Images of Wales
Thursday, 17 September 1998
Cwmtawe and the Swansea Canal,
Photography by John Ball - 3.30pm 17 Sep 1998
(with Agfa ePhoto-307 digital camera)
Cwmtawe ("Valley of the Tawe") is the name given to a part of the valley of the river Tawe between Pontardawe and Ystalyfera. It is the site of the old Swansea Valley Canal which once linked the local coal mines and ironworks with the port of Swansea.
Right: Coed Cwmtawe (Cwmtawe woods) viewed across the level floor of the valley. The river Tawe is hidden by a line of trees in the middle distance. In the foreground is a pond.
Above: Horses grazing in a meadow, with Coed Cwmtawe in the background.
Above: From one of the secluded footpaths (left) passing through Coed Cwmtawe one gets
occasional glimpses of the river Tawe (right), here seen surging past some large boulders.
Above: Streams tumbling down the steep and wooded hillside form a number of
waterfalls. The falls are more spectacular after heavy rain than on this occasion.
Above: The view from Coed Cwmtawe, looking up the valley
towards Ystalyfera, with the Black Mountain in the distance.
Above: The view across the valley, showing Mynydd Allt-y-grug, "the mountain
with a hillside of heather", tinged purple with the last of this season's heather.
Above: On the western side of the valley floor is Cwmtawe Isaf Farm.
Above: Behind the farm and under this stone bridge runs the old Swansea Valley Canal.
This stretch of the canal was opened in the 1790s, but canal traffic began to decline after the coming of the railways in 1863. By about 1900, commercial canal traffic had ceased and the canal and its locks fell into disrepair. Some attempt has recently been made to restore the lower reaches of the canal - but in Cwmtawe, the canal (below) is now a nature reserve, offering quiet walks along its tow-path.