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Banwen Meadows and Woods

Starting at the Dove workshop, take your time to explore the beautiful surroundings of Banwen Meadows and Woods. The network of tarmaced and gravelled paths allow exploration of the area.
Amongst the meadows you can find Red and White clover, water mint, Yarrow and Orchids. A fantastic habitat for butterflies and pollinators, take your time and investigate!
As you enter the young woodland, keep an eye out for fungi and signs of wildlife. Buzzards can often be seen circling above, whilst the mixture of bramble, nettle and native tree species create a wonderful habitat for birds, insects and mammals.

Old Parish Road Walk

Follow the path below the entrance to the visitor centre, following it through the underpass and across the cycle track. The old track takes you through the Oak woodland, with views of the Afan Valley and the river below. Until the creation of the main road in 1920, this track was the old parish road to Neath, dating back to the 11th century. There are still good examples of original stone walls along the way, now atmospherically carpetted in moss. The return route is along a section of cycleway. For those who would prefer a tarmacced surface, this section could be an alternative to the old track, following the cycleway in both directions. For train enthusiasts, before returning back under the underpass, continue briefly along the cycle track, where you will find the old Cynon Halt Railway Station.Wildlife Watching: The edges of the woodland create great habitats for various species, including butterflies such as Speckled Wood, Peacock and Red Admiral. Birds in the woodland include Blue Tits and Nuthatches.

Melincourt Falls

The Melincourt Nature Reserve is located in a narrow, steep-sided valley, carpeted with Bluebells in the spring. Although this is an easy walk, care is needed when walking along the gently rising path up to the 80ft high falls, which was famously painted by Turner in 1794. One of the best preserved Iron Works in Wales can be seen on the northern slope of the reserve. The works were opened in 1708 for 100 years of iron production, utilising the flow of the water for power. The high humidity created by the falls provides a perfect environment for ferns in particular, with over 20 species recorded on site.Wildlife Watching: The delicate Tonbridge Filmy Fen can be found here. Keep an eye on the trees where you have a good chance of seeing Redstart, Pied Flycatcher or Nuthatch in the summer.

Trotting Track Trail

This circular walk is a superb example of how old industrial areas have been given back to nature. The landscape has been transformed from coal-black to green in a generation, and wildlife is now thriving in places where collieries once stood. Start in the car park at Llwyncelyn Road. Turn left onto the footpath just past the river behind you, and follow the waymark signs in a circular clockwise direction. On the right, the Trotting Track is a real community success story, turning a levelled-out spoil tip into a first-class harness racing circuit. Turn right and follow Heol Hir / Upper Colbren Road for just over 300m before veering right again and picking up the waymark signs back to the car park. Along the way you’ll pass a range of interesting habitats: woodland, brownfield and grassland, all carefully managed to create a rich biodiversity. Wildlife Watching: Lizards bask on warm stones in brownfield areas, as goldfinches forage on the seeds of teasel and knapweed. The woodlands have lovely displays of spring flowers like bluebells, and later in the summer you can snack on wild strawberries.

cwm gwrelych geo trail

Cwm Gwrelych Geo Trail

A lovely walk, with beautiful views where you can walk back in time and discover the rich industrial heritage and internationally important geology of this unique site. Situated right on the edge of the South Wales coalfield this secluded valley gives access to rocks that would only be found deep below the valleys of South Wales. Discover coal seams, iron rich rocks and wonderful plant fossils that tell the story of ancient environments.
Start in Ponwalby Village and the trail heads south, passing beneath the viaduct. It then follows the river upstream through a narrow gorge dominated by the large Farewell Rock crags. The path meanders away from the river itself to explore the impressive geological features, taking you along a suite of interpretation panels to highlight further points of interest.
Wildlife Watching: The area is home to a wealth of wildlife, such as Common Lizards, Slow-worms and Green Woodpeckers.

pontardawe in South Wales

Pontardawe – Ystalyfera

At its southern end the walk starts at Pontardawe Recreation Ground. Briefly follow the riverside path south until you come across the bridge over the Tawe River. Cross over and the route now follows National Cycle Trail 43, a cycleway that forms a continuous link between Ystalyfera and Swansea City Centre. The majority of this route is tarmacced, therefore offering an easy route that is accessible for all. The cycleway heads up to Ystalyfera following the route of a disused railway. It is a pleasant walk, following the River Tawe and passing alongside attractive wooded slopes. The walk ends at the crossing point back over the river, at which point you either need to retrace your steps to Pontardawe or make alternative travel arrangements to return. Head North to get into Ystalyfera or parking is available left of the bridge.Wildlife Watching: As well as the many common woodland and river birds, such as Chaffinches and Dippers, you may be lucky enough to see a Goosander on this walk. These striking birds occasionally breed in Neath Port Talbot and regularly winter on our rivers.

