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Journey, industrial heritage, and epic landscapes… uncover the Dramatic Coronary heart of Wales with these prime issues to do in Neath Port Talbot!
The sensible nickname, the “Dramatic Coronary heart of Wales”, tells you precisely what you possibly can anticipate from this fabulous hidden gem in South Wales.
Combining miles of shoreline with a lush inside laced with dashing rivers and plunging valleys… this actually is a land of journey. Crashing waterfalls, dense forests, fairytale castles, and sweeping sandy seashores present an ideal backdrop for all types of outside pursuits.
Underrated, and all too usually skipped by guests flocking to larger cities like Cardiff and Swansea, Neath Port Talbot nonetheless feels very a lot a hidden gem. Which suggests you’ll usually have these wonderful trails and sweeping landscapes all to your self.
And when you’ve worn your self out with all of the mountain climbing, biking, browsing, horse using, and journey you possibly can handle, there are cosy nation pubs to unwind in, cute villages to discover, native historical past to take in, and tranquil glamping websites for nights of stargazing.
Uncover South Wales’ coal mining historical past on the oldest mining museum within the nation, wander by way of ruined abbeys, and take in the valley views from a historic aqueduct.
On this submit, I’ve shared my decide of the prime issues to do in Neath Port Talbot that will help you benefit from the Dramatic Coronary heart of Wales. No matter you stand up to, you’re positive to get pleasure from exploring this unimaginable hidden gem.
This submit was created as a part of a sponsored journey supported by Dramatic Coronary heart of Wales. As at all times, all phrases and opinions are my very own.
The place is Neath Port Talbot?
Neath Port Talbot is a borough within the county of Glamorgan in South Wales. The area sits on Swansea Bay, simply east of Swansea and about 35 miles west of Cardiff, and is bordered to the north by the Brecon Beacons Nationwide Park.
The primary cities are Port Talbot and Neath. Coastal Port Talbot feels a bit of industrial, dominated by the Port Talbot Steelworks, however the space round Aberavon (particularly the lengthy, sandy Aberavon Seaside) is beautiful. Slightly methods north, Neath is a bustling market city clustered across the River Neath.
Past these two hubs, the remainder of the area is basically rural – with a scattering of smaller cities and villages, and LOTS of countryside for having fun with the good open air!
Prime Issues to Do in Neath Port Talbot
No matter time of yr you go to, there are many out of doors adventures to get your adrenaline pumping in Neath Port Talbot!
Take in the superb views on countryside hikes (with routes to go well with all ranges) or attempt the thrills of mountain bike trails and coastal surf. There’s loads of native historical past and tradition to find at varied museums and historic buildings, too.
1. Glamping in Neath Port Talbot
There’s no higher strategy to take in the abundance of pure magnificence in Neath Port Talbot than by staying proper within the midst of it at one of many many glamping websites within the space.
I headed to Willow Springs Campsite for an in a single day keep in the beginning of Autumn – and was completely spellbound! This family-run, eco-friendly campsite is perched on a hillside inside Afan Forest Park, with sensational views throughout the valley. Simply getting there felt like a little bit of an journey: winding up the hillside by way of the forest actually gave the sense of leaving the world behind!
There are a handful of rustic shepherd’s huts on the campsite. They’re small and pretty easy, however very cosy, with electrical heaters and a comfortable double mattress. Good for a back-to-basics keep utterly immersed in nature.
However the perfect half? Renting the campsite’s personal, wood-fired sauna, which is tucked into an remoted spot beside a waterfall and a spring-fed plunge pool. These had been fairly icy in late October – although I’m undecided they’re ever very warm! The thought is to heat up within the sauna, then courageous the chilly waters of the waterfall or plunge pool, then again to the sauna, and repeat.
Should you’re searching for a well-priced, quiet, cosy place to spend just a few days utterly getting away from all of it – Willow Springs Campsite is JUST the place!
2. Afan Forest Park: Woodland Trails and Valley Views
Afan Forest Park is the jewel in Neath Port Talbot’s crown. This 48-square-mile forest park within the wonderful Afan Valley is the area’s premier out of doors exercise vacation spot.
With lush forest crowding the valley slopes on both facet of the winding Afan River, this lovely Forest Park is the proper place to flee into nature. The best setting for adventures corresponding to mountain climbing, biking, fishing, path working, tenting and glamping.
The park is finest recognized for its mountain biking trails (see the subsequent part), nevertheless it’s not all about adventures on two wheels. There are quite a few way-marked strolling trails, starting from a delicate one-mile stroll by way of the woods to longer and extra strenuous hikes. Many of those begin from Afan Forest Park Customer Centre, so head there first for more information.
By evening, you possibly can search one other journey in Afan Forest Park: stargazing. The agricultural location and restricted gentle air pollution make this a fantastic place to marvel on the evening skies. E book a keep at one of many campsites across the park, like Willow Springs (above), for an evening of stargazing.
