Afan Forest Park – Visitor Centre, near Port Talbot

What's here

There will be disruption in the area around the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre related to improvement work being carried out on the walking trails. Work will be starting 26 February and continuing for around 3 weeks.

 

Trail closures and diversions due to major felling operation

 

Some of our trails will be diverted or closed in Afan Forest Park due to a major tree felling operation. Please see information in car parks and follow diversion signs along the trails. Be aware of timber haulage lorries and follow instructions from staff. Find out which trails are affected and learn more about the felling work.

 

Additional changes to trails and other visitor facilities

 

  • Skyline Trail – the Granada, Short n Sweet, Riding High and On The Edge and Rhondda sections are closed due to felling work and windblown trees.
  • The W2 Upper Link path is closed due to harvesting operations.

Please follow the diversions.

Welcome

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is the main starting point for walking and mountain bike trails in Afan Forest Park.

There are four mountain bike trails and a skills area for less experienced riders.

The walking trails range from a short level route along a former trackway to a strenuous seven mile walk along a ridgetop with panoramic views.

The car park and visitor centre are managed by Neath Port Talbot Council and are home to the South Wales Miners’ Museum, a café and a bike shop.

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trail.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Old Parish Road Walk

  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1¼ miles/2 kilometres
  • Climb: Mainly level
  • Time: 45 minutes

The Old Parish Road Walk follows part of the ancient trackway that was the main means of transport in the valley until it fell into disuse in 1920.

There are seats and tables along the way to enjoy the views.

The walk returns to the visitor centre on the former railway line (which is now part of the Afan Valley Cycleway/Sustrans Route 887).

River and Railway Walk

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles/4.8 kilometres
  • Climb: 300 feet/70 metres
  • Time: 1½ hours

The River and Railway Walk descends into the valley and crosses the River Afan before climbing steeply to the old railway line.

It passes a sealed railway tunnel entrance, which was designed and built by Brunel, and then returns to the visitor centre via a picnic area by the river.

Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 7 miles/11.2 kilometres
  • Climb: 800 feet/240 metres
  • Time: 3½ hours

The Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail crosses the River Afan and climbs through woodlands to the hilltop.

There are panoramic views of the valley.

The trail then goes past two sets of ruins – Nant y Bar Farm and the 18th century Gyfylchi Chapel, once a shrine to Welsh Methodism – before it descends to the car park. 

Mountain bike trails

All our mountain bike trails are waymarked from start to finish and have been graded for difficulty.

At the start of the trail there is an information panel – please read this before setting off.

Rookie Trail and Skills Area

  • Grade: Green (Easy)
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometres (with optional additional 2.4 kilometre blue-graded loop)
  • Climb: 158 metres
  • Time: 30 minutes – 2 hours

This green-graded trail is a fun, winding, and meandering trail.

It is a perfect introductory route for newcomers, with a wide trail and slightly sweeping declines.

There is a Skills Area on the trail which offers riders the opportunity to develop their technical riding abilities too.

The optional 2.4 kilometre blue-graded loop provides a taster for those wishing to progress; it drops down to the River Afan and exposes some secret spots.

Picnic areas can be found along the trail.

Accessibility information

This trail is suitable for people using adaptive equipment.

Adaptive equipment includes adaptive cycles, adaptive wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

We have produced a film about this trail to help you work out how suitable it may be for you before you visit.

To watch the film, go to Trails for users of adaptive equipment

Blue Scar Trail

  • Grade: Blue (Moderate)
  • Distance: 7.1 kilometres
  • Climb: 177 metres
  • Time: 1-1½ hours

Fantastic trail to improve riding skills and develop confidence.

Accessibility information

This trail is suitable for people using adaptive equipment.

Adaptive equipment includes adaptive cycles, adaptive wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

We have produced a film about this trail to help you work out how suitable it may be for you before you visit.

To watch the film, go to Trails for users of adaptive equipment

Penhydd Trail

  • Grade: Red (Difficult)
  • Distance: 14.4 kilometres
  • Climb: 353 metres
  • Time: 1½-3 hours

This classic South Wales trail is designed to be a progression to the more demanding Afan trails.

