There may only be five miles of the Swansea Canal fully navigable from Clydach to Pontardawe and from Pontardawe to Ynysmeudwy, but it is still a green and pleasant route. Nestled at the bottom of the steep-sided Swansea Valley it is a very popular route for walkers and cyclists of all levels.
For the second year running, the Swansea Canal has been awarded a prestigious green flag in 2009 Keep Britain Tidy’s Award Scheme.
The top half stretches between the picturesque villages of Pontardawe and Ystalyfera, passing through Ynysmeudwy and Godre’r Graig. This part of the canal was one of the earliest sections to be restored and is in good condition with plenty of access from the surrounding villages, so you can join the path at many different points.
The top of the canal starts at The Swansea Canal Nature reserve in Godre’r Graig and is a wildlife lovers dream with an abundance of local species to be seen throughout the walk. You soon come across the site of the first of the old farms and the stone bridges built so farmers could access lands divided by the canal. The farm no longer remains but has been replaced by a pub called the Ynysmeudwy Arms that serves hot food and cold drinks with a play area for younger children.
Passing through the locks further downstream you will come across the last remnants of a Swansea Canal barge which was the last one to pass through the locks.
Following the meandering path you will no doubt be taken in by the rural beauty of it all as you are transported back to a time before busy main roads and cars dominated the scenery and sounds of the Swansea Valley.
The walk all in all is about 3 km and finishes in the vibrant small town of Pontardawe with its many bars and places to eat.