Visit and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot. The oldest part of the great industrial complex that has grown up between the sea and the hills, Port Talbot lies 12 miles East of Swansea, at the mouth of the narrow Afan valley. The town grew out of the original town called Aberafan in Welsh and Abervon in English. The town's new name was named after the Talbot family of Margam Abbey, who were pioneers in its industrial development.
Aberavon claimed to have been granted its first charter in 1158. Gerald the Welshman passed this way when he accompanied Archbishop Baldwin on his tour through Wales to preach the Third Crusade. He gives a vivid description of the difficulties of the passage across the quicksand between Aberavon and Neath. There are a few traces of the small castle of the local Welsh rulers on Mynydd Dinas, the craggy hill at the mouth of the Afan river. The old Church of St Mary was rebuilt in 1860. In the graveyard is the grave of Die Penderyn (Richard Lewis), who was hanged for complicity in the Merthyr Riots of 1831, although he was certainly innocent of the crime. The body of the unfortunate youth was refused burial in Cardiff, Llantrisant, and Bridgend. Finally it was interred at dead of night at Aberavon. Die Penderyn was regarded as the first martyr of the Labour movement in South Wales. In the borough municipal offices is preserved the hollowed block of wood in which the municipal charters were hidden from the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.
The Afan valley runs inland from Port Talbot. The road, railway, and river struggle for space as the valley cuts back towards the highest summits of the mountains of the coalfield. The first village of the valley, Cwmafan, was once the site of copper-works. The fumes were carried up a tunnel on the side of Foci Fynyddau to a stack 1,200 ft above sea-level. Cwmafan could claim to have the tallest factory chimney in the world. The stack on the summit was demolished during the Second World War. Beyond Cwmafan is Pontrhydyfen, once noted for the variety of its viaducts, and now as the birthplace of Richard Burton, the actor. The valley becomes narrower. A road goes over the cleft in the hills to the North West, to descend at Neath. Beyond Pontrhydyfen is the old farm of Pen-hydd. This was once a grange of Margam Abbey, celebrated in Welsh folklore as the home of a monk whose gift of foretelling the future earned him the nickname of Twm Celwydd Teg (Tom of the Fair Lies). A young man going bird's-nesting once chaffed him with: “Well, Tom, what lies have you got for me today?” Said Twm: “You will die three deaths before nightfall”. The young man laughed, for who can die three deaths? But, as he climbed a tree over the river to rob a kite's nest, his hand was bitten by a viper the bird had brought back to feed her young; he tumbled out of the tree, broke his neck, fell into the river, and was drowned.
There is a particularly attractive stretch between Pontrhydyfen and Cymer. From Cymer a road goes over a tow-pass in the hills into Maesteg. Cymer itself is a village all on a slope, a tangle of terraces and houses jammed in the bottom of the valley. A tablet on the wall near the inn at the bridge commemorates the Eisteddfod held there in 1735; one competitor was Wil Hopkin, to whom are attributed the words of “Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn” (Watching the Wheat).
A branch road leads off the main road, after a hair-raising bend, to follow the Corrwg valley. At the head of the valley, which is a dead-end, lies the secluded village of Glyncorrwg, which has the reputation of being the wettest village in Neath Port Talbot. No wonder, for it is overshadowed by the highest point in the county, Craig y Llyn (1,969 ft). The mountain-sides all around are now forested.
The main road continues up the ever-narrowing Afan valley, through a stretch that is deeply wooded, to Blaengwynfi, a colliery village that, from its remoteness, used to be known to the old miners as the Cape. The railway dives through the mountains in a tunnel that emerges into the upper reaches of the Rhondda valley. The road goes up over the mountains in an impressive climb that brings you out at the summit of the moorlands. This road is part of the inter-valley links, built after the First World War.
The pass is worth driving through for the views over the whole of the hills, with a glimpse of the villages, sunk far below in the narrow valleys. At the summit of Bwlch-y-Clawdd the road forks; one branch goes down the face of the mountain into the Rhondda, the other swings sharply westwards and drops steeply under a line of cliffs into the forested head of the Ogmore valley. These inter-valley passes are a surprise for the visitor. They are remarkable pieces of road-engineering in themselves.
Nearby cities: Swansea
Nearby towns: Bridgend, Margam, Pontardawe, Porthcawl
Nearby villages: Aber-pergwm, Aberdulais, Aberkenfig, Alltwen, Bettws, Blaengarw, Blaengawr, Blaengwrach, Briton Ferry, Bryn, Brynmenyn, Campay, Cilybebyll, Clydach, Coity, Cornelly, Crynant, Cwmafan, Cymer, Duffryn, Ewenny, Felindre, Garth, Glais, Glyncorrwg, Kenfig, Landore, Llandarcy, Llangeinor, Llangiwg, Llangynwyd, Maesteg, Morriston, Neath, Newton Nottage, North Cornelly, Nottage, Oystermouth, Pontrhydyfen, Pontycymer, Port Tennant, Pyle, Resolven, Saint Brides Major, Skewen, South Cornelly, Swansea, Taibach, The Mumbles, Tondu
Have you decided to visit or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a bed and breakfast (a B&B or b and b)
- a guesthouse
- a hotel (or motel)
- a self-catering establishment, or
- other accommodation