With the ridiculous weather we’ve been experiencing I decided to be rather conservative in my choice of walks for March – must be getting old! We set off from the car park at the lower end of Herbert Street and walked through the Alloy Industrial site to the playing fields. Here we picked up the cycle track which has been improved recently. The weather was for the main part, fairly bright and a little breezy. At the bridge we noticed a sizeable tree stuck at it’s base, another victim of the recent storms. The water level was fairly high but nothing in comparison to what it had been in the preceding week. After the bridge we took a small path that ran by the side of the river before rejoining the cycle track. We had to scramble and navigate ourselves over other fallen trees. Being a short river, 26 miles or so, I’m always amazed at how quickly the river and surrounds flood and how quickly they again rescind. Vegetation all around us gave evidence of the previous couple of weeks, lying flattened and looking forlorn and miserable.
Although a flat and easy walk a stroll along the valley floor is still full of interest. The remnants of old mine workings, now covered in moss still looks impressive. It was once linked to the canal by another canal that span the Tawe enabling it’s produce to be transported to Swansea and beyond. The steep wooded valley side is a haven for a whole range of wildlife and birds and although there are a number of paths and a bridleway that lead up through the trees above, I have rarely encountered anyone when I have used the trails.
We continued along the cycle track and passed a local beauty spot where two weirs are just 50 yards apart. The ditch that runs alongside the track wasn’t just full of water but home to masses of frog spawn. A little way along we passed the memorial to the 4 miners killed at Gleison colliery, still after all these years lovingly looked after. And then just before the footbridge to Craig Newedd we came alongside the most impressive waterfall on the walk. And it was in it’s full glory. Torrents of water cascading down from high above us through a succession of waterfalls.
We headed back as far as the bridge opposite Swansea Valley Tyres and took the canal towpath. This part of the canal has been left to its own devices and is now a nature reserve. It has its own charm and is more like a bubbling stream than a canal. At the end of this stretch I noticed the Marsh Marigolds were beginning to flower, in a couple of weeks there will be a blanket of bright yellow on the banks.
The next section of the canal was drained, something they do quite regularly during times of floods. It does make for a depressing sight though, believe me a drained canal cannot be described as picturesque! As we headed towards Ponty we cut back to the river again. I had been at this spot by the Riverside Centre the week before. Then instead of there being one river, there were two! And although the water had gone the silt and mud was there for all to witness. The path we were walking on was a few feet under water the preceding week!
And so we returned to Ponty. The walk had taken a little over two hours and although we had avoided climbs and in the main mud, it was still a very pleasant jaunt!