Some Exertion

Cwm Du Glen and Glanrhyd Plantation

This hidden gem of the valley is accessed from ‘The Cross’ at Pontardawe town centre (entrance opposite the Dillwyn Arms)
Follow the Cwm Clydach River until you take a flight of steps to the left, which leads up to the old estate known as Glanrhyd. Take the circular path around this top section, looking out for the dramatic specimen trees, such as the Giant Coastal Redwood, that were planted by the Gilberton family. The estate, dating back to to the 1870s, is now mostly demolished and reverted to secondary woodland, however remnants of the historical interest still remain and plans to install interpretation and improve access to these features will provide even greater interest to this diverse woodland.
Wildlife WatchingSpring flowering plants such as Wood Anemone, Tutsan and Yellow Pimpernel are best seen in May. In the trees, flocks of Tits can be seen including Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit.

Eaglesbush Valley

Eaglsebush Valley, predominantly Oak woodland, was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2008. This route takes you through the Nature Reserve and along a tree lined path to Cimla, before circling round to return to the start point. There is some limited parking in the centre of the Nature Reserve, along a tarmacced route, or for those not wishing to leave the car in the woodland, parking is usually possible near the entrance on Old Road. N.B. there are speed bumps on this road which are quite high so take care with low cars.
The walk starts off by following the Cryddan Brook that meanders through the woodland. Follow the road as far as you can until you see an entrance to a path partly hidden between the two properties at the end of the woodland. This takes you along a path, aptly named Stoney Road, before coming out onto a country track with pleasant views over the fields and hills in the distance. The short distance through the streets is worthwhile, to create the circular loop which brings you back along a stone track into the woodland.
Wildlife Watching: The woodland of Eaglesbush Valley is a haven for animals and plants alike. Look out for the colourful displays of Bluebells and Yellow Archangel lining the paths in spring. Birds to look out for include Grey Wagtails hopping around the stream, Treecreepers making their way up tree trunks or Greater Spotted Woodpeckers making their distinctive drumming noise on the trees.

Argoed Walk

An attractive circular walk that passes by two ruined farmhouses, Nant Herbert, and Lluest, along the 400Metre climb. You return along part of Coed Morgannwg Way and along the tramway of the disused Argoed Coal Level.Walking through the valley look out for pieces of dead wood which may have some really interesting fungi on them, quite different from those in a broadleaf forest. Keep listening for birds in the treetops, especially Goldcrests which have a very high pitched call.

Wales Coast Path – Margam Moors

This section of the Coast Path is the least explored of the Neath Port Talbot Coast Path, following a newly formed link over the River Kenfig into Bridgend. From Graig Fawr, follow the Wales Coast Path waymarkers down the road to the roundabout over the M4, crossing over to Longlands Lane. There is some informal parking at this point which may have some spaces. The route crosses the main South Wales train line so care will be needed in this area. The path takes you along a dismantled railway line which skirts the northern edge of Margam Moors, a 100 hectare site of low lying reclaimed wetland. The majority of the moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) recognised for its fen marshy grassland and ditches criss crossing the area, home to a number of rare plants and invertebrates. Nearby is the prominent Port Talbot Steelworks, opened in the early 1900’s and now producing steel as part of one of the largest plants in Europe. Passing the moors, follow the route through woodlands and dunes to reach the River Kenfig where the footbridge leads on to Kenfig National Nature Reserve and the vast stretch of Kenfig Sands. To return to the starting point, retrace your steps back through Margam Moors.Wildlife Watching: In the spring migrant birds arrive and start to sing. Listen for the explosive song of the elusive Cetti’s Warbler or you may see a Whitethroat singing from a tree top; like its name suggests its throat is a striking white.

Sarn Helen Circular

Following the B4242 briefly, the public footpath sign for the start of this walk is clearly visible on your left hand side. Commencing at the foot of the Roman Road, Sarn Helen, you can quite easily forget about the steady 1km ascent as you’re distracted by the attractive mix of farm and woodland and the Red Kites flying overhead. Veering left just after the cattle grid this is where the path provides you with some of its best moments; as you walk just beneath the mountain ridge take a moment or two to savour the sweeping views of the Neath Valley. On reaching the next juncture you could follow the main track right, heading back to the B4242 if pushed for time. However, it is recommended to go on and enjoy the tranquillity of Craig Ynysbwllog Woods that offers a picturesque little waterfall at the end. Following the sharp descent down to the road, turn right to follow the road back to where you started, passing the Rock and Fountain Pub on your way. Wildlife Watching: Look out for Ravens soaring overhead with their loud ‘cronk’ call. A more musical bird is the Skylark which can be heard singing high up over grasslands. If you are lucky you may spot a Brown hare.

