A good friend of mine often says to me that ‘Pontardawe is like Centre Parcs; you can do anything you like here!’. We are so lucky. The river, the canal, the hills, the woodland and the increasingly popular cycle path.
One of the few things which centre parcs offered that we did not was Bicycle hire; that was until now.
Tawe Bikes launched last month from the Pontardawe Inn and founder Peter Ryan tells me that they are “excited and grateful for the support that the local community has already offered them”.
It is great for Pontardawe to be able to attract holidaymakers into the Town. There are not many places to hire bikes locally and so if people are staying further up or down the valley, in Neath or beyond then we hope to see them on these yellow bikes and supporting our other local businesses at the same time.
All bikes come with a helmet and costs from £9 for 3 hours. Peter tells me “As a country, we are cycling more and more. In France, Germany, Belgium and most European countries it is seen as another mode of transport. We have an impressive infrastructure for bikes here which keeps improving. You can cycle to the sea in a little over half an hour or to the foot of the Beacons in the other direction. Pontardawe is the perfect base.”
“The cycle path is safe, fairly flat and is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. We hope it will bring more tourists into Pontardawe but we also hope that it will appeal to people living here. Bikes are bulky and can be costly. There will be many people living in Pontardawe or around here who will fancy riding a bike from time to time but do not have anywhere to keep one. If someone fancies popping to Mumbles to grab an ice cream then they can get on the website and book it for as long as they want it for and stop for a pint in the Gwachel on the way home”.
You can book a bike online (at www.tawebikes.com) and collect your key from the bar staff in the pub. The Gwachel seems the perfect spot as a base as Route 43 passes right by it.
Earlier in the year I spoke with Ryland Jones, Deputy Director for Sustrans Cymru about the cycle path who told me:- ‘Route 43 represents a significant asset for communities along the Swansea Valley and, as has been shown during the recent Covid Lockdown, offers access to green space and a place for people to relax, experience all their local area has to offer and also access basic services, all in a sustainable and healthy way. The route supports communities by enabling local journeys by walking and cycling as well as adding to the attractiveness of the area for tourists and visitors.”
“Sustrans would love to see further development of the route to link into the Brecon Beacons in future and make the route even more accessible, and we will be working with our Local Authority partners to further this vision as part of the wider development of the National Cycle Network in Wales”.
Description of Route 43 Swansea to Pontardawe by SUSTRANS
:- “Following a mixture of riverside paths, new purpose build sections and old railway lines, this route provides a green strip through the industrial heart of the Swansea Valley. From the route it is possible to see some of the valley’s industrial past, while at the same time the route showcase its regenerated present. The ride begins in the re-developed marina, running alongside the Tawe and taking you up past the Morfa Retail Park and the Liberty Stadium.”
Clydach to Ystalyfera SUSTRANS
:- “This is a very gentle 6.5 mile ride along canal towpath and old railway, following the valley floor from between two of the major Swansea Valley towns. Starting from Coed Gwilwm Park, the route picks up the canal towpath and takes you into the heart of Pontardawe. Moving away from the Canal and following the river bank, you find your way onto the old railway line.”
“This takes you through woodland alongside the river before emerging on the edge of Ystalyfera. The ride can be halved in length if you stop in Pontardawe, while it can also be extended by riding in the opposite direction. If you are feeling particularly energetic it is possible to ride from Ystalyfera to Mumbles almost entirely on traffic free paths.”