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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 & Homes (466)

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    Excellent! 4.7/5
    (46 reviews)
    avg/night
    • 1 BR
    • 1 BA
    • Sleeps 4
    46
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      • 2 BA
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      8
        • 3 BR
        • 2 BA
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        11
          • 5 BR
          • 5 BA
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          1 Review
            • 4 BR
            • 2 BA
            • Separate Toilet
            • Sleeps 8
              • 2 BR
              • 1 BA
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              1 Review
                • 2 BR
                • 1 BA
                • Sleeps 5
                2 Reviews
                  • 4 BR
                  • 3 BA
                  • Sleeps 12
                  18
                    Wonderful! 4.9/5
                    (56 reviews)
                    avg/night
                    • 2 BR
                    • 2 BA
                    • Sleeps 4
                    56
                      • 1 BR
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                      12
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                        17
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                          23
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                            • 1 BA
                            • Sleeps 6
                            1 Review
                              Excellent! 4.4/5
                              (16 reviews)
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                              • 2 BR
                              • 1 BA
                              • Sleeps 6
                              16
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                                4
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                                  5
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                                      1 Review
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                                            4
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                                                1 Review
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                                                  4
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                                                    1 Review
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                                                        • 2 BR
                                                        • 2 BA
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                                                          • 2 BR
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                                                          1 Review
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                                                            • 1 BA
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                                                            2 Reviews
                                                              • 3 BR
                                                              • 1 BA
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                                                              1 Review
                                                                • Studio
                                                                • 1 BA
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                                                                3
                                                                  NEW!
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                                                                    1 Review
                                                                      NEW!
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                                                                      • 1 BA
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                                                                        1 Review
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                                                                          • 1 BA
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                                                                          1 Review
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                                                                            • 2 BA
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                                                                              • 1 BR
                                                                              • 1 BA
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                                                                              1 Review
                                                                                • 4 BR
                                                                                • 2 BA
                                                                                • Separate Toilet
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                                                                                15
                                                                                  • 3 BR
                                                                                  • 2 BA
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                                                                                    • 3 BR
                                                                                    • 1 BA
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                                                                                    1 Review
                                                                                      NEW!
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                                                                                      • 2 BA
                                                                                      • Sleeps 6
                                                                                        • 2 BR
                                                                                        • 1 BA
                                                                                        • Sleeps 4
                                                                                        2 Reviews
                                                                                          Wonderful! 4.9/5
                                                                                          (11 reviews)
                                                                                          avg/night
                                                                                          • 1 BR
                                                                                          • 1 BA
                                                                                          • Sleeps 2
                                                                                          11
                                                                                            • 1 BR
                                                                                            • 1 BA
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                                                                                              1 Review
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                                                                                                • 1 BA
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                                                                                                      • 1 - 50 of 466
                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Recent Reviews

                                                                                                      Das Wohnen hier ist schon ein Erlebnis

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      Perfekte Wohnungsbedingungen, perfekte Gastgeber. Man füllt sich da wirklich willkommen und zwar als Mensch und nicht bloß als Kunde. Wundervoll. Vielen dank Katherine and Mike
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 22-Sep-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Sep 2016

                                                                                                      Exactly what we needed!

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      We had a lovely time, location was good, we traveled every day to a new location so was easy to get around. Previous reviews about trains worried me however it was really not a problem - rarely heard them. The dehumidifier works a treat too. Very friendly owner and lovely welcome pack! We will return, probably with our dog as everywhere we went was dog friendly around there which we hadn't anticipated. A small tip if your like me and want to nestle down after a long day walking maybe consider a camping chair you can fold up as the modern sofa bed wasn't very cosy, this is a small negative and I really do look forward to returning very soon. The cabin was very well equipped and we needed for nothing. The local Curry House - Spice Connasaur was amazing and treated our family of 6 with 4 boys like royalty, easily one of the best curries I've ever had! Thank you to the owners for having us.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 13-Sep-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Aug 2016

                                                                                                      Lovely apartment , wonderful views

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      A very well equipped apartment everything you need is included with masses of storage space . Many lovely places to visit and walk , two easier walks which my husband now requires are the one from Rossili to Worms Head and from the heritage centre to Three Cliffs bay at low tide . It was always great to come back to the apartment and watch the sea in its many moods . Would love to come back and explore more of the Gower .
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: 12-Sep-2016
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: Sep 2016