Our rail network travels through some remarkable places, from historic towns to pretty villages and from beautiful coastlines to wooded valleys. A trip on a train is a great way to access walks that enable you to really get to know each area, discovering its history, wildlife, stories and architecture.
One area that offers an abundance of interesting walks is Neath Port Talbot. South West Wales Connected Community Rail Partnership (SWWCo) has teamed up with Ramblers Cymru to launch a fantastic series of walks in the area, all of which start from railway stations.
There’s a walk from Skewen station up Drummau Mountain and a fascinating historical walk around Neath town centre and Gnoll Country Park which takes in Neath Market and Neath Castle as well as exploring beautiful parkland. There are two lovely walks in Briton Ferry – one a circular route around Jersey Park and woodland, which takes in forest trails and beautiful gardens, and the other a leisurely canal walk to Neath town centre that offers the opportunity to spot an abundance of wildlife.
Finally, there’s a spectacular walk from Baglan Station up Mynydd Dinas which follows a high level part of the Wales Coast Path that offers commanding views of Port Talbot and Swansea Bay, and a high level walk from Port Talbot train station that offers more wonderful views, again following the optional higher level stretch of the Wales Coast Path.
“SWWCo has been working in partnership with Ramblers Cymru since the creation of our Community Rail Partnership, we are delighted to be launching the first series of walks from our stations,” says Jennifer Barfoot of SWWCo. “Until I started my journey of exploration from our stations, I wasn’t truly aware of the scope of the Wales Coast path. The walk from Port Talbot Parkway station takes you on the higher-level coast path where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views. Many thanks to Oliver Wicks from Ramblers Cymru for his insight and expertise on all our walks!”
Eve Nicholson, Technical Support – Outdoor Programme Wales Coast Path Marketing, said the walks are helping to raise awareness of the Wales Coast Path – an 870-mile-long path that was the first in the world to follow a country’s coastline in its entirety.
“We’re pleased to see the Community Rail Partnership promoting the Wales Coast Path as a great place to discover the Neath Port Talbot area showing that walking the path here is easily accessible by train,” she says. “By following the official alternative route that goes upland, you are spoilt with spectacular views over Port Talbot.”
If you’re looking for further opportunities to explore the Neath Port Talbot area on foot, take a look at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council’s interactive Active Travel Map. Active travel is travel with a purpose: it refers to journeys on foot or bike to reach school, work or for access to shops or services, and is part of a nationwide initiative to encourage people to leave their cars behind and enjoy healthier, more environmentally friendly modes of travel. A number of the active travel routes connect to railways stations, providing a great way to get about if you’re visiting the Neath Port Talbot area by train.
The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 makes it a legal duty for people to be consulted about improvements to walking and cycling routes for transport purposes, so the council is currently holding a consultation in which you can give your comments and suggestions for improvements to its active travel map. Head here to register your opinions and to be in with a chance to win a £100 voucher for a bike shop.
Explore our railway history
If you’re interested in the history of our railways, Neath Port Talbot also has some lovely walks that travel along the routes of old railways. This river and railway walk in Afan Forest Park takes you along the former route of Brunel’s South Wales Mineral Railway Line with its tunnel, while this route takes you along a more northerly stretch of the same rail route, where it runs between Glyncorrwg and Cymmer. And this route – a beautiful wooded walk that finishes at Port Talbot Parkway Railway Station – follows the Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company line, which linked the Garw and Llynfi Valley collieries.