If you’re an avid runner, cyclist or triathlete, or simply looking for a dynamic, challenging and adrenaline-inducing holiday, then the Dramatic Heart of Wales should be top of your destination list. With a unique charm of its own, Neath Port Talbot is defined by the stark contrast of its breath-taking natural beauty and staggering industrial influence. It’s a gem of a place where sheer beauty meets steely grit, inspiring determination and success.
Take a deep breath and admire the beautiful alpine scenery that greets you at the chalet style Afan Lodge, the ideal base for travellers looking for their next challenging adventure. It lies just six miles from the from the M4, with direct access to the incredible and varied cycling trails ready to be explored at Afan Forest Park and beyond. Afan Lodge also offers secure storage for bikes and other equipment, so there’s no need to worry about leaving your bike unsupervised.
Kickstart your morning with a freshly prepared breakfast and have a friendly chat with the people at Afan Lodge, who will be more than happy to share their fantastic local knowledge and recommendations with you.
Choose to ride one of Dragon Rides’ routes. Ease yourself in with Macmillan route or push yourself to the limit with the challenging Dragon Devil, a route with a total elevation of just under 5000m. A bucket list achievement, this route requires the grit and determination Neath Port Talbot is famous for, but you’ll be rewarded with monumental scenery, epic wildlife, and an unforgettable experience and sense of achievement.
Nearby Welsh Coast Cycles is on hand for all your bike servicing and repair needs. Catering for XC racers, roadies, leisure riders, or downhillers, they have you covered with a full range of services; need an upgrade, repair or service? Welsh Coast Cycles is the place you want. If you’re looking for something more, the locally owned bike shop also offers clothing, accessories, new bikes and even custom bike builds. This means that you can hit the cycling trails at full-pelt, without the worry of damaged equipment slowing you down.
Afan Forest Park is home to a phenomenal set of mountain biking trails, among the most challenging and thrilling in the UK. If you’re looking to try something a little different, Campbell Coaching is on hand to lead you through the twisting tracks that snake through the valleys and remnants of the region’s coal mines. Local guide Ally is a fully qualified and accredited mountain bike coach with 17 years’ experience who can help you to develop your mountain biking skills and enjoy the Afan Forest Park trails to the full.
Of course, if you’re not a rookie and would prefer to navigate your own way around the valley’s superb single tracks, Afan A Blast is on hand just four miles from your base at Afan Lodge. There you’ll find a fantastic team of avid mountain bikers, explorers and mechanics, all committed to helping you have the most incredible mountain biking experience possible here in the Dramatic Heart of Wales. An extensive range of bikes are available to hire for up to a full day, and helmets, equipment and parts are also available to hire or purchase. The team at Afan A Blast will be more than happy to recommend the best routes for you that stretch across the rugged peaks and troughs of the Afan valley, depending on ability and desired level of toughness.
If you’re a keen triathlete then why not head to Afan Valley Swimming Pool, located just a five-minute drive from Afan Lodge. Take advantage of the early-morning lane swimming sessions available; perfect for squeezing in a training session or two for an upcoming triathlon. Here you can also enjoy ultimate relaxation in the brand-new sauna, where you’ll emerge relaxed, revived, and ready for another jam-packed day of adrenaline-inducing activity and exploration.
As well as being a training playground for a novice or pro athlete there are also some great events taking place too including:
• Richard Burton 10k
The Richard Burton 10k road race is one of the UK’s most prestigious road races which year after year attracts some of the top UK running club athletes. The Cwmafan-based race is held in memory of the late great Richard Burton.
• Port Talbot Half Marathon
Wales’ cheapest, most scenic Half Marathon. Perfect preparation for the Severn Bridge Marathon or Wales’ toughest Snowdon Marathon Eryri.
• Tonmawr Hilly 5
The Tonmawr Hilly 5 is a challenging 5 miler set in the Afan Forest. A monster climb to start and a cheeky one to finish. A race with no gimmicks.
More information can be found at http://porttalbotharriers.co.uk/events
Or why not tackle the local Parkrun each Saturday at Gnoll Country Park and join the Parkrun tourist club (subject to Covid-19 restrictions).
And if you’re looking to inject some further adventure and fun into your stay in the Dramatic Heart of Wales, Go Ape at Margam Country Park is near enough on your doorstep. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, you can climb, swing, and leap your way through the treetops. With adjustable difficulty, this outstanding highropes course can be personalised for individual adventurers looking to beat some physical fitness goals along the way. Go Ape Margam is also home to the UK’s biggest Tarzan Swing – freefall a stomach-churning six meters, if you dare!
Adventure comes as standard here, and exhilarating perfection lies at the Dramatic Heart of Wales that is Neath Port Talbot.
- Morning – Get your bike serviced at Welsh Coast Cycles and then choose a route with Dragon Rides.
- Afternoon – Set off on your adventure at Afan Forest Park.
- Morning – Enjoy breakfast fit for a king at Afan Lodge and then set off on a guided tour of the best trails in the area with Campbell Coaching.
- Afternoon – Swing through the trees at Go Ape in Margam Country Park.
- Morning – Take to the water for an energetic training swim at Afan Valley Swimming Pool.
- Afternoon – Head to Afan A Blast for specialist equipment and top advice from their mountain biking experts.
The Dramatic Heart of Wales is a great choice for a socially distanced mini-break. With so many outdoor attractions from country parks and our epic seafront through to our expanse of mountains and natural landscapes, you can relax knowing you are having a ‘safe-cation’. Many of our tourism businesses have achieved ‘Good to Go’ status and made a commitment to maintaining the highest standard of safety and cleanliness.
Protecting our land for future generations while caring for one another is part of what makes us who we are. Visit Wales is inviting you to make your ‘Addo’ (the Welsh word for promise), please join us by making your pledge before you visit. By working together to keep each other safe we can all enjoy what the Dramatic Heart of Wales has to offer.