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Take a walk through the Dramatic Heart of Wales this Festival of Winter Walks

We are officially entering the Festival of Winter Walks which encourages people to get into the great outdoors and explore the UK in all its frostbitten beauty.

Running from 17th December – 1st January this festive event is a time for families, friends, and anyone who loves a stroll to enjoy the very best of Britain’s natural beauty.

And here in The Dramatic Heart of Wales we have an abundance of natural beauty on display to enjoy on foot.

So if you’re looking for walks in Neath Port Talbot to mark the Festival of Winter Walks here’s five routes, one in each of our five valleys, to suit all abilities …


Afan Valley – Rhyslyn Walk

This riverside walk is an easy route which is perfect for families wanting to take in the scenery.

It takes just over an hour to complete and is just 2.2 miles long and is flat most of the way.

It starts from Rhyslyn Car Park and descends onto the path. From there walkers can follow the Afan River upstream and take in some of the trail’s tranquil beauty spots as they walk through the woodland.

At the wooden bridge there’s a small incline and then walkers head back down to Rhyslyn where they can walk along a disused mineral railway track and take in river and mountain views.

As they start their return journey they will travel along a section of St Illtyd’s Walk, commemorating the late 5th / early 6th century Welsh saint, and may even spot birds such as Siskins and Goldcrests.

Find out more here.


Vales of Neath – Neath Canal, Resolven to Glynneath

This 5.4mile walk is an easy two and a half hour stroll taking in the peaceful canal side sights.

This is a flat route making it suitable for all to enjoy, and you can start from the car park next to the roundabout on the A465 in Resolven, heading up the Neath Valley.

As you walk along the canal you’ll see a number of locks dating back to its early industrial heritage when it was used to transport materials from the area’s mines.

These canals were used as a vital form of transportation for industries throughout the area before railways took over.

Once you reach the lime kilns ensure you soak in the sights of the area before starting your return journey. And don’t forget to watch for Emperor Dragonflies, Greater Spearwort with its large yellow flowers, and Kingfishers.

Find out more here.


Dulais Valley – Sarn Helen Circular

This walk is considered more difficult with inclines and declines included in this 2.9mile route, which takes around one hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Walkers following the B4242 will see the public footpath sign for the start of this walk on their left hand side.

Starting at the bottom of the Roman Road, Sarn Helen, the walk begins with a steady 1km ascent where you’ll see farm and woodland and maybe even spot a Red Kite.

As you veer left at the cattle grid, you’ll take in some of the route’s most spectacular sights across the Neath Valley. If you continue along to Craig Ynysbwllog Woods you’ll be rewarded with 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.

Find out more here.


Swansea Valley – Swansea Valley Wildlife Walk

This easy 5.9mile walk takes you on a gentle circular route along canals and woodland.

Taking just three hours this route picks up the canal towpath, heading in a northerly direction.

Along the way you’ll get a glimpse into the canal’s heritage dating back to the 1790s seeing features including its 36 locks and stone bridges. And there will also be a chance to spot some interesting wildlife too after it was declared a Local Nature Reserve.

The return section follows the National Cycle Trail (route 43) through Coed Cwm Tawe and back into Pontardawe.

Find out more here.


Upper Amman – Trotting Track Trail

This 1.8mile easy circular route is a pleasant walk showing how nature has reclaimed this once heavily industrial area.

Walkers can start in the car park at Llwyncelyn Road and turn left onto the footpath just past the river. You then follow the waymark signs in a circular direction before turning right and following Heol Hir / Upper Colbren Road for just over 300m before veering right again and picking up the waymark signs back to the car park.

During the walk you’ll see how a once levelled out spoil tip has been transformed into the Trotting Track, which is now a first-class harness racing circuit.

The walk will take you through a range of rich biodiversity including woodland, grassland and brownfield land.

Find out more here.


So this Festival of Winter Walks why not lace up your boots and take a stroll to the Dramatic Heart of Wales, it’s really got something for everyone and you’re guaranteed to make memories this December. Search for even more walks on our website with our helpful guide that lets you filter walks by duration, location and difficulty.

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