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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cilybebyll Walk

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.

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