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Afan afternoon trails

Whether you want to go for an epic day-long cross-country adventure, an adrenaline filled afternoon in the bike park, or go exploring with the family, there'll be a trail to suit. And even more importantly, there's also two trail centres for post-ride tea and cake.

Located just north of Port Talbot in South Wales, it's easily accessible from the M4 motorway. Be warned; Google Maps can send you wrong around here, so your best bet is to pop the postcode of one of the trail centres in your satnav.

Both trail centres have parking and the usual facilities, but they can get quite busy at weekends.

The Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is the best one for those coming with the whole family, as the green and blue trails start from there. Around the other side of the mountain, the Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre is the starting point for most of the red and black graded trails.

A series of steep sided hills and valleys make it perfect MTB territory, with trails weaving through Forestry Commission managed woodland. Expect long singletrack that winds its way through the woods and snakes across open ground where the trees have been felled.

Afan Blade Trail

Afan has well over 100km of trails so you won't get bored if you're up for a weekend. One green, 1 blue, 5 reds, 1 black and a new bike park should keep you busy for a while.

Most types of bike will cope fine with the terrain here, and you’ll see everything from cross-country hard tails to beefy all-mountain bikes with loads of suspension being ridden.

[part title="Afan Trails"]

Snaking its way along the valley, the Rookie trail is smooth, wide and mostly flat, and you get lovely views of the river that flows along the valley bottom.

We love the skills area, which is the perfect place to improve your skills or try some of the trail features you might encounter elsewhere. It’s got rock step ups and downs, some wooden northshore sections, and a pumptrack. Practice here, then take your skills onto the other trails.

There’s also a new blue section opening soon at the end of the trail, which will make the perfect progression from the green.

Blue Scar heads up the hill behind the visitor centre on a wide, smooth trail with easy switchback turns. It’s a good test of fitness, as it does head upwards for quite a bit on the trail, and then on the fire road. Look out for the little motivational messages on the signposts that let you know you are nearly at the top.

Once you make it up you are rewarded by a swooping, whoop-inducing descent with great views, all the way back down to the visitor centre. It’s a great trail for progressing from the green, and then onto the red, as it links in with the Penhydd trail.

This trail is based around one of the first ever MTB trails built at Afan, so it’s got a bit of history behind it. Sharing the Blue Scar climb, with a bit more climbing on top for good measure, it’s a workout but the descents are totally worth it!

Long, swooping berms swing you right and left over an open landscape. The terrain is rougher and more natural, and you can expect small rollable rock drops, rocky sections and a few steep chutes. The final descent down to the visitor centre is a lot of fast, flowy fun.

This area has been cleared of trees though, which means that when the weather is bad it will be very exposed. On a sunny day, it’s glorious.

The Penhydd trail snaking off into the valley. Image copyright Phil Hall

This is one of the iconic rides at Afan, and you’ll encounter the full gamut of trail types. Whether you like rolling over rocks or roots, you’ll be satisfied. Parts of the trail have a natural, rough feel, and other parts like the newer sections are wider and more groomed. All are fun.

  • Suitable for: Intermediate or advanced riders

  • Length: 17km

  • Nearest trail centre: Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre

Put your climbing skills to the test with a steep, tricky ascent on what Cognation say is Afan’s most technical trail. Expect tight and twisty trails, rock step sequences, and other features to test your bike handling skills.

If you want to push yourself further, there’s also a black section you can try midway along the trail.

  • Suitable for: Intermediate or advanced, but certainly very fit!

  • Length: 46km

  • Nearest trail centre: Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre

If you are looking for an epic ride, one that tests your endurance and stamina, then this is it. A whopping 46 km of climbs and descents. It’s a technical trail too, so will test your riding as well as your stamina. If you’re training for an event, this is a brilliant one for gauging your fitness and skill level.

Make sure you and your bike are in good working order, you have plenty of food and drink, and enough repair kit to sort yourself out as you'll be a long way from civilisation if something goes awry.

