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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

                                                                                                      Outstanding

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      We had a superb stay last weekend enjoying the quiet and restful surroundings from this well equipped and finished house. This part of Wales is so beautiful and offers much scope for a great rural holiday with great hiking tracks, lush valleys, beautiful villages, historic sites and plenty of activities. Diane is simply the perfect host and is always willing to help. Would definitely recommend. Good for families, friends and couples whether on an outdoor holiday or just looking to enjoy the venue indoors. Thank you. Estuvimos aqui el fin de semana pasado y nos encantó la casa. Es un lugar precioso, con todas las comodidades, decorado con muy buen gusto y muy, muy limpio. Esta parte de Gales es preciosa y es perfecta para unas vacaciones rurales con grandes rutas de senderismo, valles, pueblos, partes históricas y un montón de actividades. Definitivamente lo recomendamos. Por último, pero no menos importante, hay que resaltar la amabilidad de Diane, la cual nos ayudó mucho recomendándonos rutas y siempre disponible dándonos muy buen servicio. Gracias.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 23-Jan-2017
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Jan 2017

                                                                                                      A perfect holiday home for a family meeting

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      We really enjoyed the possibility to spend time together or to meet in small groups. There was space enough for children and an appropriate atmosphere for adults. The place is close to the coast and close to the museum and not far from the city for shopping.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 06-Jan-2017
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Dec 2016

                                                                                                      Fantastic quaint cabin x

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      On first sighting we were a bit disappointed because the pictures make it look like it's secluded in the woods and not on a public trail, saying that we have had a fantastic new year with such a friendly welcome from Rachael and family nothing was to much trouble. The cabin itself is amazing and caters for all your needs for the time away. It's cosy, warm and clean with plenty of crockery and utensils. We used the fire pit although said rusty by others it worked well. The Taff's trail is great for walking or bike riding and the cabin is close to the trains but not a nuisances for noise. easy walk through the trail to reach the train station. With regular trains into Cardiff. A must is a visit to Fagans bar very friendly and allowed the dogs in. We will love to come back again but with are bikes. Thank you again for the wine on arrival. We hope everything was in order when we left xx
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 02-Jan-2017
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Dec 2016