Swansea Valley

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.

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.

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.

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.

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