We make Get Jerky for adventure. From the beginning, when we found our love for jerky on hikes through Yellowstone national park, our jerky has powered discovery. So that’s why we want to share our love with you every month and power your next adventure! So we’ve racked our brains, chomped some protein and are bringing our 2nd Trail of the Month. This month, we’re visiting the world renowned biking paths, stunning valleys and spectacular history of the Afan Valley!
Trails: Afan Valley, Cwmavon to Pontrhydyfen
Activities: Mountain Biking, cycling, walking & hiking, fishing, camping.
Protein points: Get Jerky in Ked’s Gym, Port Talbot, catch some lunch at Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre, eat & drink at The Brit in Cwmafan
To some, the image of Port Talbot may be of billowing smoke, and the sci-fi like fire & lights of the steel works at night – or perhaps of theatrical talent such as Michael Sheen & Anthony Hopkins. But to those in the know, it has for many years been an adventurers dream – with world class biking paths, stunning riverside walks and historical architecture, there is so, so much to discover.
There are countless trails on both sides of the River Afan, perfect for walking with stunning views down the valley, where dramatic hills criss-cross amongst viaducts, tailor made & world class mountain biking trails up in the Afan Valley park, and even a chance for a spot of fishing.
So, let’s see what adventures await in the Afan Valley…
There are lots of potential starting points for adventures in the Afan Valley. But for mountain biking, there’s one place you have to begin – that’s the Afan Forest park. With 7 separate trails that range from 2.6km for their rookie trail to the huge 44km W2, there is a great mix for all skills, all of them cutting through the valley’s stunning criss-crossing valleys.
For the most beautiful loop, we love the Y Wal trail, which boasts grand panoramas and pacey descents along an exciting route that is mostly along a single track. One of the unique aspects of many of the trails is these single tracks – the real places to put your mountain bikes and skills to the test. Y Wal is a great blend of fast, wider trails, expert winding forest trails and spine-tingling steep, uncovered hills.
It also meets with the disused railway line track, one which offers some historical titbits to fly by – and with relatively fair weather, the coastline front of you will be visible as points. All in all, at 17km it is a challenging loop, with lots of inclines, but one that can be taken in over 90 minutes or a more leisurely 3 hours+.
Amongst the other trails, are the gigantic combo path of W2, which racks up a monster 44km, the short but calf-pounding Penhydd or the gentler Blue Scar, named after the mining history of the valley.
If you want to try your hand at single track biking but need the practise first, then the bike park is a perfect place to test your mettle. With 0.5km of track across 5 different grades of difficulty, it’s a great way to get used to the twisted turns and bumpy climes you may encounter on one of the longer routes!
That mining history is scattered across this valley – and the afan forest visitors centre is again a great place to start or end if you want more of this, as it’s also home to the South Wales Miner’s Museum. As the furnace of the industrial revolution, this valley has a rich history that not only transformed work & home, but also inspired architecture that’s stood the test of time both literally and aesthetically.
The Viaduct & Aqueducts at Pontrhydfen are an amazing example of this, and a perfect focal point for walking in the valley. Whether you start at the Forest Park and walk downwards to Pontrhydyfen, or, as we prefer, start at the lovely Brit Pub in Cwmavon and wander up, these are well maintained paths, that intersect old railway lines – ones that would have carried copper, iron & tinplate upon the viaduct itself. From Cwmavon, there are walks from either sides of the valley, the river babbling below you from the right (going up the valley), or close beside on the other side, with points to stop and relax near the water & watch anglers.
From Cwmavon, it’s a pleasant but upward walk of 45 minutes – or, as we prefer, 1 hour and 30 with a pub lunch & craft ale awaiting in the Brit, which is perfect on a summer day with its beer garden that overlooks the river.
If joining some fishing sounds like the perfect relaxing part of a trail, then there are several places to do so. Once, the river would stain rocks with flecks of copper orange, thanks to years of work, the river is now far cleaner and hospitable to salmon, trout & seatrout. Contact Afan Valley Angling Club for permits.
Y Wal – 17.4km, 450m climb
W2 – 44km, 975m climb
Cwmavon to Pontrhydyfen – Afan Forest Park – 6.4km, 103m climb
Afan Bike Park: 5 mins – 1km (Mountain biking practise – grades blue to black)