Richard Burton trail

One of our most celebrated actors, Richard Burton was born in Pontrhydyfen in the Afan valley. The Richard Burton trail is an easy walk around this pretty little village sat on the confluence of two burbling rivers. It's around 5.4 miles (8.8km) and you'll also walk across the huge Grade II listed Bont Fawr aqueduct.

As you walk, you'll find information panels providing information about the man, his childhood and career along with remnants of former coal workings, now a haven for wildlife.

Sign in Pontrhydyfen with the words - The birthplace of Richard Burton, Ivor Emmanuel, Rebecca Evans
A viaduct running alongside a path and across a river.

Pontrhydyfen, the birthplace of Richard Burton

The Swansea Valley from Pontardawe to Ystalyfera

What could be nicer than a stroll by the river? This walk follows the route of National Cycle Trail 43 which means it's flat and smooth, so is accessible for buggies or wheelchairs. It's a distance of just over 4 miles (7km) beside the river Tawe between Pontardawe and Ystalyfera. Look out for dippers sat on stones at the riverside and emperor dragonflies skimming the water. Both towns are perfectly placed for a bite to eat at either end and you can hop on the Cymru Clipper bus back.

Read more: Great walks in Wales for families

Afan Forest Park

Afan Forest Park covers a vast chunk of woodland criss-crossed by waymarked cycle and walking trails.

The Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail is just under 7 miles (10.5km) and is quite steep in places. It starts with an easy riverside stroll along the river Afan. A steep climb up through woods and over a gurgling stream brings you to the ruins of Nant y Bar Farm. You then walk along the top of the ridge and the views down to Swansea Bay and the Mumbles are spectacular. There are several shorter marked walking trails too - the shortest is just 1 mile (1.8km.)

Read more: Outdoor adventures in the Valleys Regional Park

wide dirt track through pine trees with distant hills behind

Walking trail at Afan Forest Park

Melincourt Waterfall

The spray-filled torrent of water that gushes some 80 feet (24m) to the ground here is a spectacular sight. So much so that famous artist JMW Turner sketched it in 1794. The setting is very special - a narrow gorge studded with gnarled oak, birch and alder trees and ancient rocks covered with lush ferns and mosses. It's carpeted with wild flowers in spring.

The walk that takes you up the stream to the falls is less than 2 miles (3km) there and back. The best time to see the falls is during the Winter months, when there's been more rain.

a rushing waterfall in autumnal woodlands

Autumn colours at Melincourt waterfall

Wales Coast Path from Swansea to Port Talbot

For a solid 14.5 miles (19.5km) day hike, hit the Wales Coast Path between Swansea and Port Talbot.

Starting at Pilot House Wharf in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter you follow the route of the Tennant canal. The walk takes you alongside fens and through woodland. You'll also see the Brunel Dock accumulator tower built by famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the old Briton Ferry dock. From here it's down the river estuary to the sand dunes at Baglan Burrows and the wide sands of Aberavon Beach.

Resolven to Glynneath along the Neath Canal

The Neath Canal runs right through Neath and you can walk the towpath in both directions. There are information boards at key locations too. For a longer walk, head north up the valley to Resolven. The 5.4mile (8.7km) stroll from here up to Glynneath and back is a pleasant flat walk along the towpath with several locks en route and lots of opportunities to spot birdlife. Once you reach the old lime kilns, have a look around before turning back and retracing your steps.

Read more: Canal boat holidays in Wales

Close up of end of an old wooden lock gate on the Neath Canal
Dark waters of a canal with autumn trees on either side

Along the Neath canal

The Monastic Trail at Margam Country Park

There's lots to do at Margam Country Park with its historic mansion, adventure playground, lakes and urban farm. There are also marked trails through peaceful woodlands.

The Monastic Trail is 2.5 miles (4km) and takes you around the iron age hillfort, past the still waters of the fishpond and the remains of Cryck Mill and then up to the ruins of medieval Hen Eglwys church. The views reach as far as Somerset and Devon on a clear day. The path down through woodland is quite steep, so take care.

Read more: A perfect family day out at Margam Park

View of a grand castle and landscape through a stone arch.
Mother and son walking through a leafy park, backs to camera

Leafy trails and lovely views walking at Margam Park

Sgwd Gwladus waterfall

This lovely chunk of shady woodland and rocky outcrops is packed with birdlife fluttering around the ancient trees. The culmination of this 2.5 mile (4km) walk is the spectacular Sgwd Gwladus Falls. The Sgwd Gwladus trail follows the route that horse drawn carts once took moving silica rock from the 19th century mines. You can still see one close to the path.

Other sights include double race mill used by farmers to grind corn. Look out for one of the mill stones in the bank above the path.

Read more: Things to do in Neath Port Talbot

Dusk sunshine behind the ruins of an old chapel

Sunset at Capel Mair on the Monastic Trail at Margam Country Park

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