Part of the Afan Valley Cycleway will be closed for up to a year while repairs are carried out to the embankment next to the route in Afan Forest Park, near Neath.
Forestry Commission Wales has closed part of the cycleway between the Rhyslyn car park at Pontrhydyfen and the Afan Forest Park visitor centre at Cynonville.
The cycleway runs on an old railway line embankment high up above the River Afan. This embankment is being seriously undermined by the river and a civil engineer’s report has confirmed that a 260 metre long section is very unstable and could collapse at any time.
While the repairs to the embankment are underway, the adjacent part of the cycleway has been temporarily closed.
A diversion has been put in place which signposts visitors out of the car park at Pontrhydyfen and along the other side of the valley before crossing back over the bridge below the Afan Forest Park visitor centre.
Forestry Commission Wales’s Local Area Manager, James Roseblade, said, "We are sorry to have to close part of the Afan Valley Cycleway temporarily as it is a popular route for walkers and cyclists.
"However, public safety must come first and we hope to have the cycleway fully open again in a year’s time."
Signage at the cycle trail’s starting points alerts visitors to the temporary closure and also shows them the other routes that can be used to access Afan Forest Park, which is managed by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
James added, "Despite the signage in the area, we were concerned to learn that some people had tried to access the closed part of the cycleway.
"This area is very dangerous and so we urge the public to take heed of the signage and keep away from it."
Welsh Water has pipes running underneath the cycleway and the company will be diverting these away from the embankment while the cycle route is closed.
The Afan Valley Cycleway follows part of the route of the former Rhondda and Swansea Bay railway that operated between 1907 and 1970 and connected the coal fields of the Rhondda with Swansea Docks.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, email@example.com, 0300 068 0057