Tawe Valley Trails

Rambles along the canal and through beautiful countryside in the Tawe (also known as Swansea) Valley
Easy by bus from Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea

The Tawe Valley has a lot of historical interest and some excellent walking. Further on are the gateways to the western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Swansea Canal is a feature of much of the main valley, is in various stages of restoration and becoming a fine example of transport heritage.


Pontardawe is the principal town in the Swansea Valley and occupies a prominent position on north-south and east-west crossroads. It has a lively Arts Centre which has gained a reputation as one of the finest cultural venue in South Wales with a repertoire covering music, drama and dance, literature and children’s theatre to blues and world music. Its church is a spectacular feature prominent above the town and canal.

  • Pontardawe Jubilee X50 X51 56 256

Swansea Canal

Much of this historic canal is restored or in course of restoration and is a central feature of the valley between Clydach, Pontardawe and Godre’r Graig. A walk along its towpath is the best way to appreciate the beauty of the valley in the post-industrial age. Two canal walking itineraries are offered, Clydach to Pontardawe; and Pontardawe to Ystalyfera.

  • Clydach Mond
    Pontardawe Jubilee
    Ystalyfera New Swan Hotel X50 or X51

The Legendary Ynysygeinon Rock

A famous legend suggests there was a heavy stone door on the face of Ynysygeinon Rock leading to a fairy kingdom of untold riches and passages leading to Craig y Nos and other points. The legend goes something like this:

‘Over a century ago, Dai, a farmhand was catching rabbits near the rock when he saw a little man speak a magical word and an open heavy door leading inside the rock. Dai came back later having remembered this word and the door opened revealing a faerie world full of gold. The door closed, he was trapped but the faeries adopted him and he lived in peace for seven years after which he returned to the farm with a sack of gold. He was persuaded to reveal the magic words to his master who then went to see himself several times, each time returning with a sack of gold. One day he never reappeared and Dai went looking for him to find his four quarters strung up behind the door. Frightened, Dai never used the magic words again’.

  • Ystalyfera Asda X50 or X51

Ynyscedwyn Ironworks

Ynyscedwyn Ironworks owes its origins to a single blast furnace built around the end of the 17th century. The works was a relatively small enterprise until the early 1820s to become progressively to a six blast furnace operation by 1853.

In 1889 a tinplate works was built on the same site in 1889 and continued in production until 1946.

Part of the original Ironworks site has been tasteful restored at Glanrhyd.

  • Glanrhyd X50 or X51

Rural Rambles – four great walks

The attractive Cwm Du Glen walk is through beautiful woodland set in the deep Upper Clydach valley to the west of Pontardawe.

Above the east side of town is the Cilybebyll walk from Rhos back to Pontardawe through a beautiful and historic landscape with a backdrop of Mynydd March Hywel and great views of the Tawe Valley.

South and north of Pontardawe are two very attractive walks along the historic Swansea Canal.

Public transport

  • Neath or Swansea

  • Swansea to Clydach and Pontardawe Mon-Sun X50 or X51
    Swansea to Ystalyfera and Ystradgynlais Mon-Sat X50 or X51
    Neath to Rhos and Pontardawe Mon-Sat 56 or 256