This section of the route follows the high-level alternative Wales Coast Path past Port Talbot then the Neath Canal and Tennant Canal.
Distance: 20 km
Grade: Fairly difficult — a long day's walk, mostly on a good promoted route but with some very steep climbs. It's recommended to walk past Margam towards Port Talbot and find accommodation there.
Transport: Buses between Neath and Bridgend run along the A48 just south of Margam (nearest stop is called Margam Park). Nearest rail station is Port Talbot, served by local buses. Neath has a railway station and buses in all directions. For Neath Abbey itself, buses run from the Smith's Arms, Neath Abbey road, to Neath and Swansea.
See http://www.traveline.cymru for details.
From the Abbey Church, retrace your steps along the road to the junction with the road from Port Talbot. Turn right towards the hill. In the little car park at SS 80232 86412 take the waymarked path up a steep slope through the trees to Capel Mair (SS 80125 86520), the ruins of a chapel built by the momks for their tenants.
Follow the lane past the chapel. At SS 80324 86762 turn left on a very minor road. At SS 80164 86987, as you emerge from the trees, turn left and follow a path along the forest edge. You really are walking along a boundary between two worlds – to your left the massive Port Talbot industrial estate, to your right old stone walls and upland grazing.
This headland was heavily defended in WWII – you will see some of the fortifications along the path.
From SS 79151 87330 the path dips down into the woods. At SS 78989 87555 turn left along a minor road into Brombil then turn right into Brombil Court and follow the waymarked lane to your right. This climbs slightly to run parallel with the motorway. This is a surprisingly pleasant section – there is a strange secret joy in strolling through gorse and briars while 100 yards below you the rest of the world is hurrying, hurrying from one meeting to another.
From SS 77733 89316 the path dips down hill. At SS 77856 89592 turn left on a side road then right on Tan-y-groes Place. Cross the Ffrwd Wyllt behind the Chapel of Ease then turn right at the roundabout and right again up Pen-y-cae Road. There may be some difficulty with waymarks here.
At SS 77682 89733 take the minor road to the right off Broomhill. The Ordnance Survey marks the line of the coast path to the left at SS 77748 89791 but the Coast Path's own map suggests you follow the road up toNantymoch Farm then turn left. Walk round the headland and down to turn right on The Uplands.
At SS 77296 90350 take the waymarked footpath down steps to cross the A4107 and continue down to the Afan river. Turn left and then cross the bridge to your right.
Turn left and left again to follow the lane along the river bank. Cross the footbridge back to the south bank of the river and continue actually under an elevated section of motorway.
At the roundabout at SS 76661 90273 turn right and cross the river again. Walk along Heilbronn Way. At the next roundabout take the waymarked underpass at SS 76463 90325. Cross Clifton Terrace and Glen View Terrace and continue up Mountain Road. The road becomes an even steeper track. Continue straight on up a seemingly endless flight of steps to the top of the spur - here you are rewarded by more magnificent views.
At SS 76422 90903 turn left and walk along the spur. The path joins a wide stony track which swings down past the ruins of Blaen Baglan and becomes a minor road (Heol y Bwlch) skirting the outer suburbs of Baglan.
Over the stream, turn right on Tyn y Twr and follow the road round to the left through the houses. Turn right up Ascot Drive. At SS 75525 92872 turn right again along a lane round the back of the houses. At the top, at SS 75661 93035, turn left on Darren Wen and right up Baglan Heights.
At SS 75652 93099 take the lane to the left. Once you are through the gardens turn left and follow a very narrow track behind the houses on Baglan Heights. This eventually becomes a nice hollow way leading round the headland.
At SS 74541 93524 the track forks. Here you leave the coast path. Take the right fork. The path passes behind a kennels and contours up and down through the woods. Ignore the turnings to right and left: then at SS 74618 94439, where you join a wider track, turn right and immediately left along a waymarked footpath downhill. Follow this down to the corner of the Briton Ferry wood.
At SS 74806 94918 take the road ahead of you (Ynysymaerdy Road). At the T junction turn right along Pant Hywel Ddu.
At SS 74993 95281, when the road bends sharply to the right, take the track straight on. Here there is a confusion of paths and we need some waymarking. The right of way (marked on the OS map as a byway for all traffic) is the one which bears to the right and becomes a hollow way along the edge of the woods.
When you reach the houses at SS 74920 95875 the track becomes a street called Gardners Lane. Follow the line of this street across Old Road and down Herbert Road to the main road through Melincryddan. Cross the railway line by the footbridge ahead and to your right, then turn left over the canal bridge and left again to join the towpath towards Neath.
The lower part of the Neath Canal is a nature reserve with otters, kingfishers and wild flowers. Further up it goes round the back of industrial estates but it’s still a good walk. Eventually you reach Bridge Street in Neath. In front of you is the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall. To its left are the Bridge Apostolic Church and Neath RFC – a good spectrum of local religions! Go left over the footbridge and follow the Tennant Canal down to the Abbey.
|Margam to Neath via Coast Path|