Stay Local Challenge!
The initial Covid “Stay Home” period followed by local lockdown here in Neath & Port Talbot have both been positive experiences. It has helped us to appreciate the many scenic places we have local to the cottages. In October 2020 the local lockdown restricted us to the Local Authority boundary. We have always appreciated our “square mile”. Often guests come with an awareness of the Gower coast and Brecon Beacons. But they have little appreciation of what can be seen elsewhere, in the vicinity of the cottages.
Our location is well located for easily reaching most of South Wales. Often guests travel far and wide each day in search of the more publicised landmarks. We hope this will encourage future guests to stay local on some days. During which they can then discover the magic that is in our immediate locality.
Be kind to the environment
Whilst holidays provide a break from the normal routine, do not overlook the driver who would appreciate doing less milage! We marvel at the treasures we see each day as we go about our routine tasks. We are all concerned about a greener, more environmentally friendly approach to tourism. Consider doing some very local day trips which can only assist this cause.
County Borough Boundaries
If you travel 4-12 miles inside the county of Neath and Port Talbot you will probably have crossed into another local authority. Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Bridgend , Rhondda Cynnon Taf and Powys are all nearby. The road network locally is excellent and we regularly criss cross the boundaries in daily life.
Within the small geographic area of NPT, we are able to reach countryside, coast, waterfalls, valleys, wooded hillsides, canal walks , country parks and a few little surprises!
The local lockdown suddenly restricted this free movement and inspired us to value what is on our doorstep! It is too easy and sometimes tempting to leave the local area in search of the well publicised places. There are many treasures to be discovered nearby.
If you have travelled along the M4 above Port Talbot be prepared to be amazed. Hiding well out of view of the industrial and built up area is an absolute gem! Aberavon Seafront has one of the longest stretches of sandy beach and overlooks the whole of Swansea Bay. There is a contemporary promenade, with easy parking and beach access. walkers and cyclists
Whatever the weather or Season. The promenade is used by walkers and cyclists whilst others are relaxing and people watching. There are always walkers on the beach. In good weather families enjoy the miles of flat sand, the facilities along the prom including play park, toddler pool, skate park and popular cafes.
The beach appears never ending and shoals very gradually to the sea. This makes it safer for young children. The vast area of sand allows them to have complete freedom.
The sea does provide great surfing conditions. Whatever the season there are often surfers to be watched. To the right of the beach as you look out to sea are sand dunes. On the horizon are eye catching views over Swansea Bay to the Mumbles.
There is easy often free parking on the prom. Alongside are great simple facilities including ice cream parlour, fish & chip shop. Other attractions are a play park, toddlers paddling pool, skatepark and adventure playground. The wide promenade is a great attraction to young families.
If a quick seaside fix is required, Aberavon is an easy option. Combine it with time at Margam Country Park or a cinema trip next to the seafront. It is fabulous for young families, anyone with impaired mobility or simply for a short whistle stop visit.
A 2020 addition to places to visit nearby in Pontardawe. Alpacas can be spotted grazing in the fields near to the cottages. A short drive over to the other side of the valley provides a far more in-depth and enjoyable experience. The alpacas are housed in a large covered barn resulting in an any weather attraction.
There are meet and greet sessions where you can feed and pet the alpacas. You can learn about these animals whilst watching their antics. Booking and paying for visits in advance on line is required. A time is allocated for your 1 hour session. The visitors numbers at any one time are restricted, thus providing quite a personal experience which can be tailor made to suit individual guests.
The reviews are all very favourable suggesting a caring approach to the animals and visitors with all needs catered for. There is a sensory area, seating and special discounts visitors in a supporting role.
Only 15 minutes away is a the family appealing National Trust site of Aberdulais Tin Works. The attraction is compact. It very successfully combines the industrial history of the area with a safe waterfall experience for younger children. Visitors are protected from the thundering water flow by a railing.
This is a very welcoming site that educates the family in an entertaining way. There are small exhibition areas and a dressing up option. The access to the higher ground is reached either by many ascending steps or by using the lift. This allows wheelchair users to experience the power of the waterfall from safe tarmac paths!
Cefn Coed Colliery Museum can be reached easily in under 20 minutes. It is nine mile journey through a mostly rural landscape to the colliery museum. The location is easily recognised by seeing the mining machinery on the roadside just before the village of Crynant.
Coal production at Cefn Coed Colliery commenced in the 1920’s. Cefn Coed produced high quality anthracite and became the deepest anthracite mine in the world. Almost a thousand men were employed there in the 1950’s. The mine ceased production in 1968. This former coal mine now operates as a museum which is largely due to the enthusiasm of a group of volunteers.
Entry is free. This is not an underground experience. The working steam engine, the buildings and machinery provides an insight to coal mining and a simulated mining experience. The volunteers that greet the visitors contribute greatly to a very enjoyable experience. The audio tours available provide background and tales which enhance knowledge and the experience at the site.
At the local landmarks of “the Tesco on the roundabout” at Neath appear look around! Behind the Tesco store easily unseen is the site of Neath Abbey. All that remains is the ruins of a spectacular Cistercian Abbey and a grand Tudor house.