3. Mountain Biking: Get the Adrenaline Pumping
As talked about above, Afan Forest Park is the primary vacation spot for mountain biking in Neath Port Talbot. With 130km of biking trails and extra all-weather single tracks than another mountain biking centre in Wales, this actually is an journey playground for bikers.
In addition to the six trails ranging in size from 7km to over 40km, there’s additionally an extreme-graded bike park, the place superior riders can take a look at their abilities on a number of shorter, extremely technical runs.
I’m extra of a flat, paved-trail biker myself, so I didn’t give mountain biking a go! However I did have enjoyable watching others hitting the paths, which regarded in nice situation and had been properly signposted. And I can completely attest to the fantastic thing about the Afan Valley, particularly on sunny autumn days when the sunshine catches the tender golden colors of the forest.
The place to Hire Bikes in Afan Forest Park
- Afan Valley Bike Shed – on the Afan Forest Park Customer Centre.
- Afan A Blast – at Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre close to the highest of the valley.
- Campbell Teaching affords classes and coached rides for learners (or skilled riders seeking to hone their abilities).
4. Go Chasing Waterfalls in Neath Port Talbot (Melincwrt Waterfall & Extra)
With all its mountains, rivers, and rolling hills (to not point out all that Nice British rainfall) Wales is solely riddled with waterfalls! And Neath Port Talbot is not any exception.
Melincwrt (or Melincourt) Waterfall is without doubt one of the finest within the space. Like most of the points of interest in Neath Port Talbot, it’s a little bit of a hidden gem – which is shocking because it’s simply downriver from the favored Waterfall Nation space within the south of the Brecon Beacons.
This can be a spectacular, 80ft waterfall sweeping down a sheer rock face in a steep-sided wooded valley. From the carpark, it’s a pleasing, 15-minute stroll alongside a river to succeed in the falls, and it’s a reasonably simple stroll. Simply keep in mind that the path could be slippery in moist climate!
The encompassing valley types the Melincourt Nature Reserve, residence to an abundance of wildlife. The humidity created across the falls permits for a various array of uncommon ferns, whereas the tranquil woodland is a superb place to identify birds and butterflies.
Extra Waterfalls in Neath Port Talbot
- Aberdulais Waterfall within the Dulais Valley (northeast of Neath)
- Rhyd y Fro Waterfall in Cwm du Glen gorge, Pontardawe
5. Go to the Fortress and Abbey at Margam Nation Park
In addition to waterfalls, the opposite factor Wales is known for is castles! With greater than 600 of them, the nation apparently has extra castles per sq. mile than anyplace else.
Margam Fortress is the one to see in Neath Port Talbot. It’s really a Nineteenth-century Tudor-style Gothic mansion; a dramatic, fairytale-esque affair constructed from native sandstone in 1830.
The 850-acre nation property on which it stands was initially residence to a placing Norman Abbey till the dissolution, when the abbey was destroyed and the land handed to completely different house owners. Many ruins of the previous abbey nonetheless stand on the grounds, together with the twelve-sided chapter home and a part of the undercroft. Discover contained in the evocative ruins for a glimpse of a long-lost previous.
As we speak, the citadel and surrounding parkland type Margam Nation Park – a stunning space for walks, bike rides, and different out of doors adventures. There’s additionally a Go Ape treetop path, and in summer time you possibly can kayak and paddleboard on the lake with Margam Park Journey.
The property can be residence to a big herd of deer, which roam freely throughout the parkland. To see them, I extremely advocate taking one of many signposted walks into the broader property. I cherished the two.25-mile Pulpit Path, which climbs the hill alongside Margam Fortress for distinctive views of the Neath Port Talbot shoreline.
6. Go Horse Driving in Cimla
Fancy attempting one thing a bit of completely different in your journey to Neath Port Talbot? Horse using affords a little bit of mild journey and a brand new method of seeing the area’s beautiful landscapes.
I can HIGHLY advocate Cimla Equestrian Centre. Based mostly simply outdoors of Neath, they provide horse using classes for all ages and talents.
Should you’ve by no means ridden earlier than, Neath Port Talbot could possibly be the proper place to present it a go. There’s actually nothing higher to do in your travels than attempt one thing new and get out of your consolation zone a bit of. And who is aware of, it could possibly be the beginning of a brand new lifelong ardour!
Extra skilled riders can contact the Centre to rearrange guided horse trekking or hacking across the farm and surrounds – for some unimaginable views of the rolling hills and wooded valleys. My information, Megan, was superior (and really forgiving of my extremely rusty method). Our hack by way of the woods was simply one of many highlights of my journey to Neath Port Talbot.