Cilybebyll Walk

This is a very pleasant circular walk through woods and meadows, passing the sleepy hamlet of Cilybebyll with its ancient Parish church. Starting at Ashwood Drive, turn down the small lane, picking up the waymarked disks on the way. The walk makes its way through the woodland of Coed Cwmtawe, which was once part of the Plas Estate and was used as an area for hunting game. The woodland offers plenty of interest, containing numerous coal drifts, some fine examples of dry stone walling and picturesque streams. As you leave the woodland, the route climbs up towards Cilybebyll, with views of Swansea Valley opening up to the right of you. St. John’s Church at Cilybebyll is worth a visit and dates back to the 13th century. The tower itself is Norman, with the rest of the church having been restored in 1869.
Wildlife Watching: Hedgerows, field margins and wet grassland contain plants like Red Campion, Hedge Woundwort and Ragged Robin. Cuckooflower is the larva food plant of Orange Tip butterflies and the adults can be seen in early spring. Keep a look out for House sparrows in the hedgerows.

River & Railway Walk

Follow the path below the entrance to the visitor centre, following it through the underpass and across the cycle track. The route crosses the river, picking up a circular section before returning to cross back over the river and back to the start point.Follow the banks of the Afan River and former route of Brunel’s South Wales Mineral Railway. The River and Railway Walk is mostly easy with a few short, steep sections climbing up from the river and onto the forest road at the furthest end. This walk is a pleasant combination of woodland trails, an easy stroll along the riverside and taking in the industrial heritage. As you return, there is a field which has picnic tables and barbeques which is an ideal resting place before setting off back to the Visitor Centre.Wildlife Watching: As you cross the river you may see a streak of blue as a Kingfisher shoots past, the bobbing head of a Dipper waiting to dive into the water, or a flash of grey and yellow of the Grey Wagtail. On the higher route look out for Siskins and Crossbills in the trees.

Gnoll to Mosshouse Reservoir

This walk starts from the visitor centre and steadily climbs up to Mosshouse Reservoir, within the grounds of the Gnoll Estate Country Park. Recent felling work has opened up vistas of the area, providing fine views across the Neath Valley. The reservoir, built at the end of the 19th century, supplied water to the Neath town before being released as surplus to requirements by the Water Authority in 1982. It now provides a scenic destination before retracing your steps to the visitor centre, which has information on the area and a cafe .
Wildlife Watching: You may see Nuthatches in the Beech woodland. Daubenton bats roost here and often feed at dusk over the ponds, which are also home to the Common Frog.

Richard Burton Trail

This walk offers a interesting mix of culture, history and dramatic views. Start at Rhyslyn car park and head along the top road, turning left over the aqueduct, a landscape feature in itself. The majority of the walk is easy and accessible for all, apart from some steps which take you down past the school to the road below. At this point the steps could be avoided by turning left and then left again onto the cycle path, which you can follow to the portrait bench shown on this leaflet.The birthplace of Richard Burton is the valleys in microcosm. Information panels are located along this route, providing points of interest on Richard Burton, his childhood and career. Although he moved to Taibach at the young age of two, Pontrhydyfen is significant as his birthplace and was frequently re-visited by the star during his Hollywood career.Wildlife Watching: Along the length of the walk are remnants of former coal workings, now a haven for wildlife. Pioneer plant species, particularly mosses can be seen throughout. Interesting plants include Ploughman’s-spikenard and Southern Marsh Orchid. In the summer, butterflies such as Ringlet can be seen.

Pulpit Trail

The 800 acres of Margam Park provides a perfect backdrop for a walk in the countryside. The blue way-markers for this walk begin at the track next to the Park’s Visitor Centre, up the road from the park entrance and car park. The Pulpit Trail begins with a nice gentle stroll beside the wooded slopes of the Celtic Iron Age Hillfort, also known as Mynydd y Castell. As you follow the path upwards, Cwm Phillip Valley and the old farm at Cwm Maelwg come into sight. At the Pulpit, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Margam Country Park, Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir and the smaller waters of Kenfig pool. In the distance, Swansea Bay and the Gower and Devon coastlines can also be seen. Wildlife Watching: Margam Park is well known for its deer and you are likely to see Fallow Deer on your walk. Further up the ridge you have the chance to see Adders basking and the valley is a sheltered haven for various butterflies. Spring time walkers can enjoy displays of Bluebells, Wood Sorrel and Violets.

Penrhys Trail

The highlights of this trail are the spectacular views of the Afan Valley and Pontrhydyfen village.From Rhyslyn car park, briefly follow the road back towards Pontrhydyfen and take the footpath which climbs up to the right above the road. There is a steep 180 metre climb up this track to the top where it meets the country road taking you over the hillside. The road carries directly onto the ruins of Gyfylchi Chapel, but the recommended route turns right off the road for a gentle climb to the viewpoint and round to the chapel. It’s thought that this chapel was already in ruins by the mid 18th century, but it was rebuilt in 1775 by a local Anglican clergyman. It remained an important methodist centre until it was replaced by a chapel in Pontrhydyfen in 1826. There is a steep decent back to the car park.Wildlife Watching: This dynamic landscape offers many opportunities for species such as Nightjars and reptiles. More permanent areas are colonised by Heather. Redpoll can be seen in the Conifer plantations.

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