Afan Forest Park Mountain Bike Trail Centre
Afan Forest Park Cynonville Port Talbot SA13 3HG
The preferred destination of mountain-bikers in-the-know at weekends, yet not a million miles from the steel town of Port Talbot, Afan Forest Park has absolutely world-class mountain bike trails – and a great café for the compulsory après-ride tea and cakes. It's easy to get to: you’re literally minutes from the M4, but when you’re belting along on trails such as the 17km ‘Whites Trail’ or the spectacular 23km single track ‘The Wall’ you’d never guess it. And once you’ve grunted your way to the high points of the various trails there are superb views over much of South Wales and even across the Bristol Channel to England.
Those new to mountain biking needn’t be worried that you have to be made of the local stainless steel to be able to ride the trails – there are two easy 'Rookie's Trails' which are a great introduction to the area, running along disused, resurfaced railway tracks and requiring little effort. They also give you a chance to take in the views of this fascinating corner of South Wales – in effect the southern reaches of the famous ‘Valleys’, in which Wales’ former coal and steel industries were based.
The rides are graded so you know what you’re taking on before you start, and facilities such as bike washes, bike shop and bike hire (plus the café) make the riding as user-friendly as you can get. British mountain bikers are getting used to this kind of high-quality riding as a matter of course – there are 13 mountain biking hubs in Wales alone – but in reality not many countries in the world offer trails with such a high standard of design and engineering. Indeed, foreign trail builders often come to centres such as Afan Forest to see how it’s done.
Sure, there are no ski lifts that will transport you and your bike to the heights as in the Alps and the Rockies, but once you’ve sweated your way to the summits of peaks that rise almost from the sea you have the well-earned reward of mile upon mile of single track – hard to beat wherever else in the world you may travel with your bike.