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A huge area of the Neath Valley has been opened up for horse riders to enjoy after Forestry Commission Wales struck a deal with the owners of the Aberpergwm Estate.
The agreement will be a massive boost to horse tourism in the area and means almost 300 kilometres of trails in the valley are now accessible to riders.
The deal with the management company which owns the 15th century estate centres on access to about 15 square kilometres of the Rheola Forest, within the estate, which is leased by Forestry Commission Wales.
Opening this area up means horse riders will be able to ride virtually the length of the Neath Valley and into the adjacent Dulais Valley for the first time.
Forestry Commission Wales Community Ranger Jonathan Price said, “Previously, there was no access for horses apart from on a limited number of rights of way within the forest.
“With this area being added to the horse riding provision within the Neath Port Talbot area, it means there is almost 300km of accessible tracks to ride. For horse tourism and local riders, this is a great resource.”
Over the coming year, Forestry Commission Wales will investigate the provision of bridlegates and horse step-overs to provide safe access points to the forest from the B4242 road which runs between Aberdulais and Glynneath.
Lifelong local rider Christine Thomas welcomed the agreement which she hoped would transform the area’s fortunes as a horse riding destination.
“The opening-up of such a vast area will mean that horse riding in the Neath Valley will receive a much-needed boost.
“It means that riders will be able to access Sarn Helen in a traffic-free, safe environment and also be able to not only travel virtually the length of the Neath Valley, but the Dulais Valley as well."
Forestry Commission Wales manages Rheola Forest on behalf of the Welsh Government.
It covers a vast area of the Neath Valley and has been the venue for numerous national downhill mountain bike events, as well as a major stage of the Wales Rally GB.
Caption: Horse riders such as these in Rheola Forest can now enjoy access to a huge area of the Neath Valley.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
For more information on recreation in Rheola Forest, contact Jonathan Price on 0300 068 0213, mobile 07789 922748, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com