Enhanced your experince of this visit to a pleasant green location by researching the history. Neath abbey sits quietly next to the Tennant canal and just yards away from the M4 exit road to Neath.
The site has been upgraded recently by installing audio points in the grounds. This can be an enjoyable place to spend a sunny afternoon, dreaming of what has occurred here in the past.
Recently it has been used as a film location for Dr Who and other films. It makes a great spot for a picnic to discover and explore over 600 years of history. There is no entry charge to the site.
Margam Country Park is an 850 acre estate just off the M4 near Port Talbot. There are sea views as the park rises uphill through woodland and forested areas to the ridge. There are paths up to the hills behind the estate. If you aim to reach the ruined chapel you will find wide views. This overlooks the M4, the coastline, steelworks and the wider Swansea Bay.
You can easily spend a day here. There are farm animals, nature trails and a deer park. Also to be discovered is a lake, miniature railway, play park, a wood vibrations trail and the nursery rhyme garden. All of these are attractive to families. Adults will marvel at architecture. The Orangery, Margam Abbey and Margam Castle are all beautiful, ornate architectural detail that make it well worth entering these wonderful buildings. The location is popular for weddings and often used for filming.
The Go Ape facility in the distant woodland features a Treetop Challenge, a Tarzan Swing. Recently electric scooters have been added. For adults with impaired mobility enquire in advance about the hire of an electric tramper buggy. There is a Cafe facility and picnic benches. The parking fee includes for entry to the Country Park.
The Gnoll Estate comprises of over 200 acres of parkland. Which sits above the nearby town of Neath, just 4 miles away. It is easily accessed by car with parking on site, for which a charge is made.
Originally these were the gardens of the Mackworth family estate. The 18th Century mansion was demolished in the 1950’s. The ponds, cascades and reservoir remain with large areas of mature woodland to explore. There is a popular children’s play area and great adventure play ground. At the cafe and shop food for the ducks can be purchased.
Special Events were organised in the Gnoll Estate in the school holidays before COVID19. The Gnoll Estate is a convenient park to spend a few hours. You can call in on the return journey to the cottages or to simply to enjoy the playground. Before visiting Gnoll Estate visit their website to discover the attractions there. The website shows the extent of the large area to discover and a series of walks.
In recent years the Afan forest has become a mountain bikers playground. The Afan Forest area is adjacent to old mine locations and mining communities. Mountain biking trails are now carved into the hillsides were miners used to walk to work?
Trails begin from the Afan Forest Park visitor centre. The Afan Bike Park allows all ages to improve their skills. There are 7 trails suiting riders of varying abilities from the severe graded W2 to the beginners Rookie Trail.
The Afan Valley Bike shed is based at Afan Argoed and offers bike hire, tuition and repairs.
Further up the valley is the Glyncorrwg Ponds visitors centre. Some of the bike & walking trails begin at Glyncorrwg. For information visit Glyncorrwg Ponds visitor centre
MB Wales – LINK
Waterfalls within Neath and Port Talbot.
We are fortunate to be located above the Swansea and Neath valleys. We are within easy travelling distance by car to the many waterfalls in this area. The waterfalls are in deep steep sided valleys created by glaciers in a bygone age. The streams and rivers causing the waterfalls are supplied by rainfall. The area harbours many spectacular sights.
Guests in the Summer ask about the best time to visit the waterfalls. You should remember that rainfall is required to fill the gushing streams and rivers. In dry weather the water flow is weak which means the waterfalls are less spectacular. Then you can then simply enjoy the lovely lush green areas and imagine what the waterfalls could look like with more water.
The other seasons can all be impressive for different reasons autumn, winter & spring. The spectacular Autumn foliage gives way to stunning frozen falls At all times in the year wear appropriate footwear please.
Social media has been invaluable at showing our wonderful waterfalls to a far wider audience. It has generated a vast interest in the area. Unfortunately as access to most of these waterfalls is along country roads issues with access and parking are occurring. Consider these issues when planning your visit. Consult the following website https://carpark.beacons-npa.gov.uk
Planning your day
Frequently guests ask of the whereabouts of the nearest waterfall. To answer this you consider many factors. What is the make up of the guest party? Are there young children or teenagers in the family. Are there any members of your party with disabilities or impaired mobility issues? Your visit requires some planning or research. By reading and researching the waterfall walks you appreciate our questioning and inability to provide an easy, quick solution.
Hopefully a quick read of our Waterfall Blog https://www.walescottagebreaks.co.uk/category/location/waterfalls/ will reveal the attributes and issues relating to each waterfall.
Visiting the following waterfall has interest for different groups. The safer experience of Aberdulais, the quick walk to Melincourt and the well worn path to Sgwd Gwladus. A well as the wilder walks to Sgwd yr Eira and Sgwd Einon Gam. Do some research and select the waterfall that suits your abilities.
The waterfalls mentioned above are impressive, well known and popular. Local to the cottages in Pontardawe is Cwm Du Glen in the Glanrhyd Plantation, easily reached from the Pontardawe cross.