The valleys within the Neath Port Talbot County Borough in the Swansea Bay region form a remarkably beautiful and largely undiscovered part of South Wales. Where mighty industries once flourished, the scars of this industrial past are now vanished and nature has reclaimed the deep sided valleys and hills. Thick forests of coniferous trees and ancient oak and birch cover the hillsides, whilst the valleys are penetrated by fast flowing rivers and streams with countless waterfalls down the valley sides.
Centuries of human activity have given this landscape a special character. There is the famous Roman Road, Sarn Helen, which can still be walked along the length of the forested ridge above the Dulais and Neath Valleys; picturesque Neath Abbey; Margam Park with its magnificent Castle and Orangery; and landscaped gardens, canals, railways and early industrial remains, much now hidden deep in woodland.
This is an area rich in industrial archaeology with ancient iron and copper mines and workings. There are many fascinating buildings dating back to the early years of the Industrial Revolution, and waterways such as the Neath, Tennant and Swansea Canals, now provide linear corridors rich in wildlife interest; whilst the old railways and tramway lines that once carried coal now provide a superb green network of cycle ways and walking routes.
A feature of these valleys is that the whole area is so easily accessible, seven days a week, by frequent bus services from the centres of Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea.
Not only is using the bus better for the environment, it gives real opportunity and choice, for example for linear walks. With a range of bargain day, family and weekly tickets, it costs less than using the car. For senior citizens resident in Wales, travel is actually free. Buses give true freedom to undertake linear walks, ending your walk at a different bus stop or even on a different bus route!
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