Afan Valley's popularity recognised by Times newspaper
The Times newspaper has named a circular cycle route running from the Aberavon seafront into the tree-clad hills of the Upper Afan Valley as one of Britain's "Top 20" cycle rides with a view.
The newspaper lists the Afan Valley route, which takes in actor Richard Burton's Pontrhydyfen birthplace and the thick, deer studded Afan Forest Park, as being on a par with rides including those taking in The Forest Way in East Sussex and much ridden Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Somerset.
Along the route, cyclists will discover the Afan Valley Portrait Bench where three local heroes, Richard Burton, Rob Brydon and local man Dick Wagstaff, stand proudly in weathering steel. The Park is also a haven for all sorts of wonderful wildlife including red deer and buzzards.
The mountain bike trails in the Afan Valley attract thousands of "weekend warrior" cyclists and the activity has become a major part of Neath Port Talbot's tourism business - in 2016 alone there were 1.47m visitors to the area who ploughed £110m into the local economy - supporting around 1,500 jobs.
The authority is now concentrating on promoting and ensuring good visitor experiences in its key visitor destinations like the Aberavon Seafront, Waterfall Country, Margam Country Park, the Afan Forest Park, Gnoll Country Park and others, while encouraging the development of new attractions.
This is how The Times decribes the spectacular route it included in its "top 20 cycle routes with a view" - The Afan Valley Circular Route: Aberavon seafront and back: (12 miles - easy. Occasionally steep, gradual climbs.)
"The trail winds northwards from the Aberavon seafront, conveniently linking up with Port Talbot bus and train stations.
"Continue onwards and the route links to a pretty woodland riverside path, skimming the old mining communities of Cwmavon and Pontrhydyfen and the start of Afan Forest Park.
"Follow the route northwards through the glistening trees, a haven for wildlife such as deer and buzzards, until you reach the Afan Forest Park visitor centre.
"Here you can continue, following one of the more adventurous biking trails.
"Visit the mining museum or just enjoy the panoramic forest views. Farther north, this route connects with the new Llynfi Valley trail, where you can discover some brilliant artworks and wonderful valley landscapes. Return the same way."
Neath Port Talbot Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Councillor Annette Wingrave said: "Neath Port Talbot Council is committed to raising the profile of the county borough as a visitor destination and this accolade in The Times confirms our Valleys as a place to visit, live or invest in - and certainly to cycle in!"