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|Between the Afan and Pelenna Valleys|
|Author: debdwi, Published: 22 Jan 2015||Walk rating : Rating:|
|Glamorgan, Afan Forest Park|
|This walk begins near the village of Pontrhydyfen - the birthplace of the actor Richard Burton. It shows you something of the Afan river and valley, then follows the route of chapel goers of the past, up the mountain to Gyfylchi where the ruins of the chapel are now next to a centre used by mountain bikers. The walk then goes along forest tracks and paths to stream-filled older woodland and through to the River Pelenna where reed beds remove impurities from water flowing from old mine workings. Near the village of Tonmawr, it brings you back up to Gyfylchi and along a deserted upland road with extensive views stretching across Neath and Swansea Bay. Then back down above Pontrhydyfen to Rhyslyn. This area is surprisingly remote and this walk gives a day out in the quiet and the wild. |
There is a lot of uphill walking which is why the route has a 4 boot difficulty grading. You will also need to negotiate a number of kissing gates, steps and stiles along the way.
From junction 40 of the M4, follow signs to Cymmer/Pontrhydyfen on A4107. Coming into the Afan Forest Park, (having passed though 2 sets of traffic lights), turn left for Neath/Pontrhydyfen just after a large rock on the left-hand side of the road. Head down across the bridge (and the River Pelenna), turning right immediately after the bridge. This will take you to the Rhyslyn car park and the start of the walk. The nearest post code (which takes you into the village in Pontrhydyfen) is SA12 9TF.
|Start to Main Forestry Track|
Start point: 51.6337 lat, -3.7358 long
Walk towards the forestry barrier on the left-hand side of the far end of the car park. Go through a kissing gate on the right which leads downwards towards the river. This path will take you for a while along the River Afan (which meets the smaller River Pelenna at Pontrhydyfen). At the first meeting with another path, follow the footpath sign.
|Main Forestry Track to Gyfylchi Chapel|
Start point: 51.6383 lat, -3.7256 long
Turn left onto the main forestry track and walk a short way to the next right turn, signposted for walkers and cyclists. Take this path gently uphill. This section is a fairly gentle climb and you will get some nice views of the Afan Valley to your right through the trees. This is the route local communities took every Sunday up to Gyfylchi Chapel before chapels were built down in the valleys. You will come to a junction where you need to keep on the path going round and up to the left.
|Gyfylchi Chapel to Left Fork|
Start point: 51.6454 lat, -3.7248 long
You have an option to shorten the walk from this point should you wish. To do this, turn left and left again to join the path past the barrier then pick up the directions in the section called 'Centre at Gyfylchi to Cattle Grid'.
|Left Fork to Lower Forestry Track|
Start point: 51.6495 lat, -3.7121 long
This path leads down to a T junction with a main track. Turn left onto this track. Stay on this track until the next junction with a forest track on your right (a sharp right turn) and take this downwards. Follow this track down, ignoring paths or tracks to the right or left until you reach a T junction with another main track. Turn right here.
|Lower Forestry Track to River Pelenna|
Start point: 51.6556 lat, -3.7153 long
Walking along the forestry track, you need to take a footpath to the left marked by a post (the actual sign is on the side of the post furthest from you) and leading down some stone steps. This takes you down into woodland.
|River Pelenna to Bridle Path|
Start point: 51.6619 lat, -3.7134 long
After crossing the bridge, turn left and continue along the road back past the reed beds. There is an information board to tell you about the process. The house to your left is Pelenna House.
|Bridle Path to Centre at Gyfylchi|
Start point: 51.6494 lat, -3.7243 long
Take this bridle path (pictured) up to the road which goes back to Gyfylchi. Turn left at the top of the bridle path and follow the road back to the centre at Gyfylchi.
|Centre at Gyfylchi to Cattle Grid|
Start point: 51.6456 lat, -3.7251 long
Take the track reasonably straight ahead past the barrier (pictured). Follow this track until you reach a gate where the footpath is then indicated to the right. From here, you can see up and down the Afan Valley and to the sea and the loaders in Port Talbot deep harbour. Turn right on the footpath. Follow this footpath until it brings you down to a road.
|Cattle Grid to Kissing Gate|
Start point: 51.6429 lat, -3.7329 long
Turn left along the road over a cattle grid. Follow this country road, which offers extensive views over Neath and Swansea Bay, until you meet forestry from the left where there is a kissing gate.
|Kissing Gate to End|
Start point: 51.6418 lat, -3.7443 long
Go through this kissing gate (pictured). Take a narrow path by the side of the fence upwards and back on yourself. At a small tree on your left, take the path going right and downwards continuing to cross a forestry track and keep going down.
Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author debdwi and may not be reproduced without permission.
A thoroughly varied and beautiful trek - the perfect introduction to the countryside typical of the South Wales valleys.
|By Fisher197 on 30 May 2016|
The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.
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