If you are driving along the M4 towards the Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire dreaming of stunning coastline and rolling moorlands, you may be brought up short by the sight of the coastal plain at Port Talbot with its expanse of industrial plants and smoking chimneys. The local economy here is dominated by the steelworks, and Industrial Gases plant, a biomass power station and a gas-fired power station. However, there is one local attraction not to be missed: the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence. Started in his own home by an orange-clad super hero who calls himself Captain Beany, the museum houses over 200 baked bean related displays. On his 60th birthday earlier this year, Captain Beany celebrated by having 60 baked bean tattoos. A true British eccentric!
Within sight of the industrial expanses of this stretch of coast is the quiet beach resort of Aberavon, with a long stretch of sand backed by a park, making it popular with families. If you tire of the sight of the nearby industrial landscape, you can always look the other way for lovely views to Swansea and beyond. The actor Michael Sheen hails from these parts, and in 2011 he starred in a performance of The Passion, which lasted all weekend. The action started on the seafront and moved on to other parts of town, with thousands of onlookers and a large cast including hundreds of local residents.
To the south of Port Talbot and inland a bit is Margam Country Park, free to enter and with lovely grounds where deer can be seen. There are also nature trails to follow and activities for the kids. The Margam Stones Museum, which is attached to the 12th century Margam Abbey, has a collection of stones from pre-Roman times onwards. Another landmark in the park is Margam Castle, actually a large Victorian country house. Mynydd Margam, a mountain which rises up above the coastal plain, contains evidence of human habitation from 4000BC.
Map of the area.
|The promenade at Aberavon. Photo by David Lewis, via Wikimedia Commons|