathroom attached to the bigger bedroom, it was very needed. We found everything we needed in the kitchen too. I truly reccomed this property! Everything went so well, thank you!
                                                              • Review Submitted: 28-May-2016
                                                              • Date of Stay: May 2016

                                                              An immaculate and very attractive property

                                                              5 of 5
                                                              Sharon was a very welcoming host and was very helpful when we arrived. The house was immaculate and well-equipped, and very comfortable if a little warm upstairs with all we needed to make our stay a pleasure, including a very nice bottle of wine. There is plenty to do in the neighbourhood whatever the weather as we found out even though we were only there for 3 days. The scenery at the house and around the Gower is delightful and the cows in the field next door made the holiday very special for our small granddaughter. Caswell Bay was beautiful on the Sunday (the best day weatherwise of the stay) and we had a very nice roast lunch at a pub in Bishopston. The café/stores at the top of the road was well-stocked and sold delicious ice cream, especially the 'cowmix'!! The Gower is a beautiful part of the world and we shall be very happy to visit again.
                                                              • Review Submitted: 24-May-2016
                                                              • Date of Stay: May 2016

                                                              Superb!

                                                              5 of 5
                                                              This property is everything everyone says it is. Very comfortable. Everything you need is catered for. We've been home 6 weeks now and still really miss the view from 5a. We will definitely be back!
                                                              • Review Submitted: 24-May-2016
                                                              • Date of Stay: Apr 2016