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Cymmer (c) NPTC Nature landscape and geology of Neath Port Talbot

Landscape and Geology

NPT is characterised by: (i) a coastal region which lies west of the M4 Motorway and curves around the eastern part of Swansea Bay from Crymlyn Burrows to the Kenfig rivermouth, (ii) 3 main river valleys, the Neath (Nedd), Afan and Upper Tawe, and (iii) an extensive upland landscape which rises to 660m on Craig y Llyn, the highest point in the county.

Its central feature is the Vale of Neath which divides the county conveniently into northern and southern sectors:

  • The southern sector is extensively wooded with conifer forests but also contains large blocks of deciduous woodlands such as those between Briton Ferry and Baglan. Most of the natural features of its coastal strip, which once included pristine dunes and wetlands, have been altered by industrial development. Near Resolven, the north-west facing flank of the Vale of Neath is drained by some significant streams such as the Melincwrt Brook, whose valleys supports significant assemblages of lower plants. Much of the Afan Valley which lies between Pontrhydyfen and Abergwynfi was mined for coal before it was afforested with conifers.

  • The largely rural northern sector includes the Clydach, Dulais and upper Tawe valleys. It contains the large conifer plantations of Crynant and Rheola and a number of ancient woodlands such as Maesmelin and Dyffryn Woods, Craig Gwladys, Tyn yr Heol Woods and Cwm Du Glen. The waterfall valleys of the Pyrddin and lower Nedd Fechan which occur along the border between NPT and Powys are part of the internationally important Celtic Rainforest and Atlantic woodland ecosystems that define the headstreams of the River Neath. Much of the landscape of the northern sector is dominated by heathland and moorland and most of the county’s Common Land and species-rich marshy grasslands are found here.

The geology of NPT is dominated by the South Wales Coalfield. Its most prominent rock outcrops, such as those of Craig y Llyn, are formed of sandstone. Calcareous outcrops are almost completely absent from NPT but there is a minor influence of carboniferous limestone near Rhyd yr Fro. Rocks of the Millstone Grit series are found in the waterfall valleys of the Nedd Fechan and Pyrddin near Breconshire.

Neath Port Talbot landscape and geology
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