Pontardawe - which means "Bridge on the River Tawe" in Welsh, is a 15 minute drive from Lothlorien Cottage. It was originally situated on the crossroads of two drovers' roads and the history of the town can be traced back as far as the sixth century.
Pontardawe is celebrated for its contribution to the Arts and is best known for the Pontardawe Festival of World Music and Dance which has been held every August since 1978 and the town hosts live music on a weekly basis at the many pubs and inns.
The Pontardawe Arts Center also stages quality performances by musicians of national and international fame. It is one of the finest cultural venues in South Wales and includes a theatre, cinema and art gallery.
The valley was originally settled by farmers trying to eke out a living. Although the soil is poor and difficult to farm, the valley itself is full of running streams, beautiful waterfalls, charming villages and green hills, surrounded by the four big hills (Alltwen, Craig Glyn Meirch, Llangiwc Rock and Caraig yr Abby) which shelter it.
The town grew with the growth of the tin and coal mining industries, and the opening of the Swansea canal in 1798 and the Swansea to Pontardawe railway in 1860 made Pontardawe an important part of the South Wales mining industry.
Unfortunately the depression of the 1920's hit it hard, and it is now recovering on the developing Tourist industry some of the old collieries and mines in the area have been turned into museums such as Cefn Coed Colliery Museum, and nearby Aberdulais Falls, a spectacular waterfall now owned by the National Trust, is the largest electricity generating water wheel in Europe.