Pant y Sais fen walking trail

Pant y Sais Fen

This walk is accessed directly from the pavement alongside the main road. This is a short and easy walk, following the boardwalk through Neath Port Talbot’s first Local Nature Reserve. Also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Pant y Sais Fen is one of the best remaining fens in South Wales and its accessibility makes it an ideal location to delve into one of Neath Port Talbot’s wildlife hotspots. Having developed naturally on a former course of the Neath River, the site forms a complex and diverse wetland site made up of several distinctive plant communities. In addition to the plant life, a feature of the site is its sheer diversity of rare invertebrates. Of particular note is the Fen Raft Spider, which is so well adapted to its aquatic lifestyle that it’s able to move across the surface water despite its impressive size (an adult grows to a span of up to 7cm across). The spider is found in only 2 other locations in the UK, earning it full legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. If you wish to extend your walk there is access to the Tennant Canal towpath which could take you past Neath Abbey and up towards Aberdulais Falls.

rhyslyn walk

Rhyslyn Walk

A flat route most of the way, this is a family friendly and easy walk, however keep an eye out for cyclists when returning on the forest road/cycleway. Beginning at Rhyslyn car park, descend onto the path, following the Afan River upstream. The path gently hugs the riverside and meanders sporadically into shaded woodland for the first half of the walk, offering plenty of opportunities to admire the many tranquil beauty spots along its course. Upon reaching the wooden footbridge there is a quick ascent before veering left and heading back down to Rhyslyn along a disused mineral railway track, enjoying river or mountain views either side. The return route touches briefly on St. Illtyd’s Walk, a long distance route commemorating the late 5th / early 6th century Welsh saint. The 103km route links Pembrey Country Park, in Carmarthenshire, with Margam Park in Neath Port Talbot. Wildlife Watching: In the woodlands look out for birds such as Siskins and Goldcrests. In the open areas look out for butterflies such as Green-veined White and Ringlet.

tennant canal coast path

Wales Coast Path – Tennant Canal

Access the canal at Jersey Marine, following the Coast Path waymarkers in a westerly direction towards Swansea. Apart from a very short section of gradient at the entrance, the path is flat and easily accessible. The path follows the Tennant Canal towpath which historically linked the Neath canal at the Aberdulais basin to the River Tawe in Swansea. The brainchild of George Tennant, the canal was used for commercial traffic until the mid 1930’s. Since this date, the waters have continued to be used as a supply to local industries and provides a picturesque link between Jersey Marine and Swansea. This is an important wetland habitat forming a hydrological link with the extensive Crymlyn Bog, a site of international significance. The route also takes you alongside fen and through woodland, providing a pleasant change of scenery along the way. The route takes you as far as the Swansea boundary and back, but for those wishing to continue into Swansea, simply continue to follow the Coast Path waymarkers. Widlife Watching: The nationally rare and legally protected Fen Raft Spider may be a lucky sighting in the bankside vegetation, whilst various damselflies and dragonflies, such as the Azure Damselfy, will be conspicuous above the water in the summer months.

sqwd gwladys waterfalls.

Sgwd Gwladys

This walk takes you through one of Neath Port Talbot’s most ecologically important sites, ‘Coedydd Nedd a Mellte’. The start of the walk is clearly visible from The Angel Inn; simply head through the black gates labelled ‘Waterfall Country’. This is a short and easy walk that culminates at the spectacular Sgwd Gwladys Falls, although care is needed in sections where the path passes above steep river banks.The track follows the route which horse drawn drams once travelled to transport silica rock from the mines in the early19th century, one of which is still visible next to the path. You can also see remains of the double race mill which farmers once used to grind corn, with one of the mill stones to be found in the bank above the path. Cross over the river bridge to follow the path on the opposite side of the river up to the falls. The name Gwladys is said to originate from one of the many daughters of Brychan, the 5th-century King of Brycheiniog. Wildlife Watching: Dipper and Grey Wagtail are often found along this wet, wooded valley, whilst the high humidity creates a perfect environment for many rare and interesting ferns and mosses.

Swansea valley wildlife walk pathway

Swansea Valley Wildlife Walk

Follow the wildlife walk logo on this gentle, circular route. Pick up the canal towpath, heading in a northerly direction. The canal was constructed in the 1790s, at the time running all the way from Swansea to Hen Neuadd, near Abercrave. Given its steep gradient, 36 locks were constructed along its length to reach the necessary height. Some of the canal was taken underground when the bypass was built at Godre’r Graig and, in recognition of the wildlife interest on the site, the northernmost section was later declared a Local Nature Reserve. Many features of the canal remain, such as stone bridges and locks, providing a route of both historical and wildlife interest. The return section follows the National Cycle Trail (route 43) through Coed Cwm Tawe and back into Pontardawe.Wildlife Watching: Look out for the plump little Dipper perched on stones in the river ready to dive into the water in search of the insect larvae they feed on. The Emporer Dragonfly may be spotted around the slow moving sections of the canal. If you are really lucky, signs of an Otter could be found on crossing points over the canal.

Neath Canal resolven- Glynneath

Neath Canal Resolven-Glynneath

A very pleasant, flat walk, suitable for all. Start at the car park next to the roundabout on the A465 in Resolven, heading up the Neath Valley. The walk along the Neath Canal has a number of locks tracing their way through the valley. The canal was built in the late 18th century to transport materials from the valley’s early industries and mines. Linking to the Tennant Canal at Aberdulais Basin, the canals were the primary form of transportation until the coming of the railway in 1851. Sympathetic restoration work over the years has provided a combination of historical interest with the abundant wildlife often associated with canals. The area inspired Alexander Cordell, forming the background to his book ‘Song of the Earth’, the third in his 19th century Welsh trilogy. Once the Lime kilns have been reached 4 kilometres to the north, take the time to explore the fantastic surroundings before you return to the starting point.
Wildlife Watching: Look out for the colourful Emperor Dragonflies darting over the water, Greater Spearwort with its large yellow flowers and Kingfishers perching on branches.

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