Want an epic day of riding, like riding Y Wall and Whites Level, but can’t decide between the two? Do both! W2 combines these trails, via a link, into one epic 44km trail. You’ll travel over the top twice, from one trail centre to the other and back – which means you can start in either. It’s a question of picking your first climb, or your favourite last descent.

  • Suitable for: Intermediate and advanced riders

  • Length: 24km

  • Nearest trail centre: Gyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre

The newest addition to the trails at Afan, Blade starts as it means to go on, sharing the intense technical ascent of Whites Level. At the top, you’re rewarded with a flowing sequence of open bermed trails, twisty-turny and technical wooded sections, and a few more climbs. The final two descents are spectacular; one wide and swooping through the trees, the second loose, rocky and exposed. You’ll get back to the centre buzzing with adrenaline and wanting more.

  • Suitable for: Intermediate and advanced riders

  • Length: 0.5km

  • Nearest trail centre: Bryn Bettws Lodge

If you fancy practicing your park skills, trying some berms or improving your jumps, all within a contained area, then this is perfect for you. Located near the Bryn Bettws lodge, at the start of the final Y Wall descent, it’s a great place to set up camp for an afternoon of fun.

A short climb to the start and you’ve got 5 different routes down, packed full of berms, rollers and jumps. We recommend spending an hour or two, and you’ll see the difference in your bike handling skills.

[part title="Afan Trail Centres"]

Afan glyncorrwg centre

Address: Glyncorrwg, Port Talbot, South Wales, SA13 3EA

Facilities: Toilets, showers, bike wash, campsite

Café: Yes, serving drinks, cake and hot food.

Bike shop: Skyline Cycles is a good sized bike shop, with bikes, clothing and accessories for sale, including a selection of women’s kit. They have a workshop for repairs, and the usual nutrition, maintenance and other cycling bits and pieces you might need.

Bike hire: From Skyline Cycles, from £15 per hour plus deposit.

Parking: £3 per day

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre

Address: Cynonville, Port Talbot, SA13 3HG

Facilities: Toilets, showers, bike wash, gift shop, first aid station, campsite. The toilets in the car park open at 8am and close at 6pm.

Café: Yes, serving drinks, cake and hot food. Open from 10am to 3.30pm during the week, and 9am to 5pm at the weekends.

Bike shop: Afan Valley Bike Shed has the essential bits and pieces you might need for a day on the trails, like nutrition bars, and accessories. They also have a workshop.

Bike hire: From the bike shop. They have a selection of bikes including children’s bikes, childrens seats, hard tails and full suspension bike. Rental costs from £20 per half day for an adult bike.

Parking: £1 per day

[part title="Afan: Where to Stay"]

bryn bettws lodges afan

Gyfylchi Farm, Pontrhydyfen, Port Talbot, South Wales, SA12 9SP

Located right next to the Afan Bike Park, this is a great central location for accessing all the trails.

Accommodation: Camping, cabins, bunk house lodge and pods.

Price: £30 pppn B&B in the lodge, from £300 per cabin per half week.

Facilities: Café 10.30 – 14.30 Mon to Fri, 8.00 to 20.00 Fri and Sat, 8.30 to 17.00 Sun

More info: http://www.brynbettws.com

Pop your tent up at the campsite at Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre, one of the two main trail centres, and you can be first on the mountain in the morning as it’s located at the start of the Blade and Skyline trails.

Accommodation: Camping

Price: From £5 pppn

Facilities: Toilets, showers,

Open: All year round

More info: http://glyncorrwgpondsvisitorcentre.co.uk/camping/

If you fancy being close to Y Wall, Penrydd and the Rookie trail, pitch your tent at the campsite at the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre.

Accommodation: Camping

Price: From £3.30 pppn

Facilities: Toilets, showers

Open: March to December

More info: http://www.afanforestpark.co.uk