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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 hidden gem of property

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      I hesitate to say how lovely this apartment was, as I would like it to be available the next time I visit! Fairly recently modernised, extremely tasteful and comfortable, with lots of little thoughtful extras. The beach bag with towels and the two deckchairs really made me smile! When we arrived a little early, Katherine was kind enough to let us in right away - so a sit down in the little sun-trap of a garden, with the local beer for hubbie and a glass of chilled Pimm's for me that had been left in the fridge for us. Hit the spot, and instantly put us in holiday mood. Katherine turned up with a big smile the next morning, clutching a new orchid for the bathroom under her arm as she had noticed the one in there had stopped flowering - her attention to detail is one of the features of this charming apartment. Spotlessly clean, and extremely comfortable, this is somewhere we would recommend without hesitation to family and friends, and indeed have emailed several of them to let them know about our find. Don't hesitate to book if you are planning to visit this area, you will not be disappointed. Bistrot Pierre had just opened up when we were there, and we tried it for lunch, which was excellent.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: May 21, 2017
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: May 2017

                                                                                                      Unrivaled Cliffside/Country Gower Location

                                                                                                      5 of 5
                                                                                                      Our week in Southgate staying in Sharon's guest house was brilliant. First of all, the location was perfect for us - directly across from the cliffs with views in all directions (even to Devon on a clear day). The Three Cliffs coffee house is very good and a convenient walk down the road; the small store associated with it is terrific for obtaining everything necessary for a meal. Mumbles, with lots of restaurants, is a short drive away. The usual shopping is available for groceries and other stores, but the area is not commericalized or over-run with tourists. Sharon was wonderful, even loaning us a coffee machine. She was the ideal host - available but not intrusive. The house is clean, modern and comfortable. The photos are accurate. The area is peaceful and perfect for walking (or radio-control gliders, my husband's hobby). Within a day we were already discussing how much we hope to return on our next trip to the UK from the US.
                                                                                                      • Review Submitted: May 19, 2017
                                                                                                      • Date of Stay: May 2017