The Neath Valley has had a chequered history. From being a ‘romantic valley’ beloved of painters such as J.M.W.Turner, it was transformed into an industrial coal-mining area. Since the demise of the mining industry, the scarred and disfigured land has been restored once more to its lush, green landscape. www.environment-agency.gov.uk/regions/wales
Waterfall Country Nowhere else in Wales is there such a richness and diversity of waterfalls within such a small area as can be found in the Vale of Neath. This abundance has led to the region becoming known as ‘Waterfall Country’. www.neath-porttalbot.gov.uk/waterfalls
Brecon Beacons The Brecon Beacons National Park contains some of the most spectacular and distinctive upland formations in southern Britain, including Pen Y Fan, the second highest peak in Wales. Stretching from Hay on Wye in the east to Llandeilo in the west, the National Park incorporates the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons and Fforest Fawr as well as moorland, forests, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, caves and gorges. www.breconbeacons.org
Maen Madoc & Maen Llia Maen Madoc and Maen Llia are standing stones in the Brecon Beacons national park. Maen Madoc is about 2.7 metres high, and is thought to mark a Christian burial site. Maen Llia is a large diamond-shaped stone, 3.7m high, 2.8m wide and only 0.6m thick. Legend has it that whenever a cock crows, the stone moves off to drink in the nearby River Nedd. ‘Megalithica’ – www.jharding.demon.co.uk
Afan Forest Park Afan Forest Park is the fastest growing mountain bike centre in Britain, with a broad range of trails of varying levels of difficulty. With beautiful viewpoints over the Gower Peninsula, Lundy Island and the Brecon Beacons, these trails will leave you breathless in more ways than one. www.mbwales.com
Carreg Cennen Castle Carreg Cennen is one of the most spectacularly sited castles in Wales. It dates back at least to the late 13th century, although a cache of Roman coins and four prehistoric skeletons unearthed at the site, suggest that the Romans and even prehistoric peoples occupied the craggy hilltop centuries earlier. www.castlewales.com
Neath Abbey Ruins Neath abbey was founded in 1130 by the Norman Baron, Richard de Granville. It was described as the ‘Fairest Abbey in all Wales’ by Tudor Historian John Leland. The Abbey enjoyed varying fortunes, and was finally dissolved by Henry VII in 1539. The Abbey’s location, on the banks of the Tennant Canal, makes it a tranquil and memorable site for the visitor. www.welshwales.co.uk www.castlewales.com/neath_a.html
Walkers and cyclists are always welcome, with secure storage available for bicycles.