It climbs out from the visitor centre car park to give a stunning trail, mixing the old with the new.

Enjoy the combination of forest road climbs with some fantastic views, and flowing singletrack descents, plus some new steeper sections in the mix.

This trail can be demanding for less experienced riders and is exposed to bad weather on the higher ground.

Y Wal Trail

  • Grade: Red (Difficult)
  • Distance: 18.6 kilometres
  • Time: 1½-3 hours
  • Climb: 520 metres
  • Alternative starting point: Rhyslyn car park

Boasting some of the best singletrack descents in the UK, this trail traverses the north side of the Afan Valley on singletrack.

It varies from fast, open and flowing to tight, technical and rooty.

Great views of the valley and coastline open out at different points, and in places the steep-sided slopes can feel exposed.

The approach to the singletrack shares a section with the Rheilffordd Low Level Cycleway and the disused railway line, so please ride with consideration for the many other forest users.

 For a longer ride, combine with White’s Level Trail via one of the W2 links.

Visitor facilities

Car park and toilets

The car park, toilets and some other visitor facilities here are managed by Neath Port Talbot Council.

For more information and opening times go to the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre website.

Afan Valley Bike Shed

Afan Valley Bike Shed is next to Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre.

For more information and opening times go to the Afan Valley Bike Shed website.

Afan Forest Park

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is situated in Afan Forest Park.

Afan Forest Park is one of Britain’s iconic mountain bike destinations and a popular place for walking.

The forest park is situated in the Afan Valley, a former coal mining valley just a few miles from the M4.

You can discover some of the valley’s heritage features along our trails in the forest park.

Other trails in Afan Forest Park

Explore Afan Forest Park from the car parks at these three other places:

National Forest for Wales

Afan Forest Park forms part of the National Forest for Wales.

The National Forest will:

  • create areas of new woodland
  • enhance existing woodlands
  • restore Wales’ irreplaceable ancient woodlands

It will form a connected ecological network running throughout Wales, bringing social, economic and environmental benefits.

Parts of the network will eventually form a trail running the length and breadth of Wales, so anyone can access it wherever they live.

For more information go to the National Forest for Wales website.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Changes to trails

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to the trails here.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

In extreme weather, we may close facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.

Accessibility information

The Rookie Trail and the Blue Scar Trail are suitable for people using adaptive equipment.

Adaptive equipment includes adaptive cycles, adaptive wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

We have produced a film about each of these trails to help you work out how suitable they may be for you before you visit.

To watch the films, go to Trails for users of adaptive equipment

How to get here

Location

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is 5½ miles north east of Port Talbot.

It is in the county of Neath Port Talbot.

Ordnance Survey map

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 165 and 166.

The OS grid reference for the visitor centre is SS 820 950.

Directions

Exit M4 at junction 40 for Port Talbot and follow signs onto A4107 towards Cymer.

Follow the brown and white signs for Afan Forest Park from the roundabout.

The visitor centre car park will be on the right, approximately 6 miles from the motorway junction.

For satellite navigation, the postcode for Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is SA13 3HG.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Port Talbot.

For details of public transport go to the Traveline Cymru website.

Sustrans cycle route

You can cycle to Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre on Sustrans National Cycle Network route 887.

Route 887 provides a link between the towns of Port Talbot, Cwmafan, and Pontrhydyfen and continues onto Afan Forest Park.

For more information go to the Sustrans website.​

Parking

The car park is managed by Neath Port Talbot Council.

For more information and opening times go to the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre website

Contact details

The car park, toilets and all visitor facilities here are managed by Neath Port Talbot Council. For more information and opening times go to the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre website.

There are no Natural Resources Wales staff at this location. Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

Related document downloads

Rookie Trail guide PDF [1.1 MB]
Blue Scar Trail guide PDF [1.9 MB]
Penhydd Trail guide PDF [2.3 MB]
Y Wal Trail guide PDF [5.7 MB]

Other places in South West Wales

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