7. Take in the Views from Pontrhydyfen Aqueduct
Nestled close to the doorway to the Afan Forest Park, the tiny village of Pontrhydyfen is clustered throughout the steep sides of a valley, with the River Afan working by way of its centre.
And connecting the higher “cabinets” of the village, the historic, Grade-II-listed Pontrhydyfen Aqueduct affords improbable views of the Afan Valley.
Actor Richard Burton CBE was born in Pontrhydyfen – his beginning residence lies only a stone’s throw from the aqueduct – and a photograph of him crossing the bridge within the Fifties gave the village a blast of fame.
The aqueduct was inbuilt 1827 to hold water to a close-by ironworks. It was later transformed right into a viaduct, and as we speak it types a much-used foot and cycle path which is a part of the Sustrans Nationwide Cycle Community.
Prime Tip: Observe the Richard Burton Path to discover the aqueduct, village, and surrounding valley. Data panels alongside the stroll spotlight factors of curiosity related with the actor and his childhood within the space.
8. Swimming, Browsing, and Seaside Walks at Aberavon Seaside
It’s not all concerning the countryside in Neath Port Talbot – there’s additionally a improbable shoreline! Head to Aberavnon Seaside to benefit from it: this 3-mile-long stretch of golden sand is good for seashore days!
Sitting on Swansea Bay, it’s a hub for browsing and different watersports corresponding to windsurfing, kite browsing and kayaking. The seashore is a browsing hotspot all yr spherical. Take a category, or on blustery days merely stroll alongside the seashore and watch the surfers using the waves.
As you’ll have observed from my photographs, I used to be visiting Neath Port Talbot in autumn, so it wasn’t precisely seashore climate! However Aberavon seafront is a superb place for a stroll irrespective of the time of yr, particularly due to the fab eateries alongside the promenade. Take in the ocean views from well-liked indie bar-restaurant The Entrance while having fun with some native food and drinks.
9. Take a Tour on the South Wales Miner’s Museum
South Wales was formed by the mining trade – each actually and metaphorically – significantly the thriving coal mining trade of the Nineteenth and early twentieth century. The handfuls of mines left a mark not solely on the panorama, but in addition on the folks, cities, and on the nation as a complete.
The truth is, a Medical Assist Society arrange by the South Wales Miners even impressed the creation of the NHS!
Tucked throughout the gorgeous Afan Forest Park, the South Wales Miner’s Museum is the primary mining museum in Wales. This small, volunteer-led museum offers a superb perception into the coal mining trade with some sensible displays – together with an immersive “underground tour” designed to present the feeling of strolling by way of a mine.
Should you’re provided a guided tour, take it! Most of the guides are former miners, to allow them to give a first-hand account of what working life as a miner was like.
Information: Tickets price £3 (£2 youngsters and seniors, beneath 5’s free). The museum opens Tuesday to Saturday and opening hours differ, so verify their web site earlier than visiting.
10. Neath Abbey & Ironworks: Uncover Native Historical past
Neath’s full of life city centre hides just a few shocking secrets and techniques. First, the ruins of the Twelfth-century Neath Abbey, which lend their title to a neighbourhood of the city.
The abbey ruins are hid on the sting of that neighbourhood, surrounded by industrial buildings. It feels very a lot a hidden gem, tucked away behind some industrial estates alongside the Tennant Canal.
However what appears like much more of a hidden gem is the stroll alongside the River Clydach, on the foot of a small, tree-lined gorge working straight by way of the city between two housing estates.
This river is dotted with traces of the previous Neath Abbey Ironworks. First established in 1792, these ironworks had been one of many nation’s largest and most necessary iron-making websites through the Industrial Revolution.
As we speak, the ghostly ruins of those industrial buildings, with their eerie empty home windows and overgrown purple brick partitions, are a scheduled monument. Strolling upriver from the Ironworks leads by way of a tranquil pocket of woodland to a small, fairly waterfall, the place it’s simple to overlook that you just’re in a city centre!
Information: Trying to find Neath Abbey on Google Maps usually brings up the neighbourhood as a substitute, so click on right here for the precise location. For Neath Abbey Ironworks, there’s a small quantity of free parking within the lane close by (click on right here for the Google Maps location) – or park on Penyard Street which is reverse the footpath right down to the river.
11. Stroll by way of Cwm Du Glen and Glanrhyd Plantation
Nature lovers gained’t need to miss the gorgeous stroll by way of Cwm du Glen gorge to the Glanrhyd Plantation. This can be a comparatively simple stroll that may be accomplished in round an hour – taking in some beautiful sights alongside the way in which.
First, you’ll observe the picturesque Higher Clydach River by way of a slender gorge carved by Ice Age glaciers. It’s price extending the stroll to cease off at Rhyd y Fro waterfall on the finish of the gorge, earlier than climbing as much as the Glanrhyd Plantation.
