Where there were train tracks, now there are cycle tracks. In the past , the Tawe and Afan valleys both have had busy rail services. Dr Beeching made changes to the services and inevitably their closure followed. These pathways became unused and remained redundant for decades. An increase in leisure activities resulted in a number of safe cycle routes being created. Have your weekend walking breaks uk / uk holidays for families/ countryside breaks for couples here.
Sustrans Cycle route 43 Swansea valley
The Sustrans route 43 runs through Pontardawe from Ystalyfera to Swansea. The bike track is tranquil with mature trees overhanging the path and its busy industrial past is not obvious. Beneath these wooded areas are a labyrinth of small mines which were collectively producing vast quantities of coal. The heavy industry down the valley used a very large amount of coal. Trains and canal barges moved the precious cargo, down to Swansea docks and on foreign countries.
Mature trees and lush undergrowth currently border the track. Whilst the steam trains were using the track, sparks from the engine ignited the surrounding undergrowth. Dotted along the cycle track are various ruins of industrial buildings. there are no explanations provided. The onlooker has to use their imagination to visualise their past. Near to Godregraig is a sad reminder of the brutal industry that dominated these valleys, even in recent times. It is a memorial to the miners that lost their lives in the Gleision Colliery disaster in September 2011. This drift mine is high up on the hill above the memorial, the road access is from Cilybebyll.
Sustrans Route 887 Afan valley (weekend walking breaks uk)
There is a cycle / walking route of some 7 miles travelling north from the seafront at Aberavon. Beyond the bus & train station at Port Talbot and the shopping centre, the cycle track emerges into a pretty, woodland and riverside path. This travels gently upwards through the Afan Forest to Glyncorrwg and Blaengwynfi. Once again, this cycle route is along the route of a redundant railway track. The railway here gave access to and from the mining communities of Cwmafan, Pontrhydyfen and Cymmer. The trail runs along the base of the valley with convenient starting points at the Afan Forrest Park visitor centre, the Rhyslyn car park or the Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre. Great for weekend walking breaks uk/ uk holidays for families//countryside breaks for couples.
Discover this beautiful valley, the pathway meanders along the valley floor. As it is not sheltered by a tree canopy it allows uninterrupted views of the steep hillsides. Great for best uk holidays for families.
Sustrans Cycle Route 47 Neath to Briton Ferry
During 2020, the Sustrans cycle route 47 that goes south from Neath has been upgraded. This has resulted in a very enjoyable ride or walk from Neath down to Briton Ferry.
Leaving from Bridge Street in Neath, the pathway travels along the Neath canalside, meandering through the industrial heartland of Neath. The surroundings are testament to current and past industries, varying from the tidal river and canals that carried goods from the heavy industries or a disused quarry from where stone was extracted. The docklands at Briton Ferry were engineered by Brunel and for decades we observed the large sea going vessels that were sent there to be broken up at the Giant’s Grave. Above the river, the modern road construction and the M4 traffic now towers above. This cycle track and walkway is unexpectedly peaceful and travels through some picturesque scenery. Again great for weekend walking breaks uk/ uk holidays for families//countryside breaks for couples.
It is then possible to continue travelling onwards beyond Briton Ferry for a further 3-4 miles, in order to reach the seafront and sandy beach at Aberavon.