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.
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.
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.
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.
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.