Perched above the gorge, the plantation lies on the grounds of the now-demolished Nineteenth-century Glanrhyd Home.
As we speak, it’s an area nature reserve the place the tranquil woods are dotted with unique bushes planted on the previous property. There’s even a Large Coastal Redwood and a towering Monkey Puzzle tree. Observe the round path by way of the woods and look out for the indicators which establish these historic specimens.
Information: Click on right here for stroll directions. The path begins at Herbert Sq. in Pontardawe (reverse the Dillwyn Arms). The closest carpark and public bathrooms are at Herbert Avenue Higher Automobile Park (SA8 4EB). Entry to the character reserve is free.
When to Go to Neath Port Talbot?
There’s actually no mistaken time of yr to go to Neath Port Talbot!
Summer time is your finest probability of excellent climate (although within the UK there aren’t any ensures). That is additionally the busy season, particularly through the faculty holidays (July and August) and any financial institution vacation weekends. You would possibly discover lodging extra booked up and costs a bit of increased throughout this time.
Autumn is a superb time of yr for mountain climbing, biking, and journey sports activities – with cooler climate and swathes of golden colors throughout the countryside. That is after I took my glamping journey to Neath Port Talbot and I can verify it’s a shocking time of yr.
Spring can imply gentle climate (once more nice for mountain climbing and biking), in addition to vibrant wildflowers within the forests and valleys. Winter climate could be moist, windy, and chilly, and plenty of points of interest shut from October – Easter, however you’ll profit from fewer crowds and decrease costs. Plus, there are many cosy, conventional pubs the place you possibly can gap up by the fireplace with a glass of wine to heat up!
Simply bear in mind, moist climate (particularly in Autumn and Winter) could make trails slippery and trigger rivers to swell. Take care while exploring – and keep away from swimming in rivers & waterfalls because the water ranges and currents could be unpredictable.
Greatest time of 12 months to Surf in Neath Port Talbot
For surfers, there are waves year-round, although spring and autumn are maybe finest (based on Surf Atlas). Summer time’s heat temperatures and tame waves are nice for learners, whereas the large swells of the cruel winters are just for skilled surfers (with excellent keep-warm gear!).
Locations to Eat in Neath (and Close by)
Brew & Co – nice little artisan espresso store in Neath with pleasant service and actually good truffles. Good for fast lunches and lightweight bites. I LOVED their brownies!
Dyffryn Arms – cosy nation pub on the highway between Neath and Pontardawe, with a heat and welcoming environment. The various menu mixes overseas flavours with elevated pub classics.
The Welsh Home – impartial regional chain of restaurant-bars primarily based in Neath, Swansea and Cardiff with a deal with supporting Welsh suppliers. The Neath department is a beautiful house with traditional wooden panelling and deep blue partitions. Count on a healthful, seasonal menu filled with conventional Welsh dishes made utilizing top-notch native substances.
Are there any extra nice locations to eat in Neath (and past)? Tell us within the feedback under!
How Many Days in Neath Port Talbot?
I spent two days exploring Neath Port Talbot, which was sufficient time to pack in so much. It’s fairly a small space, so that you don’t need to drive too far between the completely different sights and actions.
Nonetheless, I’d say at the least two nights can be the best size for a go to. Particularly if you’d like the journey to have a extra relaxed tempo. I’ve shared an instance itinerary under to indicate how a lot you possibly can match into two days:
Neath Port Talbot 2 Day Itinerary Suggestion
- Margam Nation Park. Go to the abbey and chateau, take a stroll on the grounds, then cease for lunch on the cafe. Time wanted: 2-3 hours (minimal).
- Swing by Pontrhydyfen Aqueduct on the way in which to Melincwrt Waterfall. You’ll want round 15-20 minutes for the aqueduct (until you do the Richard Burton Path) and about an hour for the waterfall.
- Go to Neath Abbey and Ironwalks, or take a stroll alongside the seafront at Aberavon. Both possibility will take about an hour.
- Dinner at Dyffryn Arms
- Mountain climbing or biking in Afan Forest Park (permit 2-3 hours). Alternatively, attempt horse using at Cimla Equestrian Centre (1-2 hours).
- Don’t miss the South Wales Miner’s Museum in the event you’re visiting Afan Forest Park – you’ll need at the least half-hour for this (longer in case you have extra time).
- Lunch at The Welsh Home in Neath
- Cwm Du Glen & Glanrhyd Plantation Stroll (about an hour).
So, that’s my information to the finest issues to see and do in Neath Port Talbot.
Discover the picturesque countryside, wealthy mining historical past, and out of doors adventures of this gorgeous nook of South Wales. This actually is one in all Wales’ prime hidden gems!
Should you’ve received a query – or a suggestion of your individual – please go away a remark on the finish of this submit.