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  • Afan Valley and Neath Port Talbot | For Adventures Big and Small
  • Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    Produced in association with the Dramatic Heart of Wales When riding a trail centre route I do not usually expect to find myself eating emergency bilb …

    By stwhannah

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    Afan Valley and Neath Port Talbot | For Adventures Big and Small

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    Premier Icon Olly
    Free Member

    We used to ride Afan and Glyncorwyg regularly, though we went back for the first time in some years a few weeks ago and it was heavy going. Maybe im not as fit as i was, but the trails felt pretty beaten up and tired.

    90% of the riders we saw were on ebikes, and that was probably only 30 people in total over the weekend.

    I hope that following the major logging works that are (still!) ongoing, Afan get a bit of money, and a bit of TLC it desperately needs. perhaps even some “all new” trails putting in.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    Yeah, I feel really a bit guilty about Afan and that area, we used to go once a year and always had a great time but now we always go uplifting a bit further north instead. I find myself missing the big climb!

    Premier Icon chrismac
    Full Member

    Last time we went, admittedly a year ago now, ebikes were in The majority. Overall the number of people about seemed allot lower than previous visits so there was no real atmosphere about the place which may have been because it was 2020 or are people going elsewhere

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Free Member

    I’ve been riding there for more than 15 years now.

    It’s rough going at the moment, I ‘think’ a lot of the maintenance that was done by NRW has been handed over to the local volunteer group, I could be wrong there, but that’s the impression I get.

    During most of Covid they weren’t allowed to work on any of the NRW trails, and of course most of them were officially closed for long periods of lockdown.

    The long, hot dry period we enjoyed over the summer made them very rough and loose, the heavy rain removed the soil, but not the rocks.

    Penhydd and The Wall are both about as rough as I can remember them ever being, it’s not all bad, it’s more ‘natural’, and anyone who complains about “overly sanitised, man made trails” would no doubt love it, but you just can’t send it all blind anymore.

    The trails will probably be like this forever more now, since they felled all the trees there’s little protecting the trails from erosion, and, at least during Covid there doesn’t seem to be the money or resources to maintain them like they do at Cwmcarn / Llandegla, good news if you like ‘natural’ trails, less good if you don’t.

    Afan centre is pretty busy at the weekends, if not quite like Cwmcarn which often fills it’s carpark, Glyncorwyg is ghostly though, which is a same, it’s the nicer centre with a great cafe and shop, but it’s 20 mins further away from the M4 and personally I dislike the trails down there.

    Premier Icon ragsdog1
    Free Member

    may they are like to bike park wales for me its got to be afan on the 9 foot com trail i was rideing in afan before there was trail centers me i wood not change at all and stll ride 26 all of the riders in glyncorrwg are now on ebikes for me no way.

    Premier Icon superfli
    Free Member

    I took my lad to Afan when hotels opened up back in may. It had been quite a while since id ridden there, and we used to go regularly. I was actually pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few campers at glyncorwyg. The shop was open and looked stocked. We rode whites level, the whole lot, which I’ve not done in years! For the last say, 6 years, we’ve missed out bits from energy, always going over to ywall or more recently blade. It rode really well and I didn’t think it was worn. Goodwood was actually open, although most of northshore was closed.
    I’d go back for sure. Lots of good riding there and there’s always the masts down the road for some out of park riding.

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Free Member

    Oh and anyone who has a bee in their bonnet about ebikes, I’d avoid the new bit of the Twrch at Cwmcarn, it’s not officially open yet (long story, it was finished months ago and it’s becoming over-grown ironically) it’s a pretty nice, very short descent, followed by a long, climb fully of features. It almost seems it rides the wrong-way… no one will convince me that it’s not an e-bike trail.

    Premier Icon andrewreay
    Full Member

    We went in June after things opened up (at least to us from England) and had an amazing time at Afan Lodge, which was at capacity and full of bikers.

    The trails were in good shape at the Glynccorrwg side, and we did Blade for the first time. It was great riding and we didn’t notice any issues. Whites was as tough as ever though 😫

    On the Afan side the dry weather meant Penhydd was a blast.

    I am a bit old fashioned and prefer ‘natural’ trails, and don’t use a battery, so it was an excellent weekend. Hard work because I’m older, less fit and it was boiling hot, but the beer on the terrace at Afan Lodge was all the better for that.

    We’re planning our next visit in Spring.

    If you’re thinking of going, can’t recommend Afan Lodge enough. Great food, great value and bike friendly. None of that has changed with the change of ownership.

    PS calling in at the Refreshment Rooms on a Saturday during a Wales Euros match is also highly recommended!

    Premier Icon reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    The first climb on White’s really suffered after the trees were removed, completely removed any character from them and made it very exposed to wind and rain. It used to be a relative joy to spin up with the scenery subtly changing all the way up, now it’s just a rocky climb where you’re pretty much guaranteed a headwind half of the time. The disaster that was the opening of Blade really hit the places reputation too, the first weekend was busy with visitors but it quickly dropped off once word had got out that the new trail was no substitute for losing the old Skyline. Both of these things definitely contributed to the place falling down the list of places to go, BPW opening was another one. The council/NRW/WAG should have taken the closure of Skyline Cycles as a sign that the place was slowly dying and pumped some funds into it instead of Cwmcarn getting all the funds it did.

    I ‘think’ a lot of the maintenance that was done by NRW has been handed over to the local volunteer group, I could be wrong there, but that’s the impression I get.

    Pretty much. NRW only really deal with fallen trees there now, the rest is seemingly done by the Afan Trail Crew. I know that before the first lockdown they were very busy recommissioning the full old Skyline trail, that definitely led to the other trails suffering from lack of care. I rode there after the first lockdown and was shocked at the state of the trails: overgrown, loose rocks, drainage blocked up and quite a few rotten bits on the woodwork too.

    The place basically needs a complete refresh to modify it to work in it’s new state with an eye on it growing as the trees return, something that a few other trail centres have managed (Cwmcarn’s Freeride section and Llandegla spring to mind).

    Oh and anyone who has a bee in their bonnet about ebikes, I’d avoid the new bit of the Twrch at Cwmcarn, it’s not officially open yet (long story, it was finished months ago and it’s becoming over-grown ironically) it’s a pretty nice, very short descent, followed by a long, climb fully of features. It almost seems it rides the wrong-way… no one will convince me that it’s not an e-bike trail.

    Haven’t been there for ages, please tell me you will still be able to ride the old section if you want to!

    Premier Icon lightfighter762
    Full Member

    Strong legs pedalling that AL Sight around all day!

    Premier Icon VanHalen
    Full Member

    Penhydd and The Wall are both about as rough as I can remember them ever being, it’s not all bad, it’s more ‘natural’, and anyone who complains about “overly sanitised, man made trails” would no doubt love it, but you just can’t send it all blind anymore.

    that sounds MINT. i need to go back (its been about 5 years i think and about 10 yrs previous to that!

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    I still organise a singlespeed trip for my mates every winter, over 10 years we’ve been going.

    Nothing better than beasting yourself around the W2 in the freezing rain/snow, pitstop at Glencorryg and then back to prop up the Afan Lodge bar.

    Every year we look more out of place, it’s like an E Bike Mecca there now! I went in September and despite a very leisurely loop from Glencorryg, we only saw two other bikers.

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