About the project
Grid Ref SN 896 058
Cwm Gwrelych is one of South Wales’ hidden treasures, carved by glacial streams and scarred by industry this unique site has had a rich and incredibly long history.
Situated at the head of the Neath Valley, right on the edge of the South Wales Coalfield, the rocks found with this quiet, secluded valley are internationally important. The rivers and streams that run northward through this site have cut through the very edge of the Coalfield exposing a significant section of the Upper Carboniferous stratigraphy. The 300 million year old geology found here tells a fascinating story of a time long before dinosaurs when vast forests flourished and insects grew huge!
The site is designated as a Geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the exceptional geology found here, but it isn’t just the rocks that you’ll find interesting! The past 300 years have seen the site mined and quarried for iron ore, coal and stone and the remnants of this industry can still be seen if you know where to look. More recently, since the decline of the heavy industry, nature has been quietly reclaiming this special place, acid loving grasses and wild flowers have colonised the old spoil tips, newts thrive in the ponds and bats roost in the disused mines.
The project developed at Cwm Gwrelych was created by the British Institute for Geological Conservation as part of its South Wales Coalfield Geo Heritage Project. The site forms an important cornerstone of our ever growing network of Coalfield sites.
The trails created as part of this project use a network of existing public rights of way and new permissive footpaths to access the lower part of the SSSI, providing spectacular landscape views and opportunities for safe, close up access to a wealth of geological features.
This waymarked geology trail starts and ends in Pont Walby Village and covers 2.3 miles ( 3.7 km) taking about 2 hours to complete. The trail includes one or two steep gradients. Information along the route is presented on 10 bilingual interpretation panels sited at key points.
Merfyn’s Memory Trail
Join Merfyn and explore the “simple pleasures and natural beauty” of Cwm Gwrelych. This circular 1.6 miles (2.6 km) trail comprises 8 bilingual audio posts that provide a fascinating personal account of Merfyn’s lifelong exploration and adventures in the Gwrelych .
Cwm Gwrelych Rocks!
This Key Stage 2 outdoor education pack has been specially developed by teachers, outdoor education professionals and geologists. The pack is available in both Welsh and English and provides curriculum linked, hands on activities for primary aged school groups.
Packs can be obtained by schools from:firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember that Cwm Gwrelych is a Site of Special Scientific Interest so please treat the site, the rocks and wildlife with respect.
Cwm Gwrelych is a five minute drive from the A465. The trail is Brown Signed from the A4242
Designated parking for the trail is provided in the layby just east of Pont Walby village.
About the site
Cwm Gwrelych is a five minute drive from the A465 and is Brown Signed from the A4242. There is a car parking just to the east of Pont Walby. Download the Cwm Gwrelych trail leaflet for a map and directions.