The paths we used over Mynydd Gellionnen in 1998 and 2005 are now totally bogged down and impassable. Our friend Stuart Fry suggested an alternative using part of the St Illtyd Walk and climbing up to the disused church at Llangiwg. The church is lovely, there’s a holy well and a bit of an early medieval carved stone, but it’s a long way up to go down again and a lot of road walking (see https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/cistercian-way-going-west-from-neath/ ). Aled Elwyn (who tweets as @silwria) has suggested an alternative using the cycle track to Trebanos then taking an alternative route on better trackways over Mynydd Gellionnen. So Rachel, Nell and I had a look today.
In Pontardawe you need to find the cycle track going south-west along the Tawe. At SN 71439 03048 you pick up a surviving section of the Swansea Canal and continue between canal and river until you reach the Trebanos Upper Lock.
Turn right at SN 71177 02660, cross the main road through Trebanos and walk up Pheasant Road. At SN 70873 02724
take the roughly metalled track to your right (waymarked as a bridleway). At SN 70797 02789 the metalled track goes left and downhill to a farm. Bear slightly right here
following the waymarks up a grassy track. This becomes a hollow lane between hedges, climbing steadily up hill. It’s quite steep but the views are splendid. Also there were goats.
The surface is very stony and could be wet after rain.
At SN 70255 03087 you reach another metalled farm lane.
Turn left, then at SN 70182 03128 turn right and walk up to the Gellionnen Road. Turn right. Ignore the first track to the left (leading to Eithrim Farm) and continue to the cattle grid at the beginning of the open access land.
Go through the pedestrian gate and turn left following the waymark.
Walk to the right of the fence. When the fence bears away to your left, continue along the same line across the moor
and up to Gellionnen Chapel. One of Wales’s oldest chapels, this is Unitarian, with a radical tradition – http://www.ukunitarians.org.uk/gellionnenandgraig/ . Walk up the track from the chapel to the road and turn left.
You are now on the line of the Cwm Clydach Walk. You have a bit of road walking but it’s a very quiet road – we saw no traffic. Walk downhill to cross the Nant Llwydyn and bear sharp left with the road. The Clydach Walk goes along the stony track to your right at SN 69529 04594, but you don’t have to scramble over the rather rickety locked gate at the bottom of the track –
there is a waymarked stile a little further along the road.
Bear right with the track, past the ruins of Llechart-fach
(why are the ruins of farm houses always so poignant?). At SN 69894 05118
the stony track goes down to your right but the waymarked path goes up to the left and becomes another hollow way along the field edge.
At SN 69812 05339 go through the gate to your right
then bear up to the left following the field edge.
The views from the top are wonderful.
Cross a stile at SN 69765 05691
and continue on the same line across open ground.
At SN 69714 06068 you cross another rather rickety stile
and continue on the same line across the moor. The Carn Llechart burial mound is above you to your right and there are several more burial mounds along the track. You are now back on the route we looked at two years ago, and you can follow the Cwm Clydach Walk to Capel Baran and the road.
This was a good walk with less in the way of busy roads than the St Illtyd Walk. The hollow ways suggest you are on old trackways, which is always nice. The only problem was the stiles – it took both of us to get Nell over them. If you are walking with dogs that can’t work out how to climb stiles, you might still be better on the St Illtyd Way.